Ms. In The Biz‘s first “Spotlight Interview” is with one of the most lovely women I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting over the years, Mena Suvari. We recently caught up over email, and I’m bringing some questions and answers straight to you, the Ms. In The Biz community!
Helenna: I’ve been a big fan of your work from “American Beauty” to “Day of the Dead” (because of course, I love a good zombie flick), to “American Horror Story” and “American Pie” and everything in between. You do a wonderful job of really embodying each and every character. Has there been a favorite project that you’ve worked on so far, and what was it about that project that stood out for you?
Mena: Well, first of all, thank you so much for your sweet words! 🙂 You know, it’s hard for me to pick out a favorite project that I’ve worked on because they are always so dear to me and I pour my heart and soul into everything I do, but I would have to say that recently I took on a film with Lifetime Network called “STALKERS” that challenged me in a whole different way. I did a lot of research for the role of Ivy, who ends up stalking another woman, and it taught me a lot about the extent to which someone’s mind and obsessions can really go to.
Helenna: What is your process like as far as the craft of acting? Do you have a specific way that you like to prepare for a role?
Mena: I try to do as much research as possible and work with the director and writer, etc…. to truly understand the mentality of the character: from her backstory to relationships, etc. All of these things, I believe, can only add to the richness of creating a character. I feel like I can never have enough time consulting with everyone!
Helenna: One of the things that really drew me to what an awesome person you are, is how often you tweet wonderful encouraging photos and quotes, as well as show snippets of what is happening in your day to day life on instagram. With the rise of social media being the norm now, how much does your team have to do with your “brand,” and have you found that the way you work with a publicist has changed at all because of the way social networking gives you access to the public through a single key stroke?
Mena: Thank you. I took to Twitter and Instagram a lot easier than Facebook for some reason, but I was very excited about, for the first time, being able to have my OWN voice out there in the world of social media versus people only reading an interview of mine. Because there had been enough times for me where I had been misquoted and felt that an interview I gave was skewed towards a direction that the journalist wanted it to go to instead of showcasing who I really am and what I was saying. I appreciate you acknowledging the types of things I share on Twitter and Instagram, but these things are simply just a reflection of who I am. Someone actually commented to me the other day how I am “so down to earth” and how they appreciated my humbleness with the types of things I post. This, I have to say, somewhat surprises me, as I only know and feel how I am human like anyone else just trying to find my way in this world and that some people expect me to act differently based on what I do for a living.
Helenna: Having been in the public eye for so long, how do you handle living under the microscope of “celebrity?” Are there things that you do in your day to day life to keep you sane and help you balance your career and allow you to live a full and rich life outside of the business?
Mena: Oh every day I simply try to live my life! 🙂 I never acted, nor felt like, I was separate from everyone else. I have had a lot of hardships in my life that I try to continue learning from every day. I am blessed to have a great group of friends that add richness to my life, lift me up, and guide me along the way. I don’t know where I’d be without them. I also try to focus on spending my days taking part in healthy rituals, like jogging, hiking, eating well, working on design, etc. I think it’s most important to work hard to understand who you truly are, love that person, and cultivate your life to living up to your highest potential.
Helenna: In the makeup trailer for “American Reunion,” aside from you and Monty the hair guy introducing me to the hilarious Honey Badger video on YouTube, I remember that health and wellness are really important to you. Do you have any tips or things that are parts of your routine that you’d be able to share with our readers? Personally, I am a big advocate for green smoothies. I feel like it’s changed so much for me to start the day with that.
Mena: Aha! I have seen these Green Smoothies your speak so highly of on your Instagram! Lol. And I have to say, I am very happy for you and proud! I grew up with the concept of “You are what you eat” and I am very grateful for that because it has only helped me feel and look my best. It’s sweet that you took to our conversation in the makeup trailer, as many people don’t want to hear it or are “put off” by the subject matter. I’m the type of person that could talk for days about health matters! Lol. To the point that friends of mine have deemed me “Dr. Suvari”. Well, it’s no wonder because my father was a doctor and my mother was a nurse! I just really enjoy when other people feel their best. I feel like there are so many health issues that we all experience that we don’t really have to by living a clean, healthy life-style. One of the best challenges I’ve had in my life involved doing a juice cleanse for 5 days. It truly changed me for the better. I learned so much more about how my body/mind functions and the limits I could take myself to. It really was fascinating and I recommend everyone at least try it once in their lifetime!
Helenna: On the topic of health, a few of our bloggers are in the middle of some pretty amazing fitness challenges to help them be in better shape and better health. How do you stay in such great shape?
Mena: Well, first, I believe so much has to do with diet and the type of foods you put into your body. Currently, I’ve been doing the Blood Type Diet for about 8-9months and I’ve seen great changes in my body. I also love to be outdoors, jogging, hiking, biking. I believe everyone has their type of workout that they most enjoy and they should find out what that is-what speaks to them. Don’t ever push yourself towards something you’re not, especially with working out, because you’ll burn out and discourage yourself. For example, I love Yoga but after trying so many times to fall into a groove with it, I realized I wasn’t a “Yogi”-it just wasn’t for me-I enjoyed jogging more! 🙂
Helenna: On a more heated topic, in all your time in the business, do you think the way women are seen has changed at all? I was on a panel that one of the bloggers here put together for WonderCon, and one of the things we talked about was the pressure for women to look a certain way in this industry, which can lead to perpetuating an unhealthy ideal for younger women out there. Have you yourself felt that pressure over the years?
Mena: Oh! Most certainly, yes! But yet I wonder, has that mentality ever really changed? Especially in Hollywood and in this industry, I feel that women aren’t given the chance to age gracefully and actually BE women! It’s like a cookie cutter ideal we must always try to live up to. I don’t agree with this and would never accept changing who I am for another. It wouldn’t make me happy and is something I don’t believe is right. We should all encourage each other to look and feel our best, acknowledge our differences, and celebrate each others’ lives and life lessons!
Helenna: To expand on that, have you seen a difference in the way women are treated in this business from men, not just when it comes to roles, but also on the business side of things?
Mena: Definitely. It’s always been a “man’s world” to a certain extent, especially with business. And many times, appearance influences decisions.
Helenna: Do you have any advice for women just entering this business, words of wisdom that you would give yourself if you were starting now as opposed to when you were a child?
Mena: I believe it’s most important to take the time to get to know who you are: your desires, your passions, what makes you individual-and learn to love that person unconditionally! Always stay true to who you are and the direction you want your life to move towards. Make sure to surround yourself with people that influence you in a positive way, that truly want the best for you, and encourage you to live up to your highest potential!
Helenna: And now the “Ms. quick bits!” What’s your…
Favorite book? – Alice in Wonderland
Favorite song? -James “Sometimes”
Favorite makeup item? –Eminence Vanilla Latte Tinted Moisturizer SPF 25
Favorite food? –Japanese
Favorite movie? –Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams
Favorite TV Show? –”Our America” with Lisa Ling
Favorite vacation place? –Mexico
Favorite piece of clothing or accessory? -Seriously, you’re going to make me pick ONE?! LMAO! ;P Okay…..well, I’d have to say, currently, it’s anything Alexander Wang. One word: Genius.
What makes your heart happiest? –Escaping from it all at the end of the day into the warm, unconditionally loving arms of my man, Sal. 🙂
If you could sum up where you are in your life right now in one word, what would that word be? –Awake.
Helenna: Thank you so much for talking with me and sharing your wealth of knowledge and experience with Ms. In The Biz. It’s awesome to have you as our first Spotlight Interview, and I can’t wait to see all of the incredible things that you have coming up!
Mena: Thank you, Luv! You’re amazing and I appreciate you thinking of me! xoxoxxooxxox
Mena can currently be seen in the Lifetime movie “Stalkers” and on demand in “American Reunion.” Follow Mena on twitter and instagram at @mena13suvari