Durban born Letticia Bissondut on her acting tour in the USA

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Born in Durban, Letticia Bissondut is an LA-based actress, humanitarian, self-taught photographer, and creative director. She is building a promising career in Hollywood and is determined to take on the small screen.

During her bachelor’s degree in acting, she first got excited about the TV industry in the corridors of AFDA.

After graduation, she packed her bags, moved to London and continued her studies at The Actors Center. Unaware that her work ethic and thirst to see the world would teleport her across space and distance to sets of internationally acclaimed productions, the young actress with a unique thought and love of acting was unaware that.

I think it’s always hard to be away from home and that’s what I say as someone who loves LA

Her acting career is picking up speed after being noticed by award-winning director Tatia Pilvea. Her work spans several films and series, including Take me off by Tatia Pilivea, winner of the Golden Lion at the prestigious Venice Film Festival. The short film was shot for Show Times Master of sex and has garnered 49 million views and went viral within minutes of launch.

With the ambition to share her work with others, Letticia has also starred in the captivating hit TV series, Shameless. With the premiere of the ninth season on September 9, 2018 Shameless became the longest-running original script series in Showtime history

We recently met with her to learn more about her career in the US and her future plans.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I was born in Durban and raised in Johannesburg and have lived in Los Angeles for a number of years. I’m an actor and sometimes I’m behind the camera. I think storytelling has always been my driving force for me.

What prompted the decision to leave SA to London and later to the US after graduation?

I think growing up I always dreamed of adventure and travel. I knew that it was always on the agenda to be in different countries and experience different cultures. London came into my life all of a sudden; I had just graduated from film school and it had been very rare to find work or even auditions for the last few months.

Letticia Bissondut.

On a whim, I decided to go and four weeks later I got my visa and was on the plane. I ended up at the Actors Center and learned the Meisner Technique and fell in love with the acting trade like never before. From then on, I knew I wanted to work in film and television more than on stage. In the end, I got a scholarship to drama school in LA and went over there as a student; I had an agent who saw me in a showcase and signed me.

What challenges did you face while pursuing an acting career in another country?

Honestly, just being an immigrant can be overwhelming, but it’s worth it. Getting a valid US visa / green card is a very strict process that can be challenging at times. It’s the least sexy part of the trip, but the most important. I think it’s always hard to be away from home and I say this as someone who loves LA. You hear a lot of no’s, so you need to build thick skin and learn not to take things personally. I say all of this to say that there will always be challenges, but resilience and determination will get you through; knowing when to leave is also an invaluable lesson.

What were some of your main highlights during your trip?

LA is such an amazing city with so many great cultures and experiences. I think the first time you come around you have to get used to doing normal everyday things with people who inspired you in your childhood. For example, if you go to the grocery store, you might meet the Beckhams or Jared Leto. It’s really bizarre.

They adapt pretty quickly and see that people are just human and make friends with a lot of them. My favorite run-in is forever and ever going to be doing a spin course with Charlize Theron. I was in LA for a few months and was just doing my first acting job in town and I felt a little weak and had one of those “Am I where I should be?”; just in a room where I was really unsure of my journey.

Headshots

Letticia Bissondut.

I had a lot of fear and fear around all of this. Class is about to start and I see this really beautiful woman who feels kind of familiar, but I can’t exactly say why. As the lights go out, I realize that she is one of my favorite actresses of all time and one of my greatest inspirations (especially as a South African kid).

At some point I come through my class and wanted to leave without saying anything because the last thing you want to do is bother someone just trying to do an everyday task like exercising. But something inside of me was like, “Dude, you’ll always regret not saying hello” and I did; It was the only time I’ve said anything in my entire time in LA.

I really believe that they (the youth) are our future

I was a total nerd and I absolutely loved and told her my story of “one day I met Charlize”. In my freshman year in film school, she won an Oscar for monster and that kindled a fire in me and steered me on the path I had taken. She is one of the kindest and most gracious people. She told me that “what makes us South Africans is resilience,” and she also mumbled some very nice words about seeing me on a red carpet soon.

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I raved a lot more, but her words about resilience never left me. It also taught me that so much of what I experience in LA is out of the ordinary for most people and that capturing the excitement and joy is really important because it is so easy to get tired.

Also, just being on set and working with people who, for the most part, are the most talented in their respected field, is always a joy.

Can you introduce us to some of your latest work / projects and what do you think they will do for your career?

Sure, I have to work with William H Macy Shamelessto play a character named Aisha. One project that moved a lot for me was when I was noticed by the Golden Lion-winning director Tatia Pilivea. She cast me in a short film made for Show Times. Master of sex and it went viral and people still refer to it when i book things or chat with them.

Headshots

Letticia Bissondut.

I’ve also worked on a number of international commercials and campaigns, most recently an Apple campaign and a film that I named The wound. The film premiered at Hollyshorts and made it into the official selection, which also opened a few doors this year. I was also recently named in a recurring role on a series. occupied Never again strangers which should appear soon.

You are also a photographer with a passion for children / adolescents … can you tell us where your passion for children comes from and what you are hoping for with your humanitarian / mentoring work?

I think I have always only loved people and children in particular. I begged my mom to adopt the neighbors’ children when I was little and just found myself volunteering with kids from an early age.

and the thought of being able to guide and protect them is very important to me. I think it’s because I was a kid during the end of apartheid and couldn’t really stand up for myself. My greatest hope is to let you know that no matter where you are from, you can do anything you imagine.

Headshots

Letticia Bissondut.

I was incredibly blessed to have the most amazing and supportive parents on the planet who fought for my dreams as much as I did (big thanks to Rachael and Deena Bissondut aka mom + dad), but I know so many kids do that the greatest goal is not only to share this story, but also to give them concrete steps to achieve it.

A couple of years ago I did a testing program with a group in a Malawi village, teaching them some photography basics, giving them some knowledge on the business side, and making them my second shooters throughout the project I was photographing at the time. Some of them later started a photography business and one of them is now even learning to be a cameraman. The healing that comes from creativity also drives me. I know firsthand how it has helped me deal with fear. So I’m in the process of starting a nonprofit and figuring out ways to share this with kids around the world.

Be adaptable because it almost never goes according to plan.

What are some of the greatest lessons you learned during your acting tour in the United States?

That nothing that is for me passes me by and never takes things personally. I think the industry can be fickle at times and it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re doing what you love. Letting go of things that don’t serve you is also important, and a healthy mindset is key to thriving.

What are your top three pieces of advice for someone considering an acting career in the United States?

Do it! Work hard and have a strategy. And above all, be adaptable, because it almost never goes according to plan.



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