Bojana Novakovic: “I’m trying to live my life by serving somehow, especially with the photographs that I do while working in Nepal. But I don’t have a message. Other people can create a message from it. I think people are looking for messages and people look for heroes and examples, but I’m not that person and there is nothing in me that says I need to bring this message. I live how I think humans should live”.
Actress and Director
Bojana Novakovic is a Serbian- Australian actress who graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in 2002. Originally, she was looking to become a Social Worker or a Doctor, but decided to pursue acting instead. Some of Bojanas’ recent roles include: “Shameless (a 2015 comedy-drama)” and, “The Hallow” (a 2015 horror film). Bojana Marceta conducted an interview with Bojana over the phone to find out more about her work and her journey so far.
Tell us a bit about your background and your journey with acting so far.
I started acting when I was about 10. I went to a school that had performing arts and I took some acting classes there. I professionally started acting when I was 12 and I did a piece in a theatre play where I played a spider. Yes, I played the spider in a children’s theatre piece because I was really flexible. I did some theatre work when I was in high school and I was in my first film at 15. I’ve been acting since then.
The journey has been interesting and I am never happy where I’m at with it. I always want to be in bigger, better places. I just want to be a better actor and it’s been a steady journey. Now I run my own theatre company, with my friend in Australia. I’m active in theatre where I train and I do films and television shows.
My favourite thing, I must say is creating my own work! And I’m still doing that. I have a live show that I do once every week in Los Angeles. It’s called Blind Date project. This is important to me because I create my own work and I feel like you can be employed to see other people’s visions, and that is most of the time. I didn’t become an actor just to make other people money. This is how I’m living. I’m living out of acting which is great, but I don’t rely on it. I don’t stay as an actor just to make money. That is why I have several things that I’m developing and writing and it’s really fun. And as I said, my work is not just as an actor, I have a lot in development and I also write. I wrote 4 plays and one of them is published.
In an industry where you can lose yourself in no time, how do you stay connected to your sense of self?
A lot of people coming into the industry don’t even have a sense of self. So that’s why I think it’s easy to lose yourself and then you go and try to find it by going into the industry. You can go and try to find your sense of self in the industry, but it will never give it to you. You can be as successful as you want to be and still be unhappy, because you are not connected with what it is that that really drives you and what you are doing. I’ve been in that situation. I was 21 when I won one of the Australian Academy Awards. It was for a mini-series and I just was not grateful. I thought they felt sorry for me and that is why they gave me that award. Can you imagine that?! I was just not connected to myself. It makes a huge difference when you know who you are. Acting is not as important as being human. I stay connected to myself by creating my work. My own work is not going make me money, it’s not going to bring me fame (maybe if I’m lucky) but it’s going to connect me with my community and the people around me, because everything I ever create has the sense of connecting to wherever I am. Blind Date project a big part of that, it’s all about people connecting to me, the audience and other actors and directors. It’s just all about us sharing the experience. I work as much as I can to create and share experiences to discuss them. That is how I stay sane and grounded. I also work in Nepal and that is very important to me.
What inspires you?
Working in Nepal is really hard work and it’s very tragic what’s happening there. I’m mostly inspired by the people who work there, that’s for sure. But work itself is hard, they are a community of people that have nothing. I’m not inspired by it but I’m inspired to do it. Just being around those people and my friends.
What message are you trying to share with your work?
I don’t operate on the level, “I try to share a message”. Whatever message I have is for me. I’m not going to go directly and say to people what the massage is or what the meaning of life is. Any work that I do, all I’m doing is communicating with people around me, creating things that I feel bond with me and the community, or just simple conversation. I’m trying to live my life by serving somehow, especially with the photographs that I do while working in Nepal. But I don’t have a message. Other people can create a message from it. I think people are looking for messages and people look for heroes and examples, but I’m not that person and there is nothing in me that says I need to bring this message. I live how I think humans should live. Whoever needs the message, I say go for it, but I’m not there to tell anyone how to live. This is not only for me, I love to share with those who want to hear. I’m open to share my opinion and I’m not harming anyone in doing so.
How did you learn to deal with criticism?
One thing I know when it comes to criticism is not to take any of it to seriously. There is always good and bad. When it comes to theatre, there are always reviews and I don’t read them until the production has finished. When it’s finished I will read everything, and I basically complement the good and the bad. If I try to reach the bar that someone else has set, I will never be happy because I will believe in good and bad. There is going to be the day when wind will blow and everyone will love me and then there is going to be the day when they don’t like me. I got to the point where it is not bothering me anymore. I’m doing my best and that is the best I can do. I’m working in a profession that is heavily dependent on what other people think of you. Whether I looked right for someone’s vision or not, I had to develop the technique I wanted and not pay attention to criticism, otherwise I would go mad. I strongly believe in what I do and if I hear criticism that is constructive, I will take it on board. I like to read something that will tell me what I can improve and work on.
What advice would you give to aspiring actors?
This is interesting because there are two things. Acting is a business now, so everyone who wants to do it now does it because they want to be famous. They don’t want to do it because they want to be on stage.
My first advice is actually the question. Do you really want to be an actor or do you just want to be famous? If you really want to be actor, go and train. Get the training, don’t expect to make any money and take whatever job you can get. Become better and keep investing in yourself.
If you just want to be famous, seriously just do whatever it needs to become famous. Get yourself a twitter and Instagram account, become a public person and get yourself a stylist and just do it that way.
Nowadays, if you want to be a serious actor then it’s just combination of both.
My second bit of advice, the one from the bottom of my heart, if you want to start acting, stop Googling yourself, your competition, anything.