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Yioulika Skafida | The Awarded

With studies at the Drama School of the Athens Conservatory, collaborations on television productions with the great director Kostas Koutsomitis, powerful theatrical roles and a growing cinematic presence, the low-key yet imposing Yioulika Skafida is more than worthy of a theatrical prize, the Melina Mercouri Theatre Award.

You were recently awarded the Melina Mercouri Brooch for the roles of Carol Cutrere in Tennessee Williams’ Orpheus Descending and Hazel Niles in Mourning Becomes Electra by Eugene O’Neill. How do you feel? I feel very happy and content. My joy is, of course, comes together with great responsibility and stress about what’s next for me creatively. None of the previous honourees of either the Brooch or the Dimitris Horn Award have disappointed their public. I wouldn’t like to be the first to do so, as I always try to make the right choices and not sell myself short. From Kalamata to Athens and from shipbuilding to acting…

Tell us how you decided to become an actress. In my final years of Secondary School, I decided that I really liked the theatre and that I wanted to take part in all ongoing local productions, without defining what role I wanted to play. I was a good student and before being bit by the acting bug I wanted to be an astrophysicist, so I continued studying, sat my University entrance exams and was randomly awarded a place at the Naval Technical University of Athens. I attended all lectures at the University for the first two years, but then it became a bit difficult because of my final exams at Drama School. In my third year I got my first job with Kostas Koutsomitis in Niove’s Children, and it became impossible to do everything at the same time. So I decided it was best to pursue what I loved, there would be time later for all the rest.

How does the mathematical logic of shipbuilding compare with the emotion of acting? I have both the mathematical logic and very powerful emotions within me. I am the type of person who embodies the extremes.So these choices represent me 100%.

Is it true that you were cast in a role in the foreign film Lonely Woman via Skype? In a way. I subscribe to a site that holds auditions for actors from all over the world, and occasionally apply for different roles. That was how I saw that they were looking for a girl from Texas, whose native language didn’t necessarily have to be English, who could drive a motorbike. And I thought, why not apply? They answered, I sent them my photographs, a video of my work. They sent me some text to read, so they could hear my English… I spoke to the director on Skype several times and they hired me.

What does being an actress mean to you? Does it satisfy your narcissism; is it your personal psychotherapy or a need? All of the above. I think that us actors engage in the obvious profession, that is, the need all people have to change roles in their lives. We do it consciously and live through it. I like that I’m an actress because I live the lives and enter the psyche of many different people. And it’s always justified by the script. It’s amazing that you become completely transformed by a role, you become the role… What I always really enjoy, even more than working on the technique, is trying to look for pieces of myself in the role. A piece of myself that could have been like the character but wasn’t in the end.

What theatrical role impacted you the most? The theatrical role that I feel had the strongest impact on me was playing Fotini Santri in Red Rock, directed by Roula Pateraki. Both her direction and the role were a stepping stone, which was also a big gamble at the time. I had just finished shooting the TV series The Island and returned to the theatre after a two-year absence. I wanted to make my presence known and prove that I wasn’t only good at television. It was a bet I won.

Theatre, the cinema, television – which one will you choose? I think that all three have a common denominator: the truth. All three have their virtues. Television keeps you alert, theatre is a living organism, but I would choose the cinema because I’m charmed by its detail, the whisper or the wink can takes a whole new meaning on the big screen.

Are there roles that you dream of? No, I don’t dream of any roles right now, I dream about collaborations.

What are your dreams? To be creative, to be loved, to not betray the people who put their trust in me and, of course, to make a living from this job for many, many years.

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