Constantly I’m looking up to the people I’m surrounded by, and how in very different ways they inspire all the time. I would like to introduce you to some of them, and invite you to see their work and what they are up to at the moment.
Firstly, I would like to introduce you to Lilly Brando. She is a multitalented actress and model who recently launched an online series called Sessions (check it on Facebook, they are very funny). Lilly is originally from Portugal, but has lived in many places throughout the years. She is a fighter, she is a chameleon always embracing any opportunity life throws in front of her.
Favourite project you’ve worked
I’ve been lucky to be considered for very different roles and projects in various formats (TV, Cinema, Theatre, Web, Fashion Films, Documentary, Voice Over and Photography projects). There’s a lot of pressure for actors to find out which category they fit in and that has been my mission since I left school. I started collaborating in as many projects as I could to find my typecast. I knew drama was my comfort zone so I found myself cheating a little as I was applying for auditions. For instance, I would think, “I wish I could play this character, but I´m not gonna apply for it because I´m not good at comedy or at improvising”. I would find excuses to avoid certain auditions. Unconsciously, I already knew my style but I was afraid of trying something different. I remember being always inclined to read and play vulnerable and naïve characters, characters like Nina from the Seagull by Anton Chekhov. I would see the world through her eyes and I would completely relate to it. The doubts and fears, the romance and delusions, the trembling voice, the lack of confidence. We´re all a bit like “Nina” in the beginning of our careers. “Clotilde” was the name of the character I played in a Portuguese Soap Opera: “My Angel” or “Anjo Meu” in Portuguese. Clotilde was a supporting character, a warm, kind, naïve and curious maid. Thanks to her I got an intensive year of multicamera work experience, observing established Portuguese actors on set as they rehearsed, shared ideas and performed scenes right in front of me. I got an idea of the business behind the show as well and I learned to manage my anxiety and frustration of wanting to see my character growing but having little control over that, wanting to have a voice but not having the chance to say more than two or three words in a scene or in a day after waiting for long hours for my turn to record. Clotilde was a sort of an internship for me. Today, I look back and I can understand that I wasn’t prepared for a more complex role with a potential stronger impact to the audience. Much less was I prepared for everything that would eventually come with it: recognition and press. You need to be sensitive to be an actor and to have a tough skin to handle everything else that comes along with it, it’s almost as if you need to have two personalities and back then I wasn’t mature enough to find that balance.
Eventually, I started building up my confidence or learning to fake it when necessary. The first time I challenged the “Nina within me” was when I had the chance to play Irene from “The Blue Room” By David Hare, right after the ending of the Soap Opera and before moving to London.
Irene was a very carnal, impulsive, provocative and unstable character, full of emotions but deeply longing for a true sentiment. I felt really exposed when I was playing her but she was a trigger for me. After Irene I could finally see myself playing more confrontative and confident characters. I found a strength and volume in my voice that I didn´t know I had before.
In 2013, I was lucky to play a vindictive, dark and mysterious journalist, Abigail Sens, a leading role in a thriller called “The Archivist” which was chosen to be part of the London Short Film Festival.
But something was missing in my acting and performances. Humour was missing. Finding a touch of humour and releasing the tension through humour even when we´re playing the most dramatic role on earth was key for me. I wanted to learn it. Luckily, my partner’s speciality in contrast is comedy, and through his comedic sense always comes up with a punchline after we fight or right after anything I say in general. He never takes the dramatic version of me too seriously, and now, neither do I. This interest in comedy began when I lost an important role, an important medium term acting job in May. I got so angry that instead of moaning about it as I used to, me and my partner, George Felner, we decided to write and create our own work. Maybe the Webseries “Sessions” came out as a sort of a “punchline” to release the tension after such a frustrating and hopeless moment.
It was a very impulsive project. Until then, we’d thought of doing something together but we could never agree on anything really. Suddenly, on a Friday night, we came up with an idea of a mismatched couple – Frank and Joanne – doing therapy. We wrote the first draft on a Sunday at 7.30 pm, we shot it on a Monday and we reshot it on a Tuesday. In less than a week we created the first episode of “Sessions” which has been an extraordinary writing and acting exercise for both of us. Joanne is a very experimental character. She is temperamental, sarcastic, sometimes less likeable, controlling and logical. This is only possible thanks to the contrast with George who plays Frank. Frank is opinionated, shameless, silly, always in his own world, awkward and inventive. Joanne is a combination of Earth and Fire and Frank is Water and Air. Most fights are real, they actually happened between us at some point in our relationship. Off course that we exaggerate and mix everything up a little with some new topics, everyday life observations of other couples and stories we read and hear, here and there.
Skills are always transferable and I’ve been able to transfer this humour to other roles and situations, real and fictional ones, serious ones too, using comedy as a survival skill in such an unpredictable career and a short life.
For sure, Clotilde, Irene, Abigail Sens and Joanne were turning points in my life as an actress helping me on this emotional journey, on establishing and finding my confidence and voice as an actress, on understanding different storytelling styles and formats, on finding the balance between the personalities required for the show and for the business, keeping my sanity, consistency and integrity.
Key Accessory or something you never leave the house without:
Basics in my bag: lipstick, concealer, mascara and blush; my agenda, phone, computer and an extra battery.
Song you are listening to?
Another Love by Tom Odell and soundtracks, Jazz soundtracks from Woody Allen’s films, for instance “I’ve heard that song before” by Helen Forrest & Harry James from the film “Hanna and Her Sisters”.
If I’m in a Spanish Guitar mood, I listen to Vicky Christina Barcelona’ Soundtrack. I like all kinds of music. Recently my best friend sent me a link on whatsApp of a song that we used to listen to 10 years ago and suddenly I found myself spending the whole week hearing “Touch me” By Sharon Phillips. I like the song “Reality” by Lost Frequencies feat Janieck Devy.
Are you currently reading any Book?
I have some manuals on auditioning, on comedy and on screenwriting too in order to be able to develop and polish my own scripts. I studied Psychology so that’s my first section as soon as I go into a bookstore. “The Examined Life” is a wonderful book written by the psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz and follows a collection of conversations between Stephen and his patients.
Favorite place to eat:
In London, I always choose Italian or Asian Cuisine when I go out for dinner. “La Divina” in Angel, “Pizza Metro Pizza” in Battersea Rise and “Rossopomodoro” in Wandsworth are my favorite pizza places. For a good Currie Laksa or Asian food in general, I prefer the restaurant “Ekachai”.
Name one of your guilty pleasures: I can’t
resist eating candy while watching movies and I love chocolate truffles too and having a big brunch o Sunday morning.
What/who inspires you:
I feel completely recharged and inspired after a week in Portugal with my family and friends, between lunches and dinners, walking by the sea or in the countryside, reconnecting with some old memories. I’m a nostalgic person by nature and I need to travel in time, to those places where I truly belong to give meaning to my present and better organise my plans and future.
My list of references are endless:
I love Diane Keaton, her Style, Smile and Simplicity and,off course , her character Annie Hall.
The uncomplicated writing style of Woody Allen and his detachment from all the criticism around him;
Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her confidence, which is contagious.
I wish I could speak as articulately as Cate Blanchett, her voice and speeches are music to my ears;
Greta Gerwig and Brit Marling and how proactive they are on writing her own films;
Sofia Vergara and how she makes fun of herself, enjoys and celebrates her life, success and age graciously.
Best Advice you’ve been given?
- Resist comparing your life to others. Everyday, friends, celebrities and strangers we follow for some reason, display their amazing holidays, accomplishments, houses, products, relationships, bodies, awards and pets on Instagram, Facebook, blogs, but it’s important to remember that we’ll never know what’s behind the filter.
- Another advice a teacher gave me after a play I’ve done. “In your professional life as a performer choose two to three people maximum to give you an opinion, people you know and who will never pat your back but who will always tell you the truth in the first place. In a world of 7 billion people and 7 billion potential opinions, three of them are more than enough, the rest is noise”