Joana Ribeiro studied at the New York Film Academy and Estudio Corazza and took part in the ACT workshops for actors. She has co-starred in the pilot episode of Amazon’s “The Dark Tower” and has worked with directors such as Terry Gilliam in “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” the closing film of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Rita Nunes in “Crooked Lines,” and Marco Pontecorvo’s newest film, “Fatima.” Joana has also starred in the popular TV series “Madre Paula” and has worked onstage with Palco 13 in “The Author” by Tim Crouch. She will soon be seen in Antoine Fuqua’s Sci-fi thriller, “Infinite,” among her other films coming out this year.
Tara Karajica talks to Joana Ribeiro about being an actress, a European Shooting Star, women in film and her next projects.
What made you want to become an actress?
Joana Ribeiro: I remember being maybe six or eight years old and I could never decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. I always wanted to be a lot of different things. I’d go to the movies and watch them again and again until I had the lines memorized. But my parents were the ones saying them out loud. If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t have had the courage to try it.
You can now be seen in Rita Nunes’ Crooked Lines, a story of misleading love affairs and their consequences, moved by destiny. Can you elaborate on that?
J.R.: Rita’s film talks about how two people can fall in love when at first glance they have nothing in common and I think that’s something one can only do when meeting someone online or through a platform of some sort. You’re not paying attention to how that person looks like, but to what they have to say. Carmo Afonso, the author, is very much into Twitter so she wanted to tell a story that had it in the background. It’s about how life just happens and we’re here to deal with the consequences.
Can you talk about Luísa? How do you see her? Are you anything like her? How have you prepared for this role? What drew you to it?
J.R.: I see Luisa as a very 21st Century young woman. The fact that she studied doesn’t guarantee that she’ll have work. She juggles two jobs in order to pay her bills and she’s trying to start something of her own, a reality that a lot of actors go through. Contrary to Pedro, who is always studying but never actually working. I was drawn to her subtle strength and resilience. I find that resilient characters attract me very much. It was also the first time I got to work on my contemporaneity as an actress. I worked with Rita and Carmo to find Luisa. We talked, shared ideas, and then we started to build her. But a big part of it happened when we were shooting.
You have acted in film and on TV. Which medium do you prefer? Why?
J.R.: I can’t choose. I find both of them important for my growth as an actress. And I think we’ve been making incredible TV shows for the past years and TV has been growing and it also depends on what you want to tell. There are stories that need six or eight episodes to be told whereas others can only be appreciated on a big screen, so it depends. I hope I can do both in the future.
How do you pick a role? Which one is your favorite, if any?
J.R.: I tend to see if I feel drawn to the role, if there’s something I want to say or if it speaks to me in some way. If it challenges me. And, most importantly, with who I am going to work with; who’s the director, what does he/she want to say with this project, who are the other actors. This is a team work, so it all depends on the team. I think all the roles I have played taught me something and changed me, but if I had to choose, maybe Angelica in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote and the Virgin Mary in Fatima were the ones where I learned the most and the ones that are the most different from me.
What does being a European Shooting Star mean for your career and how do you think it will impact it?
J.R.: I’m very happy to be here and very open to meeting new people and talking with the other Shooting Stars. This is a great opportunity for me to learn more about this business and also to get a feeling of how things work in different countries.
What does it take to be a star, according to you?
J.R.: Uff! I have no idea…
There has been a lot of talk about women in film these past two years. What do you make of the situation of women in film? How is the situation in Portugal?
J.R.: I think things are changing slowly, but there’s still a lot of changes to be made and preconceptions to disappear. In Portugal as well. Before, there were only really good and strong roles for men and women would be just playing the wife, but I think we’ve been working more and more towards having more strong female parts.
Who is your favorite female filmmaker? Is there one you would love to work with?
J.R.: Sofia Coppola is one of my favorite filmmakers. I remember watching The Virgin Suicides when I was younger and I was just astonished by it. How could it be so innocent, provocative and dreamy and at the same time exposing all the sick things going on in that family and town? And Lost in Translation remains one of my favorite films to date. It would be a dream come true to work with Sofia Coppola one day.
What are your next projects?
J.R.: Nothing I can talk about yet, but I have four movies coming out this year: Um Fio de Baba Escarlate by Carlos Conceição, Infinite by Antoine Fuqua, Fatima by Marco Pontecorvo and Sombra by Bruno Gascon.
Photo credit: Ricardo Aco.
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