Sophia Eleni: ‘I got the job when I stopped caring what people thought’
I was 10 when I got my first professional acting job. I’d been at a local stage school and some producers came to audition leading roles for an international film they were making.
I’d been put off by the idea of all the competition in the industry, as well as wannabe child stars with pushy parents, so I was nervous as hell, but went along anyway. The producers asked us to volunteer one at a time and respond to some direction. Reams of hands flew into the air and I remember those familiar butterflies in my stomach.
It was the stillest, most liberating audition I’ve ever done
I sat quietly in the back and, just as they were about to end the session, I willed myself to put my hand up. The producers smiled, sat me in a chair, and asked me to pretend to daydream. This was one of the moments that changed my outlook on acting. It was like an out-of-body experience: being put on the spot and being asked to do something so natural, without any facade, in front of a group of peers sizing me up. I had an inner battle going on with my self-esteem but felt I had to ‘grow up’ in that moment and bring a calm and maturity into my work. So I did it. I simply daydreamed. It was the stillest, most liberating audition I’ve ever done. I stopped caring what people thought in that moment and I got the job.
I learned from this first audition that when you drop everything and have faith, your work stands out a mile. But to do so, it is so important to take a step into reality for a moment and check in with yourself. Am I happy right now? Am I healthy? These factors condition your work, and that especially includes looking after your mental health. I will always take that first audition as a reminder to have unshakeable faith, no matter who you think is judging you – or even trolling you in some cases. A final note on trolls: they’re actually doing you a favour. They are evidence that you’re doing something right.
CV: Sophia Eleni
Training: Rose Bruford College, Estonian Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts
Theatre includes: Not I, Hedda Gabler, The Skriker, Fables for a Boy
TV and film includes: Tyrant, Death of the Revolution, Finding Fatimah
Agent: Carey Dodd Associates
Sophia Eleni was talking to John Byrne