We over at Tinsel Town News Now recently had the pleasure of interviewing dynamic Polish actress Diana Matlak, the captivating star who played Deena Kravitz in Aditya J. Patwardhan’s dramatic film Red House by the Crossroads, which screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, Sarah in Allen Obisesan’s film Beneath the Surface and Jenny in Yi Zhang’s film Packing Up. In 2015 alone Matlak starred in more than eight films, each one showcasing a different side of her unparalleled talent.
The kind of actress that captivates her audience with little effort, Diana Matlak has also been featured in several hit television shows including Bones, American Crime Story, The Real O’Neals, Scandal, Black-ish and many others.
Back home in Poland, Matlak was landed a role on Na dobre I na zle aka For Better or For Worse, a highly popular medical drama that is one of the country’s longest running series, as well as roles in two national commercials for Zywiec Beer and Vanish, a massive cleaning products company.
Matlak’s successful film and television career places her in the upper echelon of Polish actresses currently working in the entertainment industry internationally. One aspect of her talent that separates her from others in the industry is her long history as a professional Latin dancer, which has endowed her with a rare level of grace and an ability to move through scenes like few others can.
To find out how this inspiring artist got to where she is today, and what’s next for her in terms of upcoming projects, make sure to check out our interview below!
TTNN: Where are you from? When and how did you get into acting?
DM: I was born and raised in Poland. I got into acting after I finished my dancing career. I am a professional Latin dancer. I have been training and competing for 15 years. I have the highest, international Class in Latin, and after I finished dancing I started to teach. Even though I liked it, I felt empty and I wasn’t completely satisfied. I knew I had to be on stage. So I started taking different acting classes: theater, acting for film, Meisner etc., and I fell in love with acting and I knew that this is it. I landed an agent and started going out on auditions. I did a couple of commercials in Poland as well as a TV show and in 2012 I started considering coming to the US.
TTNN: Can you tell me a little bit about the film, television and commercials projects you’ve done?
DM: In Poland I was in a national Zywiec Beer commercial, which aired on all of the main Polish TV stations, as well as a commercial for Vanish cleaning products. Both times I had a blast on set. I played a patient on the Polish TV series Na dobre i na złe, (For better or For Worse), a medical drama series broadcast on TVP2. The show is currently on its 17th season, and with over 600 episodes, it is the longest-running primetime drama on Polish TV. The show revolves around the lives of doctors and patients in a hospital in Leśna Góra near Warsaw.
I played Deena Kravitz in the film Red House by the Crossroads directed by Aditya J. Patwardhan. The film follows Ester Kravitz, my character’s mother, whose husband was murdered during the Second World War at the hands of a fleeing Nazi officer, and as fate would have it, that officer’s estranged son, Edward Melies, is her doctor. The story is about a man’s face-off with the sins of his father and a woman’s contemplation for finishing the cycle of revenge.
My character was responsible for her mother, who was struggling with the illness and who couldn’t forget about what happened during the war. Deena was also responsible for her mentally sick, younger brother. My role was very demanding, because Deena was supposed to be a very strong young woman who helps her family, in fact she is responsible for the family, but it was a challenge because of all of the obstacles in her life, for example: the situation in the house, no father, a mentally ill younger brother and a sick mother. Deena was actually very sad and overwhelmed, but she never shows it.
In the film Stay directed by Yining Yan I played Lady in Red. The film has two parallel stories, one where a pregnant woman is having contractions with her husband standing by her side, and the other where the husband, who dresses like a detective, chases a drug-dealer. In the film, as the wife’s time-line goes backwards into the past, the husband’s time-line goes forward with the ending revealing that the detective actually died in the mission and chose to stay with his wife as a ghost. My character, which is the couple’s neighbor, watches the sees the detective get shot and does everything she can to save his life.
I played the leading lady in the music video for Gaurav Bhatt & Shikha Bhatt hit song “Katra- Katra,” which was directed by Aditya J. Patwardhan. The video revolves around a girl who finds unfinished sheet music on the beach. She is very intrigued and curious about the composer that created it and she wants to finish the piece. She is almost obsessed with finishing it. She meets a friend and tells him that it looks like the composer couldn’t express the feelings he wanted to, and when she finally finishes the music, she meets the composer.
In the film Bring me flowers directed by Siru Wen I played the lead role of Emma, a former photographer who works in a brothel. Emma suffered from depression for years; and when her boyfriend, the biggest love of her life, breaks up with her she doesn’t know what to do, her depression only gets worse until she finally decides to start working in a brothel. She hates it. She is very unhappy, and doesn’t know how to deal with all of the issues she has. Ultimately she wants love and understanding. Sage comes into the brothel and develops feelings for her and slowly falls in love with her. But she still thinks about her ex boyfriend. Emma likes Sage but everything reminds her of her ex boyfriend. Emma is overwhelmed and she doesn’t know what to do, and finally depression wins. She decides to finish her life committing suicide. While Sage is in her room she jumps out of the window.
I was also in the films Mac Daddys Vegas Adventure directed by Mac Jay, Perfect Illusion, a comedy directed by Allen Obisesan, Dead Heart directed by Ogemdi Udegbumam, Speak Softly, a dramedy directed by Chad Figuredo, Something good and Packing up directed by Yi Zhang, With You directed by Colin Yan, Beneath the Surface directed by Allen Obisesan, Touch directed by Rishab Gulati, Shameless directed by Monique Oberholzer, Bethany directed by James Cullen Bressack, Buddy Solitaire, a comedy directed by Kuang Lee, Cans and Candles directed by Tarak Ojaghi, Restoration, a horror film directed by Zack Ward, Coincidental Romance directed by Joseph Brandon and Roller Coaster directed by Bradley Howkins.
I’ve also been featured on the television shows Scandal, Bones, American Crime Story, The Real O’Neals, Black-ish, Heartbreaker, Rosewood and Grace and Frankie.
In terms of commercials outside of Poland, I’ve been in major international campaigns for Greetings from Europe – EXPO 2015, Heineken Beer, and a Super Bowl commercial for Chambord. I was also in music videos for the artists Arash, and Neo.
TTNN: They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?
DM: All of the projects are very different, but they have one thing in common – all of them are very interesting. The scripts are well written, the stories are exciting and the people working on these projects are fun to work with, but at the same time very professional.
TTNN: You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?
DM: I always read the script first, and then if I like the story and my character, most of the time I’ll want to do the project. For me stories are very important.
TTNN: What has been your favorite role so far and why?
DM: It is a very difficult question because over the course of my career I’ve played a lot of challenging roles. But there are some roles that because, either they were more challenging than others, or because I had more fun with them, they became my favorite.
I enjoyed playing the depressed girl from Bring me flowers because it was really challenging, it was so dark and I had to find these dark situations within my character. I am not a pessimistic person, instead I am super optimistic and I always trying to find a positive side, so it was really challenging to play this character, because she is so different from who I am. I stayed very focused on set– always with headphones on just trying to get into my dark place… I had a lot of fun and it was a great lesson for me.
My second favorite role was Hannah from Coincidental Romance. This role on the other hand was very challenging, because the character was very similar to me. Hannah is a dancer and she wanted to pursue her dancing career in Los Angeles, but after her boyfriend breaks up with her and she gets depressed, it is very difficult for her to move forward… It was really very interesting to play this role, because even though the character and I had a lot of in common, Hannah is a different person, she’s not me. I remember when I was preparing for the role I had to find Hanna’s motivation and her unique objective in life.
TTNN: What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?
DM: I like all genres. I worked on comedies, horrors and dramas, and I’ve had fun with all of them. Comedies are always fun to work on because the atmosphere is really great. When it comes to dramas, I like to get really deep into my character, so many times I listen to music on set so I can stay focused and concentrate…I’ve worked on two horror films so far, and I would like to work in this genre more as well.
TTNN: What separates you from other actors?
DM: I think that every actor is very unique and exceptional. I know I have a lot to offer as I am a professional Latin dancer, as well as a fitness, aqua aerobic and snowboard instructor. I have trained as a downhill skier for 8 years and I also studied Physical Education at the Academy of Physical Education in Warsaw. I am a sports teacher as well. I have been training Stage Combat for a year and I am really fit. I speak several different languages including Polish, German, English and basic Russian, and I can also do Russian, German and Polish accents.
TTNN: What would you say your strongest qualities as an actor are?
DM: I think the fact that I am committed and hardworking, and that I always prepare for my roles really sets me apart. I am not afraid of preparing for my roles, and I really take my time. I use different acting techniques to create the best character I can. I love to rehearse. I’ve also travelled a lot, and got to know different cultures and interesting people, which I think is very important for actors, because we have to portray people that are often so different from us. I am always open to learn, I observe people and try to learn from them and understand their behavior.
TTNN: What projects do you have coming up?
DM: In December I will be in a music video, directed by Aditya J. Patwardhan. I worked with Aditya on two projects, and I think that he is a great director. I can’t wait. Red House by the Crossroads, a drama that I was in, which was written and directed by Aditya J. Patwardhan, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015. I am very excited to start working with Aditya again. In January 2016 I will be playing one of the leads in Lotta-ditsy flirt, a film directed by Stephanie Nauli.
TTNN: What are your plans for the future?
DM: My plans are to act, act and act. I love being on set, and I plan to work as much as possible, and of course audition, because without auditioning getting a role is pretty hard. I still take classes at Ivan Chubbuck Studio and I want to continue taking classes, because I think as an actor it is very important to work on your craft all of the time.
TTNN: What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?
DM: I would love to make beautiful movies, tell amazing stories and work with great actors and directors. I would love to get challenging roles.
TTNN: Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?
DM: I must say that I never thought that I would become an actress, but acting chose me, and I am very happy that happened. I love my job. I love everything about it: studying the roles, working on sets and even the entire audition process. The best part is, that I get to portray different characters