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E-mail: Ana@AnaBayat.com
Phone: + 1- (510) 219-2510

On-camera and voice over representation: Stars, The Agency

 

                                                                                

 

 

 

Sunday
Aug192018

Diversity in Film Casting 

 

August marks 18 years since I left England behind and made the Bay Area my home. 18 years since my carefully-crafted English vowels started blending into the North American ones; 18 years since I started no longer sounding like the Queen of England; 18 years since no bus driver has said “what?!” to my “Sutter/Stockton” or a flight attendant “say that again?!” to my pronunciation of “water”.

18 years since those days, but more like over 20 years since I am a woman in the arts trying to “fit in” linguistically or physically. In the XXI century, we talk about diversity, we want to acknowledge it, but can’t seem to find a way to genuinely understand it beyond the concept of a box of colored crayons or ticking some boxes to satisfy some quota. Surely there must be a lot more to diversity than drawing some superficial conclusions.

Even though I knew it wouldn’t be a small feat, when I arrived to San Francisco with a VHL demo tape under my arm, a black and white theatrical headshot and a decent CV for an actress who started in her teens, I had every hope to find an agent. But the first comment when I was finally in front of an agent after an on-camera audition of what seemed to be a tongue twister of the /θ/ sound in a “Thrift” drugstore, I was told I was “too ethnic” and hard to put in a category. This is exactly what I didn’t want because, to me, being an actor’s actor means the ability to be whomever needed. Why pigeon-whole ourselves? I understand that in casting there is a need to create “categories”. However, if we don’t allow actors to show range, to play characters, to become unrecognizable from one part to the next, what has been the meaning of years of training, human study and the ability to be a chameleon both physically and vocally?  

I look back at the journey left behind and wonder about the one ahead as I transition from yet another category and navigate the uncertain waters of casting in film and theatre hoping for a day when actors will be allowed to be exactly what they are. And while sometimes it will be ‘handy’ to have an actor play ‘themselves’ (be of the same origin as the role) it will ultimately be a joy for them to be considered actors with the freedom and ability to create personas without being solely restricted to the narrow pool of what their looks and nationality seems to those in charge of casting. After all, if we don’t break free from this small pool directly into the ocean, how could we successfully shift perceptions and increase awareness of the multicultural world we live in today?

Thursday
May032018

The Healing Power Of Drama

We had returned in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war and I was inconsolable, pining for my friends back in Spain. Then acting happened and the effect of theatre and film in my life was more potent than any imaginable potion. It kept me afloat, gave me hope, the motivation to carry on until I’d see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Once I had traced back my father’s steps in the Stanislavski system and rigorously completed an acting program, I was offered a part in what came to be the biggest blockbuster after the revolution. Even though I was never to conceive, from that point, I was destined to play mother after mother even at an age when this would not have been plausible.

This photo was taken by Goga Bayat (unrelated to me) on the set of "The Little Bird of Happiness" (directed by Pouran Derakhshandeh, produced by Sirous Taslimi) with Homa Rousta and Amin Tarokh.  

Fun fact: My friendship with Homa Rousta was not born out of our first film, but later on the set of "Tigh-e Aftab" in which we played mother-daughter and shared a suite in Esfahan for three months.

 

 

Wednesday
Sep062017

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017

Eighteen shows in twenty-seven days. That's what we committed to when the decision was made to participate at The Fringe for the first time. The open platform idea was appealing. The condition? To book a venue first.

For anyone wishing to participate at the world's largest theatre festival, do your research first. Thoroughly. Just like pretty much anything else in life involving decision-making, when it comes to choosing a venue, there will be a myriad of things to take into account because every venue will have its own character, reputation, relationship to other venues and the festival as a whole as well as an overall ‘feel’.  Where you are in your career will be one of the determining factors in choosing a venue, for instance.

Marketing is another important one -though bear in mind that the sheer saturation of ‘flyering’ and poster distribution can sometimes be ignored (particularly by locals who remain largely polite). Putting together a carefully-thought plan to market your show will also go a long way in staying out of the general noise and making sure your show stands out (targeted versus mass marketing).

The Fringe, originally formed to give a platform to those with more limited exposure, does not feel very close to its original intent. To us, taking the show all the way from California, it felt pretty much dominated by big names in the comedy industry whose shows run parallel to yours. Over 4000 shows in the course of three weeks.

It can be exciting to have several festivals running alongside each other or overlap; but it can also be overwhelming when wanting to choose what to see.

It is said that the average fringe audience consists of 6 people and that only 10% of shows break even.

If you are aware of all of this and more and participate knowing how little to expect, you will have a good time. You never know who is going to be in the audience or what like-minded people you will meet. Magic can happen and is out there. But be realistic about the return on investment. The Fringe is not cheap. Since you are going to pay high price for your experience, make sure your venue aligns with your show, can back you up with marketing efforts and one that can offer more than a space to rent.  

 

 

Thursday
May112017

"Waiting for Kiarostami" (2016)

Ana will next be seen in the upcoming feature film Waiting for Kiarostami directed by Hossein Khandan and produced by Randy Williams (Estelle Studios).

http://waitingforkiarostami.com/

Friday
Feb172017

Radio Interview with Ricky Ross, BBC Scotland

It was a true pleasure to start my Edinburgh adventures with a radio interview on "Sunday Morning With Ricky Ross" prior to performing "Mimi's Suitcase" to a packed house at Nomads Tent. Listen here