by Sherif Awad
This is actress Heloise Wilson
Well, I was raised in Europe (I now live in the States). I was born to a family of artist: my dad is a music composer, my mum a visual artist. I spent a lot of time going to concerts etc. as a child. I did not love theater until I was about 12 years old, however. I watched A.I. by Stephen Spielberg when I was about 13 years old and was blown away by the storytelling, and that's what made me decide to be an actress. Before that, I wanted to be a novelist. Now I am a writer and performer, so it makes sense.
-After watching A.I., I was obsessed with Haley Joel Osment's films. I watched them all, I thought he was a great actor, and we were about the same age, so he was definitely a role model. It was my dream to have his career. I was part of the official fan clubs and made so many life friends like this. I also loved all the female actors he would be acting with, including Toni Colette. While I write for TV now, strangely enough, back then I did not watch any. It was the time of sitcoms and two cameras shows, right before the streaming boom, and nothing was appealing to me.
- When I decided that I could pursue acting as a career at the age of 13-14, I had a plan. I was to study at an acting school with international techniques in Paris, and move to New York to continue my studies. After I finished my conservatory in Paris, which was heavily focused on method acting, Meisner and other American and Russian techniques, I auditioned for schools in New York. It was a very stressful process, and at the end I was spending much of my time between Paris and London. I remember that I had a panic attack for a school audition that the NY school was hosting in a hotel in London for international applicants like me. In the end, my dream came true. I studied at the Stella Alder of Acting and had a great time. It was around that time that I started writing plays. I almost accidentally applied to the MFA program in playwriting at Brooklyn College, I did not know it was that competitive - only 3 new students every year. But I got it with my first play. That's how I became a playwright and eventually a screenwriter.
-What is important now is to make a living doing and bringing forward work that has fair representation, fosters diversity, provides quality entertainment and asks some big questions.
-Regarding gender challenges, The MeToo movement has changed a lot for me. I saw a clear difference before and after 2016/2017 and 2018. I had so many bad experiences before and that has never happened. But I am a white European woman, with privilege. Not the same can be said for my female and gender non-conforming colleagues, who are coming from a different background and have to deal with a great deal of discrimination based on gender and ethnic background.
-What is very exciting in my field, and especially because I work in TV now, is the huge boom of streamers and the content they offer. Yes, there is way more content, but there is more room for different formats and different voices. It makes me so happy, it really wakes me up in the morning and pushes me to do my best.
-About casting, well, to start, I have not had an audition in person in over maybe a year in a half and I don't see it happening anytime soon. The pandemic has changed everything to self tapes, it's incredibly different because we are learning to build relationships with casting directors not in person. I find this system great- I can work from home and don't have to travel around, it helps me book jobs everywhere in the world - but also classist. Certain production companies ask that you have a studio set up for castings, and since I do voice over, I had to invest in a home studio as well. However, casting directors are wonderful people and I have booked jobs where I did not have professional equipment, in hotel rooms etc. because they also understand the situation. I think casting is becoming more fair and oriented towards both the well-being of the actor and the casting director in a way. No more cattle calls.
-About finding new work, I have agents who are incredible. I am always honored to be considered, and my mission is to always try my very best to tell this story. I step away however from anything that could be a bad environment, with poor leadership or emotional intelligence on behalf of producers or directors. As you get older and keep going with your career, those people get naturally filtered out obviously, but I have had bad experiences and I am always making sure however I work with strong recommendations if working on a smaller indie project. In bigger productions, I trust my agents and just accept the work.
-I have a production company called Little y. In a way, it is my greatest artistic achievement because we have done so much over the years. Check out our website: www.littley.co
-I wish I could say that I have hobbies, but I don't. I work all the time. I do go to the theater a lot and support my friend's work, and that is kind of my "fun" time. I also take breaks when I go traveling for a few days, or if I am with family, but I don't stay away from my work too much. I do this full time, and it's a lot of energy to keep up with everything, but every day is different and very exciting.
-For rising artists, I like to say: find your family: the people who will support your work and with whom you will create work. It can be through school, but it doesn't have to. Don't be afraid of rejection. A lot will happen. I thought I was going to be rejected by everyone for the rest of my life. When being an artist, you need trials and errors. You require that bad audition to understand how to make strong choices in the room. Everything really serves you. A trial period is necessary and valid. It takes a lot of time, some people peak early, others later.
-About life balance between professional and private: I wish I could give some tips and say that I have a good balance, but I don't. I do work all the time, 7 days a week. My family and partner understand this. For now, I don't have children but in the future, I will have to find this equilibrium. It's something I am working on. It's important for me, however, when I have some downtime, to spend it with family and loved ones or do phone calls etc. I am also very loving and attentive to other people's needs. I will have a busy day but bake a birthday cake for a friend and prioritize it that way. A lot of my friends are also artists, so they understand the hustle.
-I have SO much projects! I am in residency with Fault Line theater, a NYC theater company, for a new reading of a play for April 2022, I am developing two TV series, a comedy called Weezy Goes Outside in NYC and an Anthology called Roma, in the eternal city, and getting ready to act in a physical theater show about emotions. My project Weezy Goes Outside is also part of the mentoring program with the Emmy's and Catalyst Institute, and I am a finalist for the Cannes Series program with my drama "Ariane", and auditioning and booking voice over gigs! You can catch me in the new decathlon commercial. So a lot is happening.