Havana Rose Liu is a multidisciplinary artist, touching on almost every segment of the art world, encapsulating whatever role she naturally gravitates towards. Her voice is soft and poised, with a soothing effect that allows any conversation to flow naturally and feel as if you have known her for years. The most surreal moment for the Brooklyn-born artist is recognising she is now an actor after three years of hatching projects. Starring in four films in this past year; The Sky Is Everywhere (2022), No Exit (2022), Mayday (2021), and The Chair Sarah (2021), she says, “I’ve never been able to be labelled, I’m mixed-race, multi-cultural and queer, but there is an interesting dynamic when it came out and people started calling me and actor, it was new.”
Towards the end of our conversation, her core character shone through, and she began to interview me… it was refreshing. Genuinely intrigued by the lives of others, it is so clear to see why she excels as a multi-disciplinary artist.
Head below to enjoy our interview with Havana Rose Liu…
You have the most soothing voice –
I was going to say the same about you!
You should voice the Mindfulness app!
Oh my God, don’t tempt me…
To be honest, you don’t need another business venture, you do some much! How have you been finding everything?
It’s a lot! I’m finding it really fantastic, but I did wake up this morning thinking, ‘what is my life right now?’ There is a lot of pinch-me moments during this whole process.
Where do you find time to ground yourself, reset your creativity, and know when it is time to move to the next project or venture?
No one has ever asked me that apart from the people closest to me, so thank you for asking that. I actually knew that February was going to be a massive month in terms of these two projects I had been sitting on for the last few months. So, I decided to join a ceramics studio to work on my mindfulness which has been really helping. I’ve been finding that working with clay and using elements that are directly from the earth, has been really grounding. It has been a rewarding process because it is more immediate and I get to work with my hands, I need that balance. I do meditate every morning, and it makes me feel human.
What kind of feeling or pleasure do you get out of acting that you don’t really get from your other ‘hobbies’?
That’s funny because I was thinking about this and I was trying to examine myself and how I had gotten to that point. Because I had never dreamed of getting to where I am now with it, I didn’t even think it was possible. But then I have realised over time that all of the different artforms I spent time studying and practising, have directly folded into the dough that is acting. Especially because I am untrained, art-making in the visual space taught me a lot about symbolism, visual media, composition, and taking up space and riding the wave of that physical performance. And I think music, my voice, has so much presence in acting and figuring out how to use that as a tool. I get to utilise all my skills and on top of all of that, it allows me to live so many lives. That is my favourite part, it allows me to evolve, and the way that we contextualise work, especially in America, is such a stagnant experience but acting I am always allowed to change. Playing with the multitude of that in itself is probably what the other aspects didn’t let me do.
You mention doing work that aligns with who you are at your core, I think that takes a certain journey to even find out about yourself. So, how do you know when a role or project is for you?
I think I’ve had more experiences thinking that something wasn’t for me and then ended up being perfect for who I am. I don’t think it’s healthy to dream up perfect roles, because so often life surprises me.
How did growing up in Brooklyn, your heritage and the really important external factors impact your journey today?
I went to an arts-focused school where there were a lot of actors, but I think growing up in New York had the most influence. I’ve lived in many other places, but I think my favourite thing about New York is that you just end up experiencing so many different people and things In a day. The wildest things can pick you up and sweep you off your feet. The amount of really different things you can do, and it all becomes this inescapable closeness with others, makes the power of the city. There is so much beauty in being able to immerse yourself in other lives at any given moment. I think that that has paved the path for the work that I care about. I think it is open in a way, and it brings me back to that feeling of being able to play multiple characters and grow like that, or what a job or person is supposed to be like. I’ve been really lucky to have a life enriched with different experiences and a lot of different people.
What makes you feel most at home?
My body is my home. I have learned to embrace it as I take care of it. that is my ground when life gets too much. There is something really impactful about realising that, this vessel that I occupy for this amount of time gets to be my ground, my home base.
How did you reach that point of your body being your home ground? Was it something you had to learn and embrace?
I’ve had to learnt through a lot of trial and error, I grew up in a time where lifestyle was really valued highly, and brain intelligence was considered powerful. That is true, but I’ve learnt to balance that with body knowledge, body practice, mental health for me, is 50% physical and 50% mental work. I’ve learned through many ups and downs that it is the most important thing to nourish.
How would you measure success?
I think for me, success is experiential. It is when the three pillars of life can hold up the roof of living, those are; passion, purpose, and practice.
What kind of projects are you doing next and what would you like to dive into?
I am just so open. That has been a real power in some way for me in life, that being open and following my values and deep interpersonal connection, following those things has been a better line to find the projects meant for me.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I hope to be able to be a good person and do good things with the art I make and live a creative life that is not only to benefit myself but benefit others.