The fourth season of The CW’s “Arrow” got a dose of Vancouver actress Elysia Rotaru as Taiana Vendekitov – fellow prisoner and love interest to Oliver Queen/Arrow.
Fans of the DC Comics Universe had wild speculation and spoilers when the character was announced and then first appeared unnamed in flash backs.
From a competitive pianist to theatre major, Rotaru showcases her talent and passion in all her guest role appearances. She’s appeared on other local productions like “Supernatural”, “Psych”, “Eureka” and “Hell Cats” which have all added to her diverse acting repertoire. As a dynamic actor, she’s also worked on feature films, shorts, web series and does voice over work for ads and animated series. We chatted with Elysia to learn more about her craft and role on “Arrow”:
How did you take the leap from studying psychology at SFU to theatre?
I was always attracted to psychology, I knew I had to be a shrink because I wanted to help people. That’s what I thought until one fateful day when I was in a TA group for statistics class. I was bored out of my mind, I had kaleidoscope vision and was not present. It wasn’t so much the class or the work – I excelled in the program, but it was the whole energy surrounding the reasons I was there. In that moment I heard my inner voice that told me to leave the program. That day I went to the dean’s office to switch my major to theatre performance. It was a smooth transition because I was concurrently taking theatre classes. Though my mother wasn’t too pleased with my decision at first, switching my focus resonated with my entire being.
How supportive have your parents been with the pursuit of your acting career?
I’m very blessed that my parents encouraged me to perform from a very young age. I started playing piano at age 2 and was a competitive pianist until I was 19 years old. They provided every opportunity they could for me to explore creative outlets from dance, martial arts, music, the stage, art etc… So it shouldn’t have been a shock to them that I made the focus in my university career theatre right!? They wanted me to have a solid career and I think they were worried about what a BFA would provide. Now, they celebrate and have bragging rights and wonder what I’m working on next rather than worry. My mom has totally become a huge fan that’s for sure. She creeps my social media outlets, catches up on all my work, reads all my interviews and of course gives her feedback on it all. I love it, especially when she calls and is like “oh was that you I just heard on the radio in that commercial?” LOL she’s awesome.
If you could only share one thing about your Romanian culture what would it be?
Țuică (traditional Romanian spirit made from plums)… Or maybe vampires LOL
What has it been like to work at home on Vancouver productions like “Hell Cats” and “Supernatural”?
It’s dreamy! I get to work and play in my backyard (sometimes literally) One day the “Supernatural” set was just up the road from my house, so I walked to work. It’s pretty magical.
Favourite things to do in Vancouver when you’re not working?
I love being outside hiking, being in the mountains or out on the ocean SUPing (stand up paddle boarding). Throw in a good kundalini yoga class too!
From guest appearances to a major recurring role on CW’s “Arrow”, have you found a shift in your career?
Yes, and it’s been so exciting. I know that my career will constantly shift and grow and I credit that to having more clarity about what kind of work I want to be doing and attracting that and allowing it in. My team plays a big part in that shift too. From sitting down and talking to my voice-over agent and setting my intentions with him, to having talks with my on camera team and receiving their intel with what’s happening in the industry, and having the support of casting directors, we all work together. My agents really help guide me towards the work that resonates with me and that will help me expand my career and allow me to explore the craft deeper; by playing in more layered complex character-driven stories.
How would you describe your character Taiana’s relationship with Oliver Queen / Green Arrow?
There is a deep appreciation and love in the relationship. But not the kind of “harlequin romance” love with kisses, horses and wind blowing in your hair, but the kinda of love in which you grow, harness and let it fuel you. The kind of love that you’ll always remember as it helps to shape the person you become. Like an unrequited love because of their circumstances; it’s tough to maintain a healthy relationship with their external forces such as gunfire, evil magic and near death around the corner.
A photo posted by Elysia Rotaru (@elysiarotaru) on
You also do voice work as an actor, what’s been your favourite project so far?
I love working in the booth! Right now my favourite spot that is out is the “Crispy Minis-Mini Moment” commercials. I also loved doing the “Crayola” campaign for their ‘dry erase board’. But I’m sure when I start recording for this one animated series… It might win as my favourite, but for now I’m blessed that I’ve worked on a lot of rad advert spots.
What made you want to be part of “Choose Your Victim” – a horror-based audience-interactive web series?
I LOVE HORROR so that was a win and I loved the concept. It took the ‘choose your own adventure’ idea and really put that horror twist on it was super interactive. I am so grateful to have been a part of such an ingenious and fresh idea that was a total hit.
Advice for aspiring actors?
I have so much to say here, but I guess thats why I teach acting. Okay, here we go…
Keep training. Force yourself to stay away from the traps of getting lazy and feeling entitled. Travel. Bring your work to life. LISTEN to your intuition, body, and voice and keep that imagination active and useful. Follow your feelings! BREATHE. Have fun! And when you audition, Bryan Craston put it in a way that really resonated with me – “Know what your job is… the actor is supposed to create a compelling, interesting character that serves the text and presents it in the environment where your audition happens. And then you walk away and that’s it. Everything else is out of your control. So don’t even think of it, don’t focus on that. You’re not going there to get a job. You’re going there to present what you do. You act, and there it is. And walk away. And there’s power in that and there’s confidence in that. And it’s also saying, ‘I can only do so much”.
And above all, trust and be grateful. This is one piece of advice I have to revisit daily. It’s a tough one but once it settles into you, there’s a massive sense of freedom. And trust me when I say, the gates burst open and abundance pours through.
Photo: Farrah Aviva
Interview by Amar Mirchandani @amarmirch