Please introduce yourself to the readers:
My name is Jelena Popovich. I was born in Croatia, and during the war years of Former Yugoslavia, I moved to Canada. I lived in many different countries and I travel a lot so I really feel at home wherever I am. I think the world is my home. I saw beauty and love in all countries and cultures that I visited. When I realized that my acting was becoming a career, I had the desire to move to the US. I wanted to study with a master acting coach Susan Batson who trained Oscar winning actresses that I admire like Nicole Kidman and Juliette Binoche. And I wanted to be in a place where there is a big industry even though it seems like a bigger challenge.
How and when did you first get into performing?
I always knew I wanted to be an actor, ever since I saw my first play as a child. It made such an impression on me that I wanted to make others feel what I felt in that play. I started acting in school plays and recitals and then community theater. At some point, I started taking acting classes and attended an acting conservatory in Prague where I acted in a number of films and plays. During that time I learned about Susan Batson and I knew that I wanted to train with her because she is committed to the art of acting. And that is what I want my work to be, like Susan says “Always in the Art”.
Who were some of your biggest inspirations?
When I studied Film at the University of Western Ontario I was exposed to world cinema and I watched great films by renowned directors and auteurs. I found my greatest inspiration for acting in films, when I watched Juliette Binoche. She is a great actress and most great directors have worked with her or would want to work with her. I also greatly admire the work of Nicole Kidman and her versatility and range. So when I read the book “Truth” by Susan Batson and learned that she is their acting coach, I naturally gravitated to Susan and started working with her.
What kind have training have you done?
I trained in acting for screen and stage at the Equity Showcase Theater and Professional Actors Lab in Toronto. I studied Shakespeare Conservatory with Andrew Tidmarsh from RADA and Guy Roberts who is the director of Prague Shakespeare Theater. I attended an acting conservatory at the Prague Film School and now my ongoing training is with Susan Batson in New York.
What has been your favorite role to play so far?
My favorite role is my current role. I am playing Frida Kahlo in my one woman show directed by Susan Batson. This has been the most challenging role so far and that is why I love it. Frida is such a wonderful and rich character that it stretches me and my instrument in many ways. I did a lot of research to prepare for this role. I traveled to Mexico to visit her house in Mexico City where she lived with her husband Diego Rivera. I visited places that she went to and I immersed myself in the culture. I had a great opportunity and privilege to meet Frida and Diego’s family. I fell in love with the richness of Mexican culture and of course, with my character.
What other projects do you have coming up?
I am excited to present “Tree of Hope, Remain Strong” a play written and performed by me. It is playing every Saturday at 8 pm at the Susan Batson Studio in New York from March 23 -April 27, 2013.
Who would be your ideal co-star and why?
There are so many great actors and if I had to choose ideal costars it might depend on the roles. The two actresses that I admire and would love to work with are Juliette Binoche and Nicole Kidman. I love the depth and range of their work and we have the same acting coach, so I think that it would be a great pleasure and privilege to work with them. When it comes to male costars I would like to put on that list Daniel Day Lewis, Sean Penn and Matt Damon. I admire their work and the choices they make for the characters but also for the films they choose to be a part of.
What are your plans for the future?
I have many plans for the future but my main goal is to do great work, to create and live in the art and through my acting to inspire people and make a difference and contribute to the world.
What is your advice to other aspiring artists?
My advice to other aspiring artists is to stay in the truth, to commit to the art and put in their ten thousand hours. The results will follow naturally when you continue to honor the little child within.
See Jelena Popovich on stage as FRIDA KAHLO!
(March 23-April 27)