IN CONVERSATION WITH LOU LLOBELL
Interview by Jana Letonja
Lou Llobell leads and narrates Apple TV+’s trailblazing series ‘Foundation’, which premiered its second season on 14th July. Lou is a chameleon, not fitting into a mold and wanting to breakthrough genres that are historically known to lack diversity. She’s of Spanish and Zimbabwean descent and was recently named to Forbes’ 2023 class of 30 Under 30 Europeans.
You graduated with a Bachelor and Master’s degree in Arts. Have you always wanted to become an actress? How did you develop passion for it?
Yes, I’ve always wanted to have a career in acting. As a child I was always in school plays and making up performances for my family. My grandma was always making up little games and stories with me when I was little and my family always tell me I remind them of her in that sense. I really enjoy the whole idea of make-believe, how I feel performing, how I feel as an audience member and that escape from reality for a brief period of time.
You know what’s it like to audition in an exhaustive search for a career-changing lead role. What advice do you have for young actors going from audition to audition? How do you maintain your optimism and stamina?
Perseverance. I think it’s important to keep moving forward, try and not be too disheartened when you get a ‘no’ or, what’s more likely, hear nothing back. It’s kind of part of the deal and as actors we need to train ourselves to put in all we can for an audition and as soon as its done, let it go. A little bit of ‘hope for the best and expect the worst’.
You want to breakthrough genres that are historically known to lack diversity. Why is this something that is really important to you?
It’s something that should be important to everyone. I believe that film and television should be a representation of the world we live in, especially when we’re depicting, for example, a universe some tens-of-thousands-of-years in the future. It’d be amazing if everyone could watch a piece of work and see themselves in some way or another.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned through the projects you have filmed thus far?
That you never stop learning. To be honest, I haven’t been doing this for very long, but I have had many lessons already. It’s ever changing and intense. The highs can be really high and the lows can be really low, so just managing that is continuous. Also, the appreciation I have for the amount of people needed to pull off a production and just how important the work of every single individual involved is.
Who are some of your biggest influences in the industry acting-wise? Are there other art forms you draw on for inspiration?
There are so many inspiring filmmakers and actors I love. I’ve always wanted to work with Almodóvar or Jordan Peele as directors, their work really impacts me. Regina King is incredible to watch and I am in awe of Javier Bardem’s ability to transform. Then, people like Florence Pugh, Kaitlyn Dever, Ayo Edebiri and Ruth Negga are also just a joy and inspiration. I mean there are a lot of actors I haven’t named who’s work really motivates me. I’m also lucky enough to watch people like Jared Harris, Lee Pace, Ben Daniels and Laura Birn up close on set, which always makes me want to push myself more.
In the early years of your career, you’ve already been named The Hollywood Reporter’s Next Big Thing and to Forbes’ 2023 class of 30 Under 30 Europeans. How do such accomplishments feel? Do they fuel you to work even harder?
It’s such an honor and I feel so lucky to receive that recognition. And yes, it makes me want to continue and become a better actor, as well as expand my work into other spaces in the future.
You have also been featured as a speaker at Forbes Woman Africa, a women’s summit celebrating International Women’s Day 2022. What are some of the causes that are dearest to you and you’d like to speak up about?
Wow, I mean there are plenty, but I can touch on a few. Growing up in a country where the rate of poverty is high is quite eye opening. The causes dearest to me are the lack of diversity in the film and TV industry – albeit slowly improving, the horrifying decades-long war in Palestine which has only worsened at present, gender-based violence – especially all the cases in South Africa, discrimination against the LGBTQIA community and of course the environmental issues we’re currently facing.
You were born in Zimbabwe and were raised between South Africa and Spain. How has growing up in two such different countries shaped you as a person?
Traveling a lot and moving around as a child comes with its fair share of challenges. I am definitely able to adapt easily into different situations as a result. As an actor, you travel a lot and are continuously being thrust together with many different people, so it’s a great thing that I’m used to that, considering I’ve grown up in many different cultures and ways of life. Life in Southern Africa versus Spain is so different, but in both incredibly special and I’m so grateful I was raised between the two.
When you are not on set and working, what are some of your other passions?
I enjoy reading scripts whenever I can. I spend a lot of time in the gym, that’s like my therapy. I love to travel and be near the sea or ocean. I like to joke that spending time on the beach, with a cocktail in hand, is my hobby.
What are your goals for the future of your acting career?
I would love to try a little bit of everything and continue to grow as an actor. I just want to be involved in projects that tell interesting and impactful stories and that are entertaining. I never want to stop working, which is likely the goal for most actors.
Photographer PIP BOURDILLON
Stylist SARAH HARRISON
Hair KIERON LAVINE
Makeup MIN SANDHU