Marie Senghore followed her dream of moving from Sweden to Los Angeles to invest in an acting career. To begin her journey, she enrolled at the New York Film Academy, which she applied for through Blueberry — and the rest is a real success story. Check out Marie’s story in her own words, below!
(Please note: this interview has been translated from Swedish to English and reprinted with permission from Blueberry. To see the original, click here.)
Blueberry: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what you’re up to right now?
MS: I’m an actor, and I earned my associate degree in Acting for Film from the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles in May 2017.
Now, one year after graduation, I’m still living here in LA and working part-time at Disney, while recording movies.
Blueberry: How did you become interested in acting? What was your first role?
MS: I have always wanted to work as an actor. I think my first job was at like six years old, when I participated in a section of [Swedish TV show] Bolibompa. It went well so they called me back several more times. Then, I started taking theater lessons and chose theater as a focus in high school.
However, I did not start working with movies again until autumn 2013, after I had moved back home after spending a year in Spain. I started recording commercials and short films and finally became a part of a feature film.
Blueberry: What are some films we can see you in?
MS: In Sweden I played Aliki in Aliki (2016, Tine Alavi) and Tessan in Alena (2015, Daniel di Grado). Later, in the United States, I have participated in a lot of movies, as Spaelade Main Girl in Shea Buttah (2018, Deja Gordon); Julia in 6:00pm (2017, Savvas Christou); and Leonora Kale in 1989 (2018, Furaha Bayibsa).
Blueberry: How did you choose to study at the New York Film Academy?
MS: I had searched around at a number of California schools that had film programs. I had previously encountered NYFA through one of Blueberry’s student fairs, so I already knew a little about them. In the fall of 2015 I went to school to have my audition and I felt safe with my choice to start there.
Blueberry: How would you describe NYFA?
MS: It is very intensive. You have three terms in one calendar year, so there is no summer vacation. You have a free week between the semesters and then you start again. It sounds very hard, but I think it’s good. You never lose focus and I personally felt that motivated me more.
Blueberry: Is there a big difference between the industry in Los Angeles and Sweden?
MS: Yes. This is the capital of all movies, so the industry here is much bigger. There are always lots of projects to work on. Sometimes it also feels like everyone in this city also works in the industry. There are not many I encounter that do not. But that’s what makes it fun. You can always find any project to jump on. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Sweden, but hopefully it will be the case in the future.
Blueberry: How did a regular school day look like you at NYFA?
MS: As I mentioned, the school is intensive. Some days you start 9 in the morning, other days not until 7 in the evening. Even though you do not have a lesson, you are also expected to have projects with your classmates. Then there are also many drop-in lessons and guest lectures that you can take. For example, for me it was stage combat. It was one of those lessons I had planned to take once a week, but as I developed, I worked on it almost every day. I really recommend taking as many courses as you can.
Blueberry: Where did you stay during your program, and how did you do to find accommodation?
MS: NYFA has a department that helps students find accommodation. I got help from them and found an apartment with two other girls from school. I lived there during my school time. I lived with two girls from China. It was wonderful to live with people from a completely different culture but who have the same passion. I still have contact with them both.
Blueberry: What do you do in your spare time?
MS: Watch a movie! I’m a film student so that’s a lot of it. I usually swim, practice, read, or have BBQs with friends. I also like art, so sometimes I go to explore new installations. I work at Disney, so it’s fun to go to Disneyland sometimes too.
Blueberry: What do you have to see and do when visiting LA?
MS: Going to the beach, I suppose? Even though I have not gone there so often myself, it is nice to live near the sea. But LA has a little bit of everything. There are beaches, mountains, deserts, forests, and metropolitan areas. It’s just about finding what you like.
Blueberry: What is your best memory so far from your stay?
MS: I cannot find one memory, I’ve had too many! I was celebrating Midsummer with my Swedish friends. I celebrated July 4th at Huntington Beach. I spent the summer with my friends by the pool. I got to work on so many amazing projects. I graduated. I got a job at Disney. One of the films I had the lead in will be featured at an American film festival. So many wonderful things have happened that I don’t really remember everything.
Blueberry: What has been the biggest surprise during your stay in LA?
MS: I thought I would move here and just focus on acting. It did not even take a year and then I got an interest in being behind the camera. I had to test myself on cinematography and script writing, and it has led me to write my first short film. It’s great that NYFA gave me the chance to explore more parts of the film creation experience.
Blueberry: Was there anything that was not as you had imagined?
MS: I did not have so many expectations. I thought that in an Acting for Film program, it’s wouldn’t be much more than movies, but I also got a great deal of theater training so that’s just a big plus.
Blueberry: Do you have any tips for others who are interested in studying abroad?
MS: Go! I know that it may feel like there is so much in the way and there are so many criteria that you have to tick off, but it’s worth it. During my time here I have met so many international students. Even though many of them have gone home and followed another career, none of them have regretted their time. I know for myself that, although I would do the same, I would not have changed anything.
Blueberry: What are your plans for the future? Where do we see you next?
MS: My goals for the future are to keep up with what I do. I want to continue recording movies. This summer I will record a short film that I have written. It will be interesting to bring a character to life that comes directly from my own imagination. Then for the rest of the year, we’ll see. Maybe I go home to Sweden again or move to South Korea or stay here in the United States. As I said, there is so much I want to do and I do not want to get stuck in a specific country. If my passion gives me the chance to work in another country, I will definitely follow it! Next, you will see me in Deja Gordon’s movie Shea Buttah and then in my own movie Remember.