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“Personalities among us” : interview with an actress and social activist Aiste Dirziute

Personalities among us” is the latest kARTu project that you will be seeing through the upcoming months for a whole year. We’ll be sharing short, friendly, intellectual conversations with the strong, inspiring personalities that surround each and every of us every day. Each month we will meet people from very different backgrounds to talk about their lifestyle, career, piece of mind, interests and style choices. By developing this project we aim to reveal these very special, but close to us people through the perspective that they don’t really see themsleves through. Every one of us is a unique everyday hero – rushing, pursuing, creating. We just need to stop for a moment and notice how special we actually are.


It’s hard to describe what Aiste does in life with one word only. Although if you try to seek some information yourself she would be described as an actress most of the time, but in life she does so much more. Aiste is a frequentcommittee member at film festivals and an activist that fights for equal women and LGBT community rights. That’s exactly why our conversation took some unexpected turn – discussing important social matters and metoo movement recently reaching Lithuania. Following the news Aiste expressed a very strong position supporting women who are not afraid to talk about their experiences especially that happening in the industry of theatre and cinema. Aiste is true and honest, serious, but playful and energetic. It’s so easy to talk to her and sometimes let our minds wander forgetting questions we were meant to ask. On a sunny summer day in Vilnius old town we talked about women solidarity, seeking her own path in life, morning serenity in book pages and joy to do something that fulfills one’s life.


What is it exactly that you do?
According to Wikipedia, I’m an actress. But actually things that I do are not limited by this profession only. I also work as a
committee member at film festivals and I am also an activist that fights for equal women and LGBT community rights, because these groups of interest are the most important to me personally. All battles can be attended and can be won either. Some time ago I used to put myself into “frames”, tried to behave and talk as I thought an actress should. Bet since I moved to London I understood that, first of all, I am a human being, Aiste, then I am a daughter, sister, aunt, friend, lover and then I am an actress.


And how it all started?
I am very thankful that my parents who were always very supportive and didn’t encourage me to do somethings else because I knew what I needed myself. They let me try, go wrong and be happy. I started going to School of Music in my native town Vilkaviskis as I thought music is my destiny. Then this has passed and I moved into another phase of self exploration. This was followed by the wish to make my word be heard – I started writing for school magazine. Then I thought, that maybe I could make world a better place if I would be involved in politic matters, so I started pasrticipating in various debates. But all I’ve got were endless headaches and one person told me that this path is not for me and encouraged me to choose something else. So I got back to music, singing. I decided to enlist to Vilnius Conservatory of Juozas Tallat-Kelpsa. There, during the consultation I was offered to stay, start playing piano and enter jazz lessons. I was traveling to Vilnius and back for a whole year as I wanted to get ready for the entrance exams but just a few days after a successful start I realised that this is not the path I want to go either. After going back to Vilkaviskis I started attending the studio. There, after fighting with my inner ego I tarted to feel how I love to be on the stage and how it gives me that plenitude. After that I watched loads of movies, performances, they inspired me, were changing my personal values, raising new questions and making me a better person overall. And it stayed with me, for 9 years already. Of course, I am not sure how long it will last. But when I started feeling that my ambitions got bigger again I pushed myself off the comfort zone, Lithuania, where I know everyone and moved to a foreign London.


Your morning starts from?
When I don’t oversleep it starts with a book. I try to learn not to grab my phone first thing in the morning. I had this bad habit before, to open my mail box just after waking up because it seemed that if I don’t answer all of the emails and don’t plan my day straight away – the world is going to collapse. But now I give myself half an hour to read a book and those minutes lead me to the right way. After that I exercise, go jogging, drink coffee and only then start reading what is going on in the world. It’s ideal for me to have at least two hours in the morning that I give myself to fully wake up and get ready for the upcoming day. Unfortunately it’s a very rare, even aristocratic pleasure.


What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

What motivates me is knowing that time never stops and every single moment is past already. Every unmeaningful minute makes me feel bad because it seems that I waste the time that’s given to me and I don’t know when it’s going to end. But there are days that nothing really motivates me. I lay in bed so tired of overworking that it looks like I’m ill, even my bones hurt. If I go, I go till the end, but sometimes I forget about limits and I don’t save myself. I am learning to take a better care of myself.


Favorite free time activity?
My whole life is free time.


What helps you to run away from everyday routine? Maybe there is no such thing as routine in your life?
I don’t have a routine. Every single day is different. But when I have free weeks I create that routine myself. If I am bored of everything, I leave my phone at home and run away to spend some time in nature.


How do you understand the notion of “career”? How would you describe its part in your own life?
I don’t believe in career. I was never doing anything to become famous, to meet someone or to interact with someone, to propose myself and get roles, awards. I was just doing something I am good at and what matters the most is that my work would make this world better, would inspire others to reach for beautiful things.


Did you have a chance to notice that womanly solidarity exists at your work place?
Yes, but I think we need more of it. There still are women saying that they went through tough times and that’s why other women need to go through it all too. But it’s getting better, women and men are fighting for equal rights and talking about #metoo movement, equality and tolerance more and more.


Talking about this matter, is there a different situation in Lithuania and England?

Yes, of course! Let’s say rudeness or some sort of sexist remarks – in England it’s very rare to hear it but in Lithuania it might happen or at least I am „lucky“ to have such experiences. In Lithuania people know each other, there is this kind of fear to speak, to be more radical and to be left rejected. In the mean time in Enland your personality and your position as an actor is very important. It became crucial for a person to have unique identity, not only to be a pretty meat that can be made into anything. You’re a person that holds values and shows strenght.


What kind of backpack or handbag you like to carry?
I used to carry everything with me. But I changed, became a person that doesn’t need anything. So now a little belt bag is my most beloved one.


Detail from your look that you can’t leave home without? Is there any? 
I am very superstitious but within sanity limits. That’s why I have a swallowtail tattoo, it’s my favorite bird, it is believed to bring happiness, it’s my personal charm. I have two rings with me all the time. Even when I must take them off during filming because actors can’t have personal attrinutes I still hide them inside my pocket or leave them somewhere close around set. One of them is my mothers, she got it as a gift when finishing her studies, other is mine which I was gifted with at the same occasion. It has a meaning – to become a swallowtail.


Which famous woman inspires you, is an athority that you would like to follow?
I don’t have an authority. I believe that I am inspired by every single woman that makes this world a better place, that fears or doesn’t fear to talk, that fears or doesn’t fear to utterly change her life, that doesn’t know how can she change. Then I want to inspire her. Every story that I read or hear inspires me. I believe, that every single one of us is a hero, an authority for someone.


How do you make sure that you’re on the right path in life?
Something just confirms it for me each time. So many coincidences occur that it even became natural to me. When I’m in doubt about my choice some inner voice or a leaf, feather falls down on my head, just something happens, it’s like I get an approval from above.

If you could invite anyone, who would you invite to have dinner together?

I would invite my grandmother who I never had a chance to meet. Everyone that knew her says we’re very similar, character yet appearance. I feel that she guards me and I would really want to know her better.


Pictures by Ieva Rudzionyte
Handbags by kARTu