Switching between the heart-warmingly human Transparent and JK Rowling’s wizarding world, actor Ali Sudol is empowering women on screen.
ALI SUDOL IS A GAME CHANGER. From her music — under moniker Fine Frenzy — that pulls at your heartstrings with its delicate portrayal of human emotion, to her powerful and important acting roles in JK Rowlings new film venture, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and hit American TV series Transparent, Sudol gives new hope for women to allow themselves to be multi-faceted beings. We spoke with Sudol, who declared herself in a state of “delirium” having been working since 5 a.m. and the conversation that ensued was just as inspiring, magical and life-affirming as we could ever have dreamed of.
Can you tell me a little about your role in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them?
I play Queenie Goldstein, she is a witch in the wizarding world and she is a wonderful being. She’s fun and adventurous and mischievous and incredibly soft and warm and feminine and she is also essentially a magical empath. She can tune into people and read not only their thoughts, but their entire story. Their pain, their secrets, everything quite quickly.
Amazing! Has it been quite magical working on the film?
It has, it was an incredible experience, the whole production, from the ground up, is just beautiful… Everybody is an incredible, accomplished artist in their own right, across the board. David Yates the director is just a complete delight and inspiration. The cast are hilarious and all equally bowled over by the fact that this has happened to us. We’re on this ride together and it was just great, these things just don’t happen very often.
I actually first recognised you from your role in Transparent. That must have been an incredibly inspiring project to work on too.
It was such a special project and in addition to being my first real experience in acting, it was the thing that made me fall in love with acting as a career. Jill [Solloway] is an incredible director and so smart and handles uncomfortable territory with such humanity and fearlessness and I’m constantly amazed by the fact that I got to have that show as the project that began my career in acting.
Solloway handles the subject matter with such humanity, yet not delicacy – it’s so real.
No she does not, she doesn’t gloss over things at all. She definitely ploughs you into sometimes squirm-worthy territory with things we don’t want to look at within ourselves and society that are beautiful but are in the shadows.
I think it’s so special for that.
Yeah of course! We need more of that. I feel like love and sexuality and finding your identity and family are things that are often portrayed in ways that can make us feel isolated, when we don’t fit into those norms or when we don’t look like that in real life. We need art to show all different kinds of ways of life and show that the spectrum of gender is not just male and female and show the spectrum of sexuality and show the process of finding your identity in all its colours.
It’s really important. How does your music as Fine Frenzy interplay with acting, do you approach the two in different ways?
They’re complementary processes I think. When I decided to put music aside for a while, I feel like I plumbed my guts a bit too much, and was running out of stories and frankly was bored with telling the limited story of my own life. It’s very difficult to constantly be putting your own sorrows and failures and dreams and desires out in the public eye with no barrier. It’s quite painful, frankly. So when I started acting it was a real relief to explore other ways of life and characters. What I didn’t realise that happened in acting, was that it would also push me into emotional territory that I could very skilfully avoid in music.
It must diffuse those facets of your personality.
Yeah, you’re like, ‘Anger? Oh I don’t like that; I’m not going to write an angry song.’ Acting, I found, often just pushes you straight into the areas that you try to avoid and makes you feel them and feel things that you probably need to feel.
What do you feel is important that you bring up in your characters and bring up in your music?
I think everything that I do has to have a purpose, otherwise I can’t find a reason to do it. With Fantastic Beasts, I’m playing a character who’s highly empathetic and intelligent and strong and also soft and very feminine and unapologetic about her femininity. I think it’s important as a woman to show younger women that you can be a multifaceted human being as a woman, that there are different kinds of people and it’s great to be layered, it’s great to be complex, it’s great to even be a contradiction… Queenie is such a sensual person but she’s not doing that for anybody else, she just enjoys being in her own skin. I think that’s important for girls to understand, that beauty really is about how you feel.
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