Check out our interview with stunning actress and model Veronika Dash.
Veronika revealed her passion for performing at a young age. This lead to a major of ‘School Of Dramatic Arts’ at the prestigious USC with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre. Since then, Veronika has successfully booked work in TV/Film, Commercials, Stage, Print, Hosting and Voice-Over.
Veronika has also made memorable on-screen appearances showing off her comedic chops as Amanda McCormick in the satirical show, The Onion News Network, (2011) and working alongside A-List actors like Most Def in the SONY feature film Cadillac Records, (2008) Justin Long and Ari Graynor in the Focus Feature comedy film For A Good Time Call, (2012) and Jane Fonda and Harvey Keitel in the award-winning feature film, Youth, (2016) directed by Oscar-Winner Paolo Sorrentino.
Follow Veronika at @veronikadash
Hi Veronika, please tell us a little about you?
I’m an actress living in Los Angeles, raised in New York City and originally born in Kiev, Ukraine. I work in TV, film, theatre, commercials, and voiceovers. As we’re all staying “safe at home,” I figured I could hopefully share some life experiences, insight into the industry and light during these dark times in this interview so thank you for having me share my story.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Passionate, Vivacious, Optimistic.
Name one your strengths?
One of my strengths is that I am a go-getter: I know what I want, and I’m not afraid to go after it. I rarely sit around lamenting about not getting a job or complaining about things that are out of my control. I choose to always see the glass half full and wake up with gratitude. Life is truly what you make of it, so I find ways to be creative and to surround myself with people who inspire me. This has been essential for keeping my composure during this Corona outbreak.
How’s a typical day in your life?
Quarantine has turned my schedule completely upside down – as it has for many all around the world. I went from scheduling every hour of the day with castings, shoots and meetings to having time to sleep in, to meditate, to practice yoga outside and to dedicate more time to writing poetry and reading.
Before the “stay at home” order, I lived a very active lifestyle. My first stop would usually be an early F45 class because I find it the best and most challenging work-out in just 45 minutes; it really wakes you up and gets you motivated! Then I usually stop by Blue bottle (across the street) and get an iced oat milk latte; while waiting in line I’ll check my instagram and try to respond to comments and share things in my stories (but I do actively try to limit my time scrolling through social media.) After that, I’ll come home and either run lines, glam and head to a casting or I’ll stay fresh faced and head straight to a shoot followed by a happy hour and then a dinner meeting or event. My car always sort of becomes like my second closet with “just in case” outfit changes for any occasion that might arise; last minute castings, sporadic hike, screenings, hot yoga etc. On top of all the activity, I do always try to get 8 hours of sleep because I think proper rest is key to good health, glowing skin and mental clarity.
Who is your biggest supporter?
I think, first and foremost, my biggest supporters are my family. My parents have always believed in me and inspired me to be anything I want to be. They were pioneers (in our family) in immigrating to this country to offer their children a better life, and I’ve never taken their sacrifices for granted. Their encouragement has fueled my passion and allowed me to get to where I am today.
How did you get started in the industry?
I fell in love with performing at a very early age; I was in the drama club in elementary school, participated in “storytelling contests” for the district of New York, and joined the performing arts program in middle school. I remember when I was cast as the lead in a play called, “The King and I,” seeing that casting list really solidified my love for acting and my belief in my own ability. It wasn’t something I could have ever imagined would turn out to be my career but I knew I felt at home on the stage. I took workshops outside of school to understand the craft more and eventually I attended something called IMTA (International Model and Talent Association) where I was exposed to the business side of the industry and got my first professional talent manager.
What was your first acting role?
My first time on set was actually on the set of a show called “Rescue Me,” with Denis Leary who I remember meeting in the hair and make up trailer and thinking, “this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” I played Michael Zegens high school girlfriend in a scene and we became friends ever since. (He’s now an Emmy winner starring in a wonderful show called “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”)
Do you have or have you had acting classes?
I have a Bachelor’s degree from the School of Dramatic Arts from the University of Southern California. I’ve also done master classes with the great Larry Moss, studied Shakespeare with Patsy Rodenburg and put myself through the UCB school of improv to get out of my comfort zone. I think acting classes are essential to anyone who wants to pursue this professionally and take their craft to the next level.
What is the best and worst part of being an actress?
The best part of being an actress is the creative process; getting a role, working on developing the character, doing the research, working on the voice or dialect and the physical requirements whether its stunt work or dance etc. The worst part is definitely the rejection, the part that feels removed from you and out of your control.
How do you balance your personal life with your acting life?
I think the key is finding joy in what you do and letting gratitude supersede expectation. Our lives can get very busy with auditions and shoots and traveling, but I always make it a priority to call my family, to make time to see my friends and give myself a mental break with yoga or meditation. Restoring your energy is important so you don’t exhaust yourself.
Best advice ever given?
I would say the best advice I’ve ever received is from my acting coach, Larry Moss, who says that, “self discipline is self love” so if you have a passion, be disciplined at learning your craft (whatever that might be,) find the joy in creating and watching the life you want unfold. Larry often compares actors to athletes: they don’t get ready for the Olympics by simply sitting on their couch wishing to compete one day. They are meticulous in their approach and work day in and day out on their bodies, their mental health and their nutrition – so actors should use this same focus and determination when trying to achieve their goals. “Be so good, they can’t say no.” It takes a lot of hard work and love for what you do, but in the end when you get to give a voice to the voiceless, when you get to touch the audience in an emotional way, and you get to share the empathy that connects all of humanity, it all feels worth it.
How do you prepare for a role?
My preparation really depends on the type of role and whether it’s for the stage or for the screen. For theatre, there’s a lot more rehearsal time so I spend a great deal finding the characters voice and physicality within the space. I love to do research around the subject matter the play or film deals with, watch interviews with people who are well versed on the theme, read books and immerse myself in that world. If the character has an accent, I try to listen to recordings of people from that area and then inhabit that in my daily life, order coffee in that accent, etc.
What other projects you have been part of?
Most recently, I guest starred as Dr. Belinda in the show, “Lucifer” which will be premiering on Netflix; the Season 5 premiere was scheduled for June but was delayed because of the Corona pandemic. It was my first time shooting on the Warner Brothers lot so that was a really special moment for me. I also worked on the ABC show “Grand Hotel” which was executive produced by Eva Longoria and recreated the set of “Fontainebleau” in Miami right here in Los Angeles.
Some films I worked on include “Youth” starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel, directed by the Oscar winning Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, which we shot in Switzerland and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. I also got to play a cop in the indie film “Ghost Team” starring David Krumholtz and worked with Justin Long in another indie comedy “For A Good Time Call” which premiered at Sundance. And of course, my first studio project, a SONY feature called, “Cadillac Records.” I got to work with Mos Def and hang out with Adrien Brody on set and meet Beyonce, who plays Etta James in the film, when I walked the red carpet; It was my first real Hollywood premiere and truly an unforgettable moment.
What kind of roles do you like or would like to play and why?
I love dark roles, which is interesting because my personality is very fun and light hearted. I love the dichotomy of exploration and trying to understand the human psyche. I will often get called in for roles purely based on my look, but the characters I love diving into go way beyond the surface and dive into the knitty, gritty, three-dimensional layers of a human being. I loved Natalie Portman in “Black Swan,” Brie Larson in “Room” and Elizabeth Moss in “Handmaid’s tale.”
Which role has been the most challenging and which one is your favorite?
My most challenging role was probably a New York production of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” last summer, where I played Ophelia. Working on Shakespeare is one of the best ways to sharpen your skills as an actor; discovering new ways to deliver the dialogue, the rhythm, the soliloquies, the songs and the physical demands on a daily basis. While drowning myself in a river on stage everyday, sometimes twice a day, was really mentally exhausting and physically draining, I was simultaneously rehearsing another original play called, “Child Death Song” which also dealt with very dark subject matter. As difficult as it was, I absolutely loved it and would never change that experience for anything.
One of my favorite roles was playing Officer Dawn Wilson in Kenneth Lonergan’s production, “Lobby Hero.” It was my first time working with the great Larry Moss and taught me a lot about my voice, and finding my true power as a woman, and an artist both on stage, and in life.
How and when did you start into modeling?
I started modeling when I was very young. I was never shy in front of the camera and somehow naturally knew how to strike a pose. I had to give it up temporarily because my parents struggled to take me to all the castings since my dad was working full-time and my mom stayed at home with us as kids. I started back up again at 16 when I could be a little more independent and do more research on the best agencies and photographers to work with.
What advice would you give to women trying to become models?
My advice would be to shoot as much as you can and build a diverse portfolio you’re proud of. Find an agency who believes in you and isn’t trying to “change” you. Keep healthy habits, don’t follow the “extreme” path of restrictive diets because those can lead into dangerous territories. Eat healthy, exercise and stick to a daily skin routine that helps keep you looking refreshed even without makeup on. Remember that your value is intrinsic and not based on your looks, but the inner beauty and confidence you bring when you walk into a room.
What is fun and rewarding about modeling? And what is not?
Modeling is about transformation. I love how different hair, make up and wardrobe just changes my look entirely – it’s so fun and innovative. The difficult part of the business, similar to acting, is just the industry side of it…always expected to look your best, have flawless skin and stay in a similar weight. Some of those things have changed in recent years but I think the pressure for models to “look a certain way” is still immense.
Which magazine or project is still on your bucket list?
Being on the cover of VOGUE is certainly on my bucket list as a model, but for acting I would say working on films, as the lead, with Martin Scorsese, David Fincher and Steven Spielberg are all very high on the list.
How would you describe your fashion style?
I would say it’s very versatile; it wavers between edgy, classic, chic and modern. One day I’m in all black with a studded leather jacket and the next I’m in a feathered gown or a matching sweat suit with heeled boots. I like taking risks and I love incorporating bright colors. I also think accessories can make or break an outfit so I love playing with jewelry and bold pieces.
Who are some of your favorite models and designers, and why?
I mean, all my friends who are models are my favorite. They are ALL stunning in their own unique ways and I am blessed to work with such beautiful people. I love the classic designers like Chanel, Fendi and Prada – those are the runway shows I grew up watching but I also love following new designers like Michael Costello, Brandon Maxwell, Zhivago and Bronx and Banco. Revolve has a great collection of the latest trends so I often shop on there when I have shoots or carpets coming up.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is self-expression. It’s being fearless. It’s fun. It’s allowing your insecurities to falter and say, “this is me, I’m here.” Fashion has always been a huge part of my life and I would love to have my own line one day. I actually am working on something as we speak…
Who is your biggest beauty inspiration?
I’m going to have to say… my mother. Growing up, she was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen and I wanted to be just like her. She’s taught me how to dress, how to put on makeup and how to take care of my skin. She is still, to this day, the most natural beauty, and it exudes from within.
What do you think is the key to having a successful Instagram account like yours?
Authenticity. I think success is really just being true to yourself and allowing your originality to speak to your audience without putting so much pressure on yourself to be perfect. When I stopped obsessing over what I “should” post and focused on things I genuinely enjoyed, that resonated with my followers and allowed me to grow organically. I share products I genuinely use in my daily life, foods that I love to make and places that I love to travel. I will not endorse products or work with brands that I don’t love or have a personal connection to. If you have any doubt in yourself, remember that there is NO ONE in the world exactly like you…how special is that!
What book should every entrepreneur read?
I love books so I have quite a few recommendations but my top 3 would be “Think and Grown Rich” by Napoleon Hill, “Atomic Habits” by James Clear and “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. (If you don’t have time to read, you can always do Audible books as well.) For acting, “The Intent to Live” by Larry Moss, “Respect for Acting” by Uta Hagen and “An Actor Prepares” by Constantin Stanislavski are all classics and essential to any actor’s library.
What is next for Veronika Dash in 2020?
I think I’m in a similar boat to most people reading this when I say, I don’t really know. Most recently I guest starred as Dr. Belinda in the show, “Lucifer” which will be premiering on Netflix; Season 5 premiere was scheduled to air in June but was delayed because of the Corona pandemic. It’s the first time, in our lifetime, we’ve ever witnessed the entire world brought to a halt, including Hollywood. I have no idea when castings and shoots will resume given the strict guidelines. In the meantime, I have been doing lots of #QuarantineChallenges to stay creative, whether that means filming a monologue or working on a scene but it’s exciting to work on new characters and share that with my audience. I’m also attempting to write my first screenplay…so I’ll keep you posted if I get a first draft done by the end of this quarantine!
Who is your favorite Actor/Actress? And why?
I find this question just as difficult as asking my favorite movie because I’ve learned so much from so many talented people. I would say Cate Blanchett has a career I’d love to emulate. She has seamless transformations between roles and still manages to find time to do Broadway as well. I absolutely LOVED her performance in “Blue Jasmine” loosely based on one of my favorite plays, “A streetcar named desire” by Tenesse Williams.
3 things you can’t leave your house without?
Sparkling water, Sunglasses, and Sanitizer (especially nowadays!)
What music do you like?
It’s a mix of pop, hip-hop, R&B, latin and classical music. My taste is really dictated by my mood and my environment; If I’m cruising down the PCH I like listening to John Mayer, if I’m reading a script I opt for Chopin, but if I’m in the club… bring on Drake!
Your idea of a perfect Sunday is?
Sleeping in, doing a face mask, meeting my girls for brunch. Maybe going to LACMA or having a picnic on the beach. Something chill and relaxing to get you ready for the week. During social distancing a lot of this has been substituted with reading, yoga, meditating and happy hours on ZOOM or House party!
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I know this sounds weird but Marilyn Monroe… I’ve done so much character study on her because I was up to play her in several projects, so it would be interesting to meet such an iconic figure of cinema in real life.
What do you like to watch on Tv?
Oh man… it’s a toss up between comedies and dramas. I’ve been loving Issa Rae on “Insecure,” but I also just finished Season 3 of Handmaid’s tale which I thought was absolutely EPIC so…quarantine has allowed me to catch up on TV I never have time to watch. I am also a huge “Game Of Thrones” fan…if you haven’t seen the series…you probably have enough time to watch it from start to finish during this time at home!
What is your favorite healthy food?
I LOVE sushi…I seriously cannot imagine life without it. I try to get it with brown rice if that’s available. I literally just ordered a sushi making set on amazon to try to learn how to make it while I’m home.
And your favorite cheat food?
I’m a New Yorker so I’ve got to say pizza. But, if you want it to be healthy, you can also opt for a cauliflower / gluten free crust even on cheat days!
How do you see yourself in 5 years?
I’d love to be nominated for an Emmy, a Tony and an Oscar. (I know it’s a bit ambitious but it’s that go-getter nature) I’d love to write my first film and also help produce projects I want to see made with lots of women behind and in front of the camera telling important stories.
Do you support any charities?
One of my best friends Cassie Scerbo, who I actually met on set of “Grand Hotel,” is the VP of Boo 2 Bullying. I’m a big supporter of her charity supporting mental health and raising awareness about bullying, intolerance and discrimination among our youth. I also volunteer with #hashtaglunchbag, a global movement which helps feed the homeless community in LA, one lunch bag at a time. During the COVD-19 outbreak they will also be providing lunches to children who were impacted because of the closing of schools.
What do you think of Social Media as you are a big influencer for so many people?
I think social media, if used correctly, is an absolutely wonderful tool. It allows you to connect to people on a personal level and really makes your audience and fans feel like they get to know the real you. Of course, it’s difficult to respond to every message but I try to if I can. Sometimes even I find myself reaching out to my favorite actors or directors there after seeing and being inspired by their work – I love sharing my friends’ work and fellow creatives and using it as a source of inspiration. In these dark times, we are so lucky to have various social media platforms to stay connected even though we are all apart. It brings us together, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Where we can follow you?
Quote: One of my favorite writers, Paolo Coehlo, said, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Holiday Destination: Italy (My heart is always floating somewhere down a cobblestone street in Italy with Andrea Bocceli playing in the background.)
Drink: I love a good old fashioned. (Must have one sold square cube, not multiple ice cubes haha)
Celebrity Crush: Going back to my love for GOT, I gotta say, Jason Mamoa.
Song: Anything by Adele, I could listen to her voice all day.
Sports Team: I’d be lying if I said I had one.
Movie: This is such a hard question, I’ll just say my favorite movie of last year was “Parasite.” Truly a cinematic masterpiece.
Make Up: @ElizabethSuj