Interview: Ann Pirvu Talks Acting, ‘Learning To Love Again’October 10, 2020
Recently we had the chance to talk with Ann Pirvu about the world of acting, her love of the craft, and her newest movie where she plays the lead for the first time, Learning To Love Again.
Was acting something you always wanted to do or did you discover it later, like one of those happy accidents?
Ann: I’m a very old soul and so I knew right away what I wanted to do with my life. My family came to Canada when I was twelve, I grew up in Romania and was kind of immersed in the arts and culture and my mom, she was the perfect stage mom. She got me involved in a lot of talent shows growing up that involved poetry, singing, and dancing, and these are nationally televised talent shows, so I kind of grew up on stage. When I came to Canada I picked up a very antiquated thing called a camcorder (laughs) to document our adventures, kind of exploring a whole new country and I just never looked back. I discovered so many things, I fell in love with filmmaking, and I saw my parents completely change their profession and that taught me that anything is possible at any time so why not go for it and try acting? I gave me a lot of confidence to see what they accomplished in such a short period of time.
You’ve worked in television, film. Do you have a favorite medium to work in or do you simply go where the work takes you?
Ann: Television and film and definitely my two favorite mediums. I’ve done some stage work and I appreciate it, it’s a totally different hat when you are acting on stage. Everything on television and film is very intimate, authentic, true to life and you are constantly trying to create beautiful moments. Very early on in life, I realized that acting is the art form of life so I’ve always been curious, a curious little soul, I just love people and so I found that television and film we’re my mediums, I recognized the power they had very early on.
Speaking of power, television has entered a new golden age with the boom of streaming services. As an actor, has this opened up any more opportunities, for both you and actors in general, or is it still a tough grind?
Ann: Honestly, I see it as an opportunity but yeah, acting can really be a tough grind. It’s so easy to feel like everything is out of your control, everyone else is making the decisions and you’re just sort of coming to the table, bringing what you have and hoping you get picked for something. I have to believe there is so much more to it than that, and when you get to work on a project like Learning To Love Again, for example, that taught me that I can truly bring myself to the table in a whole new way. I feel the whole landscape has changed, many new opportunities, COVID has changed the landscape even more. There are a lot more Canadian productions happening now and a lot more demand for Canadian actors, it’s really a very exciting time. I think people are just hungry for new and different stories and that’s exciting but it is always a grind. There are really big highs and then lows when you wonder if your efforts matter in any way. For example, I did nine auditions in the past two weeks. I may or may not hear something about them but regardless I know that I’ve done some of the best work I’ve ever done. When you do get to come to the table and play, it’s such a tremendously rewarding experience.
How would you view the entertainment landscape right now in terms of opportunities for women, both in front of and behind the camera? Has there been progress or is there still a long way to go?
Ann: I am personally very proud at how far we’ve come, the new focus to be more inclusive and open-minded and I think there is a concerted effort to tell authentic stories, and good stories, and that’s what it’s all about. I feel very fortunate in my career to not have allowed outside forces to deter me from my own trajectory, I’ve never victimized myself in any way. I’ve experienced some interesting things on set but I’ve never you know, not seen opportunities for myself within the current system. Having said, it’s an exciting time right now because there is such a sense of inclusion and we needed that change. There is a lot more focus in terms of quality of life on set, an atmosphere, a culture of inclusion and openness on set, everyone is a lot more attentive to things on set they should have been paying attention to a long time ago. I don’t need a mandate on just female kick-ass things, I just want to see everyone doing the best work they can and it’s so exciting that there is a lot more opportunity out there to do that now.
Ok, so let’s talk about Learning To Love Again. Tell me a little bit about the film and your character Jane.
Ann: Yeah, absolutely. It’s so funny thinking about it because this is such a special project to me, I’m just so excited to be able to talk about it. We get to premiere it on the W Network on Thanksgiving, this being a Thanksgiving film, which is such a huge bonus and a wonderful treat. I’m a huge romantic at heart and this is a romance film and I knew I was going to love playing Jane from the moment I read the script because this is the story about a woman, who convinces her childhood nemesis to pretend to be her boyfriend Thanksgiving weekend, then discovers some deeper truths about herself along the way. It’s just such a heartwarming, beautiful story about love and family on so many levels and how life can take you completely unexpected directions, but always for the greater good.
What were the challenges of being the lead, especially as this was the first lead role for you in a movie?
Ann: Well, we had very little prep time and this goes for everyone across the board, so it was so impressive watching everyone in the cast and crew completely rise to the challenge, go above and beyond. It was a tremendous amount of work, long days on set and then I would go home and just prep for the next scenes, not much rest but didn’t care because it was such an exciting and immersive experience. To be entrusted to carry a film like this was a wonderful challenge and a true honor because I have always wanted to do romantic comedies and this story was exciting to me, so I thought yeah, this is a story I can add a lot too, just a lot of myself, and I saw a lot of myself in her. More than that though, what was exciting for me was coming to set every day and being allowed to play. I think what was very unique about this project was because we had very little time to plan, our wonderful director Adam Swica allowed us a lot of freedom on set to explore and play and try things. I got to bring a lot of my personal humor into the character, and things that were funny to me sounded funny to others, and it was just an incredibly collaborative way of working. It was such a creatively rewarding job, it taught me to trust my own instincts and collaborate in a very immersive way.
What is it about Learning To Love Again will catch people’s attention, make it stand out?
Ann: At the risk of sounding cheesy, there is just so much heart, it’s so true to life on so many levels. Learning to love yourself, growing with love, rewriting history in many ways, and rediscovering what it means to authentically love someone. I like to say it’s a main course of romance with a huge side of laughs because there’s something for everyone, something for the whole family. I’ve been meaning to work on an uplifting project that’s also got a lot of depth for a very long time and I think Learning To Love Again strikes a very good balance between heartwarming fun moments and just true to life, authentically beautiful portrayal of love. The title truly speaks to the theme of the film but you will discover there are so many layers to it, it really makes you think, and I hope this movie stays with audiences long after they have watched it.
What kind of advice would you give someone who was interested in becoming an actor?
Ann: I think the very first thing I would say was always follow your heart because when you are doing this job for the right reasons, you understand that you are always up with people, not against people. There are so many misconceptions about our industry that focus on competition and standing out and how do I have to look to navigate this industry. When you are truly doing it for the right reasons acting is the art form of life. If you are curious about people and imparting life lessons and exploring the creative arts then acting is for you. If you want to survive long term you have to do it for you and understand it’s going to be a marathon not a sprint, a journey with no shortcuts.
The pandemic has thrown the world into chaos, including the entertainment industry. Saying that, have you been able to get back to work and if so, what projects do you have coming up?
Ann: I’ve been doing little things here and there, the most exciting thing I’ve been working on is doing more writing. I’ve discovered a new confidence in terms of creating my own content and so I’m working or writing some exciting things at the moment. I also run a talk show about emotional intelligence, it’s every Sunday and it’s called Soul Sunday PepLive with Ann Pirvu, and every week I come up with topics that are geared towards youth primarily. I did a TV series called Reign a couple of years ago and my fan base is quite young, like 12 to 22, and I’m engaging them in a lot of meaningful conversations about emotional intelligence and some of the wonderful things acting has taught me, food for the soul, so to speak. I find it’s been very helpful for a lot of people to just have a safe space, a judgment-free zone where they can just express themselves and talk about things that matter. Honestly, the last month, when they opened things up again, it’s been nonstop auditions, which is very exciting to see but I’m very excited to start writing and tell some stories that are true to my heart.
I want to thank Ann for taking the time to talk with us.
Learning To Love Again premieres Saturday, October 10th on the W Network