"We are all beautiful
masterpieces made by a cosmic element..."
I have not had the easiest journey in having my artwork understood or accepted; but because of that I do what I love with conviction. Do not ever be ashamed of what you do or create, as long as it is done with good intention. It is so easy to let the opinions of others stifle what is innate within yourself, and fill you with regret. Sometimes you need to risk disappointing and losing everyone to find out exactly who you are and what you love in life. We are supposed to make mistakes- that is growth. If you are not growing, and changing, then you are not alive. Just do not let yourself fill with regret- As long as you learn from an experience- good or bad- and you use that experience to grow into a better version of yourself- then how can you really regret even the mistakes? I have two tattoos on my forearms that provide some of the biggest inspiration I have ever been given. They are quotes from a TedX segment titled “Gratitude, Gifting, and Grandpa” and presented by John Halcyon Styn. John was kind enough to write out these quotes in his handwriting, and I had his handwriting tattooed. John tells a story of his grandfather in the segment: He asked his grandfather as he was passing in the hospital, why he never complains and how he sees the glass as half full. The grandfather replied: “ It's a beautiful glass”. That was a paradigm shift for me. I always measured an experience as good or bad, full or empty; rather than looking at how beautiful the experience is in its entirety. My other quote is of his grandfather saying a prayer at the end of the segment: “Enjoy the color”. Even when we think the whole day is awful and everything is as terrible as it can get – you can look around you and think of how much color the earth gifts to us – its beautiful.
Smile, and be happy about all of the color that is surrounding you, and filling your eyes. I also want to share that everything, everyday, is art. We are all beautiful masterpieces made by a cosmic element - share that with the world and yourself. Love yourself to the core, and that is the only way you will ever be able to love everything else as intended. Every encounter with each other, there is a sense of growth and beauty in it. Look for that, and give thanks for it, and enjoy the journey. When you cross paths with another individual- give them a piece of your art by smiling at them, or giving them loving energy – love and light will make the world so beautiful.
Q. Give us some words of inspiration
Interview by Keran Look Loy
Photo: Kaitlin Christy
Q. As an actress, different roles / characters can sometimes become overwhelming especially if played for a prolonged period. How do you maintain your own personality despite playing all these characters?
The women that inspire me – all women. I love women- they are all goddesses in my eyes. Women are these magical temples of power and passion in all different forms of beauty and I can find inspiration and spirituality in any woman. It could be a woman that needs help in a sense, and I feel inspired to help her find solace in an answer. Maybe I meet a woman so full of love and beauty, that I am filled with inspiration to bring into my modeling world. A woman that I draw a lot of inspiration from is Frida Kahlo. She is what I envision as a true woman. Frida gave off strength, and true sense of self. She grew from the cracks that life etched onto her path, and created such beauty that she shared with the world, despite social constructs and expectations. I found a strong connection to Frida with her embracing of the masculine aspects as well.
I have a strong balance within myself of both masculine and feminine. Androgyny is the most beautiful quality to me, and one of the most honest qualities. I loved that Frida would take such pride in allowing the masculine to come out of herself, since I often feel much more comfortable when I am in my more masculine form at times. My mother, and grandmother are big inspirations to me. They are very different from me in their approach to life, and more often than not, are in strong disagreement with my personal choices. They have both had an extremely difficult time accepting my artist expression and art mediums; Mainly the modeling. Their opinions of it, however, have become my fuel and inspiration to continue to create even more so. I thank my mother and grandmother for in their own way, paving that path for me to find out how much I love the person I am becoming. I am inspired to show mindsets such as theirs, that there is no shame in the expression of the human form; and that there is a true sense of purity in human sexuality and passion. It is after all, the core of our existence- so how can sexuality and nudity really be anything but pure and beautiful? I never set out to do so much figure modeling in my path, but as any art medium- it took its own form and purpose.
I simply listen to what the universe presents to me, and over time it became something to prove when I saw what sort of judgements and reactions came from something that was created from pure intention. Now, I find such an honor and blessing to be able to express myself freely with only my mind and flesh. What a blessing to be able to create art with no external barriers and to feel air all over from head to toe. Its such an organic form of expression to preform in the nude. I love my mother and my grandmother greatly, and over time they are coming into acceptance over my ways, since I have come to stand behind my choices with convictions- even if my choices turn out to be simply a mistake to learn from. I also draw inspiration from my Theatre teacher and dear friend Robin Berkley. She is a woman that encouraged me to allow myself to fall in love with my passion at my own rate- and always supported my choices to even break away from it at times. She taught me methods of my craft, and provided outlets for my passion to grow. She gave many of us actors a sense of family – and my classmates that I had from her class, and still to this day whom I consider to be my family and artistic inspiration.
Having a strong sense of self and finding a balance. I have had roles that hit too close to home before, and I found it difficult to get the words out onstage, let alone allow myself and my secrets to be that exposed to everyone. Its easier to pretend to be someone else in a certain sense, than to allow everyone to see a raw essence of something that you hold dear to only yourself. If fear is courage, then that has been huge fuel for the fire. Its like some hidden super power that travels by way of adrenaline. You want the story to be told, even if it means giving a huge piece of something sacred about yourself. With conviction- I have found that to be quite healing. Sometimes the role becomes the cure if you utilize it properly. I have also seen roles get the better of actors offstage; method acting for example. I think as with everything, self love is always a huge factor. You have to have a strong enough sense of self and self love, to be aware of how much of another persona you are willing to let in and merge into. It’s almost like having the power of shape shifting; and with great power comes great responsibility, and in acting- a real element of self sacrifice.
Q. Who would you like to work with the most within your acting career?
Q. You have a career history not only film, but in theater and modeling. How have these other career paths helped you in front of the camera?
These art mediums help in ability to convey character to an audience with even the smallest gesture. Theatre, Modeling, and Film are all really telling the same story, just in different languages. All of these mediums require such a strong sense of self awareness. It is such an interesting perspective to develop the skill of knowing what you look like through someone else's eye during every facial expression or gesture- not just what you would see in your own mirror. With modeling, you are presented with a challenge of having to convey a character within a single frame – and succeeding in creating an interesting and believable character within a single image feels magical to me. I apply the same mindset to my modeling as I would to film or theatre : I give my character a background story that I want to convey, I at times have my props to better sell the believability of my persona, and for that timeframe – I let go of who “Shadia” is and I allow myself the experience of becoming whoever I can create within my mind. Just as onstage and film, I am not the person that is always in the modeling photo – that is a character I have created for the time being, just as I would in front of audience or camera
There was not any specific moment I can exactly pinpoint, that I discovered my passion for acting. If I had to pick my earliest memory of when I caught the acting bug, I’d have say it was auditioning for my first play when I was in elementary school. I created my own monologue to audition haha. In my very first acting role, I played Rumpelstiltskin's Shadow”. My family nickname coincidentally is also Shadow. Acting, and entertaining, I feel, has just always been innate. Predestined moreso than epiphany.
I feel that everyone is born into a role and purpose- it becomes apparent at different moments for everyone.I came into this lifetime already loving my passion and carrying out my role of being a storyteller and entertainer. I am fascinated with storytelling, whether being the reciever of the story or the gifter of an entertaining mind opener. I consider it a high honor to be one that carries on an ancient form of communication. Before we had verbal language – humans gathered around fires, and told stories by acting out situations with their bodies. The core of communication is an art; preformance
Q. Firstly, what sparked your interest in Film and a career in Acting?
Q. Is it true that there is nothing as real and exhilarating as the live theater?
In my opinion, this is entirely true. I do not want to knock film by any means – I am an extremely visual person and I have a very high respect and love affair for film and its ability to create visual worlds that we otherwise not be able to share without the technology that film coincides with. However, with theatre, again, within the limitations of the stage, I find a freedom in finding the most wonderful of solutions to bring a story to life. I find it difficult to even find the right words to explain what Theatre does to me.
The passion of acting onstage coincides with the energy from person to person. Think of all of the different energies all in one room during a performance. All of the different personalities, and backgrounds, and relation to what you are about to give to them. It’s a gift that the person came to watch you preform, and it’s a gift to give them an escape into another world for a brief time in their day; a beautiful exchange. To be able to evoke emotion out of a room of strangers without even looking at them or speaking directly to them; that the most addicting quality to acting onstage. Film is the evolution of stage, and stage is the origin of acting- so to me, that makes stage organic in a sense. Onstage, you are all living in the moment. There is no yelling “Cut” and trying take after take to get a scene just right. You can’t edit a stage performance in post production; everything you see was what the cast and crew have within their ability. The stage is raw, and real; the love affair between the stage and audience is tangible
Q. What type of roles or film genres really excite you and why?
I am very grateful for the roles that I have been given in past performances, but I often get typecast. I sell a certain persona of the sexy, and alluring woman easily, and I find it easier to connect to my more dramatic and dark roles that I have also done in the past. However, my ideal roles are comedy; I LOVE comedy. By nature, I am the jester, even if many of my roles have not called for that. I hope to play more of the strange, off kilter comedian in the future. My last film that I did was an Indie titled “Closed Frame”, and that role is one that I hold very dear to my heart. It is presented to the audience as more of a psychological thriller, and some have called it horror. From my standpoint- it is an interpretive documentary. The script took its own form from one original state to the end result, throughout the course of filming. It is half acting, and half recording of me telling my story of losing my grandfather. Telling that story was such a gift to me because it brought me so much closure in that loss, and it coincided with the version of the story that the director wanted to get across as well. We did not plan for that to happen in the beginning, but art eventually takes its own form and leads the artist to how it is meant to be presented. I love the film, and I see it as more of a lovechild – I even have the title tattooed on me, in the directors handwriting.
If I had to envision my dream role for the future, I would be playing a power female in a Sci- fi series. Anything fantasy, or fairytale as well – I want to preform magic to give inspiration to other minds, or fill people with laughter and joy. If its done right, hopefully both. The film genres that excite me the most are: Foreign Films – I leave the subtitles on and try to teach myself their language hehe. Foreign films do not have the barriers that American films have. They are so much more open with sexuality and passion, and they do not have a sense of shame when it comes to using the human body to express passion or convey a piece of the puzzle. Also, the story lines are so interesting and out there! In America, we tend to stick to the same story lines that we know will sell the most and not cause a lot of upset with the general masses. In foreign films, they really just create whatever story they want to tell from the heart, no matter the subject matter or film content. I have a respect for their natural bravery. My other favorite genres are Sci-fi and fantasy. I love science and supernatural, mixed in with powerful characters and magical elements. , Documentary films are also a weakness of mine – the removable of acting with presenting a story is addicting to me. I love getting a glimpse into the inner workings of others, and documentaries give you that open door.When all else fails – give me a great comedy, I will never turn down a chance to belt out some deep laughter!
Q. Which women continue to inspire you to do great things?
My biggest collaboration dream would be with Leonard Nimoy! I have countless reasons as to why I am drawn to his presence and power; he is magical. I even have a tattoo on my right hand of a Vulcan salute that I drew of my own hand making the gesture. It was not just my love of Spock that inspired me to get the tattoo- but it was also Leonard Nimoy's reasoning of how the salute came to be in Star Trek. His spirituality and passion and personal life that he brought into his character; that is what drew me in. Leonard Nimoy is also a fantastic photographer! If you have not checked out his artwork- I strongly encourage you to do so! Not only would I love to act alongside Leonard, but I would love the experience of modeling for him.
"I feel that everyone is
born into a role and purpose"