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My Story

My Story

It all started at a very young age. I grew up in a home where music was a huge part of our daily life. I felt a constant need to express myself artistically. As a child, I had a lot of restless energy.The kind of energy that made people say, “he’ll either end up in jail, or on a stage”.Fortunately, life led me to the best of these two choices, but we’ll get to that later.  

I was born in 90s Bucharest, Romania. A time, when the country was going through a change of political regime from the Soviet Bloc to the west, when everything seemed possible, and a dream come true for many Romanians.  My most vivid childhood memory is, my parents coming back from Italy in 96’, unloading their car (insert dramatic flashback here).


Since the political climate was overly unstable in post-communist Romania, like many others, my parents left in 92’, to work abroad in Western Europe. Working abroad meant earning more money and creating a better future for their families, but it also meant children were usually left in the care of grandparents. First time they left; I was 2 years old. For next sixteen years, our parents would visit my brother and me on Christmas holidays every two years. So, using some basic math here, in total we saw our parents for two years in sixteen years.

Growing up, it was difficult for us not having our parents around, but as we became adults, both my brother and I understood the sacrifice our parents made for us. For anyone, who hasn’t experienced the difficult communist and post-communist times in eastern Europe, it’s easy to judge, but any immigrant can tell you, every choice is a sentence.


Being left under the supervision of our grandparents, gave me a lot of freedom. School was fun, but I got in a lot of trouble. If somebody was fighting, skipping school, making trouble? Everything was always, my fault. I had dyslexia and ADD, which meant it was impossible for me to pay attention in class, I had trouble reading or staying still and when speaking, from trying to say everything all at once, I would stutter. But if there’s anything you should know about soviet/post-soviet era, is nobody really cared about diagnoses. You were just called “Trouble”.


Let's cheer up a bit! Like I said, I had artistic tendencies since I was a child, but my first taste, first chance to display them for real, was when I joined the school theater troupe Caragiale show. I was in fifth grade. This was the beginning of a huge change in me. I started to read more. I started standing in front of the mirror and practicing my speech. I would rehearse even the smallest interaction I would have with a baker to buy bread. Slowly, my stutter started to go away, and I was getting better at reading.

In 2004, following a competition, I joined the children's choir of the Romanian National Opera. This required choir rehearsals at the highest level. I took part in the shows such as Carmen by Georges Bizet, Aida by Giuseppe Verdi, Carmina Burana by Carl Orff and many more. While having this introduction to an artist’s life and falling in love with the stage and singing during school year, for summer vacations, I would visit my parents in Italy. I was an easily bored child, so after a week of doing nothing, I started to work too. First, at a restaurant and later, I joined my father in construction. This contrast made me appreciate what I had even more and taught me that if you want something, you must work for it.


With the advent of the Internet, everything was rapidly changing in Romania. I convinced my grandmother to get a computer and an internet hook up and once I had access to that, I started binge watching movies. With each movie I watched, became infatuated by the storytelling, the actors, the whole process. My dream was to become a successful singer. I never thought about being an actor, but sometimes, you stumble into something by an accident and end up on the right path…


From 7 th grade, I knew, I wanted to take the singing section at the Dinu Lipatti Music High School, and I had started preparing for it. The admission exam very difficult already, but then, I was told, I had to know the musical theory too. I started taking piano lessons, but it was almost impossible to learn to read music in just a couple of months before the exam…


That’s when I decided to go into acting, because it was much easier to get in and later transfer to music classes, my first love. This is how my journey of acting began. Admission to high school was quite difficult: there were 280 ​​candidates and only 28 places. 


The high school years were great. Plunging into the world of theater, learning performing, acting, but most importantly, discovering the love for reading theatre plays and the study of the character. The four years of high school passed quickly and without any major incidents. I didn’t get any auditions, which was extremely common amongst my colleagues too. It was disheartening to say the least. In my final, 12th year of high school, I decided to change my course and join the Bucharest Police Academy. Yes, I wanted to become a man of the law and rid the streets of bad boys, but as they say, "you can't run from your destiny” … As I was preparing for admission exams at the academy, a casting team came to our school to set up an audition for a movie. They took pictures, interviewed us and left. Mid-year, one ordinary day, I walked into class and found it empty. Nobody was in class. I started calling my colleagues and finally, found out everyone had gone to the casting call for the same movie we auditioned for before. I felt defeated and wanted to just go home, but something pushed me to go to the casting.


This was my first interaction with the casting for the movie “If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle". In the casting room set all the well-known and respected Romanian actors I saw on TV every day; I told myself, I had no chance. I did the audition and left.

A week, two, a month passed. The casting for this project and it’s 360 contestants lasted six months. And then, I got my first role as Silviu Chiscan in my first feature film.


After finishing the project, I realized that my path in life was clear, and I stopped preparing for the Police Academy and I started studying for the National University of Theater and Cinematography.  Being the most prestigious profile faculty in Romania, the competition was stiff: 400 candidates for 62 places.  After many rehearsals involving singing, dancing, performing and a written test, I joined UNATC (short version).


Everything went according to plan. I was a normal student learning as much as possible about the craft of acting and how the film world worked. Until one day, in the middle of the first school year, posters of my first feature film with me in the foreground, started to appear on the walls. Then, the announcement came: the film was selected at Berlin Film Festival. Having no one in the field of art in the family, I didn’t know exactly what being in a film that got selected by Berlinale meant. I simply did my job as an actor. I treated it like any other job, and I did my best. This was in 2009, when Facebook and all the other journal-type social media platforms where you’d post about your day or achievements, were just becoming more popular.


Once I got to the Berlinale, I felt what it meant to be truly appreciated. I was excited, but the first time I saw my face on a huge screen at the festival, I was embarrassed. It seemed to me, that everything I did, every choice I made as an actor, was wrong and that I could have done it differently. Later, I realized this is a normal reaction when you see yourself for the first time on

the screen. After the first screening, the whole festival was talking about this movie. The team and I were constantly approached and congratulated on the achievement.


We left the Berlinale Film Festival with two important awards for us and for Romanian Cinematography, Silver Bear and Alfred Bauer for innovation in cinematography.


Then came Loverboy, the film I went to Cannes with and many more projects. Each project I worked on, I dedicated my time and my whole being: to give life to characters, to explore the deepest and darkest parts of human psyche and my being.


And now, I find myself in Los Angeles, the city, where everyone comes to chase the dream of being an artist. I am surrounded by talent and creative energy and feel elated to see what’s next.

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