Ioana Bugarin: “Acting helps me understand myself”

3 November, 2020

Ioana Bugarin is by far one of the most promising young film actresses of the moment. She plays leading roles in two Romanian films that had their world premiere this year and could be watched online in Romania, within Les Films de Cannes à Bucarest.

In “Mia Misses Her Revenge” (2020), by Bogdan Theodor Olteanu, presented at the Warsaw Film Festival, she plays a young actress going through a crisis, after breaking up with her boyfriend who slapped her during a fight. In “Otto the Barbarian” (2020), the debut of director Ruxandra Ghitescu, selected in the competition of the Sarajevo Film Festival, she plays the protagonist’s girlfriend, a girl in depression, whose suicide deeply affects those around her.

Ioana Bugarin also plays the main roles in the short films “About us”, by Ruxandra Ghitescu, and “Fairy Fever”, by Tudor Cristian Jurgiu; both of them have had their premiere in festivals this year.

She became known in Romanian cinema as Ileana in “Moromete Family: On the Edge of Time” (2018), by Stere Gulea. She made her acting debut in film in high school, when she starred in “A Love Story, Lindenfeld” (2014), by Radu Gabrea.

Since 2019 she has worked at the Odeon Theater in Bucharest, and is currently filming for a series, “RUXX”, produced by HBO and directed by Iulia Rugina and Octav Gheorghe.

Born in September 1996 (she doesn’t want to make her birthday public), in Timisoara, Ioana Bugarin studied at the local German high school “Nikolaus Lenau”, in the Mathematics-Informatics class. She began to be interested in acting in the eighth grade, when she joined the school’s theater group.

In 2015-2016, she studied acting for a year at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. Between 2016 and 2019, she also studied at the National University of Theater and Film „I. L. Caragiale” in Bucharest (UNATC).

On the set for “Mia Misses Her Revenge” / Photo: Codruta Irina Corocea

What got you interested in Mia Misses Her Revenge, when Bogdan Theodor Olteanu proposed you to join the project, and how did you prepare for the role?

It’s been a long process. It was 2018 when we first met for a coffee and he told me that he is thinking of making a film, that he doesn’t know if it will be a short film or a medium film, that he doesn’t have any money for it, so basically something crazy based on improvisation. He did have the starting point for the film: a young woman gets slapped by her ex-boyfriend and the process she goes through in trying to make sense of this event.

So we kept on meeting and talking about the character, about her personality and the way she behaves. Often enough, we would meet and I would improvise with other partners in the film. And as we kept doing that, the situations were starting to shape up and become clearer and clearer in his mind. Slowly, we started following some certain points. We went on with the improvisations for a year or so. Our rehearsals were recurrent, but I don’t know how often we met each other. I also had other projects at the time. So we took some breaks in between. It was on and off. But not a month passed without having a rehearsal. Since 2018, the project has been a constant in my life.

Basically, he was writing based on what you were improvising?

He would come with different suggestions, and we would improvise based on them. Until our next rehearsals, he would polish them up, come up with other suggestions and get more into the given situation. Towards the end, he even wrote a screenplay. Yes, the film has a script. But only on the shooting day did we receive the pages with those particular scenes. He would give us the scene, we would read it. If you could get your lines down, fine. If not, fine as well. But there was a course to follow and some milestones to reach. If there was some sort of slip during our improvisation while shooting, he would give us the script and say, “Look, here I’d like you to get to this part.” But the words, those are our own.

How did you find this process, as an actress? I guess it was all new to you.

Indeed. It was the first time I worked like this, my first shooting where I didn’t have to learn a text beforehand. But I knew very well my character, the ways she would react, her emotional universe, her biography, her perspective on certain things.

Going through a crisis, she is actually very unstable and inconsistent with herself. She often seems to react in different ways. Her life is turned upside down, so although she is a character who starts at point A and ends in point B, her path is not linear. Or at least it’s not conventional. She contradicts herself, she’s happy, she gets depressed, she becomes aggressive.

She unexpectedly goes from one state to another.

Precisely because she’s in the middle of a crisis. For me, that was kind of scary, though. I remember telling Bogdan that I’m a bit afraid that I won’t be able to handle it. What if during shootings I wasn’t able to offer something valid enough, in such a short time? After all, we only had ten days to make a feature film. There was some kind of pressure on me. He reassured that I know my character, that we’ve improvised long enough, and that he’s confident that everything will go well.

For an actor, it’s amazing to see that you can come with suggestions, come with your own thing. After all, it’s you who’s there, in the moment. Evidently, you have a direction to follow, but not some lines you have to go word by word. You’re just with your partner. Things change from take to take.

Your character is in distress, going through many states. What are your resources for such a role? How much is technique and how much is emotional input?

I was quite familiar with the character’s emotional universe. I had understood it quite clearly. Including the fact that she is a character with some pretty noticeable emotional wounds, that she is very impulsive, that she reacts very fast and by instinct. I worked a lot on this part. Right before playing it, I would read the text. So I knew very well which are the milestones I have to reach and not overlook under any circumstances.

Even so, Bogdan was editing as we were playing, and he would tell us if we had to cut a part of the discussion or take more time to digest what was happening. 

It was a process where I had to pay attention, to be very focused, very present all the time. Your partner could say something different from take to take, so you had to be there in the moment to come with a reply. You couldn’t rely on the line. So all this was very challenging and exciting for me. I was quite ecstatic, and felt like I never got tired. After 12 hours of shooting, I was, “Let’s do some more.” It was like being in some kind of effervescent state. It was very intense.

But how hard was it for you? It’s a role where you expose yourself quite a lot, both emotionally and physically.

I tried not to think in terms of difficult or easy. I only thought that that’s what I have to do, these are the things I have to show. Evidently, I came in contact with all sorts of emotions inside me. Although it was only a character, although we had worked very hard and built it meticulously, there was a gray area, where the plans could overlap a bit. Precisely because it is based on improvisation. But it’s not autobiographical.

And how do you manage these possible overlaps?

By moving away from them. The moment I felt that I might go towards something that wasn’t necessarily specific to my character, but rather some kind of exhibitionist exposure of my own life, I stayed clear off it. And Bogdan saw that it wouldn’t happen. After all, it’s not an experience I lived through. Not even through the main event. It never happened to me. I never reacted that way. And I wouldn’t behave like that in a breakup.

People understand that it’s a fictional convention.

I don’t like the following phrase, which is something that you could hear at UNATC, but it was very much like this: “Me in that situation, but not me, Ioana, it’s me, Mia, that altered identity, that actress who has a biography quite different from my own.” Then again, in some places, there were common grounds. In the discussion I have in film with Maria Popistasu, my adoptive mother, I tell her: “A slap is something inadmissible.” And me, Ioana, does believe that. But, at that moment, it was the character speaking. It wasn’t me giving a speech on domestic violence.

In Otto the Barbarian, you play a character who is present only through the protagonist’s memories, shown through images recorded either in private or in the moments when the two were together, before her suicide. How was it when Ruxandra Ghitescu came with this project to you, and how did you discuss the role with her?

Just like with Mia…, here, as well, I started pretty early on. I even got to meet a different Otto from the one casted in the end. I even rehearsed with some of the guys who were auditioning for the role of Otto. I got the part a year and a half before the shootings started. During that time, I would meet with Ruxandra, talk a lot about the character, read together, improvise, she would give me films as references. I had studied the Meisner method in London, and Ruxandra called me, for example, to improvise with some of the boys who were auditioning for Otto.

From the moment Marc appeared (ie – Marc Titieni, who plays Otto in the film) in the process, we started working on our relationship, getting to know each other a bit, and building on our trust and communication. We are not a couple in real life, but we needed to show some sort of intimacy and familiarity on the screen, because, after all, this relationship is very important to his character.

How do you do that? How did you work on that?

We met for coffee. We read the scenes together, rehearsed them. We talked about things, like moments they shared in the past. We did some exercises of imagination: “What if we were together? What would we have done if we were this couple?”

Here, as well, you play an emotionally demanding role, a girl who commits suicide. At first we see her bright side, during her happy times with Otto, but then, towards the end, we discover her drama. How do you work on this? How do you get these emotions, especially in this type of convention where you have to look directly into the camera?

Obviously, I come into contact with my own depressive mood and my anxieties, gathered all in a pile, repressed, released or unreleased. Of course, I can’t ignore them and say it’s all fiction. During that year, I remember that when I had moments when I felt very depressed or very anxious or had darker days, I wrote about them in a diary, to bear in mind how I felt physically, what were the sensations I was experiencing in real life that could lead to what the character was feeling.

With the idea that it might help you with your character.

That it might help me get closer to that point, to that suffering that I have to show on the screen. And I have to show it for 12 hours. The shooting day starts at 6am and ends at 6pm, and during that time I have to be depressed and show symptoms of depression. But I didn’t need those notes, after all. That surprised me. I think something clicked inside me while writing them down, and it helped me access some kind of subconscious emotional memory.

It helped, but on a subconscious level.

Yeah, it wasn’t a conscious process. I didn’t take the diary with me to read from it and remember what it felt like when I was depressed right before going for a take. But somehow I let myself go to that place, I let myself really question what it would be like if I died now, if I made the decision that I wanted to die. And if you dare to open yourself to this issue and really think about it, the emotional response will come for sure. If you can put it under the scope.

But, here’s the paradox: there was also something very playful in the whole process. Obviously, this state I was getting into stayed with me for some time. It wasn’t like I was going dancing and making some stupid jokes on the set after we were done with the scene. But at the same time, the power of fiction and convention is quite high. You’re in and you’re out, in and out, and so on. It’s a part that you train quite a lot as an actor, the ability to press some buttons and get some things out of you when you need them.

But it was difficult. Had some trouble sleeping during that period. I felt a bit haunted by the fact that I was going to this dark place inside me. Normally, we don’t allow ourselves to think that life is horrible, that the prospects are terrifying, and that we would rather die than live. But some people, unfortunately, live these things. I even talked to people who suffered from depression, who were diagnosed with depression, we talked about how they felt. People resort to desperate gestures because of this immense pain they feel. So then, I allowed myself to go to that place, and I hope that, with Ruxandra’s help, I succeeded in telling that story without exaggerating, without embellishing it.

There’s an energy you emanate in front of the camera. And a certain ease. How do you feel in front of the camera? Is there any pressure in being directed towards you for that long?

I like the camera. It doesn’t scare me. But it seems ruthless sometimes, that it doesn’t forgive or miss anything, and that things are exactly as they are. You can’t hide things in front of the camera. There’s some strange ferocity about it. At the same time, I believe that it can be your friend, if you see it as such. I was never afraid to show myself in front of the camera. I think it has something to do with my personality, with the way I was brought up, which makes me feel comfortable to show pain in front of a device that I know will record and keep those images with me.

I think it has to do with my obsession with memory, as well. I’m pretty scared of how much we can forget and change our memories as we talk about them. Everything becomes subjective. They become much harder to grasp, to reach. You can’t go back to the objective experience anymore. But you can do that if you have a video of it, for example. But even then, you probably won’t go back there completely.

Are you trying to use this memory?

When I’m being filmed, it’s like that moment in my life is recorded. Although it’s fictional, although it’s me in an altered identity, it’s still me in that moment, living those things. They stay there and I’m able to have a more objective look at myself from that moment. I find that quite fascinating and exciting, and it makes me let go, show myself the way I am, and not try to edit too much of it. In fact, it’s a weird type of diary. I’ve never said that before.

In “Otto the Barbarian”

You are at a very good time in your career. You play leading roles in these two films that premiered in international festivals and then, online, in Romania, in the fall. How do you see this period, how does it feel?

It’s a small moment of gratification. I’d be a hypocrite to say I’m not happy about it. Being an actor is a profession where you work a lot, and it’s quite emotional when your work finally gets out there, into the world, and you get to see people’s reactions. Until then, you live in your own bubble, with the team, and you don’t get a lot of direct feedback. There’s no exchange of energy. So, it’s very exciting when that happens.

Then again, this moment has been spoiled by the fact that all this is happening during the pandemic. I couldn’t go to Sarajevo because the festival was no longer physically held. I couldn’t go to the Warsaw Festival because I was working on a project and I was at risk of getting infected with the new Coronavirus.

I’m glad that this moment is happening, that these films exist, that they are seen. And I hope they will continue to be seen by as many people as possible. I hope they like what we did there. At the same time, I feel that, because they are shown online, the moment of fulfillment is torn apart. Or at least there’s some flaw to it. I mean it’s sort of an indirect, strange meeting with the public I don’t necessarily have access to. I’m not in a cinema hall where I can see, hear or feel people’s reactions. When there’s a crowd of people in a movie theater, watching the film together, some kind of energy flows around the room. And that’s an emotion I didn’t get to experience with these two films. That makes me a little sad.

How was the experience of working on Moromete Family: On the Edge of Time, which is a completely different kind of film?

I am very happy that I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Gulea, that he trusted me to give me that role, and that he took me into his team. It was one of the most successful Romanian films in recent years. It was so overwhelming to realize that I was part of that film, even in a small role.

It was an amazing opportunity. It kind of launched my career. I had worked on some other projects before – some short films and a feature film by Mr. Gabrea – but they didn’t have the same visibility. The feedback was massive. I received messages from strangers congratulating me, telling me that they were my fans. I was absolutely overwhelmed, I didn’t expect it. Besides, I thought to myself, “What did I do that was so great?” Whatever, I’m not good at getting compliments.

You were in high school when you had your first film experience, a role in A Love Story, Lindenfeld, by Radu Gabrea. What do you remember from that period?

I was just a kid. I was 15 years old, about to turn 16. It was my first role in a film. I remember being so excited, I never felt that way again on the other projects. I was absolutely overwhelmed by everything that was happening there. Honored to meet Mr. Rebengiuc. I was happy that I was playing with a colleague from the theater group in Timisoara, Horatiu Covlescu.

I remember being fascinated. I had already made the decision that this is the field which I would like to work in, and that this is the profession I would like to do. But at the same time, everything was very fluctuant. My craft needed a lot of improvement. I worked a lot based on my intuition. And I was very open, afraid. I didn’t have the control I have now. Mr. Gabrea had a lot of trust in me. It was very emotional for me, because, after we finished filming, he said to me: “You’re a very talented young woman and I want to make a feature film with you in the leading role. I want to give you a chance.” That almost made me cry, because it was a big deal that a director told me these things and saw something in me, at a time when I had no kind of validation, when I didn’t know if I could do this job or not. For the moment, it was just a fantasy or a projection.

We even started working on that feature film, we shot for 18 days. The film came out as an unfinished work, because Mr. Gabrea fell ill during shootings, and they were suspended. It was called The Piano in the Fog. I worked on it in the summer before I left for the UK, after entering the school in London.

You were in a Mathematics-Computer Science class at the Theoretical High School “Nikolas Lenau” in Timisoara. You also said in interviews that you started performing in a youth theater group.

It was the high school theater group, which was managed in partnership with the German Theater in Timisoara, and was coordinated by actress Isolde Cobet. I joined the group ever since the eighth grade. Isolde saw me, I went for some kind of audition and she got me in the production of the 12th grade students. They were doing their last performance, their farewell play, Look Back in Anger by John Osborne. I played Helena. It was my first role ever and the first encounter with a script.

That’s when you decided you wanted to be an actress?

Yes, when I made the decision to join the high school theater group. I was already flirting with the idea in middle school: “What would I like to do? Who do I want to be in the future?” I was fantasizing more and more about this area. I was constantly going between acting and directing. For a pretty long time in high school, I was determined to pursue directing

Theater directing?

I didn’t know exactly. I went to theater directing schools. I went to film directing schools. I had a meeting with Michael Haneke’s editor, I went to the school where he teaches in Vienna. I was somewhere in between. I couldn’t make up my mind.

But in the eighth grade I was determined to go for acting, so the natural thing would have been to join a high school theater group, to see what this profession is really about, to find out if there’s something deep-rooted in me, something that I could work with, a foundation from which to start. After that, it was a combination of determination, tenacity, luck and some meetings with people who trusted me at certain moments and gave me a chance.

I was in the 10th or the 11th grade when I did Lindenfeld. Isolde recommended me for the role. She was in contact with a casting director in Bucharest who asked her if she knew any German-speaking young girls. She sent her some photos with me and that’s how I got in touch with Mr. Gabrea. Isolde had a lot of confidence in me and supported me throughout high school.

With Iosif Pastina in ”Moromete Family: On the Edge of Time” / Photo: Vlad Cioplea

You also said that in high school you started looking for opportunities to study abroad, more precisely in London.

In the ninth grade, I participated in the Let’s Go Digital! workshop organized by Transilvania IFF. I met film industry professionals such as Sorin Botosaneanu, Andrei Rus, with whom I became good friends since then, Iulia Muresan, who were professors at UNATC. Then Dana Bunescu. We started talking about UNATC. They told me quite a bit about how things are going there, about what’s going on in the acting department. I had an inside perspective, before going to Bucharest and taking the training classes. Not to mention that the conflict on the politics of the university began shortly afterwards.

Therefore, you did think at first that you might want to go to UNATC.

Yes. But at the same time, there was kind of an expectation, a trend, that if you finish a foreign language high school, you should go and study abroad.

But I don’t know why I turned to the UK. I don’t have the answer for this one. I started taking English classes with a native speaker, working on my accent so I could go to those auditions and rehearsals. I started preparing in the 11th grade. I was graduating earlier, in February, and I know that, during that period, I was training with Radu Nica (ie – theater director). He helped me prepare for the admission in the UK. Meeting him was quite important for my career. During that period, he would have performances running in different cities like Cluj, Sibiu, Targu Mures. And I would travel around by train, stay in hotels and rehearse with him, so that he could prepare me. Then I would go home and learn for school. I would do them in parallel.

Once I graduated, I also found out that I got in at RADA in London, at Foundation Degree. So I decided to leave.

So you were going to study for a year, or for longer?

I studied for a year. It was a Foundation Degree from RADA. I went for the undergraduate classes. I reached the third phase in my admission exam, and they told me that it would be better for me to take a foundation course, which is an intensive one-year course. So for the last round in the selection process, they invited me to go for the foundation course, should I want to follow it. They thought I was a bit too young to enter the bachelor’s degree and that English not being my mother tongue would be a minus. I said okay. After all, it was an intensive one-year course at RADA. There were several thousand candidates for 28 seats.

What was this experience like? How important was it? What have you learned?

Almost everything I know. I think that’s where I built my foundation, where I learned all the skills which I later improved. It was a very intense course, covering a lot of methods, a lot of different types of work. We were doing text analysis. We were studying Stanislavski, practicing his method. We were doing Meyerhold, Meisner, studying Rudolf von Laban’s techniques. We were doing Alexander Technique. We also worked on the physical part, movement, dance, coordination. Yoga. I had yoga classes three times a week. It was a very complex course.

What about film?

We also had a module on film acting, where we were given certain scenes from different movies and we had to work on them, prepare for different types of shots: American, medium, close-up, extreme close-up, and see what kind of impact all this had on you as an actor. Everything was in detail and very relevant. I know it might sound big, but for me it was a life-changing experience.

I guess all this is helping you now.

I know that in the first two years after London, I would often go back to my notes and the techniques I had learned there. If I found myself stumbling, I would return to them. It was the place where I felt that I accumulated the most knowledge and where I became the most open.That’s when I realized how little I know and how complicated this profession really is. However, paradoxically – and that’s why I think this school is so awesome – although it made you aware of how little you know, we all finished with an insane confidence in ourselves. Half of my colleagues went on setting up theater companies, putting on shows. We were very encouraged to think outside the box, to experiment, and not wait for that magic phone call. To come with ideas, to search out, to explore, to read.

But what does it mean to learn acting in a foreign language? How hard is it?

I was stressed and somewhat afraid that I didn’t have the same freedom as my colleagues in this regard, because there are some linguistic impediments that separated me from them. After all, I didn’t grow up in that language and I don’t speak it as well as they do. But I quickly overcame these frustrations. I started not caring about it anymore. I began to realize that it was about something else, not about how correctly I spoke English or how rich my vocabulary was. But I think that studying at a German language high school helped me in that moment. I think it shaped some things in my head. I was probably a little more used to living in another language.

Photo: Horatiu Sovaiala

After studying in London, why did you feel the need to go to UNATC? Did you think that it would be necessary and that it could help you in the future?

I felt that I still needed a safe place where I could explore and improve my skills. I didn’t necessarily feel ready to dive into the industry. I felt that the things I knew were still quite volatile and that I didn’t master them very well.

I wanted to go further on and continue my undergraduate studies there in London. But that would have entailed for me to take a gap year, because after finishing my foundation year, I applied to the Drama Center London and ended up among the first 50 of 6,500 candidates at RADA, but I still didn’t get it. That meant I had to stay on hold for another year, prepare for admission, and give it another try the next year. My parents encouraged me to go to UNATC, so I won’t need to take a whole year off. They thought that if I left the system, since there wasn’t a certainty that I would find work, and wasn’t going to do anything related to acting, I might even lose what I had accumulated in London. So they told me to go to UNATC, and during the first year I could still prepare for the admission in London and give it another try. If I had entered the second time, I would have interrupted my studies at UNATC and returned to the UK. At that moment, since I was already quite confused, I said okay, let’s try this way, too.

I prepared for UNATC a week before admission. I had quite a bit of experience in admission exams. And it went okay. I came in second, after only one week of training. I did good. But I already had a year of study behind.

In my freshman year, I was still juggling the idea of going back to London and trying to apply once again. But I started going to castings and getting parts. And, when I started working, I thought, “Does it still make sense to leave, given that I wanted to go to school just to start working, and now I can already do that?” It seemed counterproductive to leave, to give up on these connections that I was starting to create. And then to come back, without any guarantee that I would be able to resume them.

So I thought it would be best to stay for the moment, see if I continued to work the following year, too. If things had stalled in the second year, then I would have gone to apply again. That was the plan. But I got the part in Moromete Family: On the Edge of Time. And I joined a theater play directed by Radu Afrim. I had started to get all kinds of projects and meet people, and expand my network. I felt that it didn’t make sense to leave anymore, because, in the end, that’s why I was leaving, so that I could get roles and have the necessary skills to be able to do this job. And when I saw that I could do it, I said, “Why not keep doing it? Why refuse myself this opportunity?”

After that intensive year in London, what more did UNATC mean to you? Did it help you in any way?

UNATC was a traumatic experience. I had a pretty difficult relationship with many of the professors. It was a pretty toxic working relationship for me. I had a hard time integrating into that group. I felt that the professors didn’t help me with that. I found myself comparing everything that we were taught, or said, with what I learned in London. Sometimes we would do nothing for several days, and after that we would do some exercises on putting ourselves in a situation, but I was already doing analysis on complicated texts and talking about units of intention, internal and external obstacles. I had a slightly different understanding of the trade, and I was scolded if I dared to talk about it.

It’s true, I learned a lot from my colleagues. And there were a couple of professors who did influence and help me a lot. I am very grateful to Mr. Florin Grigoras, without him I wouldn’t have finished this school. Anca Ionita was also a guiding light for me through college. But, overall, it was rather a difficult and controversial experience, with good and bad. I learned from collaborating with my colleagues in directing. But acting also had some demanding parts, which still allowed me to explore some of the skills I had acquired before. It was just that I met a lot of resistance from the professors.

Apart from my friendship with Teona Galgotiu, I don’t think UNATC brought me much. But I met a dear friend, so I should be grateful, at least for that. We made a short film together in the first year and after that it was a match made in heaven.

Then I should guess you’re not going to do a master’s degree at UNATC.

No, definitely not. I would still keep the motto from that previous conflict they had at UNATC, “UNATC, reform yourself!” Everybody can find a different meaning to that. But UNATC does need a reform.

On the set for “Mia Misses Her Revenge” / Photo: Codruta Irina Corocea

What do you like about this profession, about being an actress? What attracts and stimulates you?

I find it to be a very playful profession, actually. Although it’s a very serious job and there’s a lot of pressure, it allows me to engage my playful side, even when I have to play emotionally demanding or difficult things. I think it’s an incredible chance to imagine what I would be like in a different context. To live some versions of my life through the characters that I play.

It’s a profession that helps me understand myself. It helps me integrate emotions, live them, release them. I’m a pretty sensitive person. And I chose a profession where I’m paid to cry, to be in touch with my emotions. It’s kind of a luxury to sit down and imagine what it would be like to go through some given situations in your life. To be able to afford living these things, have the space and time for them, meet different people who do this thing along with you.

It’s a process by which I get to know myself better, and I hope I’m able to tell stories that are relevant to people, which make them think of some things. I don’t know how much it can change them. I don’t know if art has that power. I’m sometimes skeptical about this. But the simple fact that I can move people and make them think about something, ask themselves some questions, is good enough for me. I can be at peace. I did my part, I helped a bit to improve this world. Big words, I know.

When I start talking about this profession, what it means, its tools, sometimes I see myself from the outside and I feel like laughing at myself. Because it feels that sometimes I have no idea what I’m talking about either. Sometimes I move forward by instinct. Not even I can realize how I came to do certain things, but I find that I did them anyway. As much as I can deconstruct the process sometimes, other times not even I can understand it to the very end. It just happens. I don’t think I can really say what is good and what is bad in this profession.

Sometimes I don’t understand. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and wonder why I’m doing this. After that I cry with joy for having the most wonderful job in the world. And I think about how contradictory my dilemmas can be. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s frustrating. Sometimes it’s scary. Especially this lack of control, when you realize you left some things there. Maybe, if you think about it, you realize that you could have done things differently. You can always do better. But it’s more important how much you feel you could have done better. Because that can actually make you sad.

How hard is it to be a young actress in Romanian cinema, in your opinion? How difficult is it to succeed?

I don’t think I’m the right person to answer this question, because I feel that I’ve been privileged. And I am entirely grateful for all the roles I got and for the fact that so many people have trusted me to this point, that they have landed me a hand and offered to create something together.

Sometimes I wonder and get emotional about it while walking down the street, when I realize that I didn’t get to experience that frustration of not knowing if I can really do this, of feeling the pressure that I want to prove myself, but the right context hasn’t been created for me yet.

I’m in a privileged position. I was offered these contexts and I hope I managed to live up to expectations. I was given several opportunities. But I don’t think it was just a matter of luck. I think it was also work and commitment involved. At the same time, I had some significant and decisive meetings throughout my life.

And I think what helped me a lot was that I realized how little control you actually have as an actor. All you can do is do your job as best as possible, be as open as possible. Connect with the person in front of you and try to understand their universe, understand what they come to offer and go with them with confidence and openness. From one point on, there’s nothing for you to control anymore, it is no longer in your hands. From the casting to the final version of the film you’re working on, you come up with things, but you don’t really know what will stand, the way it will be edited, how much it’s cut, what is added, how much of what you left there will change in editing. Obviously, in a film you won’t see anything completely different from what you performed. But there are some things out of your control in this profession. If you manage to accept that this part exists anyway, you probably won’t get frustrated with it and will manage to take it easer. That’s what I tried to do.

Journalist and film critic. Curator for some film festivals in Romania. At "Films in Frame" publishes interviews with both young and established filmmakers.