Ocean is always ready and delighted to dive into any kind of character, be they more mainstream or spectacularly quirky! She springs from a highly international background, and has worked on stage, screen, audio, immersive, site-specific and role play productions.
TO1%: When did you know you first wanted to be actor?
O.I. The wish will already have started forming when I was pre-school age, when my parents took me to see plays, ballets and amazing circus performances in Moscow, where we lived at the time. I wanted to tell stories and do the same awesome, stirring things that those performers all did.
Then, in fourth grade in Helsinki, I performed my first lead in front of the whole school and their families – the titular character of Cream Wolf – and both I and those around recognised I was utterly in my element. It was a delicious character of a terrible villain pretending to be all sweetness and generosity, out to trick the poor villagers.
The final moment of absolute knowing must have been – still in primary school – when a local actor came in and gave our class a presentation about being an actor. What impressed and shook me to my core was that his teaching, unbeknownst to us children, had begun when he exceedingly boringly came into the room and seated himself completely unremarkably at the desk at front. Throughout he was almost like an anti-presence. Nobody’s interest was at all piqued, everyone’s attentions still on whatever it had been on before. I was resigned to what promised to be a tedious hour – when all of a sudden it was as if the man sprang to deeply energetic life! He said “See that? That wasn’t a very good entry, was it! Let me do that again!” And he went out, and a second later strode back in exuding charisma, good humour and friendly, energetic, absolute engagement, greeting us as he came in, taking charge. That, really, was the moment I knew, and I learned so much about presence, and about having the attention of your audience, in that very short moment.
TO1%: What was your first professional gig?
O.I. A TV commercial for a new album release, arranged by a classmate’s father in Helsinki, singing with a few other children whilst gazing romantically into the distance, there was a teeny fee. I also took part in some kind of a chat show – not sure which came first.
TO1%: Some people practice in front of a mirror some people think that’s really artificial? What’s your take?
O.I. My single memory of anything like this was of being about eight, standing once in front of my mirror and singing into a hairbrush, pretending I was Marie Fredriksson from Roxette and performing to a massive arena…
TO1%: How did you get involved with The Other 1%
O.I. I met Simon Moorhead at a local Equity meeting where he was the guest speaker. I was delighted to hear about his work, and as a great lover of audio drama, I was thrilled to learn of his weekly podcasts. By the time I met him again, three quarters of a year later when he spoke at a meeting of local voice over artists, I had listened to his whole brilliant back-catalogue of podcasts. Simon then mentioned that he was in need of actors who can do natural Russian accents, and with a little jolt I realised this could be me.
TO1%: If you could play any film, tv, stage or literary character, who would it be and why?
O.I. Big question! I feel very open to falling in love with the unexpected, and tend to love whomever I happen to be playing.
Saying that, I would love to appear in a prequel of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, to tell a story from Tolkien’s amazing imagination. I would also love to perform something set during World War Two, something in the vein of The Zookeeper’s Wife or Defiance, perhaps.
I’d love to tell stories from many historical settings. And I’d love to appear in something created by Aaron Sorkin!
At present I am quite taken by characters with a combination of being deeply vulnerable yet perhaps outwardly used to being strong – it doesn’t matter if they appear to be a “nice” person or not. Or perhaps they are outwardly vulnerable, but are in in fact immensely strong – at least in some way.
…… in my dreams, I would also love to revisit Blanche DuBois!
TO1%: Do you practice your craft when you’re ‘resting’ and how?
O.I. Yes. Pre-pandemic I regularly attended Meisner Sessions and The Maydays Improv Comedy classes, both because I adore them and because they keep me continually creating in a fresh and natural way. Neither practice worries about the past or the future, just listening in the moment, allowing, trusting and inviting courage.
I dance and sing at any opportunity, look at scripts and practice accents.
I also fool around with my children, lots of inspiration there. Recently, at Halloween, a real live enthusiastic-if-rather-deranged witch (me) dropped in through the wall of our house for Covid-era trick-or-treating. The children are still playing at witches and wizards and other magical folk unexpectedly turning up. I am entertained that these are quite off-the-wall characters, too.
I also regularly teach yoga – currently over Zoom, welcome along! – and this in its own way keeps me warmed up for performance work.
TO1%: How much of your acting would you say is craft and how much instinct?
O.I. Oh, a combination, certainly. Perhaps one could say that instinct is the alive, alert, unpredictable creator, nestled securely in a framework of craft.
TO1%: In the States Method Acting is often seen as the Holy Grail, how do you feel about that?
O.I. I feel happy that there are so many different paths out there for actors to find inspiration from – whatever works!
TO1%: Do you ever find you start to become the characters you play when you’re off stage or off set?
O.I. Only by choice, if it would be fun to respond or react to something from their point of view! I get quite immersed in preparation, though, and might for example actively use an accent I am about to need for work.
TO1%: Has anyone ever noticed?
O.I. Well, accents are noticeable. “Mamma, why are you speaking in a strange way?”
TO1%: It’s a hard one, but if you had to choose and could only do pre-recorded OR live performance for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?
O.I. Hah – I’m not promising anything! I adore the unique and different intimacies experienced in both live and pre-recorded audio and screen work. It is an amazing gift to get to move between these, and I absolutely hope to have opportunities of diving deeper and improving in each medium.
TO1%: What’s your trick for learning lines?
O.I. I write the lines, then write and speak them at the same time, then speak them whenever possible, during walks, in the shower, wherever. I try to avoid getting into patterns, so release the words in various ways. I test myself. And I’ll just keep reading them off the page, too, for familiarity and fluidity.
TO1%: Do you read your reviews and at what stage in a run of a play?
O.I. Sometimes, or I’ll hear someone else give a summary, and leave it at that.
TO1%: Do you have any superstitions other than not whistling in the stage wings and calling that Shakespeare play The Scottish Play?
O.I. I am happy to call it Macbeth! Can I say that?
TO1%: If you could have a masterclass from one director and one actor who would they be?
O.I. Meryl Streep. She is absolutely, absolutely astonishing and wonderful. I would love to learn from her.
Steven Spielberg, for the extraordinary amount of actors he has worked with on extraordinary creations. He must have an amazing sense of what will unlock the floodgates of best performance in each individual.
TO1%: If you become a superstar, will you demand specific bottled water and go on a paleo diet?
O.I. Err… I certainly hope never to walk around issuing demands.
Still, with the state of the environment as it is, if bottles are necessary, water from glass ones would be cool.
Based on the South Coast of England, THE OTHER 1% was created by award-winning producer SIMON MOORHEAD, whose production company TBC AUDIO creates and distributes original, full-cast audiobooks with the aim of promoting local actors and writers to a global audience.