Before the Scene is where we all start. In a small town with our families. In front of a mirror with our friends. The days spent sleeping on a couch. The nights working at a bar. Living with the unknown and surrounded by uncertainty. It’s about the times that define us. It’s about the darkness just before the limelight.
Emmanuelle Chriqui is most recognizable for her recurring role as Sloan McQuewick on HBO’s Entourage and as Dahlia, opposite Adam Sandler in You Don’t Mess With the Zohan. Her upcoming films include 13, Elektra Luxx, and Renny Harlin’s Georgia. She currently splits her time between Los Angeles and New York.
Q: What made you want to become an actor?
A: “From a very young age I always knew this is what I wanted to do. I started in the theatre when I was seven and was instantly hooked. The feeling of losing myself in a moment remains one of the most amazing things to me. The whole environment of the theatre and film and television has always felt like home. It brings me so much joy and gives me the ability to meet all kinds of people and learn so many different things. Most of the great experiences of my life have come from my work.”
Q: What was your biggest fear?
A: “My biggest fear was always the what if’s. What if I can’t do this? What if I don’t succeed in the way I want? What if I have to live with unfulfilled dreams? What if I can’t support myself doing what I love to do?”
Q: What was your lowest point?
A: “In my early twenties, when I didn’t have thick skin yet. All the rejection and negativity drove me into fear mode and I just quit. I call it my ‘three month sabbatical.’ I wanted nothing to do with the industry and started doing martial arts. It was a very unhappy time as deep down I knew I wasn’t living my truth. My agents called me in for an audition that I kept refusing. Then finally [I] decided to go in and got it! This project ended up changing things for me and putting me back on my path. I struggled a lot though even after that: in the same year I got cut out of two big films. It crushed me and made me question everything.”
Q: What kept you from walking away?
A: “I think the thing that ultimately kept me from walking away was my faith in God and the universe. I always told myself that everything happens exactly the way [it’s] supposed to, even the really hard stuff. I lost my mother at an early age, and before she passed away she once told me I would become an actress for the both of us. That will always stay in my heart and mind.”
Q: What did you walk away from?
A: “I walked away from the things I didn’t believe in. I walked away from the unhealthy scene that exists here in L.A. I constantly reminded myself why I was here. I walked away from the parties and took my auditions very seriously. I walked away from people who didn’t support me or wished me ill.”
Q: Who was your closest ally?
A: “My family and my first manager. They believed in me and always encouraged me through the tough times. I have been blessed with wonderful angels in my life.”
Q: What were you doing the morning before the audition that changed your life?
A: “The night before I got one of my first big films, I was living with a close group of friends. We always had so much fun and kept each other going as we were all in similar boats. I believe I was living there rent free as I was totally broke and going through yet another hard time. I was seriously missing home and contemplating moving back to Canada. That night I dreamt that my mother came to me, patted my head and whispered to me that everything was going to be okay. I woke up and got the offer. Pretty magical.”
Q: What were the words that kept you going?
A: “A phrase that really resonated deeply to me was from a gospel a friend sent to me: ‘He didn’t bring me this far just to leave me here.’ It is the simple truth.”
Q: How have you changed?
A: “I think my faith is stronger than ever. And in my heart, I fully believe that everything is perfect even in its imperfection. I have come to embrace that this is life, obstacles and all, and it’s all about the attitude with which you choose to handle things. I think I am far more patient, and far more grateful, for not only the big miracles [but the small ones].”
Q: What words do you have to inspire others?
A: “Everything happens in the time it is supposed to: be patient, work hard and have faith. I recently read that when you plant bamboo from a seed, it takes five years to come out of the ground, then it grows like a weed. I think that is accurate for anything you are passionate about. Water it, tend the soil, love it and it will blossom.”
Interview and Photography by AJ Buckley