That’s a great question, I would start the movement against the discrimination by age, especially for women (I think it already exists, for sure, but it’s not highlighted enough). The age becomes a problem in our society and especially in our industry. It’s so weird to say this, because when we talk about acting we are talking about life and real life has so many incredible stories with people of all ages. I remember when I was a teenager my idols and heroes were all much older than me, they were 30’s some 40’s and I still loved them. They inspired me more than young heroes from that time. Maybe because I knew they were wiser than I was, they lived longer and I wanted to grow up just to be like them. Now, things are built in a completely different way, when being older than 30 is not interesting anymore, because of the appearance, because of the image, because there’s no time to wait or live each moment in life, everything has to be fast, perfect, looking always the same. There’s no more space for older heroes, even for those who changed and saved our world before. When you pay attention to casting calls, or even read news about a film that a director is doing, it’s all for leading actresses between 15/25, and many times if you check men’s age they can be older and go until 33/35. We still live in a sexist society where men look amazing with white hair and wrinkles and women are old and uninteresting. Of course I’m really happy that some diversity doors were open but if we look closer to this “diversity” we still have a long way to run. Some doors were opened, but others were closed. If nothing is done, the future is going to be hard for the next generations, specially for women. All that they are achieving faster now, it’s going to end when they start losing their spot because of age. It’s going to be really hard for them to deal with that. It’s important to change mentalities, teach the beauty of life in each age and our industry has the power to do that. Diversity has to be real!
I had the pleasure of interviewing Anna Carvalho. Anna is multilingual award-winning actress, director, a fearless adventurer with a vast experience of + 60 credits in films and TV series some of which received prestigious awards and nominations. In addition to her Master’s degree in Acting & Performing Arts, Anna holds a degree in Cinema and she completed various acting courses across London, Lisbon, US and Italy with top creative talent like Margie Haber, Marcia Haufrecht, Bob Goodman, Teresa Villaverde and many others. Anna purpose is not only entertain, but as well educate, empower, and engage people while making the world a brighter place. Most importantly, she is here to spread the message of self-acceptance and chasing after your dreams no matter what roadblocks stand in your way.
Thank you so much for joining us Anna! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you so much for the invitation, it was a wonderful surprise.
I am Portuguese and was born in Lisbon, an only child that came from a humble family that has nothing to do with the arts, although both have many hidden talents.
At 6 I started taking jazz dance classes, doctors forbid me to have ballet because of my spine and I wanted to dance so they said the only thing I could do was Jazz dance. Besides the dance, me and my parents used to go to the theatre a lot. My mother was a huge fan of a Portuguese actor (who passed away) Raul Solnado, and I grew up watching and loving his work. I was a quiet girl, but very independent and creative. At home I could spend hours in my corner creating stories. I can say that imagination was always my best friend. At school I got punished, not because I was behaving badly, but because I was not paying attention in class as I was always in my dream world.
At the time I wanted to be a detective, because I loved adventure and mystery books, and later I fell in love with the stories of Agatha Christie.
When I was 8/9 years old one of my cousins asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told her I wanted to be a detective and (maybe) an actress. She smiled surprised and I added that in case I became an actress I wouldn’t be doing all the kissing scenes, because for me that was to disgusting ☺ With kissing or without them, the passion was already there and at school my classmates knew that our homework would be a play, a video or a small performance.
Outside of school, I continued my dance classes, but at that time I wanted to create a dance group, so I put an ad in a magazine and I got 40 letters in one day, all from young people sharing the same dream as me. Some of us still got together, but it was never more than little rehearsals. Besides this me and my best friends used to get together and write lyrics, created choreographies etc. We were even invited to perform at a local community association with other groups.
Although I was already involved in some amateur theater groups, it was when I finish high school that I decided that I wanted to be an actress. This decision was only made with the help of my high school teachers and later reinforced by some of my university teachers. At this time, I had already taken some acting courses in Lisbon and in London and was already given my first steps as an actress. After that I never stopped to follow my passion.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Sure. I had a few, but the reactions of the public that watched our work is always the most rewarding part. This story happened at the end of my theatre play “Saudades”, a show with just two actors. “Saudades” was always a very emotional show, our audience was generally older and we were singing songs from their time that would bring them memories of their younger days. One day, after we finish, we went (as usual) to talk with the public and a blind lady was waiting for us. She was very emotional and what followed I will never forget, she wanted to thank us for everything we made her feel, all the memories of the past that we brought back. During that 1hr show, she forgot where she was and she revisited some of the happier moments of her life: the time she was young and still could see, her husband, her family. Stories like this are some of the best experiences of your career. I had more, but this one was really special.
This is a passion, a way of expressing myself and nothing gives me more pleasure than when I’m rewarded with these special moments, when you make people dream, sometimes we change their lives’. I like to quote the coach Bernard Hiller when he say’s that we are Warriors of light. We are!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
My first story happened when I was shooting my first feature film in Portugal with a director that I truly admired called Pedro Costa. I was nervous but so happy to be working with all those professionals. I had a small part but at the end of shooting, my agent, that was there with me came to tell me they had really enjoyed my work. I was so thankful and proud to be there. Afterwards we went to lunch, I sat down at one of the tables and after a few minutes the director came and asked if he could sit next to me. Very shyly I said yes. He started talking to me, asking me questions and I just remember that my brain froze and I didn’t know how to speak. I felt like a big jerk! I don’t need to say, that after that we didn’t talk anymore. The age and experience taught me to find ways of defending myself in that moments. To be honest, I’m much better, but it still happens.
My second story happened when I came from a Tools of Animation course in Italy where I broke the tale of my back after climbing some rocks on a Romanic theatre, everything because of a Picture! After that I was (of course) in pain and walking really slow. When the course finish I came back to Portugal and was advised to sit on a cushion with a hole in the middle, because it helps to protect that area and doesn’t hurt when you sit. I stayed almost one month recovering. When I started feeling better I decided to apply for some auditions and I was called for some. One of the auditions was for a theatre company that was more of an interview.
Of course when I entered the room and put the pillow in the chair they looked at me with a funny face. So I decided to explain what had happened. And I thought they would never choose me: a cripple that walks slow, that needs a pillow to sit and comes to an audition for a show where she will have to play 6 characters! It’s not going to happen! Well, it happened! They chose me and we worked together for 7 years. Now they are not only my fellow actors but also my friends.
At that time, I remember to do a few more auditions and had a few call backs, but the days weren’t compatible with the other shows and I gave up.
My lesson is: there’s no painful stones in our way that can stop us, the only stones we will face is ourselves.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
One of the projects is the TV series “Joaquin” where I’m Elisa the Watcher. “Joaquin” tells the story of a conflicted Demon Hunter, his close friend Miguel who died years ago, and his newly assigned angelic observer Elisa. During a seemingly routine exorcism, Joaquin stumbles upon a young girl Isabella who possesses a power that makes her the target of both Heaven and Hell. This is an original series produced by IronDragon Productions and will stream on Roku.
Another project is the Sitcom “Under One Roof” in Dallas. We should start shooting soon and I will be the matriarch of an Italian family and I am very happy to be part of this comedy.
In the middle of the year, I will begin to shoot the film “712 Gladstone” in which I am the lead. And the movie tells the story of a mother that tries to save her son from drugs and death. A very emotional film with a very beautiful story, directed by the award-winning director Felix Moore.
In addition to these incredible projects, I’m waiting for the premiere of the Sci-Fi pilot “Red Runners” directed by Erik Bernard and Produced by TLG Motion Pictures and Have Not Films. We filmed last year and I can’t say more, because it’s all in the secret of the Gods ☺ But I’m really excited about this series. Let’s wait and see what’s going to happen!
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
So many people who have crossed my path! I love life, travel and to talk with people. There’s so many incredible stories out there, sometimes it’s hard to believe that they are real. My work is about life, we create and represent life we “breathe” from that moments. When we talk with people, hear the world around us, we became more tolerant and understand life in a different way.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Be an eternal student.
Create your own work, don’t wait for anybody.
Be focused, but don’t forget to live. It’s life that give you all the ingredients for your stories.
Sometimes it’s important to stop and look around.
Find other things in life that you like to do.
Persist, sometimes things take time.
never forget to take care of yourself and the one’s you love!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
That’s a great question, I would start the movement against the discrimination by age, especially for women (I think it already exists, for sure, but it’s not highlighted enough). The age becomes a problem in our society and specially in our industry. It’s so weird to say this, because when we talk about acting we are talking about life and real life has so many incredible stories with people of all ages. I remember when I was a teenager my idols and heroes were all much older than me, they were 30’s some 40’s and I still loved them. They inspired me more than young heroes from that time. Maybe because I knew they were wiser than I was, they lived longer and I wanted to grow up just to be like them. Now, things are built in a completely different way, when being older than 30 is not interesting anymore, because of the appearance, because of the image, because there’s no time to wait or live each moment in life, everything has to be fast, perfect, looking always the same. There’s no more space for older heroes, even for those who changed and saved our world before.
When you pay attention to casting calls, or even read news about a film that a director is doing, it’s all for leading actresses between 15/25, and many times if you check men’s age they can be older and go until 33/35. We still live in a sexist society where men look amazing with white hair and wrinkles and women are old and uninteresting.
Of course I’m really happy that some diversity doors were open but if we look closer to this “diversity” we still have a long way to run. Some doors were opened, but others were closed. If nothing is done, the future is going to be hard for the next generations, specially for women. All that they are achieving faster now, it’s going to end when they start losing their spot because of age. It’s going to be really hard for them to deal with that. It’s important to change mentalities, teach the beauty of life in each age and our industry has the power to do that. Diversity has to be real!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Its ok to be afraid.
– Its ok to fail
– Say NO — To projects, friends, life in general! Was a time in my life, because I wanted to work so much I didn’t make the best choices. I don’t regret because I learned with my mistakes, but to be true, some of the projects were a waste of time in my life.
– Be focused and choose 1 or 2 things to do a day, not a thousand! My mother always told me: “don’t try to do many things at the same time, or you will leave some things unfinished!” and its true even if I succeeded some days!
– From each self-tape, create a piece of art that you are proud to share with the world (I heard this one from a CD recently and I love it!)
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Actor an Athlete of Heart” from Antonin Artaud
– Live the moment
– Everything that happens, happens for a reason, everything that happens has to happen (this last one was used in my theatre show “Death Cabaret” and my film “Death is the Place on Earth”)
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes, like I mention in the beginning of this interview, my high school teachers and later some of the teachers at my college. At the end of high school my history teacher Isabel Cluny that was the director of our class had a special message for me in the name of the other teachers. She wanted to tell me that I should get my degree in acting. They said that they were impressed and didn’t have any doubt about my talent. Hearing that definitely changed my life, meant they believed in me. Years later, the story repeated itself in college. One of the teachers was the director of a theater company in Portugal, he didn’t know that I was already working as an actress. My group had the highest score in his class: 19 of 20 and again I was encouraged to work as an actress.
I’m doing 23 years of career and all this time I have had the support of many other people that helped me to follow my dreams. Thankful to each one of them.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Can I mention more than one? We can all lunch together! ☺
I would love to meet someone that has nothing to do with the Industry;
Pope Francisco, his soul is bigger than this world, he’s simple, humble and embraces life with all it’s differences. I have so many questions that I would like to ask.
Oprah Winfrey, she’s a leader. A strong woman with a big charisma and so much wisdom, a true inspiration.
The director Guillermo Del Toro because I really admire his work and I identify so much with his stories. Having lunch with him would be fantastic!
They are all extraordinary people that I truly admire, respect and would love to talk with.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!