We recently met up with Ursula Maria to talk about life, acting and more! Ursula is originally from Austria, but has been living and working in Los Angeles for the last decade. Being an award winning actress as well as a trained dancer with an extensive resume, she knows a thing or two about the entertainment industry.
Hey Ursula, thanks for doing this quick interview! You have been living in LA for a while now, do you ever go back home to Austria?
Hey! Yes I do, I often go home for Christmas, but couldn’t during the pandemic. But I try to see my family at least once or twice a year.
A pandemic does change everything. How did the acting industry change?
Well, for a while there were no auditions whatsoever. Now, they are slowly coming back but it’s all self tapes now. I haven’t had any in person auditions since Covid came along except for callbacks. For shoots, they do daily covid tests and you have to wear masks and keep your distance from others on set.
What about the coming year, anything happening that you are excited about?
Yes! I am excited to start working on new projects that I have lined up. One is a futuristic feature film that already has some great talent attached. I get to play the main villain so that’s going to be awesome.
Exciting! What has thus far been the most rewarding part of being in the entertainment industry?
I’ve met so many amazing and extremely talented people, and every time I am on a set I am surrounded by creatives. I really enjoy that. It’s also extremely rewarding to finish a project and see it being screened. So much work goes into making a movie or a show and it’s lovely to see it all come together in the end.
What are some difficulties of being an actress?
Auditions can come in at any time, and sometimes they are due immediately so you have to drop everything and start preparing. Many times, you will spend a lot of time and energy on an audition and it won’t lead to a booking. That’s part of the deal. As far as shoots go, days can be very long starting super early and finishing late. Some days are busy, others are not. No week is the same. But it’s all worth it!
What do you think helps you get cast in projects? How do you differentiate yourself from other actors?
“Well, everyone is unique right? My uniqueness definitely comes from being a trained dancer as well as an actress and being fluent in German and English. I’ve also lived in many different places, done theater, musicals, films, pilots, commercials, shows and plenty of dance performances and I think that gives me a unique understanding of the craft.”
What would be a dream role for you?
I am always excited to play the main villain. But generally speaking, every role that is well written and has a lot of depth to it will excite most every actor. Since I am very athletic I would love to play an athlete. I’ve played a martial artist before and it was so much fun. I guess I like being tough.
Do you think that’s your niche, the villain character? Or the athlete?
“Maybe. Well, I do get called in for the evil one quite a few times. But I have also played the victim. But more often the bad girl for sure! And yes, the athlete for sure. I mean, having been a professional dancer for many years, I’ll always be very athletic. These days I do a lot of spinning and yoga as well as strength training, and I am fast when it comes to learning a new athletic skill.”
You have done both theater and film, what are the main differences?
Well, theater is live every time it’s performed, so no performance is the same. It’s an interaction between the cast and the audience, no show is alike. Also, it’s the entire play every time. When you shoot a film, scenes don’t get shot in order, and you can reshoot many times. You basically act snippets only. Never the whole thing. Oftentimes what you see on film is not what the actors see when they’re shooting as things get added later on. So a lot of imagination is needed. Being on set and being on stage are so extremely different. Oh, and when shooting film, small movements and facial expressions will get noticed, but on stage, things have to be bigger to be able to be seen by the audience. You also need to project when speaking on stage, so the audience can hear you. Both are great in their own way.
How do you prepare for an audition?
Aside from learning the lines, I work on the character. I analyze the script and make choices based on how the character would act. I build a backstory and a life for the character, and use that to give life to the scene. I also work on the wardrobe. What would this person wear? How would they do their hair, their make up etc? And mannerisms – how do they move? How do they talk, what do they sound like? I am creating a whole new person, and this person is speaking the lines at the audition. Unfortunately, auditions often come at the very last minute, and there isn’t much time, so being able to learn lines quickly is a good skill to have as an actor.
Any tips or advice for aspiring actors or anybody who wants to emerge in your industry?
It’s a tough industry and a lot depends on luck. Being in the right place at the right time. Some people are very connected. That’s hard to compete with. It’s important to remember that everyone’s path is unique and to enjoy life while chasing one’s goals. Also: bet on your strengths. Nobody is the same. Everyone has something that makes them unique, so figure out what makes you special and use that to stand out from the crowd. There’s a role for everyone out there.
What keeps you motivated every day?
My goals and dreams. All the things I still want to do.
Ursula, what do you value most in life?
Health, freedom, success and family.
I like that answer! Thanks for the chat and have a wonderful day!
Find out more about Ursula here:
Instagram and Twitter: @ursula_maria_