Check out our interview with rising star actress Olga Petsa who is making waves with the Netflix coming-of-age film, MIXTAPE alongside two-time Emmy winner Julie Bowen, Gemma Brooke Allen, Nick Thune, Jackson Rathbone, and newcomers Audrey Hsieh and Diego Mercado.
From director Valerie Weiss (Outer Banks) Mixtape follows orphaned, awkward 12-year-old Beverly Moody (Allen) who on the eve of Y2K, discovers a broken mixtape crafted by her teen parents. Raised by her grandmother Gail (Bowen), a former teen mom herself who finds it painful to speak about her late daughter, Beverly sees this mixtape as a chance to finally learn more about her parents. So, she sets out on a journey to find all the songs on the tape. Along the way, she makes friends with her quirky neighbor, Ellen (Audrey Hsieh); intimidatingly tough, Nicky (Olga Petsa); and Anti, an anti-everything records store owner who’s the key to finding these tracks, and a renewed bond between Gail and Beverly.
Follow Olga @olgapetsa
Hi Olga, please tell us a little about you?
In 2016, I immigrated with my family to Vancouver, Canada and have been living here since. I was born in Cyprus – a tiny island in the Mediterranean Sea with a population of just over 1 million people. It is a lovely place to grow up in – cozy, warm, surrounded by beautiful sea! Although I do love Canada, I wouldn’t trade growing up in Cyprus for anything – the friendships made, food, and overall community support makes it perfect. I invite you to learn more about my home country! As for my hobbies, I enjoy skateboarding, yoga, reading, journaling, listening, and playing music!
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Although quite hard to fit anyone’s description in 3 words, let me try and say: Hard working, curious, and kind.
How did you get started into acting?
I never missed a chance to perform – since a very young age. After moving to Canada, I realized that this hobby of mine could turn into a career. So, I joined various acting classes and programs that helped advance my skills. And irrespective of where I find myself in my career now or in the future, I will always aim to learn more and polish my art.
How has this changed your life?
“Empathy is at the heart of the actor’s art” – Meryl Streep. Acting has widened my perspective when it comes to understanding others and feeling for them. I do believe it’s made me a better person.
What is the best and worst part of being an actress?
The best part of being an actor is getting the opportunity to tell someone’s story. It is my goal to participate in projects that speak about significant subjects!
Being a teenager in this industry, the difficult part is balancing between my “regular” life as a student and my “professional” life as an actor.
How do you prepare for a role?
It’s important for me to be the character, rather than ‘create’ a character. Tell their story like it’s yours. I love Meryl Streep’s advise, “Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.”
Tell us about your work on Netflix coming-of-age film “MIXTAPE?”
Mixtape tells the story of Beverly – an orphaned girl who lives with her grandma Gail, ever since her parents died at an early age. After Beverly accidentally destroys a mixtape her parents created, she sets out to track down each song on the cassette. Along the way, she meets and befriends Ellen and Nicky! Mixtape is a homage to the power of friendship, love, family, music, loss, self-discovery, and 90’s nostalgia! No words could describe my love and admiration for the cast, crew, and story.
And about your role as Nicky?
Nicky may come off as the stereotypical emo, grungy, ‘hates everyone’ teenage girl – but she is so much more! When preparing for the role, I had to establish a line between “I’m a badass who likes being alone”, and “I am a young girl who actually wants friends”. Being a badass was not at all alien to me – just kidding! Now in all seriousness, I frequently spoke with director Valerie Weiss, figuring out which stage Nicky is at throughout the movie, with herself and the girls. I love Nicky’s character development – even though she matured to the idea of having friends, she still stayed true to herself. That to me was the best thing to create and watch.
What other projects have you been part of?
Just a month ago I took part in the indie film “Brooke and Sam”, portraying Brooke! Written and directed by the lovely Ally Pankiw, alongside Rachel Sennott, who played Sam. The film follows Sam, a stand-up comedian, and au pair, struggling with PTSD, who is weighing whether or not to join the search for Brooke – a missing girl she used to nanny. This indie tackles significant subjects of sexual assault, alcoholism and PTSD. Portraying Brooke was challenging, especially since her life circumstances were so alien to me. Ally and Rachel were the best partners, and I could not have done this without them. I am extremely proud of this project.
What kind of roles do you like or would like to play and why?
I’m not at all picky – I enjoy exploring all acting styles. If I had to choose, I would lean towards dramatic roles. I believe continuing in that direction would make me get out of my comfort zone more and push my limits. Maybe playing a villain would be fun – Bellatrix Lestrange vibes.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
When anyone in the audience, even if it’s only one person, gets to identify with the character I portray. Nicky, for example, shows that irrespective of how odd or different you are, there are always people you can connect with, be friends with. So, if there’s a Nicky-like person out there that saw a “Mixtape”, I’d like to believe that they now know and feel that they can find their peers and form friendships, and not be alone.
What’s your advice for the newer actresses?
Take a chance! Don’t be afraid to try something new, to be bold, to be “weird”. Your idea may work or not! Regardless – you provided options. You will not be judged, even though you might feel like you will. Some of the greatest scenes in cinema were improvised – meaning the actors were in the moment! Jack Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth” or Robert DeNiro’s “Are you talking to me?” were not part of the script, but they both turned out to be such iconic lines.
What did you learn from your biggest failure?
There is no such thing in acting. Not getting a role is a lesson rather than a failure. Forgetting lines is not a failure but an experience. It is all a matter of perspective, and I choose to hold this positive note.
What would say are the greatest lessons you learned so far in this business?
Some roles are for you, some are not, and that is absolutely fine. Always give it your all when auditioning, but once that role comes that suits you best, give it that extra push.
How would your best friend describe you?
The first word that popped to mind is “weird”, and I love that. Embrace your weirdness! Choose to be you every day. Express who you are in your own way – your clothes, hair, makeup, way of being. Original is the best you, you can be.
If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?
“Moment by moment”. The world spins and rushes us in and out of each experience. I try my best to take my time and appreciate everything that occurs in front and around me, rather than hurry to leave. Taking things moment by moment is my way of understanding the value of things and living my life to the fullest.
What book should every entrepreneur read?
I think a good book that talks about a path from the ordinary to success would be Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”. I also have a personal connection to this book as I was fortunate enough to be one of the opening speakers for Michelle Obama’s book presentation in Vancouver in 2019. I shared my thoughts of “becoming a supporter of every girl’s right to education and making our impossible dreams reality”. You can find a short video of tiny me on YouTube, speaking in Rogers Arena.
What’s next for Olga Petsa in 2022?
First, I am looking forward to seeing “Brooke and Sam” released, but I am also ready to tackle new roles, school life and just be a teenager. And fingers crossed, “Mixtape 2”?
What is your favorite healthy food?
I am obsessed with smoothie bowls. Frozen fruit blended with almond milk, covered in oats. Extremely nutritious and delicious!!
And your favorite cheat food?
I’m a sucker for crepes. Nutella, nuts, strawberries, bananas!!!
What is your own definition of happiness?
Happiness for me is living to the fullest. Experiencing every moment with loved ones and individually. Appreciating everything that comes your way. Embracing who you are and where you come from.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Only one? That’s a tough choice! I would love to meet my ancestors and see how much of them I carry in me! I wouldn’t mind meeting Emma Watson – I have mentioned her name so many times recently in my interviews, I’m ashamed. In all seriousness, I would love to chat and work with her one day; she empowers me to be me.
Best advice ever given?
The advice that wasn’t given directly to me, but I’ve read, and it resonated with me immediately: “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can” – Frida Kahlo.
Do you support any charity?
I have a dog that is a rescue, so Animal Welfare organizations are very near and dear to my heart.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
Continuing with acting hopefully! May even win an award (wink). Truly now, I hope to stay on this path and take part in projects with meaning. Psychology is also a subject I quite enjoy – I received a certificate from Coursera for completing “Introduction to Psychology” course, provided by Yale University.
Favorite song? Why?
“Time of our lives” by Pitbull and Ne-Yo. My brother Frixos and I would always listen and jam to this song. It brings up many fun memories, plus it makes me dance! Influenced by “Mixtape”, I’ve also gotten into older music; 90’s, 80’s, 70’s… Older songs have this magic of taking you on a journey. The lyrics, voices, instruments = perfection!
What do you think of Social Media?
I believe social media has both positive and negative sides to it. It is extremely easy to go down the rabbit hole of comparing ourselves with others, which usually leads to negative emotions. It is crucial to be kind, respectful, and loving – on and offline! We must use social media to share updates, ideas, and opinions in a positive manner. Inspire instead of harm.
Where we can follow you?
My Instagram account is @olgapetsa
Book: Currently reading “The perks of being a wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky. I love murder mysteries (Agatha Christie vibes), but also enjoy a good romantic book.
Quote: “If not me, who? If not now, when?” Inspiring words of Emma Watson that remind me that anything is possible with the right attitude. I am capable, and my voice is valid. No second-guessing, no holding back. Going for it – because no age/gender stereotype can stop me from expressing myself.
Movie: Good Will Hunting, French Kiss, You’ve got mail, Just go with it, MIXTAPE…
Tv Series: The Mentalist!! Top notch murder/mystery stories and acting. Plus, psychology plays a huge role in the entire series – something that always interests me.
Favorite Food: I love food! If I had to choose – I’d say Greek food. It reminds me of my country, culture, and it tastes incredible!!
Travel Destination: Visiting Italy has always been a dream of mine – the food, the architecture, the people. I love travelling, so wherever I go – I’ll love.
Sports Team: My brother Frixos plays professional football (soccer) in Spain, so we are a very football-driven family. Real Madrid is a team we’ll support forever, and my all-time favorite player is Cristiano Ronaldo!
Photo Credit: Farrah Aviva