Liselotte Vanophem: Hi Kheira, how are you?
Kheira Bey: Hi Liselotte, I’m feeling good now that I’m talking to you – thank you!
LV: First of all, congratulations with Father. It’s your first film and film lead at the same time, right? Excited about it I guess?
KB: Yes, I was very surprised when I was watching it. I thought there would be a lot less of myself in it, but nope there’s a lot of my face, eyes and voice! It’s quite rare to see that of a female, so maybe that might be equally a bit surprising to audiences? But I’m definitely excited as it’s a story which needs to be told, the female story rarely gets that much screen time or attention.
LV: What was your reaction when you got the news that you were casted for this film?
KB: I was thrilled as I knew the crew I would be working with and knew that both Juan Echenique (writer and also my ‘father’ in the film) and Fumi Gomez (director and director of photography) were committed artists. So, what I was signing up for would be of amazing quality anyway.
LV: Father is a short movie but one with very powerful story. What was it that attracted you to the movie?
KB: The words. If you’re like me, you probably know that Hollywood tends to write films where a happy family ending is what always happens. But what about those who don’t really have that? That’s what this film shows and it’s a story which is in the female’s focus. She has her independence, she’s not a child anymore and can make her own decisions. At this part in my life, I think that’s a character I wanted to delve into.
LV: In the movie it’s just you as Joanna and Juan Echenique as her father. The fact that it was only the two of you as actors must have increased the emotional and intimate (as father-daughter relationship) vibe even more?
KB: Yes it did! I think it’s quite well-cast as you could probably mistake us for being related! The film was made as part of the ‘Making Films’ challenge, which challenges filmmakers on a bimonthly basis to create short films on a zero budget in only one month. As long as they reach the deadline, the group guarantees that the films will get screened at a London venue. Juan is a founder of the group, alongside ‘Father’s’ director and director of photography Fumi Gomez. I think because the film is a zero budget film, we therefore have a smaller cast which provides us with great room for intimacy simply because there’s less of us on set. It allows us to ‘zoom in’ and reflect upon our ideas in more depth because yes it is just two actors.
LV: You’ve starred in this movie but also in a few television series and you also some plays. What’s the main different in acting in film and television series and being on stage during a play?
KB: Yes I have done a mix of stage and screen. There are of course many overt differences: such as the size of the audience, budget, timings etc. My favourite difference is that everything can go wrong with theatre, but with film you get (the majority of the time) the luxury of multiple takes. That means that if something goes wrong in the first take, you can constantly build upon it and improve your initial work. Theatre is fun because anything can go wrong at any time. It’s much more of a challenge for myself on an artistic and personal level.
LV: When did you know that you wanted to become an actress? Does acting run through the family maybe?
KB: There are definitely some dramatic characters in the family, but no actors that I know of! I’m sure in their past lives. Although my mother has grown up with her parents working in an open-air theatre, so she’s seen a great deal more Shakespeare than myself. I think I’m catching up very quickly though!
I don’t think there was a specific point when I woke up and knew I wanted to become an actress – it was just something that was meant to be. If I could talk to that mystical person in the sky who pre-destined my life, I’m sure they could tell me the same thing.
I’ve always clung on to stories. Whether that would be watching a lot of them on TV, seeing them live or indeed writing them. I think it’s quite coincidental that I always excelled at writing at school because I was innately good at expressing stories via written words and spoken words. Feelings, emotions, words, energies, language, observing others, rhythms, movement, colours, tones – these are all of the things that have attracted themselves to me like a magnet. I’m just a curious and empathetic person who likes to study people at the end of the day. One day I just woke up and found that the word for that was called an ‘Actor’.
LV: If you could chose one actor or actress that you could star with in an upcoming movie, series or even on stage, who would it be and why?
KB: I would love to see what Richard Burbage could do for 2018 audiences. Kate Fleetwood and Indira Varma are dynamic creatures on stage, risking it all and would be a treat to work with. I tend to prefer seeing an actor on stage than on screen, because they are more exposed. On film sets I’ve seen A-list stars take 39 takes to do a scene and have the director telling them how to say the lines via an earpiece. I therefore tend to take screen actors with a pinch of salt. But saying that, if I can watch a film and leave the cinema unaware that I was watching a film; I’d be so engrossed with what I just saw to bother thinking about specific individual performances.
LV: Well speaking of upcoming projects, do you have already some plans for the near future?
KB: I do! I shall be playing Juliet (not that one!) in ‘All In Your Head’ at the Faversham Fringe on the 26th-28th August. Then, I’ll be learning lines for 2019 already whereby I’ll be playing the mystique in a soon to be announced web series.