Go for it, whatever ‘it’ is. That includes not saying ‘no’ to new experiences if you’ve at some point considered them. You never know what might come out of that and what you can learn that might be useful in the future.
As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rita Balinha. She is an actress, scriptwriter, and translator based in Lisbon. She’s passionate for a lot of things, namely cinema, theatre, books, yoga. She’s currently studying interpretation for TV and cinema in AMA, a school in Lisbon. As she likes to put it, following the words of Tom Todoroff, she’s on her way to “become a professional human being”.
Thank you so much for joining us Rita! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you for inviting me. I don’t have any memory of a specific turning point where I figured out that’s what I wanted to do. In Portugal, there are two main broadcast TVs and every Saturday and Sunday I would watch with my mum the three movies they would play in those afternoons. And I recall being fascinated by what the performers made me feel and realizing that’s what I wanted to do. That’s also how I learned English.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Well, I’ve spent ten years self-sabotaging myself, everything’s still so recent, so pretty much all my experiences happened in class. I was attending a Character-Based Improvisation workshop with Robert Marchand. I don’t want to disclose much in case someone who reads this might want to do it, but throughout the process, I had some interesting experiences. So, before the workshop started, I had an interview to present him what in the process is called “the actor’s list”, and that helped to choose a character to work on in the workshop. Then, he asked me a few questions to better shape the character. After that, the workshop started, and two other actresses were “assigned” as being my character’s sisters. Then the other actors and I would engage and improvise given the contexts and some general directions Robert would give us. At some point, he included in my storyline a guy named “Afonso”, a friend’s with my “father”, and a guy my character had had a relationship. No actor was portraying Afonso, just the thought of him and his inclusion in my character’s story. At some point during that week, he started working with the storylines individually, so when it was my turn, I went to an apartment that was supposed to be the character’s apartment. I was there by myself sitting on the couch until the buzz rang. I got up and went to the door, and Robert’s assistant pretending to be the mailman delivered a letter. It was a letter of inheritance where Afonso had left a few things in my name. The point is Afonso had died and I immediately started crying. Then, a moment of confusion where “I got back to myself” and started thinking “why am I crying if I don’t know how Afonso is”… Anyway, it might not sound extraordinary, but that I was the moment I realized how powerful and intense this profession my be, and I knew for sure this is what I want to do.
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?
Well, it’s not that funny, but in one of the first theatrical exercises I had, I delivered a monologue of something I had written, and somehow, I was illustrating my words with the same movement. I said something along the lines of “handle me like a puppet”. And in the feedback, I was told to never do that because the audience is not stupid and then this advice followed: “the most stupid person in the audience is as smart or smarter than you are”.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Some of my fellow actors and I are developing a series of short stories, like one-minute videos, to launch next year on social media, namely Youtube and Instagram. It’s easier to produce content in the digital era and we’ve realized we must create our opportunities. So, expect news soon!
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I used to go to Fest | New Directors | New Films Festival in Espinho, Portugal. And in the first edition, I went to, Teresa Palmer was there delivering a masterclass. I loved her. She was so approachable, and funny, and real. She was telling a story about a casting she went to and about how nervous she was until one of her friends (can’t recall if she was with her then or if it happened after) made her realize there was no reason to be so self-conscious. I think I kind of learned that word there, or I realized that was something that tied me up constantly, so it was interesting to be aware of that.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I think it’s important to be in touch with your body and your emotions, to avoid any blocks that might turn into something serious, like a disease. I firmly believe that most illnesses have an emotional cause. So, I guess, each one of us individually must figure out what works best. From my experience, accordingly, to what I’ve seen and felt, I would recommend the new code of NLP. Also, recently I’ve found out about Joe Dispenza on Instagram and I find his approach very interesting.
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. 🙂
I would probably go with some sort of sisterhood. Women are a powerhouse and I wish every one of us would know how good it is to get together and learn from one another. I truly believe that would also make our relationships with men better.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Go for it, whatever it is. That includes not saying ‘no’ to new experiences if you’ve at some point considered them. You never know what might come out of that and what you can learn that might be useful in the future.
- Find your people, people you can share and learn from, people you can create things with and that can be there for you and support you. Also, be nice to everybody regardless of social status. I love getting along with catering people at events. It might come in handy and they’re the ones who can get you the red wine.
- Take care of your body and mind.
- Learn how to do good money management.
- There’s a different timing for everybody. Sometimes I feel I should have started earlier, especially if I compare myself to other people, but then I just think “to the heck with it, I have my path”.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Whatever you put in your head, materializes”. I just like how it sounds and it helps me continue to dream and to put things into action.
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. One of my best friends, Balolas Carvalho. She’s a journalist, writer, and producer, and she’s been of great influence for me. It had nothing to do with the business itself, but rather a mixture of learnings. We’re a great influence on one another, but with her, I learned to be more in touch with how I feel and not intellectualize every single emotion. From that on, I went after things that I wanted, both personally and professionally and the past three years have been amazing. So, I believe I would be further behind if it weren’t for her.
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. 🙂
Michael Fassbender. He’s one of my favorite actors and I fell for him after watching “Shame”. I learned a lot about vulnerability there. I probably wouldn’t know what to say though.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@ritabalinha on Instagram, you can follow me there.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!