Monday, February 19

Interview With Shelly Skandrani

Shelly Skandrani
Shelly Skandrani

Josh Mitchell of Wickid Pissa Publicity introduced us to Shelly as someone who "is best known for her critically acclaimed co-star role in Showtime's popular Holocaust film The Devil's Arithmetic, starring Kirsten Dunst and Brittany Murphy, and produced by Dustin Hoffman and Mimi Rogers."

Mr. Mitchell also tells us that "Shelly had to shave her head on camera to portray a young bride whose wedding ceremony is destroyed when Nazi [National Socialist German Workers' Party] soldiers invade her Polish village and carry her and her community to the concentration camps."

According to the New York Daily News, " is the quiet, honest performances of young actors from the United States, Canada and Europe, Brittany Murphy, Shelly Skandrani and Kirsten Dunst that carry this picture [
The Devil's Arithmetic] and infuse it with power."

[NOTES:  According to the Internet Movie Database, Brittany was born in Georgia; Kirsten, in New Jersey; and Shelly, in Tel Aviv, Israel.]

"Some of [Shelly's] latest projects," Josh tells us, "include an anti-war short film called 'The C-Gate,' which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and a recurring co-star role on the Amazon hit show "Transparent."

"This spring," he adds, "she is set to star as Astrid, an indecisive woman who can't get her life together in the indie feature film
Phoning It In, which Joe Shapiro will direct.

"In addition, she will be co-hosting an online talk show with Natalie Marciano, called "Black Sheep Revelations" which will discuss current issues, ruffling some feathers in a humorous and unique manner."

In this interview, Ms. Skandrani tells us about the currently popular #metoo and #timesup movements, from her point of view.

La Libertad:  Where were you born?

Shelly:  I was born in Tel Aviv, Israel. But I grew up in London from ages seven through eighteen.

La Libertad:  Where do you currently reside?

Shelly:  I live in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.

La Libertad:  What is your occupation?

Shelly:  I am an actress.

La Libertad:  What do you love most about your work?

Shelly:  I love the anthropological aspect of acting. I love learning about different cultures, different times in history, and wearing different costumes, and then bringing a person to life from it.  It’s like I can live a hundred different lives in one lifetime.

I also love the idea that by bringing those different characters to life I can inspire people to think differently - to see another aspect of society or another point of view.  I believe that arts can really heal so many issues in our society, and I love being a part of that!

La Libertad:  What talents and hobbies do you have?

Shelly:  I love singing and dancing.  In fact I used to act in a lot of musical theater growing up, and, as an adult, I love it - the movement, the choreography, the teamwork, the excitement, the costumes!  It brings me to life.

I was a hip hop and salsa dancer for years, and I was the singer in a Ska band back in the days when Ska was a new kid on the block.

I’m also really good with arts and crafts; I draw and paint, and make jewelry; it’s really relaxing, and I use it for stress relief.  I also love to cook; it’s very satisfying to look into my fridge, take out whatever is there, and make a delicious meal with it.  It makes me feel independent and powerful!

La Libertad:  What inspires you?

Shelly:  Travel!  Travel and nature! I’ve spent extensive periods of my life traveling and back packing.  One of my favorite things to do when out and about in the world is to hike.  Not day hikes, but heavy duty ones, twelve miles a day, five days up and down a mountain to some lost city like Machu Picchu, surrounded by trees.  Nature grounds me, I feel like we are as God intended when in nature.

Often, when looking for stress relief, I go to a place filled with trees; I sit under the biggest one I find, and I connect with it.  I feel like, if the tree has been here for a hundred years and has survived, then I guess so will I, and everything will be okay!

La Libertad:  What is the hardest part of your job(s)?

Shelly:  If I’m honest, and this is not easy to talk about, I feel that the hardest part has been navigating through the behind the scenes aspect of the industry.  I have found myself in situations where I’ve read for the role, gone for the callbacks, gotten the part, met with producers, met with director, met with investors, jumped through all the hoops, and then, somewhere along the chain, one of the gate keepers makes it very clear that if I actually want to film the role there’s another “requirement” I need to fulfill.  It’s never been forced; it’s just been clarified.  And I’ve had to pack my bag, and walk away from the role.

So I only worked with people I truly trusted and those experiences were incredible, but I’m sure my career would have exploded much faster without all those set backs.

This year everything is changing and I feel invigorated! The #metoo and #timesup movements have filled me with hope and a new found energy.  I feel like I’ve been waiting for this moment, and now I’m set free to conquer the world again.

I walk into a room, and suddenly people care about a woman’s perspective!  Writers are writing female leads; those that were already interested in telling female driven stories are suddenly getting funded and the narrative has totally changed.  No longer does the woman need to be a submissive "babe," only there to pander to the male lead.  Now she can be courageous, strong, opinionated, and liberated!

These roles suit me far more as a person and as an actress; these roles are opportunities for me to really show my range and capabilities, and I’m really excited at the doors that have opened up for me in the last six months!  These are great times in the industry!

La Libertad:  What foreign languages, if any, do you read, write, and/or speak?

shelly:  I speak, read, and write in Hebrew fluently, and I speak and read Spanish proficiently. 

La Libertad:  Where have you traveled?

Shelly:  I’d say my passport is pretty worn.  I’ve been to most of the States in America, [and] most of the countries in Europe; I spent ten months backpacking in South America in 2007, and six months in India in 2011.  My biggest dream is to spend six months in Africa.  One day...

I usually immerse myself in the culture, getting to know local people, learning the language, trying the food.  During my two months in Cusco, Peru, I practiced my salsa every day with the local dancers, and in Varanasi, India I studied a dance they call Kathak.

Sunsets are more spectacular when you travel; food is tastier; clothes more colorful.  I think it’s because we are less bothered by the stress of every day issues... so we flourish; our senses heighten, and we connect to the universe better - to the here and now.

When I was young I dreamed of being Indiana Jones - traveling the world on adventures, and uncovering hidden temples, but when I looked into archaeology, it was more about sitting in offices, and cleaning dead bones with toothbrushes in the dessert...  So I realized I wanted to be an actress and pretend to be an archaeologist in a movie!

La Libertad:  What are your career goals?

Shelly:  I’d love to be involved in more films that further the women’s story!  Films like Suffragette (starring Carey Mulligan) and The Post (starring Meryl Streep) really inspire me.  I’d love to know that through my art I made a difference.

The first film I ever acted in was a Showtime Holocaust film called The Devil’s Arithmetic; I had a co-star role opposite Kirsten Dunst and Brittany Murphy.  It was the movie of the month on Hallmark, and was shown in schools all over the U.S.A.  I know that my cousins saw it at school, and all their classmates were really affected by it.  For some kids, it’s the only film they’ve seen - it’s the only understanding they’ll get about the holocaust, and I felt that I was a part of something that matters.  I want to feel that feeling with every project I do.

I’d also like to star in some of my own stories.  I wrote a lot of journals and stories while traveling around the world; I even wrote some scripts.  One day, I’d love to have one of those scripts made, so that I can share my own life lessons and truths with the world.  I’d love to feel that they were of use, not just to myself.

La Libertad:  What projects are you working on?

Shelly:  I have a few things coming up, but I’m most excited about two projects in particular.  I feel that they are both very empowering to viewers, and to women in particular, and both further the female voice in their own way.

One is a feature film called Phoning It In, which is a humorous drama about Astrid, a woman who’s stuck in life because she’s afraid of making any decisions; she’s afraid of making mistakes. I can really relate to that; often I’ve held off from making a decision until the very last moment, and I wish I was more courageous.

While I’ve had plenty of lead roles in theater, in Tel Aviv, this will be my first lead in a feature film, and I’m very excited to be working with director, Joe Shapiro, who’s a truly talented director, with a great eye for detail.  We will be shooting towards the fall!

Another project is an online talk show that I will be hosting with Natalie Marciano, who’s producing it as well.  It’s called “Black Sheep Revelations,” and it’ll be all about thinking "outside the box," and accepting your own individuality.  We will be talking about current issues in a witty and edgy way.  I’m sure we will be pressing some buttons, but that’s okay; let’s get the conversation rolling!  The show will be released around May, so that’s super exciting!

La Libertad:  What upcoming events, if any, do you intend to participate in?

Shelly:  I recently heard of an organization called Women Creating Change; it’s for female filmmakers from the Middle East and Northern Africa.  The idea is to bridge the gap between different religions and countries in the area through collaboration and art!

I went to their launch event in November and came out so inspired I was walking on clouds.  I met Arabic women who are actresses, writers, and directors, and heard their stories, their conflicts, their triumphs, and their failures, and they were so similar to my own experiences, that it felt like home; we really hit it off.

Coming from Israel, it’s always awkward when I meet Arabic women, to tell them where I’m from, but here everyone was open, warm, kind...  It was enlightening.  As if I could picture a possibility for peace in the Middle East, if we all just worked together...

So, any event they hold, I’ll be there!

La Libertad:  What links would you like to share?

Shelly:  I’d love to share a link to my website:


And one of my reels:

La Libertad:  What else, if anything, would you like to tell our readers?

Shelly:  These are changing times.  There are shifts in people’s perspectives and energies.  I implore everyone to jump on board the train of change to a better future!

I sound like a hippy.
Well... Maybe I am...

Introduction by Josh Mitchell and William Mortensen Vaughan

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