Mauricio A. Rodríguez Hernández (MARH): Can you describe to us a childhood experience, which influenced your acting career, especially your relation with filmmaking?
Ann-Sophie Vanlommel (ASV): As a child I once saw my cousin in a commercial right after the end of my favorite series at the time. I could not stop looking at it and felt something firing up in me. I immediately said “Mom I want to do this too!” No sooner said than done, my mom got me into a casting office. Besides that I’ve always performed little shows for my family, even if they were not a voluntary audience (laughs).
MARH: Which are the uplifting songs to stay optimistic and positive at these days?
ASV: I love songs from the 70s, 80s and 90s genre. Any of those will do the trick for me, especially “Girls just wanna have fun” by Cyndi Lauper, “Down Under” by Men At Work and “Tarzan Boy” by Baltimora. Songs by ‘The King of Swing’, Louis Prima, are also a great way to lift my spirits as well as Frank Sinatra, Jacques Brel, Queen, the list goes on. The songs by Belgian singer-songwriter Natan Cools also energize me because they are so emotionally loaded and yet so beautiful that they ignite that spark in my soul to fight time after time.
MARH: What gives you energy?
ASV: Great food (laughs). When I’m on a stage performing in front of an audience I feel the energy flowing through me, it’s such a privilege to me that I’m able to act on stage and be free. That being said, freedom is what gives me most energy, the ability to follow my heart and passion. Besides acting my music feeds me tons of energy, learning new songs or creating some myself excites me beyond limits, I keep playing non-stop.
MARH: Name a book that changed your life.
ASV: “Stella Adler, the Art of Acting” is a book that changed my life as well as the wonderful faculty at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting in L.A.
MARH: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
ASV: I have two quotes that I’d like to share. One of them is by Ms. Adler herself “Your talent lies in your choices.” This quote reaches beyond the world of acting for me, because your success is based on the choices you make on stage as well as in life. Another quote is one that I made up myself. “Don’t let your fears give you tears.” This was an important one for me to get through the day. Life can be scary and it’s important that you face your fears instead of running away from them or allowing them to beat you down, it’s a way of growth that allows you to become a stronger person.
MARH: What advice would you give your younger self about reducing stress?
ASV: This is a very important one, be kind to yourself and allow yourself to take the time you need to successfully complete a goal. I’m someone who has high expectations of herself and thus set the bar very high, then when I don’t reach that bar immediately I’m very harsh on myself. I’ve learned from an important teacher, Celio Da Siveira, the importance of being kind to yourself in order to avoid spiralling down. Rome wasn’t built in a day and stress ages you quicker (laughs).
MARH: What’s a surprising way you practice mindfulness?
ASV: I’m not great at practicing mindfulness because I’m a bit flaky when it comes to that, but when I do I meditate for 20 minutes and use my deck of “mindfulness” cards that I once got. Sometimes my piano calls me and I’ll just play any improvised piece that makes me feel at peace, I’d even say it brings me in a state of hypnosis.
MARH: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve your focus. What did you do, how long did it take until it became effective, and how you sustain this habit?
ASV: Dedicating a certain amount of time to what I’m working on in that moment is important. I’m someone who is easily distracted so I tend to put away anything that tempts to distract me. When I don’t want to do something but I have to it’s hard to keep focused, so I’m kind for myself and reward myself after I complete my task because… why not!
It took me a great teacher and a whole lot of self-discipline to achieve this. Sometimes I take steps back in order to take more steps forward. It’s a long process that doesn’t happen overnight, it’s taken me about a year or two to be in the place I’m at right now. I sustain this habit by parenting myself when it’s needed, switching from emotional thinking to logical thinking and reminding myself that whatever happens, I won’t die, because that would be the worst case scenario.
MARH: Would you describe yourself as a spiritual person? If so can you share with us one of your more profound spiritual experiences?
ASV: I consider myself more of a spiritual person than not but I don’t think I know enough yet to really get into it on a deeper level. At this moment I’d say I’m more someone who is in strong connection with her intuition and starts to understand her relationship to the universe better every day through the laws of attraction.
MARH: What advice can you share with the world on the importance of empowering others to reach one’s full potential? How do you empower others in your daily life?
ASV: Empowering others is important because it says something about who you are as a person. Helping others grow to their full potential is a beautiful quality. I also believe that this is something to be done without terms and conditions. You should help someone because you want to, not because you want something out of it.
By sharing my own experiences I hope to empower others. I try to send little messages to others whom I love or to acquaintances reminding them of their abilities. We all need to hear that sometimes to give us that little push, you never know how much it might mean to that person..
MARH: What is your greatest hope for the future? What is next for Ann-Sophie Vanlommel?ASV: My greatest hope is that I get the opportunity to grow more in my career as an artist in the U.S. because I absolutely love what I do. Since I don’t have a crystal ball showing me my future, I don’t know what’s up next. I will see and take it as it comes. What I do know is that one day I will walk my grandfather, Leo, down the red carpet once I attend my movie premier.