Interview with award winning actress Sarah De Baets

Sarah De Baets, Be here now

Since my character “be here now” I’ve also discovered a passion in doing projects about mental health, portraying raw characters with struggles to spread awareness.

Tell us about yourself and how you got into acting

I am an award winning French Actress based in NYC. I moved 3 years ago from Paris to pursue acting and I have since starred in a multitude of films and plays. Some of my accomplishments include: Webby Award winning film “be here now”, “IDD”, “I’m here” and “STING”, as well as a dozen off-off broadway plays such as The Chain Theater festival audience choice award winning play “For My Very Own”, “A midsummer night’s dream” with First flight theatre company, “Tyrannicides” & “Julius Caesar”. In addition to “Darkness of Light”, I will also appear in “outside/in” in May, directed by Suzy PetchEam. 

I got into acting when I moved to Russia with my family at 6 years old. My parents let me audition for the Theatre of puppet of Moscow and every year they would put up a show. At 14 we moved to Manila, Philippines where I continued my study in Theatre and attained my International Baccalaureate majoring in Theatre. I found a sense of belonging and home on stage. As thankful and  privileged as I was to have traveled so much and absorbed so many cultures at such a young age, I did not have a set “home”. Acting is the only thing that stayed constant in my life. It is my first and forever home. 

Sarah De Baets

Do you have any preferences on what roles you like to play? 

My first role was in the nutcracker as the villainous Mouse King for the Theatre of puppet of Moscow and as much as I was originally upset about it as a six year old who wanted to play Carla, the .I found that the Mouse King was actually a hilarious character and I got lots of good laughs from the audience. I realised then that I loved to make people laugh and wanted to explore more comedic and complex roles which often seemed to be the antagonist. There’s also a challenge in making a character that does the wrong thing likeable and charming. As I kept going, I often auditioned for the antagonist and got to play Red Queen in their production of Alice in Wonderland and later on “Renee”, the antagonist in the upcoming TV series “STING”. I really do find that the antagonists are often the most complex characters to explore and there’s an importance in telling their story. Since my character “be here now” I’ve also discovered a passion in doing projects about mental health, portraying raw characters with struggles that aren’t talked about to spread awareness. I’d say my dream role would be a mix of a comedic, raw and struggling woman who stands up for what she believes in and makes no excuses for the space she takes up this man-dominated world. 

Your latest film project,’Be here now’ directed by Parker Foster,what was the driving factor for you to get involved and starring with the leading role in this film?

“Be here now” explores the internal fight with depression many of us deal with, the isolation one feels when experiencing a depressive episode and the fear of judgement and isolation if we open up about it. When I met with Parker to discuss “Be Here Now” I was immediately drawn in as Parker was adamant about the film being different from other suicide awareness films. “Be Here Now” does not glamorise the journey to recovery, it is raw and true to the struggle. I was extremely lucky to have been chosen to portray the character dealing with depression in the film as I knew that if it could help at least one person feel less alone in this, I would have done my job.

Sarah De Baets

What are the highlights of your career so far?

The feedback we got from “Be Here Now” has to be the highlight of my career. It was overwhelming how many people connected with the film. I’d say that being a part of “Be Here Now” was a wake up call as to why I was acting. The Webby Award was a fever dream to be honest. It’s both astonishing and heartbreaking that so many people could relate to the message, so much so that it won a Webby. I am so thankful to everyone who helped create “Be Here Now” and very lucky that I got to star in the sequel of “Be Here Now” with Parker titled “I’m here” for a commercial. 

Can you tell us about your  upcoming off-off Broadway play “Darkness of Light?

Darkness Of Light is a new play written by Alexander Kaletski and directed by Michael Mailer who directed The Minute You Wake Up Dead with Morgan Freeman, Heart of Champions with Michael Shannon, Blind with Alec Baldwin and Demi Moore). It will premiere at The Chain theatre in NYC on March 30th 2023. Darkness Of Light follows a Russian artist as he travels the world and gets himself in all types of comical but dangerous situations as he tries to hold on to his artistic soul. I am beyond excited to be portraying Anya, and especially looking forward to performing in a Russian accent for the first time. I’ve always had a soft spot for characters with accents that aren’t my own.

How do you prepare for a role?

Lots and lots of research goes into preparing for a role. I especially love those that are so different from me as I get to step into the shoes of someone completely different for the time being. When preparing for a role, I start by reading the play/script twice back to back. Then I go into text analysis and find everything that is said about my character, playwright, other characters and my character. I highlight those and create the persona based on the given information. I read it again a couple of days later and explore the relationships my character has with others. I then connect any characteristics to anyone I know and mimic some habits these people have. With that foundation I’m able to play around during rehearsals with an open mind.

I also make sure to discuss my character with the director and sometimes the playwright if I have the chance to work with them. I believe art is more often than not collaborative, so having discussions about characters and underlying messages is beneficial. Something that keeps me grounded in a character is having something of my own. Whether it’s an object, clothing or jewellery. I like to have something of mine on stage or on set to blend myself with the character. After all of the blocking and rehearsal work, the night before opening night or the shoot, I go back to the play/script and I always find new things about my character.

Sarah De Baets, be here now

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