Hafsia Herzi is a French award-winning actress and director. She won a Cesar Award (the equivalent of an Oscar in France) for the Most Promising Actress for her role in The Secret of the Grain in 2008. In our conversation, we talk about You Deserve a Lover, the first independent movie that she produced, directed, and starred in, from the perseverance it takes to build such a project, to that phone call announcing her that the movie was selected for Critics Week in Cannes Film Festival last year.
Hafsia Herzi: Stubborn, definitely determined and I am very into small details. I put a lot of pressure on myself, and I can be very obsessed sometimes, I need to put things more into perspective.
Yes, it was Trilogy by Marcel Pagnol, in black and white. It really inspired me, those movies made me dream! I really Love Marcel Pagnol.
I would say my desire to dream! I have always loved cinema, poetry, since my younger age. Dreaming has always been important too. I was shy and it was a way to be someone else. As a child, I was already playing with my dolls, creating stories, directing my dolls as actors, I have always had a lot of imagination…
I would have dinner with my family and my close friends. In the movie industry, it is easy to forget the reality and it is important for me to spend time with my loved ones. And, Italian food would be involved because it’s my favorite, I am a foodie…probably some lasagna with a tiramisu. [laughs]
Success to me is to be able to accomplish a project. When my work is recognized by people, and that I am able to share emotions.
My definition of happiness is to be healthy first, to love yourself, and love what you do on a daily basis. It is not easy for people who don’t have this in their life. You can have everything but at the end, if you don’t live healthy and loved, what’s the point?
My mom inspires me the most, she is my role model and my inspiration, she raised my two brothers, my sister and I alone. She is a very strong woman, courageous and tolerant, I am so proud of her.
I have worked with Mark Jackson on a movie that was rewarded in a festival in Los Angeles two years ago. I have also worked with Reed Morano, she is an amazing director and I would love to work with her again. It was such a great experience, and I really admire this woman.
Having good manners is respect in all its forms, respecting people, their feelings…it’s all about respect.
I love to take care of myself, take care of my skin, and go to spas for massages, facials. I really love it! Recently, I discovered an amazing treatment at the Sisley Spa in Paris. When I was in Cannes, I received treatment at Biologique Recherche. It was fantastic! I am planning to do it again in Paris when I have more free time. I also like to work out, go to the gym, and run outdoors as soon as I have a chance, mostly when I am in the south of France.
You have to believe in it, have faith in what you do, and most important you have to do it for yourself, with passion and for your pleasure without expectations or think to its outcome. It takes a lot of determination and perseverance. Actually, I haven’t thought about money during the 9 months I was working on my movie, I even refused paid roles to finish my movie.
Do it for yourself with passion and your heart with no expectations.
You have to work. Consistency and adversity always pay off! It is a bit like working out, if you are consistent and committed towards your goals, you will see results eventually.
It requires a strong mindset. You need to face your own demons, you will have ups and downs, days where you feel tired, low energy but you need to stay focus, and stick to your goals. Another important thing in order to be confident is to keep some time to take care of yourself, to stay physically and mentally fresh!
This movie was really born under a lucky star, I have always believed in the authenticity and honesty of it. I was surrounded only by passionate and motivated people with such great energy. The challenge was to keep going, not giving up, and finish the movie, not thinking about glory or money. I was waking up every morning at 6 am and was going to the gym, it was important to me to structure my days as if I was on a paid job.
I am a very positive person! Positivity brings positivity, if you don’t believe in yourself, how do you want people to believe in you?
The advice was to listen to my heart because there are no rules in the cinema.
Making movies is my passion, so my dream is to be able to have the freedom to keep creating and make movies.
I love the unexpected! I am a perfectionist person but I do love the spontaneity of the unknown and the unexpected. One anecdote, one of the best scenes of the movie started with unexpected problems and “impossible” situations. We adapted and made it even better than it was originally planned, it went beyond our expectations. I wasn’t supposed to do this movie, I was previously working on another project for 10 years, and it didn’t happen. My movie You deserve a lover was born in a month!
I have faith, and I believe in destiny. You are 100% responsible for your own life, it is all up to you to create your own destiny and turn moments of difficulty and adversity into strengths. It is not easy to stay positive every day, but you have to.
I am not gonna lie, it is not easy every day, some days are more difficult, but you have to stay positive. You just have to accept it and trust that tomorrow will be a brighter day, and stay away from negativity.
The best memory of the year was the day I received that phone call and was told my movie was selected for Cannes. It was the best feeling after those 9 months of hard work. I first called my Film Editor to tell him, and that we had to hurry to finish the movie. Then I reached all the members of the crew to tell them I had to see them in person to sign a document and told them the news, everybody was so happy.
The first screening of the movie was actually in Cannes. It was exciting but also scary as I didn’t have a chance to watch it before, but what a great feeling to discover the movie with the public.
A year as beautiful as 2019, and to be happy!
I would love to travel but I am afraid of taking flights, I spend most of my time between Paris and Marseille.
Well, that depends If I work or not [laughs]. Firstly, when I am working, I am running everywhere, I have so much to do. On the days off, It is more relaxed, with my friends, but I am an active person, I always find something to do!
I have always been a morning person. Wake up very early, and go to bed early as well. I go to the gym, deal with paperwork, I have so much to do every day, I tend to forget things, so I make to-do lists!
I would say to believe in yourself, stay positive, and work hard. But also, stay connected to reality, take a side job if you need to pay the bills until you can make a living with your passions. Do not give up, you are 100% in charge, you have to find away.
I love a singer named Matt Houston. We never met in person but I love this artist, he is a kind person, and a great artist who inspired a whole generation. I used one of his songs for my movie.
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