It’s 7:41 pm
Welcome to another edition of “8 Questions with…….” my ongoing interview series where I chat with amazing people from all over the world. I really enjoy talking to people who have something to contribute to our planet. Like Vasoula Christodoulou,a talented and beautiful actress from the United Kingdom via Cyprus.
When I read about the “bidding” war two playwrights had in securing Vasoula’s talents for their plays,you know I had to to ask Vasoula some questions. Talking with this fine actress marked a pair of “firsts” for as I had never met anyone from the island of Cyprus and I had never met a professional belly dancer.
What I really admire and respect about Vasoula is her never ending drive to LEARN. A working professional and a mother yet she has found time to become a actress,dancer,radio DJ and develop other skills that have enriched her life and honed her talents. She is someone who I really am hoping to see on the big screen here in the U.S. very soon.
So kick back,take your shoes off and read the 8 Questions I cooked up for Vasoula.
Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your upbringing.
Hello my name is Vasoula Christodoulou and I am a London based actress originally from Nicosia, Cyprus. Alongside acting I am also a radio presenter, a belly dancer, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a holder of black belt in Okinawa Gojy Ruy Karate. During my school years I was noticed by my teachers for my creativeness and I was always chosen for the school plays, dancing and singing team as well as athletics. I remember dancing every morning in my bedroom before I left for school and I was also pretending with a couple of my friends that we were singers and making plans for the future, although my singing ability now is limited only for comedy plays or for the bathroom. Although I was a very cheerful child I had a good imagination in writing dramatic stories, perhaps being Greek I was influenced by the Greek Tragedies. Looking back I can say that I was brave since my young age as performing in front of people or participating in something new that I had no previous experience was never an issue for me. I was brought up in a family where I have learned to be very organised, on time and reliable, I can’t quite remember at what age I started developing these principles but definitely before I even went to school and I am very grateful as it makes life a lot easier and less stressful if someone is organised.
How long has your family lived in Cyprus and when did you move to the UK? And is Cyprus Greek or Turkish?
My parents never moved to U.K. but my two older brothers and my older sister came to U.K.first and when I finished my secondary school in Cyprus I followed their steps, they all went back to Cyprus after they finished their studies but I stayed in U.K
Cyprus is Greek but during the war in 1974 Turkey invaded a big part of Cyprus, I was a young child back then.
How long did it take for you to get comfortable living in a big city like London?
Where were the three biggest adjustments you had to make?
I was excited as a start living in London , I liked the challenge and I had no fear and as I was I had all the energy I needed for such a big city, therefore I felt comfortable straight away till winter came….
The first big adjustment I had to make was to walk faster. I felt that I had arrived in a robot planet as everyone was walking so fast without looking left or right. The first day my brother took me out to the shops I couldn’t keep up with the pace he was walking, in Cyprus people walk very slowly. I began to think that when the babies start walking in this country, they put them on a treadmill so they will learn to walk fast as they have to cover such long distances in the U.K. Then I was getting all these warnings to watch my bag at all times, not to leave it on a chair if we went to a pub or restaurant and to lock all the windows and doors at home as if we lived in Alcatraz prison, it took me a while to understand the urgency of taking these extreme precautions. It was Summer when I arrived in U.K so when winter arrived I had to make the biggest and hardest adjustment. I was standing at the bus stop wearing my Cyprus winter clothes but I felt the cold going through my bones, I was shivering non stop my hands and feet went numb from the pain and I started crying! That was the first time I felt that I was torturing myself by being in this country. On my way home I was planning my return to Cyprus but when I got back home I thought, no this is not the way to deal with it, I didn’t want to give up with the first difficulty I came across so instead of giving up I went shopping with the first opportunity and bought U.K winter clothes- a lot of thermal wear.
How did you get into dance, especially belly dancing!! You must be in fantastic shape!
How long does it take to become a professional belly dancer, what kind of training did you undergo?
I loved dancing since I was a child but I never had any form of training for dancing while I was in Cyprus apart from the Greek dancing while I was at school. Also soon after I came to U.K I got married and had my sons therefore I could not even dream about going to a dancing school. When I divorced as I was searching online for different courses I came across belly dancing and liked it and also loved the Arabic music. I searched for schools and I found Fleur Estelle Belly Dance school. I went to the next show case and that was it really, I enrolled and I couldn’t wait till the day I was going to start. I loved every minute, so I became addicted! I started from Level 1 and then I progressed to the advanced level. I had no intention to become a professional belly dancer but one day my friend asked me if I could dance at her boyfriend’s surprise birthday party and I agreed. I already had a belly dance costume, I chose some belly dance music and I went to the party. It was such great fun, everyone loved it and people started asking me for my business cards, that was when I thought why not? So instead of saying I don’t actually dance professionally I think I said I ran out of my cards or I don’t have them with me but here is my number. I don’t dance as much now as I am quite busy with my acting career and with my radio show but on many occasions belly dance comes useful in acting as I was given theatre roles where I also needed to belly dance. I would say that everyone’s timing is different. I have also completed a teacher training course but I never had enough time to commit myself into teaching. Depends how much you commit yourself, how many classes do you attend, if you are practising regular at home, if you have a good teacher and in general if you have the passion for it but I believe if you work hard within a year and a half you can become a professional belly dancer, having said that even if you start dancing professionally there is always a lot to learn so there is no ending in learning and improving. There are also a lot of props that you can learn to use, such as the veil, isis wings, fan veils, stick, sword, symbals etc. I went to Fleur Estelle school of belly dance and I am very grateful as Fleur is an amazing teacher and she makes belly dance such great fun, and she is always happy to break down each technique as many times as you need to master it.
In 2013, you were approached by three producers who wanted you for their plays.
Which producer won, what was the play and how did they know about you?
Actually the two of them won as their plays were on different dates. The first producer was Vasilis Panayis and the play was ‘The Thief is Shouting’, a Greek comedy by Psathas and the second producer was Manos Tsotras, the play was ‘Wealth’ by Aristophanes. I met Vasilis Panayis while I was trying to promote a young singer and a friend of mine introduced me to Vasilis because he is also the programme director at London Greek Radio and then I met Manos Tsotras during the rehearsals of Vasilis Panayis play. The third producer saw me while I was performing in ‘Wealth’. I couldn’t take the job from the third producer as I had already committed myself for another job.
Walk us through your first night on stage, what were you feeling as you walked on the stage?
I was very excited and funny enough I was not nervous at all which is something that I can’t explain. I believe it’s due to the fact that I had good instructions from the director, I remember he kept telling me ‘when you are on stage, don’t think that you are on stage- just be the character’ and that’s what I did, I was too involved being in the character, therefore, I didn’t even think that I was in front of the audience.
What medium is your favourite – film, TV or stage? What are your 2 likes/dislikes about each one?
I am not sure if I can choose to be honest. Every medium is a different experience. What I like about the film is that the volume of your voice can be natural and according to the emotions of the character you are playing. Also you can afford to make a mistake as there is the cut and action again. What I dislike is that you have to reduce your facial expressions or movements given that on camera they look bigger and I am naturally quite an expressive person. Close ups also can be a bit scary as it shows every detail, so if you happen to have a spot on the day of the filming even if you cover it with makeup it will still show in the camera.
I will say the same for the TV but also something that can be difficult is that usually you have very short time to learn your lines on the other hand I do like the challenge.
Stage can be fun and challenging. I like the fact that I have a real contact with the audience also when you come across situations where you need to act quickly to save a situation, when someone forgets the lines or I might forget a line so we have to be ready to improvise or when something goes wrong with the props and you have to acknowledge it but in character, for example someone drops something, you can either go and pick it up or tell your scene partner, you have drop your bracelet etc. We always have many things to talk and laugh about after the show. What I dislike is when I have to project my voice when my character requires to whisper so you have to be very careful not to act. Also when you are playing an emotional character where you have to cry every night for few weeks and every night you are wondering if you will be able to cry on the cue. So far I had to play such a character for two weeks and I was very happy that I was able to get the real tears and emotions every single night.
What do you like to do for fun during your down time?
I love dancing, so I dance almost every day at home which I found very relaxing. I also go for walks in the park, read, attend courses, actors networking events and meet with my friends.
What makes London such a cool place to live?
There is a big choice of things to do and especially for the actors, seeing plays/shows, networking events, courses, galleries, you can never feel bored.
How did you get your radio show, I’m sure there is an interesting story behind this one! Had you ever done anything like this before?
I was approached by one of the owners of the radio station about a year ago and he asked me to do a radio show but at that time I was preoccupied with many other things therefore it was not possible for me at that time. In May 2017 a friend of mine came to U.K from Greece who is a very good radio presenter and when I have mentioned it to him he encouraged me to go ahead with the radio show and he suggested to do few shows together while he was in U.K and then to carry on by myself. We spoke to the owners of the radio station about our idea and they loved it so that was it really. We started with great success.
No, I have not done anything like this before, so it was great that I had my friend by my side for the first six shows. Perhaps one of the reasons that I couldn’t find the time earlier it was because I was worrying about learning the equipment, it looked very complicated to me before I started.
Where and when can we hear your show at? Are you always on at a certain time of day/night?
How can someone make a request or see your past playlists?
My shows are on GREEKBEAT RADIO and you can listen to them by going to WWW.GREEKBEATRADIO.COM every Tuesday 2-4 pm and every Thursday 4-6 pm. Soon I will also start a collaborated show on Sundays but I don’t know the exact time yet.
If someone would like to make a request they can call the studio during my shows on 020 71952244 or sent me an email prior to my shows at: email@example.com
Regarding my playlists sometimes I make a note before I look for the songs on the system but sometimes I create them direct on the system without actually making a note of them or I might add a song as I go along or with the requests my playlist can change. We also record every show and keep it for a certain period of time but are not available to the public.
To see Vasoula’s Spotlight page please click here.
I like to thank Vasoula for her time and I like to thank you,my readers,for dropping by and meeting a most remarkable young lady. Please feel free to drop a comment or question for Vasoula in the comment section below!
We have several new interviews coming so stay tuned…..