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Interview: Elysia Rotaru

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In the world of film and television, it can sometimes be a competitive and difficult road to travel. Constant auditions, rejections and sometimes not knowing when your next job is going to be. You need to be a special breed of person in order to navigate those rough waters.

One up and coming actress who is definitely handling the rough waters and staying grounded is Canadian born actress Elysia Rotaru. She recently joined several friends and starred in the Crazy 8s film project Earthlickers, which recently premiered at the Whistler Film Festival. The film is about a barren post-apocalyptic future, where seven sexy Goddesses (X,T,C,O,R,G,Y) of the Merkabatron descend upon a wretched Earth to convey the message that the Vibration of Love can heal all. Now, the movie may sound a bit out there, but it does have a serious message that the filmmakers want you to understand.

She has also appeared on hit television series such as Supernatural, Fringe and Sanctuary. Also coming up she will guest star on the new series iZombie and Backstrom. Elysia sat down with us to talk about the important message of Earthlickers, her upcoming projects and what her definition of success is.

Pop Culture Principle – A film you were involved with called Earthlickers just recently premiered at the Whistler Film Festival. Can you tell us how you got involved with that project?

Elysia Rotaru - Alison Araya, who is the writer and producer of the film, is a colleague of mine and she approached me about this project and wanted me to audition for it. The next thing, my agent told me that I was requested to audition for the project. Of course, I said yes to doing the project because Alison is a friend of mine. I was very excited because it was the first time I ever worked on a Crazy8s project. It was great during the audition process because everyone was rooting for you, and we also had a great time on set.

Pop Culture Principle – What is Earthlickers about and can you tell us about your character, Goddess O?

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Elysia Rotaru – Wow, that is a really intense question. It’s super deep and hard for me to answer on my own. In a nutshell, it looks at what we are lacking in the world today. A lot of the big picture aspect of the short film is love. We are love goddesses who come down from our planet to Earth, and we are trying to save the world with love. We are allowing people to tap into their hearts. It’s not something to be taken lightly, but it’s a topic that I think in this day and age people unintentionally tap into. I think it’s a film that is trying to expose what we don’t have a lot of here, such as compassion, touch, and those kinds of things. I think we are all missing a lot of this, and this film takes a look at that.

Pop Culture Principle – The project was part of the Crazy 8s’ eight-day film making challenge. What challenges, if any, did you and the filmmakers face getting the film done in such a short window?

Elysia Rotaru – I feel like the filmmaker had more trouble because of post and the pre-production aspect of things. When all of us were together on the day, laying out scenes, because of the caliber of the actors on set things went quite smoothly. If you take a look at the people who were cast in the film, I would say it’s the cream of the crop of actors from Vancouver that had the time to do this project. I know there were other actors who wanted to be a part of the Crazy8s project but just didn’t have time. So we were really blessed that, when it came to our work, the actors had the time and things went by very smoothly and easy.

All I could really hear Allison and Justine struggling with was how stressful it was to film everything because there were so many shots. I mean, that’s a good thing to stress about—having so much great footage, and how can you tell the story in ten minutes with all this great footage.

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Pop Culture Principle – Supernatural recently celebrated its 200th episode. You appeared in two episodes in the series. What was your experience like working on that show?

Elysia Rotaru – It was amazing! The first time I was on Supernatural I was so elated because I got to play a really great character role. That type of character is right up my alley as an actor, and that’s the kind of work that I really dive into and that satisfies my soul. The guys are amazing and, aside from the fact that they are beautiful men, they are talented actors. They have this ridiculous rapport with each other that works so well on camera, but they also allow it to come across with the day players who come in for a guest star role. It’s great being in that environment because that crew is amazing. I loved being on that set the first time and, when I came back the second time it was such a lovely feeling. Both Jensen and Jared welcomed me back to the set, and it’s great to know that after ten seasons everybody wants to be there. It’s really inspirational for me because, if I were able to land a series that went for more than two or five years, as an artist how do you re-invest in that craft, in that character—and those guys do it.

Pop Culture Principle – As you know, the fandom for Supernatural is huge and loyal. Have you had any interactions with the fans?

Elysia Rotaru – I’ve had the interactions I could have via Twitter and social media. I try to respond to people when they tweet me. I don’t know where half the fans are that contact me, but it always gets me giddy when someone tweets me or posts a photo of me from the show. It takes me back to being in high school, and it’s so cool! I love to know what the fandom is thinking and what they think of my work on the show. I remember, when I booked the gig, my friends who watched the show were so happy for me. I love connecting with people, and love that someone enjoys what I do.

Pop Culture Principle – You are involved with the highly anticipated new series iZombie. What can you tell us about the show and your involvement?

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Elysia Rotaru – I can’t actually talk about is as of yet, but what I can say is that I am playing a really interesting character that is close to home to my ethnic roots. It’s going to be a killer show, and I am super-excited that I was able to land of role of that nature on the CW. The CW network has been really great to me, and the show is unbelievable. It’s a great storyline, and I’m looking forward to seeing the series.

Pop Culture Principle – With the popularity of shows like The Walking Dead and Z Nation, why do you think there is such a fascination with zombies and the undead?

Elysia Rotaru – I don’t know, maybe something is about to happen and we are trying to cover it up by laughing at it?! It’s a subject matter that I never get tired of researching or looking into on any level. I feel like it works so well these days with people and what we are attracted to. It’s almost like a bad car crash that you are allowed to look at it because it’s so obscene and unbelievable. You don’t know what is going on in other parts of the world, so who knows what is out there. It goes with my idea of making sure you know how to use a gun and are able to drive a standard and a motorcycle!

Pop Culture Principle- You’ve been involved with several science fiction series such as Fringe, Eureka and Sanctuary. Do you enjoy working in the science fiction genre?

Elysia Rotaru – I am the biggest nerd, and I love science fiction. If I was better at math, I would probably study quantum physics. I think it goes back to me watching Star Trek with my dad and geeking out. He didn’t do it on purpose, but I loved looking at Klingons. Science fiction is a huge aspect of my work, and I would love to dive into it more. I would love to audition for more roles like Guardians of the Galaxy-type alien roles. There was a show back in the day called Red Dwarf that was very cool, and I remember watching it and loving it.

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Pop Culture Principle – In the near future, do you see yourself maybe doing some writing, directing or producing?

Elysia Rotaru – Yes, and thanks for asking. I kind of technically direct weekly because I teach acting at a really huge acting school in Vancouver. I have the opportunity to work with ages three and up, and every class I am the director. It’s fun for me to explore that, but also helping people explore their process. One of my partners, Stephen Sawchuk, works on the production side of film, and my roommate works with documentaries and he’s always telling me I need to start writing.

I haven’t really had that itch to sit down and write a screenplay or a short. I am at this point right now where I am really excited about my process in my craft as an actor. As far as production, I would like to be behind the camera on the other side of things and produce work, but I wouldn’t know where to start because my life is so busy! I am more of that person who wants to know what you need, and if I can help with casting or things like that I will. In terms of just producing, just directing or just writing, it will happen but I don’t know when. It is there on my bubble, just not what I am more passionate about right now.

Pop Culture Principle – As an actor, do you think it’s important that you learn every aspect of the business?

Elysia Rotaru – I think it’s very valuable as a human being, who has a one-time take on this planet, for me personally that I can understand or appreciate the other elements that are surrounding what I need to do in my craft. Right now, my focus is on playing and exploring more of my processes and getting into different character work but, at the same time, learning how they set up shots. I recently wrapped a shoot for the series Motive, and I was picking the brain of a guy who was working the B camera and was learning a lot about what he was looking at and what he was looking for.

As an actor, I think you should get those skill sets and tools under your belt and build up that actor’s toolbox. My mentors told me that, when you book a part, know who you are working with. Don’t go in there blind all the time, and know what you are walking into. Know the caliber of the talent that you are working with, and it elevates you and puts you in a nice position where you can explore creatively without having to feel judged most of the time. You can just do your work and feel completely confident about it.

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Pop Culture Principle – What would be your definition of success in Hollywood?

Elysia Rotaru – One of the things that I always say is that I just want to be self-sustainable and supported by a craft that I love doing. When I say self-sustainable, I don’t mean riding around in an expensive Range Rover. For me it’s about constantly working in my craft, being happy, healthy, productive and fit. Success is different for me. I’d love to be able to pay off my mother’s mortgage without thinking about it. I want to do something that allows me to have a life, and still value life as it is and the people that have helped me get here. People always ask me, “Don’t you want to be on the red carpet?” Of course I do, but I want to be there with a purpose. I don’t want to go to TIFF or Cannes just to be there, but I want to be there because I have a project that I am promoting.

Pop Culture Principle – Any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?

Elysia Rotaru - I just wrapped working on Motive, but I’m not sure when that will come out. I have another guest star spot in the new series Backstrom. I also just finished shooting this short film called Run: A Triathlon Movie that is a local independent feature. In terms of my voiceover land, I can’t really talk about that work right now, but there are some exciting projects coming up.

We would like to take a moment and thank Elysia Rotaru for sitting down and talking with us. She is definitely someone you will want to keep tabs on and there are several ways you are able to. You can follow her on Twitter @elysiarotaru. Make sure you like her official Facebook page here and follow her on Instagram here.

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