The Annual Romanian Film Festival in New York City usually takes place the first weekend of December. I had the good fortune of attending several years in a row. It is always so much fun despite the cold and difficult weather that the North East Coast can dish out.
One of the many highlights of this event is meeting all kinds of fascinating and talented actors. One person that caught my attention for an interview was the beautiful Romanian actress Maria Roman. Often times I am so eager to get to know people, that conversation just flows spontaneously and effortlessly. I have so many questions yet there is always so little time.
One of the charms of Maria Roman is her sincere style of answering these questions, which she spices with wisdom, humanity, passion and an adorable sense of humor.
MARIA, WHEN WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU REALIZED YOU WANTED TO BE AN ARTIST?
The moment I had enough of the mathematics and physics I was studying in high school; when I realized I did not want to have to deal with numbers for the rest of my life. I remember considering literature, dancing, singing, painting so subconsciously looking into arts but nothing really clicked like the thought of acting. It cured me of my nihilism and gave me a meaning in life. I had always been an existentialist philosopher at core, always looking for the reason we are here and acting gave me the possibility to explore the depth of the human soul by delving into understanding and being all these other people that were written characters. I fell in love with the process of creating other lives in this way and so I fell in love with life through my acting. I’ve actually observed many times afterwards that I’ve learned how to live from my acting.
It was later on that I realized I wanted my acting to be art. At first I thought the difference was made by the seeking of the truth of the character opposed to just executing a job and putting on that character’s mask. Then I realized the
truth is relative. No matter how much I had been striving to find a universal truth, the fact is that anything anyone ever thinks or feels at one point is just as real as anything else. So I concluded that the difference between acting
and being an artist at it had to do with how much soul one puts into it. And from that perspective we are all artists working on the masterpiece that is our life.
WHAT WERE THE FIRST STEPS YOU TOOK TO BECOME AN ACTRESS?
romanmaria2I considered acting for the first time when my desk mate in high school told me about a friend of hers going to the Student’s Theater in the Attic run by Catalin Naum . I was just wondering what would I be doing with my life so it was perfect timing and it sounded very appealing. I was coming from a strict rational way of thinking and I wanted to be told if I am talented enough to be worth pursuing this craft. Because at first I thought that is all about talent, then I figured the talent needs to be trained; when I came to the US I learned that it’s all about who you know and now I finally know that the most important thing in this art and business of acting is how much you want it, how much you trust you have it. It’s basically like any other thing in life. But the very first step I took was to become more neutral in my aspect -grow hair, take off piercings- and let go of my personal punk/rock/hippie costumes so I can take on my character’s aspect.
WERE THERE ANY IMPEDIMENTS AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
I was told that I was too smart for acting, that I was too cerebral. I totally understood this point, rather intuiting the importance of instinct but it was a hard thing to take now that the acting bug had bit me and feeling at the time what I later on read in Jung ‘The brain once expanded cannot go to its initial form’. And I didn’t know back then you can quiet your thoughts through praying or meditating so I knew I had to transform that into my biggest quality. I approach my characters from a psychological perspective. I believe they are people and just like us they are the result of their response to the events they experienced throughout their lives, especially in their childhood. And so I start peeling off all the layers and I get to their soul that the writer resonated with and wanted to bring forth. I do all the research, I find out all I can about my character and only then I allow myself not to know and just feel my way through a scene intuitively.
WHAT DETERMINED YOU TO COME HERE TO THE “LAND OF OPPORTUNITIES” ?
I came to the US to be part of the biggest movie industry in the world. I want to work more and reach a bigger audience. I want to create alongside the greatest movie makers of our times. But also I came here to grow up. To learn to stand on my own two feet on the ground because I’ve been floating around between Mars and Venus for a very long time and becoming an artist allowed me somewhat to indulge in that dangerous roller coaster of emotions.. I’ve always been a wild one so I guess US tamed me just enough for me to find a place in society from where I can share with the world my joy to be alive.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT TYPECAST AND WHAT KIND OF PARTS DO YOU WANT TO PLAY? ARE YOU MORE DRAWN TO COMEDY OR DRAMA?
romanmaria3From the industry’s point of view, type-cast seems to be necessary. From an artistic point, it is confusing because I’ve grown into acting believing that the wider range I have, the more valuable my art is. But in the business that is considered not knowing who you are and how you come across. It’s a challenge for someone as a-typical as myself but I take it gladly because it teaches me about specificity. I have always believed in the Oneness of All so my craft is all about getting to the essence of human beings and giving them different forms.. And when it comes to comedy or drama, a really good part will contain both of the facets, just like life always contains them both, sometimes in the same time and that is why I love Chekhov so much.
HOW DO YOU RECONCILE YOUR SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH AS AN ARTIST WITH BEING A PRODUCT ON ONE OF THE MOST COMPETITIVE MARKETS?
I play by my own rules. I know who I am and what I want but I am also aware of how I’m being perceived and of what’s marketable. And I find common ground. I’m expended my understanding and now I can play this game because I am not afraid of losing my identity. It’s all about adaptability but I only stretch that as far as I still enjoy what I’m doing. There are many successful people in this industry and I will work with the ones I resonate with. The trick is not to get caught up in the system. Make the system work for your own needs.
WHAT IS THE BEST AGE ONE SHOULD START TRAINING FOR ACTING AND WHAT ARE THE STEPS TO BE TAKEN AT 10/15/20 YEARS OLD?
Even if it becomes a lifestyle, acting starts as a job so I think children should enjoy playing around when not in school. In late teens is probably best time to start because one is still young enough to be flexible but old enough to have made out of acting a personal choice. Some training is necessary and I recommend group training because acting is teamwork but you learn best from experience so get out there and do your thing!
WHERE DID YOU STUDY ACTING?
I have a BFA from UNATC – Romania and an MFA from the Actors Studio in NY. Not planning on getting a PHD in acting but who knows?!
WAS THERE ANYONE WHO MADE A REMARKABLE DIFFERENCE FOR YOU, MARIA?
I’ve learned something from or through most of the people I ever met. There was a time in school here when I was very confused about most things and one of my teachers, Jacqueline Knapp helped me out by introducing me to meditation, which proved to be of great importance in my life. And having worked with Liviu Ciulei on a monologue in English for my audition here was an extraordinary experience. He was a real genius and helped me in just a couple of days understand things about my acting that I had not been able to get to the bottom of in years. And also Mircea Gheorghiu, one of my teachers in Romania helped me come out of a dark age I got trapped into while in my first year of UNATC. Yeah..I sometimes go down the spiral and I am very grateful to the people who helped me climb back. Roger Paul, my first manager here also means a lot to me because he had faith in me when I didn’t.. And Nicolae Gafton taught me not only how to protect my vocal folds but also my integrity. And my Literature teacher in highschool Mrs. Dumitru who was the first one to point me towards acting or directing and my class master Carmen Niculescu who gave me all her support throughout the tough four years of the intense math-physics class. And my godmother had a remarkable influence on me even though we spent very little time together but she was an artist and I believe I was spiritually influenced by her.. Oh man, good thing I have some time to work on my Oscar speech! :)))
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY, IN YOUR OPINION MARIA, THAT SOMEONE CAN SUPPORT AN ACTOR?
It’s balance that an artist mostly needs and that can mean a lot of things depending from one person to the other..
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING THING TO BE AN ACTRESS?
Getting good jobs! The most challenging thing I had to face as an actress was to understand that art is one thing and showbiz a different thing.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING AN ACTRESS HERE IN THE USA AND IN ROMANIA?
Here I first had to get the right to get jobs.. But then there is a professionalism derived from such a huge industry.. things are very well planned cause there’s too much money at stake so everybody knows exactly what they have to do for things to go smoothly.. You must have a manager and agents here to be taken seriously. You are more of a business in the States if you want to be successful..it’s a matter of scale. I knew I was going to have much more opportunities here so I moved to NY without having visited first. I came here to play the game so I knew I was going to like it. Next stop is Hollywood.
DO YOU FEEL TEMPTED TO DIRECT OR WRITE FOR FILM?
Definitely!! I just feel like I want to take my acting to highest level I can and then I will open my own house production and start making my own projects.
IF YOU COULD CHANGE ANYTHING IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY, WHAT WOULD THAT BE?
I would change absolutely nothing in the entertainment industry.. it is what it is: an industry created to entertain people and everyone is doing their best at their job. I will change the people though by bringing some real joy, meaning and compassion in their souls.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 1/5/10/20 YEARS?
In one year I see myself living of my acting only and in 5/10/20 years I see myself getting better and better at it!
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WON THE MILLION-DOLLAR LOTTERY?
I would get rid of it as soon as I can before the curse reaches me! But making most of it while at it so maybe I would go in different places over the globe in poor countryside arias and give people seeds and livestock to provide them with food. I guess I’m thinking of ways to help people by providing a lifelong way to sustain themselves.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SEASON AND WHY?
I was born in August and I love bathing in the sea and I associate that with summer. I think snowflakes are one of the most beautiful thing on Earth and when I was in elementary school I impersonated winter two years in a row so that’s a
lifetime love. And then autumn, the colors, the rain and the wind I’m passionately in love with…I like the melancholic Bacovian mood for love it puts me in. The spring I recently grew more fond of the more joyous I became about life generally, because it does represent the renewal of cycles… I love the whole year round!!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR?
The color of the crazed wind but you can only find that in Romania.. ;0. There is something about blue and green and especially the blend of the two that totally gets to me. So I was wondering about that for a while and then I was looking through some old linen from when I was little and I found this table-cloth we used to eat on and it clicked; it had a blue and green flower pattern. I realized that is how we acquire different tastes, based on the emotions we link to different objects according to how we experienced them with our senses during different events. In this life or in previous lives. And I also love the color of love-red. But mostly I love the colors of the rainbow.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE HOBBY?
I don’t really have a hobby because I take very seriously everything that I do…sometimes too seriously and maybe that’s why I love the freedom dancing gives me. I dance a lot and I read a lot. Maybe not enough lately..I’ll see to that!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ACTRESS, FILM DIRECTOR, THEATER DIRECTOR, SINGER?
I don’t have a favorite actress because there are so many talented ones! But I do have a favorite movie star: Marlene Dietrich. Stanley Kubrik, Silviu Purcarete, Beth Gibbons (Portishead).
WHAT SADDENS YOU MOST ABOUT THE WORLD?
What saddens me most about the world is that people don’t realize we are all the same in our essence. And we are the same with everything that is around us on Earth and in the Universe. Literally. We are made of the same energy and matter as the stars. It pains me to tears to see people hurting each other and hurting the Earth that created us and sustains us. We are only hurting ourselves. I got over my self-destructive tendencies when I realized how much that affects everyone around me. I was depressed for a long time because of all the negative energy, the wars, the abuse and exploitation going on in the world until I realized that it’s all part of the process of our human evolution. Our reality is now based on overcoming different conflicts so I decided to buckle up and stand strong for what I believe in: love. Because it’s lack of affection that makes people have a hurtful behavior. They keep trying to fill up that empty space with all sorts of things and we get caught up in an infernal game of gaining power not realizing that we are only fighting ourselves because we are afraid to give more than we get from the other. There is no other. It’s just us on a beautiful colorful planet and we have all we need to just enjoy it and enjoy each other. I promise we will not get bored if we don’t have to work all day and fight everyone to make that money. Our brilliant scientists have discovered means for us to sustain ourselves without destroying our big round home. We just have to open that centered eye ourselves and see the truth that has brought science and esoteric together: we are all one big network of souls part of the same infinite pulsating vibration.
MARIA, DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING YOU DISLIKE ABOUT YOURSELF THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO CHANGE? ANY SHORTCOMINGS AS THEY SAY?
No, I’m perfect!! Ha ha. Nobody is and I’m learning to love myself despite my shortcomings; and for that I’m constantly working on becoming a better person. I believe in aiming to be a higher self because we live in an imperfect world and
the flaws we have are more than often a result of our attempt to protect ourselves and to adjust to society. And the ego is our biggest flaw and I’m a Leo so I have quite some work to do! I didn’t want to accept that for a while and my ego caught up with me, tripped me and hit me with a bat over the head. That shook me to a wider understanding of myself and ever since I’m constantly seeking to become the person I want to be. I dislike that sometimes I give in to lower frequencies and then things start to go wrong but I know now that all I have to do is to remember that I love life and it loves me back or I wouldn’t have come here and so I forgive myself and move on. It’s very important to like yourself because that’s the one person you always have around your soul..
MARIA, YOU LOOK LIKE A FOREVER AGE 19. WOULD YOU SHARE SOME OF YOUR BEAUTY TIPS?
Thank you, that is very kind of you. As corny as it may sound, beauty really comes from inside. I was ugly for a quite a while, feeling miserable and depressed. So I recommend staying connected to that source of joy of being alive that’s at the core of our existence. I believe our body is the manifestation of our psyche powered by our soul. So stay loving, throw out the cerebral window all your fears and drink a lot of water.
MARIA, IF YOU WERE TO CREATE A MANTRA THAT WOULD REPRESENT YOU WHAT WOULD THAT BE?
I am part of an infinite Universe. It gives me infinite love and it empowers me to bring joy to anyone that connects with me. I am love.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE THE PUBLIC TO REMEMBER YOU?
I want the public to acknowledge me first! I want to put a smile on their face or/and a sparkle in the mind and fill with love the soul of anyone that sees my work.
MARIA, DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS?
The only regret I have is that at one point in my life I wanted so badly not to have any regrets that I acted from fear rather than love and I missed on some great opportunities…it will never happen again. I will never again be afraid of giving away too much of myself. The Universe constantly fuels me and protects me.
IF YOU HAD TOTAL CONTROL IN WHAT CENTURY YOU WOULD HAVE LIKED TO BE BORN?
I used to believe that any other century would have been better than this one run by machines and losing its natural vibration. But now I know that this is the most interesting time we’ve been living in more than 20000 years! I totally believe in this shift we’re reaching next year. I feel how the world is expanding its awareness and how we’re getting closer to the brilliant civilization we have at our fingertips. And on the other hand, I might have been around since the supernovas so I’ve probably lived in every century…
IS THERE AN ACTOR OR ACTRESS YOU WOULD LOVE TO MEET IN PERSON?
Everyone! And not just meet, but also work with them!!!
HOW DOES YOUR FAMILY FEEL ABOUT YOUR CHOSEN CAREER?
I’ve surprised my family with quite a few crazy ideas growing up so by the time I told them I want to become an actress, I think everybody was happy that at least they will see me on TV.
WHO IS YOUR BIGGEST SUPPORTER?
WHAT IS A GESTURE THAT IMPRESSED YOU THE MOST THAT SOMEONE DID FOR YOU AND/OR FOR SOMEONE ELSE?
My mother’s gesture of having a child when she wasn’t supposed to because of her health condition. She knew she was not going to be around for a long time and she wanted my father to have someone to take care of him when he was going to be old. I didn’t understand this gift for the longest time. Now I thank her every day for the life she gave me.
DO YOU HAVE A MESSAGE FOR OUR READERS?
My message to the world is to start looking at other people as being different aspects of their own soul. And to understand that no matter what form they give to their god or don’t, there is one thing that sustains all of us and we need to start caring for it more: our beautiful unique as far as we know(and we went pretty far) Earth. Oh, oh, and to laugh as often as possible! I will end on that note and quote George Carlin: ” I think people should be allowed to do anything they want. We haven’t tried that for a while. Maybe this time it’ll work.”
Maria, thank you for sharing so much with us about you and your aspirations. I wish you success in all aspects of your life, Light, Peace and Love! I daydream that some day we shall give seeds to those in need, we shall be on the red carpet together, we shall dance in a film production, on the streets of California, Romania or wherever and whenever The Universe has a plan for us. You are enchanting!
It was fascinating to chat with Romanian actress Maria Roman. The more questions she answered, the more I wanted to ask. We could have talked on for hours. I imagine she could easily tempt someone into wanting to write a book about her. I am hopeful that we will meet again so we can collaborate in cultural activities and artistic exchanges. I often wish I had more time, a month or even a week, to be in the presence of the people I write about. Time may be fleeting, but we can
always plan for artistic projects, be creative, and continue to dream. For some of us those are vital parts of our existence.
By Adela-Adriana Moscu