by Sherif Awad
-My parents met each other in Paris (France) at the Alliance Française. They both wanted to improve their French. My German mother came to Paris as an au-pair girl and my Portuguese father wanted to become an actor. He made a hotel career instead and became years later hotel director. My mother worked later as a chief secretary in a museum of modern art. I was born in Paris where I spent the first three and a half years of my childhood. Then my family moved back to Germany. I attended ballet school when I was six years old. It was during this time that I thought about becoming an actress. At the age of eight I debuted on stage. However, I took detours and pursued first my other talents i.e. foreign languages. Apart from my mother tongue German, I speak English, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. I studied French, Italian and Spanish literature and history at the University of Hamburg and the Sorbonne University of Paris. In addition, I started modeling for print media and I performed in several TV commercials as well as in industrial films in order to finance my university expenses. So my early passion for screen acting arouse again. I graduated with a Master of Arts and attended the Hamburg School of Speech & Dramatic Arts. My love for stage acting was born and I knew I had to be an actress.
-My role model from dance was my first ballet teacher Ingrid Laski-Witt. This attractive lady had danced for a long time as a first soloist at the Opera House of Hanover before she became my teacher. My role model from cinema during my childhood and teen years was lovely Audrey Hepburn. I admired so much her beauty, her grace and her charm, and she was a very talented ballet dancer as well.
-When I started my studies at drama school, it was a real challenge for me. The university studies that I had done before were totally focused on the intellect. But acting is something physical and also very sensual. You have to turn off your brain for a while and let the emotions flow without even thinking. My dancing experience finally helped me find access to acting, because there is a similar connection of physicality and sensuality.
-Achieving stardom was never important for me. I’m happy, if I can do a job that I love and that I feel passionate about. But I care a lot about working internationally as an actress and in view of my multicultural family background and the six languages that I speak I am predestined to work on a global level. Therefore, I don’t work only in Germany, but I have also found representation in London where you can find the biggest and most important film industry in Europe.
-According to German law, men and women have equal rights. But in fact women have a clear disadvantage compared to men in the world of free market economy. There still exists unequal pay. Actresses earn less money than actors for an equivalent role. And with increasing age there are fewer roles for women than for men. I am a member of Equity, the British performers union, and the German actors guild BFFS. Both unions fight for equal rights and also for more diversity in the performing arts.
Photography by Pete Bartlett
-We have a big creative industry in Germany. There are many theaters, cinemas and opera houses for the performing arts. And there are many training centers for actors, singers, dancers or musicians and also film schools in order to promote the next generation. As for the visual arts, you can find various academies and a big number of galleries in the cities as well. As in every country the actual corona crisis and the lockdown have a deep impact on the whole creative industry. But there will be a time after the corona crisis and I’m sure that the creative industry will recover in the future.
-In former times, we had only live castings. For some years we get more and more the possibility to do self-taped auditions at home. I personally prefer live castings, because the casting director can give you clear instructions. But I’m also very thankful for the new technology and the associated possibility of self-taped auditions. Contrary to many other countries Germany is not a centralized state. We don’t have just one, but several cities with a big film industry i.e. Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Cologne. Sometimes you simply don’t have the time to travel to another city for an audition. If you can do a self-taped audition instead, you can stay at home and still participate in the casting process. The self-taped auditions are also very helpful, if you work internationally. It would take too much time to travel around the world for every single casting. So it makes really sense to do a self-taped audition at least for the preselection. If you are short-listed, you still have the possibility to travel to the live casting.
-About new works, it depends on the kind of role. If it’s a historical role, I try to find out as much as possible about this person in order to be as close as possible to the original. If it’s a fictional character, I follow the instructions of the scriptwriter and the director. But I also let my imagination play a little. If you want to create a full character, it is advisable to have a little background biography in mind. A part of my own personality flows into every role, of course. The more you really feel the emotions of this character, the more your performance will be authentic. There are several acting techniques to get to this emotional level.
– So far, I appeared in several theaters, film, TV and video productions, occasionally as a dubbing artist and dancer. Recently I was seen in various historical films. I am often getting cast for aristocratic women, as well as representatives of the upper middle class, in contemporary productions. Among others my character preferences spread from mysterious to ambiguous women. I think every single artistic experience in my life was somehow important and helped me to become the actress that I am today. I don’t give a preference to any of my previously played roles. If I really feel the emotions of the character I am performing, then I have achieved my artistic goal in this very moment of the performance.
-Afar from arts, I love to travel and to know knew countries, landscapes and cultures. That’s a real adventure for me and it expands my horizons. It helps me to see my own country from another perspective.
-I say to newcomers: If you have a dream, you should pursue it, no matter what other people think or say. Don’t take it personally, when you don’t get the part after an audition. It can take some time until you will have success. Therefore perseverance and the belief in yourself are very important.
-Dancing creates a perfect equilibrium for me. I started with classical ballet when I was a child and I continued later with other dancing styles i.e. standard dance, Latin dance, samba, salsa, meringue, jazz dance, musical dance and Egyptian belly dance. Apart from dancing I like to relax in nature or in a beautiful spa. My family and my friends are also an important pillar in my life. I love to spend my leisure time with them.
-My last project ended in March. I had a nice part in a historical documentary fiction about unknown heroes during World War II. Fortunately we were able to finish the shooting shortly before the lockdown as a result of the corona crisis. Now the whole creative industry is deeply affected. But the corona crisis will end sometime and as for me I’m sure the best is yet to come…