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Elena Pavli


BIG Success and the importance of a proper coat in London... 

How did you get started in the industry?

I actually auditioned for the movie The Wedding Party , when I was in High School in Sydney Australia. I remember getting the call that I got the part like it was yesterday!  Working on that set was so lovely and I remember how funny and kind everyone was, Frances O'Connor, Cate Blanchett and the awesome director Cherie Nowlan. I was totally spoiled on my first gig!  After High School I auditioned for drama school and got a scholarship to go to The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. My scholarship came through just two weeks before the semester started. It was a pretty crazy time and I was just 17 moving halfway across the world on my own. I was so broke that I didn't have a proper coat for about 6 months. I just went for it and didn't look back! It was definitely worth the struggle and the hypothermia!


 Where are you located and where are you originally from?

I live and work between Los Angeles, London and New York but as for where I'm from... how much time do you have? I was born in London England but moved all over the place growing up. I went to seven elementary schools, which does sound a lot crazier than it was.  My family finally settled in Sydney Australia so I got the chance to go to just one High School. My grandparents are Greek Cypriot, Cyprus is a melting pot and with some digging I've discovered that my heritage is Greek/ Indian/ Lebanese and Israeli. 


Who are your biggest inspirations?

If you ask anyone who knows me, they'll tell you I have something of an obsession with pop culture, so I have a whole lot of varied inspirations! Quentin Tarantino is my favorite writer of all time but I'm also obsessed with David Bowie, Rosie Perez , Jerry Seinfeld, Jane Austen, Richard Pryor, and  playwrights Stephen Adly Guirguis and Devin Burnam to name but a few!  But when in doubt, in life or in art, I still turn to William Shakespeare... he really knew what was up.


 What is your greatest accomplishment yet?

I'm really proud of my work on the TV show Snatch (based on the Guy Ritchie movie). The opportunity to work on that show came my way because of the play I wrote and starred in called "The Bad, The Sad and The Broken Hearted".  It got a lot of attention because of the awesome cast including Seth Rogen and Kumail Nanjiani and was directed by the hilarious Martin Starr. I'm also really proud of the work I've done with Tim Carroll  who directed me in several Shakespeare productions and taught me so much about being on stage and the value of language.


Who are your biggest supporters?

I'm lucky to have an incredibly supportive family, I don't know what I'd do without them! My Mom Lucy raised my two sisters and I on her own and that took an incredible amount of tenacity and courage on her part. My sister Christina now works for NBC and my sister Alexia is also an actress and comedian so they truly understand and support my work. I have more supportive friends than I can name in a day but there are countless friends who have put a roof over my head and believed in me, Tamar Teifeld, Wendy Park, Will Carter, Lauren and David Murphy, Tom Payne, the list goes on! My agent Marissa Fine and my manager Samantha Starr are incredibly smart women who constantly encourage me. I'm super lucky. 

What do you love most about your work?

At the moment I feel there's barely a line between my work and the rest of my life. I guess that's not a particularly healthy work/ life balance but it's the truth! My love for it really just boils down to people and their stories. I love really disappearing into different worlds and figuring out what drives characters to do the things they do. I like mining the comedy in otherwise tragic stories.

What is something you have struggled with in your career?

Like any artist from a low socioeconomic background, when I started out, I sometimes struggled just to keep my chin up and persevere, to see the opportunity in front of me and figure out how to get there . Most people in this industry have arguably had to struggle in one way or another but for those of us with very humble beginnings the struggle can sometimes just be figuring out how to stay in the game.


What advice would you give to young girls looking to do what you're doing?

My advice would be to get on with it and surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. I might be biased but I really believe that doing theater is a great way to start, it really teaches you a type of discipline and focus that is incredibly useful. Watch as many movies as you can and if you're broke join a library, it's a great place to escape and find inspiration. Also, if you move to London buy a coat.


Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

Right now I'm working on a television series called The Manager with singer songwriter Nasri, it's a really exciting project. In five years, I see that show being in it's third season! I'm in development on a TV adaptation of my play The Bad, the Sad and the Broken-Hearted.  In five  years time I see myself zipping between those two sets and drinking even more coffee than I already do. Five Years also happens to be the name of one of my favorite David Bowie songs so that conjures up great vibes!


Instagram @elenaspavli 


-Photo credit  Faye Thomas photography

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