Sofia Sousa: Interview. By Jan Kalina. Photo credit – Milos Nesic
Sofia Sousa is an actress currently based in Prague, Czech republic but originally hails from a different part of the continent: the sunniest place of all of Europe, Portugal. She is a multi-hyphenate talent- actress, musician (violoncello), and has her own puppet theatre (A Fantochada) with which she tours across Europe. She is also working at the cultural section for the Portuguese Institute in Prague.
She is a face that you have surely spotted on your TV screens lately. Perhaps most of you have seen her face last year during the SuperBowl commercial break.
I recently had a chance to talk with her about her influences, the Big Game Spot, and handling lockdown.
I have so many questions about the Superbowl Spot and how did that come about? Was it a rigorous casting process?
When I got an invitation to audition for one of Prague’s top casting agencies, I had no idea the ad was for the Super Bowl, I only realized after the shoot. A week after the first audition, I got a callback and there were still too many candidates, divided by similar physical characteristics, in order to pretend to be from the same family. But the actors who had the shooting with me turned out to be others who weren’t in my previous casting process. Actually I was very relaxed throughout all this process because I was supposed to be in Lisbon on the shooting dates for the Christmas holidays. But then, I ended up buying another plane ticket!
How is Roman Coppola as a director? Or mainly how did you feel to be working with him? Was it one of those ‘being completely in awe, fangirling’ situations or you kept your professional decorum?
Usually, when an actor has an advertising shooting, he knows the least bit about it. It turns out that sometimes he doesn’t even know the exact brand in advance! This time, I only realized who the ad’s director was when I was on set! I was happy with the opportunity I was given. Roman Coppola was kind and approached me very positively, making me feel confident about my work. He knew exactly what he wanted, had a clear image in his mind for which he asked actors to contribute.
Superbowl Heinz Ad- Four At Once:
Individiual – Diner:
Who influenced you the most as an actress? What was that one film that made you think “This is what I want to do for a living.”
For many years I just did theater. In fact, when I was younger, the idea of acting in movies and TV never crossed my mind. It was only when I attended an on camera acting workshop that I realized how amazing the intimacy you can share with the camera is, and that changed my motivations as an actress. Speaking of a movie that stuck in my head when I was a teenager, it was American Beauty. I remember how related I felt to the characters and how much I thought about life because of the film, also, I was amazed at how a plastic bag flying can be such a stunning shot!
How did you cope with the lockdown (s)?
My first impression of the pandemic was fear. Then there was a strange sense of relief when I realized we had to be in confinement. At that moment I realized how stressed my life was before, always worried with work and trying to make things happen. I saw lockdown as a chance to stop and spend time with myself. And then I started a creative process: I filmed a short on my cell phone, starring objects from my bedroom that I turned into puppets. I had the pleasure of sharing this animated short film in an online event organized by the Portuguese Institute in Prague. I also practiced a lot of the cello and also started a yoga routine that I keep up until now. But after almost three months locked in my room, with no outside contacts other than my roommate, I felt in a dark and lonely place, with no social connections and no human touch, and this greatly changed the way I approached the second lockdown, because although with all the care, I made sure to be surrounded by people I love and support me.
The short film with puppets created during lockdown:
Did you notice a change or a shift in how the casting process has transformed during/after the pandemic?
Totally. Fortunately for the best! Now we’re in the self tape era, and it’s the best for me! I love traveling and I can’t stay at home too long, so now I have the freedom to be anywhere and I just have to bring my ring light and my iphone and I’m ready to audition!
Is there perhaps an advice you want to give to fellow actors or an affirmation for them?
An actor often deals with rejection, but it pays off when you have the opportunity to be on set and do what you love the most! It’s very stressful not knowing when the next performance will be and you can easily start to doubt yourself. That’s why I think it’s very important to do meditation regularly and be kind to yourself. Get other hobbies that make you feel good. Be surrounded by your loved ones. Befriend creative souls, keep practicing, aim to be your best version of yourself, and trust the process! The universe will take care of the rest!
Seen any good films lately? Or any films from this year that you would recommend to our readers?
Well, I’ve been traveling for the last two months in the Azores islands, but when I get the chance I watch Netflix. I really like documentaries. This week I saw Fantastic Fungi, and I was amazed at how the world is connected by a mycorrhizal network and how inteligent nature is, sharing information, nutrients and more! I recently watched I Care a Lot, with the incredible performances of Rosamund Pike and all the cast involved, and it really revolted me about how people can take advantage of the American seniors system. I’m now finishing up a hilarious comedy drama show called The Chair.
Where can we see you next?
You can see me now in the worldwide spot for Elmex. After the summer ,I will bring my puppet show to Prague, entitled A Trip Around the World, which is aimed at the Portuguese community. I’m also going to direct a Portuguese play with performances in several cities in the Czech Republic. In the near future you will see me in new ads (I can’t reveal which brands yet). I’m preparing some short films too, and then let’s see what the universe brings to me!
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