Interview with JUANA ACOSTA | LIVING A DREAM
Originally from Cali, Colombia, now living in Spain, award-winning actress Juana Acosta is going through an extraordinary period in her career. It is not unprecedented that things are always working out for someone who is so passionate and declares “loving life”. Having recently appeared in “Perfectos Desconocidos” (Perfect Strangers), a film directed by celebrated Spanish director, producer, and screenwriter Alex de la Iglesia, Juana is living a continuous dream. After experiencing early success in her native Colombia, she decided to complete her acting studies in Madrid, Spain at the well-known acting school Juan Carlos Corazza. Such a decisive choice came along a process in which she would define a clearer identity of herself as an actress, which has brought her to participate in many Spanish, French, Italian and Latin American productions. Today, Juana is not only one of the most renowned actresses in Europe and South America but the American Dream has also knocked on her door with the drama-thriller “Imprisoned”, directed by Paul Kampf. Though her continuous success, Juana assures that all that she has achieved and continues living for has arrived in her life as a natural result of working with passion, enthusiasm, commitment, perseverance as well as surpassing fear and above all believing in herself.
- Please, briefly introduce yourself. Who is Juana Acosta in your own words?
I’m an actress, I’m a mother and I love life.
- When and how did you decide you wanted to become an actress?
When I was a teenager I used to organize and prepare plays with my friends. I then studied Fine Arts in Bogota, and I was lucky that they offered me an opportunity very early in my career, my first TV series at 19 years old. I haven’t stopped since, and I have worked in Europe, Latin America and the USA already.
- How do you embrace the idea of being Colombian yet living in Spain?
I am Colombian but after 17 years in Spain, both countries are in my heart. Spain is the country I have chosen to live in and I love it.
- You are originally from Cali, Colombia but currently based in Madrid, Spain. What inspires you the most about both of these cities?
Cali is the city where I was born and where my roots are – I love my country and I go back there whenever I can. I love the way people are in Cali. They are warm, friendly and open. Cali is the capital of Salsa in Colombia. I grew up dancing and it is a part of me! And the climate… it is always summer.
Madrid is the city where I live and it has welcomed me with open arms from the very beginning. I love Spain, it’s where I have developed my career and where I have formed a family. Madrid is a very lively city, full of culture… theater, museums, galleries, music – it has it all! People here are open and welcome people from all over the world.
- How do you see the TV/Film industry now and how do you envision its future?
Our industry is resilient. After the big economic crisis in Spain, the TV/Film industry is growing again. We are going through big changes in TV. Because of the different platforms, the general consumer has more options and freedom to choose now, and quality is the driving force. I dream that in the future there will be more strong female characters where women are more proactive within the story not just adornments to men. And where there is equal pay.
Latin American cinema is really growing and getting more attention around the world. Old and young directors and actors are working on very interesting stories that tend to explore issues of identity and that usually create bridges between our cultures and countries.
- Working in the TV/Film industry in Spain must be quite different from working in Colombia. How is the combination of both experiences influencing you? What are you learning from each?
I work in Colombia, in Spain, but also in the USA and in France. Every movie, every piece of work comes with its strengths and its own challenges. I would not say that the industry here is better or more developed than there, because I always work with very passionate and professional teams, regardless of where they are based. Once I have chosen a character based on a story, I always go with an open mind to the set, which for me is a learning opportunity.
- Following your career path as an actress, you have mostly been doing TV/Film. Do you have any desire to do Theatre? In your opinion, what’s the difference between these two?
When I began in Colombia, I worked in theater with a great director from Poland, Pabel Nowinsky. And in Spain, my professional formation was at a theater school of acting, Juan Carlos Corazzas´school. I would love to explore more experiences in theater in my future. There are many differences between the two. For starters, in the latter, you get to face an audience night after night. Timing, budgets, and teams are completely different.
- Why did you decide to endeavor your acting studies in Spain?
I wanted to study with Juan Carlos Corrazza and I wanted to live in Europe. A very good Colombian actress recommended the acting school to me.
- What is your definition of acting?
Being an actress is very similar to being a good anthropologist. You really need to delve deep into someone else’s reality. You need to come out of your usual places and perspectives. But it is also a creative act that requires you to use your imagination, your body and your voice.
- How would you describe the process of transitioning from you, Juana Acosta to a given character as an actress?
It is a lot of work. I spend hours and hours imagining and understanding the mind of the woman that I am going to play. I believe in conducting a thorough research for each character, whenever possible and if the person I am playing is alive, I try to meet them personally. Then I use all these elements and I combine them with rigorous technical and analytical methodologies to really understand the interplay between the characters I am playing and their socio-economic, political and emotional context. It sounds complicated but it is an amazing journey each time. Each character is a new world that opens up to me.
- What do you feel while you are acting?
It is difficult to put into words. What do you feel when you are in your element? That is exactly how I feel.
- What is your TV/Film favorite genre and why?
I love stories that are simple, real and interesting, I tend to prefer imaginative narratives. I watch dramas, comedies, thrillers, almost all genres, but I must confess I am really bad for horror movies.
- Would you like to do TV/Film in the US?
Actually, this year I worked in the US, filming Imprisoned with Laurence Fishburne and directed by Paul Kampf. It is a great film about second chances in life. It’s a story about love, vengeance and redemption.
- What values do you stand for as a person and how are these being applied through your profession as an actress?
I believe in equality and diversity, and I always try to play roles that contribute to enhance either of those.
- Do you consider yourself successful? What’s your secret for success?
Success for me is a culturally constructed concept. My version of success is very personal. When I think about the professional opportunities in my way, the support from my family, the networks of friends and allies on my path, I consider myself successful. But success is also a result of working with a great international team, of enjoying each step of the way and of pushing your boundaries constantly. My best secret for success is having an open mind, to even question the meaning of the word success.
- What is your biggest desire at this moment?
My biggest desire is that my family and I are healthy, as to keep on doing what we love the most. I want to learn new things every day.
- Do you participate in any social causes? In this sense, what does compassion mean to you? How could we all contribute to the well-being of others?
Yes, I do participate in social and environmental causes. I think it is important to help. Compassion is about caring about other people and looking after our planet. I always try to help others. I come from a country where there are huge social and economic inequalities, so I learned from very young how important it is to share and to try to improve other people’s lives. We can best contribute to the well-being of the world by finding out what it is that we love and what it is that we do well, and trying to combine these two.
- You are a beautiful woman. How do you take care of yourself both, physically and spiritually?
Thank you. Beauty is also a relative concept, in the sense that we are all beautiful. Beauty comes from harmony. I take care of myself by meditating, sleeping well, exercising and eating healthy. But more importantly, I try to enjoy everything I do. Trying to be happy and to always give your best is a way of finding that equilibrium between your physical and your emotional needs.
- Being a mom and a wife combined with your busy schedule might seem challenging at times. How do you find the balance between your professional and personal life?
What is important is to be organized to have your logistics in order and to be able to mix the professional with the personal. Planning in advance and making sure you involve others who can also help me with different things, is key. In this profession you work a lot, it is true, but then there are down times in between projects where you can focus more on personal and emotional processes.
- Do you have a habit or a ritual to reconnect with your inner being?
I have a ritual to say goodbye to the character that I have been working with. It is a very personal ritual that I do to reconnect with myself.
- Until now, what have you learned about yourself? What do you believe is your biggest accomplishment in life?
That is a difficult one. I am still learning about myself. I have come to the conclusion that if you have a clear vision of what you want and an idea of how to get there, you need enough discipline and passion to work every day towards that. Passion needs discipline but together there isn’t a dream that you cannot achieve.
My biggest accomplishment is my daughter, Lola. If I had a predestined mission in this life it was to be her mother, more than anything.
- How do you envision your future as a professional?
I want to continue giving life to different characters; I want to keep on working in different countries and with various directors; I want to participate in extraordinary and ordinary stories and in any case, what I really want is to be able to compensate my future as a professional with my life as a partner, as a mother, as a friend, and as a learner.
- Our mantra is “You can be, do and have anything you want,” words by Abraham Hicks. What’s your take on such a statement?
I agree, but as I said before, discipline is also vital. I would say, you can be, do and have anything you want as long as you work hard enough to get there.
The Hedonist Magazine Winter 2018 | Cover and Interview Juana Acosta
The Hedonist Team: Photographer: Naelia Salas Amner | Stylist: Juliana Sorondo | Makeup & Hair: Maison Eduardo Sanchez Madrid | Location: THE PRINCIPAL MADRID HOTEL