As the only child of a sociologist and a social worker, it might come as a surprise that I knew very early on in my life that I wanted to be onstage. My parents patiently endured my dancing and acting performances, even if they lasted for hours, which gave me the certainty I needed to know that the performing arts were indeed my path. Their way of upbringing involved love rather than strict rules and their innate youth and love for parties had me develop the habit of dancing through nights, especially in Italy, where we spent all of our vacations. I can still recall the fascinated looks that the grown-ups there gave me: I danced like a maniac to Michael Jackson songs and felt just wonderful.
When my usually grumpy neighbor offered me some ice after an interpretation of Madonna’s Like a Prayer, I was sure that it was possible to make a living the joyful way. I became enthralled by films like Flashdance, Saturday Night Fever and Cabaret. Liza Minnelli left a huge impression on me. When I met Gisela Ochsner at the beautiful Studio Ben, a Munich-based dance studio, a wonderful journey began and I started taking classes in jazz-show-musical dance, ballet, and hip-hop. Gisela was my role model from the get-go! Full of humor and wisdom and just the best teacher I could have dreamed of!
At school, it was not always easy but again I was lucky to meet a very special woman: Renate Schön who cast me for the main parts in the musical plays and also was my first vocal coach. Thank you for the feeling of being the teenage queen of the world! After this exhilarating experience it was clearer than ever that I wanted to learn everything about singing, dancing, and acting. But ouch – what a shock! – the theater academy did not welcome me with open arms. There were so many young girls (probably much better than me, too) and I felt like my dream burst. I became worse with every audition I did. On top of everything, I developed health problems. Luckily, I also met the man of my life who broke my fall.
Photography by Karl–Heinz Kreft
When I found Ruth Oehler, my luck was complete again. She saw my potential, and we started our own crazy and funny cabaret-shows in the style of Sissi Perlinger. I rediscovered the joys of performing and thus found the perfect school for me: The International School for Acting in Munich. I earned money on stage in the evenings and learned as much as possible during lessons. It was exhausting but marvelous. I made friends for life like Sushila Sara Mai and Martin Mantel, and I am immensely grateful to Bina Schröer and Dagmar Aigner. The latter became one of my idols! She sings her own songs that are passionate while being unconventional, and she started a choir for bereaved family members, which impressed me very much! All of my teachers helped me a great deal, but the most important teacher is life itself: I can be passionate on stage because I met the right man in 2001 when I was nineteen years- old. Because of my son’s birth in 2010, I can be loving on stage or screen in a completely different way now that I know what it is like to hold my baby. I feel even prouder and luckier now that I see my wild little girl, born 2013, dancing and having fun with her brother.
My family is my glory. I don’t have to be famous, but I think that respect is something I deserve!
The first step is self-respect. My connection to the great healer, dancer, and performance artist Silke Heusinger is also a big help for this journey towards myself. She made my life so much better and happier and everyone should check out her homepage: lotus-theater.com
I am becoming more and more grounded, although I still struggle due to the fact that often I am not being taken seriously, especially if I work on plays for children. But children are our future! My college Ruth Öhler and I never stopped working together and are now performing for kids very often. We both are sure that children are the best audience in the world, and so we put all our love and knowledge into our performances.
My goal is not to become a star, but to be respected for what I do and for who I am. Of course, it’s a great feeling to reach many people, especially when it is connected with a message that is important to me.
Speaking of respect: it hurts that men are still paid a lot more money than women. Not only in show business, but almost anywhere. It is so much easier for them to get good jobs. As a result, women must immediately stop being competitive! There is enough to go around for all of us! Let’s write plays with strong and interesting female characters and stop the jealousy!
The current situation of the creative industry in Germany is difficult due to the pandemic! There is help from the government, but still artists worry a lot. Before the crisis it was hard enough and now it is even harder to make a living from art. But let’s go on! Let’s face new times and be flexible and constructive! These times are very difficult for children, too! With my new plays I want to give them confidence again! The first one is called Ganz weit weg und doch ganz nah (Far away but still so near) and deals with the topic of missing friends and how to keep in touch if you can’t be close, as well as the huge importance of helping each other in difficult times. It was already performed as an interactive play via Zoom and it was wonderful to hear the laughs and creative ideas of the children. Thank you to JALAJA-DIE MUSISCHE SCHULE (www.die-musische-schule.com), and especially Kerstin Heusinger, for the chance to perform for this cute audience! The second one will soon be performed with my precious colleague Ruth Öhler and is called Komm doch raus und spiel mit mir! (Come on out and play with me!) and deals with the importance of friendship as well as ideas to play together without touching each other and showing friendship without hugging one another. Ruth plays a hedgehog and it becomes clear that Hannes Hase (a little rabbit) should be careful and not cuddle it too heartily. The children are always invited to interact and are a wonderfully inspiring source! I really love this kind of work!
The greatest source is my family. Often the fights between my kids are very similar to what happens between the hedgehog (played by Ruth) and the rabbit (played by me) on stage. The audience is very keen to solve these fights; maybe it might help them when they’re in a similar situation? My husband makes me feel safe and appreciated – the basis for success of any kind. That’s also what we need for newcomers in our business! Let’s give them the chance to feel safe and accepted, so they can save us with their art, knowledge, and love! Any newcomer, any child, anyone in the world: Be yourself, believe in yourself and create a good life!
An important future project for me will be to connect movement, art, healing, and spirituality.
A huge thank you to Nana Kurtenbach! I cannot reveal too much, because the project is still top secret, but I’m looking forward to it and I already know that this will be something very special, that will enrich my life and the life of many, many others!
Last, but not least, a huge thank you to Luz Awad and Sherif Awad for giving me the chance of being a part of this wonderful website full of inspiring artists and stories! It’s an honor!