Homelessness as an issue resonates really strongly with me. I remember watching a televised talent show in which one of the finalists discussed the contrast in his life to the year before, when he was sleeping rough. Something that struck me however was the amount of family and friends in the audience who were there to support him on the night. I wondered why they couldn’t have helped him at his lowest point. Being supportive of family members and friends means being there at their lowest points as well as their highest. The movement I would start would be a campaign for anyone with family and friends that they know are homeless or on the verge of being, to find some way to help them in whatever capacity they can as long as it isn’t detrimental to themselves, be it temporary accommodation or guidance to someone with the resources to help them. Homelessness causes tragically unnecessary deaths due to cold every winter, as well as the more social problems such as drug abuse that can be associated with it, which could be avoided by people taking the initiative to start reaching out and helping one another when in need.
As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing British actress Laura Styrka. Laura hopes to inspire, entertain and educate people through film and television, and strives to make the world a better place through kindness
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you so much for having me, it’s an honour. Since I was old enough to remember, I’ve been enthralled by the magic of film and television and the fact it takes people out of their everyday lives and into other dimensions where they can forget their problems for awhile and hopefully be inspired as well as entertained by the stories that are being portrayed. To be part of that magic is such a privilege and something I’ve been drawn to my entire life.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Wow there are so many to choose from it is hard to pick, but I guess one in particular was as bizarre as it was interesting and happened during a project we were filming on location recently. It was in a residential street in London and the people living there had obviously been made aware of the level of the disruption there was going to be, especially during the night shoots, but you can’t always account for everyone being completely aware of or how they’re going to react to certain things. The scene we were about to shoot had been set up for myself and a fellow cast member to walk from the street into the door of a house. Unbekownst to any of us, someone had made it on the set that wasn’t supposed to be there. They were using very high resolution lights for the scene and as they went on, the woman in question evidently alarmed by the lights started to act quite hysterically, screaming and pointing at them. Not initially realising what was happening, my fellow cast mate and I remained in position while the director rushed over to her to see what had happened. I’m not sure if it was ever established if she was a resident of the street or connected to someone there but it took him quite some time to calm her down and lead her away from the production area. The outcome of his conversation with her was that although she had ‘found the lights very bright and daunting’……..’she had found it all very interesting to be in the middle of and would like to see more of it.’ You never know what will happen next and need to be ready for anything.
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?
Gosh where do I begin, I made so many funny mistakes when I was starting out and of course continue to do so. I think one that stands out was on a music video I was featured in. We were shooting within very tight perimetres in a studio as they often are. The director had given me my mark to begin the camera shot on, which I obviously took note of as well as everything else in front of me but not so much what was going on behind me. When they began shooting the scene I took an accidental step back right into a piece of lighting equipment. As anyone who works with filming equipment will tell you it is very expensive. If it wasn’t for the swift actions of a crew member who managed to catch and save it before it hit the ground, it would’ve been an incredibly costly mistake. Luckily for me thanks to the responsive crew member it was just a funny one, that no would let me forget about until the end of production. The moral of the story is always be aware of ALL your surroundings on set.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
We are finishing up and about to go into post production on an intriguing thriller called Classified about government espionage, in which I play the wife of an MI5 agent who my character has been told was killed in the line of duty, but who’s daughter actually discovers is alive. Needless to say a lot of twists, turns and cliffhangers inevitably unfold, which will make it positively gripping to watch.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
It’s always interesting to have worked with people who have had to push the boundaries for the roles they have played. One of my former cast mates had portrayed a historical figure during the suffragette movement who had been imprisoned and subject to all manor of injustices and human rights violations. Her preparation for the role had involved spending the night in a prison cell to experience some of the environmental issues her character would’ve done. I’ve got such huge respect for that level of dedication to a role and will always embrace roles involving that amount of responsibility to teach people about the past by walking in the footsteps of people who have had such a significant part in shaping history.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
A very large part of working in this industry is about constant rejection and failures along the way. Find a way to look at each of these instances instead as an opportunity to take a different direction to the one you had planned and onto a role that could ultimately be more suited to you. If you let every stumble you take weigh you down, you are likely to burn out. I am a firm believer in fate and that everything happens for a reason, which I strongly feel helps me to continue thriving and can do so for other’s too.
Also make sure you are with a really good agent who is exactly the right fit for you. I have had agents in the past who I haven’t been comfortable communicating with and it becomes quite draining, which certainly had the potential to lead to a burn out. The agents I am with now are phenomenal. They understand my needs and I know I can talk to them at any time about absolutely anything. They are also incredibly effective about putting me at ease.They work tirelessly to look for opportunities for me and well and truly have my best interests at heart. Knowing your agents’ have your back to the extent that mine do for me will help you to remain thriving.
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. 🙂
Homelessness as an issue resonates really strongly with me. I remember watching a televised talent show in which one of the finalists discussed the contrast in his life to the year before, when he was sleeping rough. Something that struck me however was the amount of family and friends in the audience who were there to support him on the night. I wondered why they couldn’t have helped him at his lowest point. Being supportive of family members and friends means being there at their lowest points as well as their highest.
The movement I would start would be a campaign for anyone with family and friends that they know are homeless or on the verge of being, to find someway to help them in whatever capacity they can as long as it isn’t detrimental to themselves, be it temporary accommodation or guidance to someone with the resources to help them. Homelessness causes tragically unnecessary deaths due to cold every winter, as well as the more social problems such as drug abuse that can be associated with it, which could be avoided by people taking the initiative to start reaching out and helping one another when in need.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1) To block out the negativity. Being in the industry inevitably leaves you vulnerable to negative comments and sometimes unfair criticism from people who don’t know you. Try not to absorb it. I used to take absolutely everything personally and it doesn’t serve any purpose other than to weigh you down emotionally.
2) Communicate as much as you can with the other people who are sharing your journey. I used to be terrified to network with and talk to my fellow actors on the forums and events that are open to us, for fear of judgement. I was incredibly relieved when I finally came to the realisation that a lot of my peers had the exact same questions and fears as me and talking to like minded creative people really helped to alleviate those fears.
3) Don’t let anyone’s doubts in you affect your decisions and determination. Due to the nature and difficulty of the industry, a lot of people’s first reactions when you tell them you want to be an actor is; ‘are you sure you want to do that?’ It’s so tough, are you sure you want to set yourself up for failure?’ Make sure you pay attention to and keep the people around you who are saying ‘Wow best of luck, keep trying and you’ll do it.’
4) Enjoy the journey as much as you possibly can. There are so many nerves and pitfalls involved in the industry that you need to remember to take a moment and step back whenever you can to appreciate the fact that you are lucky enough to be doing what you absolutely love and celebrate each little win and success along the way.
5) Be true to who you are throughout the journey. It took me a long time to get the confidence to be myself when trying to establish working relationships and securing roles. These days I’m proud to tell people I’m fun loving enough to be an avid follower of the Real Housewives franchise as well as being socially aware and conscious enough to be fascinated by informative political documentaries. I don’t shy away from discussing tragedies in my life anymore, I use them to help me empathise with people and be there to work through problems that they might have. When you allow people to see who you truly are off set, it makes you a much more secure, confident actor in front of the camera.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Treat others the way you want to be treated yourself.” I always find it incredibly disappointing to come across anyone with any kind of sense of entitlement, but am always inspired by those who treat everyone they meet with the decency and respect we are all fuelled by as human beings. Count your blessings and make sure you strive to make anyone you interact with as happy as you wish to feel for your self. It helps to create an all round better and ultimately more healthy world to live in.
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?
I am lucky enough to have the most amazingly supportive husband. As someone who has nothing whatsoever to do with the industry I’m in, he’s incredibly dedicated not only to what I do, but also learning as much about it as he possibly can in order to help me wherever necessary. Being a business man, my creative, unpredictable professional world could not be further from his remit and comfort zone, of strategic planning, but when I have to drop everything to make a last minute audition or miss appointments and get togethers in order to be on set, without a word of complaint he will re arrange anything that needs to be, as swiftly as possible. He is also sensitive enough to my emotional needs to know when in the lead up to an audition or the start of a particularly intense production, I’m going to be very anxious and on edge and he will do everything he can to encourage and let me know he believes in and is there for me. This unwavering support and commitment to my ambitions throughout the years has helped develop my confidence not only in my abilities but also that we can cope with anything that comes our way in terms of the unpredictably of the industry, such as long periods of time away from home on set.
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. 🙂
It would have to be Nina Gold. I have tremendous respect for her incredible casting abilities and vision and would be eternally grateful to get the opportunity to get her advice and opinions and a sense of what drives her as both in her personal and professional life.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Website: [email protected] Instagram: @laura_styrka Twitter: @LStyrka
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!
It’s been my pleasure. Thanks very much for having me, I’ve really enjoyed it.