We had the good fortune of connecting with Boris Lukman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Boris, how do you think about risk?
Taking risks plays a critical part in my life and especially in my artistic career. The whole notion of being an artist is to go to the boarder of the unexplored, the uncomfortable, the unknown etc. By choosing to be courageous, you gain the chance of attaining something of great value that you don’t just solely benefit from but also something you can share with your community and then that way everybody wins.
I believe one always takes a risk in life whether they choose to be passive or not. Just because you decide not to do something, doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t risk missing out on an opportunity to be in a better place, or at least get out from wherever you got yourself stuck into initially.
During the Christmas holiday period of 2020 I found myself in the most challenging time in my life. I was living in Brooklyn, NY and just got layed off from my weekend survival job as an entertainer for kids parties due to the indoor gathering restrictions that were applied because of the high surge in Covid cases. My girlfriend at the time also had to leave the US because she got diagnosed with 2nd stage lymphoma and had to return to her country to start chemotherapy treatment. Because of all this I couldn’t afford my rent for the apartment I was sharing with her and my roommates. I also couldn’t find any other option at getting a temporary job since everything was shutdown. I was left with very little time to sort things out and practically no viable solution.
Trying to find a way to center myself and cope with the stress, I started practicing the Wim Hof method and took cold showers every day. In that state of clear mindedness I was trying to see what would be the most meaningful thing I could do in this situation, given the fact plans A through Z didn’t work out. It was Christmas Eve and I obviously didn’t have any plans to celebrate so I decided to go to Union Square subway station in Manhattan and just tap dance to good old Frank, Ella, Louis and the gang. I wasn’t thinking in terms of whether this will be a successful way of making money, I just felt good about the idea of lifting other people’s spirits who might have been affected just as much, if not even worse by this pandemic. I never did anything like street performance before, so this was something that was quite outside of my comfort zone. After Christmas Eve I decided to continue with it since it really seemed to work. It wasn’t just that I really felt such a great sense of fulfillment after engaging with people from various walks of life who showed such appreciation and support but I was actually able to make a decent living out of it. By the beginning of 2021 I was able to cover rent and even make savings. Spending a lot of time out in the streets opened my eyes to how much people can be kind and generous, especially those who don’t have much to give. I befriended this homeless guy called Reggie. He would show me the best spots around NYC where I could be seen by a bigger crowd. In return I’d give him a percentage from my performances when he’d find me a new spot that would bring me more revenue. It was really nice that we could help each other out like that. I met many other homeless people like him and other fellow street performers who where very supportive as well. This one street rapper called Koshadillz came up to me and said he could connect me with this very popular Instagram account called Subway Creatures. He said they could get me featured on their account and get me a new pair of tap shoes. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but a couple months later the founder of the account reached out to me and said he contacted the dance wear company BLOCH that makes the tap shoes I use and he asked them to send me a free pair. They were very delighted to do that and after having it delivered to my apartment, I posted a shout-out video on my IG account which was featured on Subway Creatures and Bloch USA. I started receiving messages from people around the globe, many who were dancers and all of them shared feelings of gratitude and inspiration after watching my video.
I never imagined how much of a positive impact I was able to make just because I decided to take a leap of faith. I will never forget that experience and I really learned what it meant to shine your own light into the world when everywhere else is dark.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m happy to say my career has taken me on many adventures around the world and because of that I got to experience life from an abundance of different perspectives. It left a profound impact on me as an artist and I hope it’ll just continue in that trajectory.
I’m a professional actor and voice actor but I started out as a dancer. When I was 14 I auditioned for the 2nd season of Serbia’s Got Talent as a Michael Jackson impersonator and I was very lucky to become a finalist in the show. I was the first on Serbian national TV who ever did the iconic lean from the Smooth Criminal music video. For a young teen, I was quite lucky to have been given the opportunity and it’s something that I’m very proud of to this day. This led me to train tap dance for a few years under the mentorship of Milos Paunovic. I finally got the chance to use this skill when I booked the lead role in a live stage production of the popular Aardman Studios playmation Shaun The Sheep and I started touring around the Middle East with a multiple award winning production company called Event Box, performing in large theater venues in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar. With the same company I got to tour with various other shows and eventually I voiced several characters for an originally written musical of the famous Tom & Jerry show called Tom & Jerry: The Crystal Quest. The characters I voiced included Droopy, Tin, Pan and Dragon.
My formal training began when I started living and working in London while applying for acting schools. I was coached under the late renowned acting teacher, Dee Cannon and I eventually managed to get into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. I moved to the US in 2018 to study acting at AADA and that was the most important time for me as a developing young artist. I’m very greatful for all the experiences I had that helped me grow and develop as a human being thanks to my teachers and colleagues. For my final show performances at the conservatory I got to utilize all my voice acting, physical acting and dance skills that I acquired over my career performing in the Middle East. I played Mascarille in Moliere’s The Bungler and Dance Teacher Pat in Clare Barron’s Dance Nation. After my time at the academy I felt I had a strong grasp of what were my strengths as an actor and was confident to take on the industry in the US. Unfortunately, because the pandemic made a massive blow to the industry and to our lives in general, I made a shift in my creative output. I decided to write my own scripts and there I was able to access a different kind of artistic expression as a storyteller. I had a year to work in the US after my graduation in 2020 but there wasn’t much going on. It wasn’t until May 2021, close to when my visa was about to expire, that I booked a lead role in a horror feature film called Vortex: A Film Anthology, where I got to play Nikola Tesla. This film got picked up by a film distributor called Indie Rights and it’s currently streaming Amazon Prime.
Coming back home to Belgrade was a difficult transition for me after all I’ve been through. It felt like I put in so much energy and time just to get back to square one. It took me a few months of readjusting to my home city. There were things that made it quite familiar but at the same time foreign. I felt a bit like an outsider, having not doing any work there for a while. I started to reconnect with the people that I used to work with and I realized how much of a rarity I am to this industry. Not many actors can speak, let alone act in English. Also not many can act in different US or UK dialects. I decided to pitch myself to industry professionals in this way and in the beginning there wasn’t much of a response but soon enough I was able to get an agent in Belgrade that worked with foreign clients who needed actors with my capabilities. I auditioned and booked a role on a new TV show that will air later this year on the Sy Fy channel. I also booked voice over work that needed UK native English speakers. This also lead me to voice act in Serbian for animation dubbing. I’m currently writing multiple film projects with my closest friends who are also successful actors and plan to pitch our scripts to our biggest production companies in Serbia.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far from everything I’ve experienced in the past decade would definitely sound like something out of a Paolo Coelho novel so I might as well quote The Alchemist. “People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.” I truly believe you’ll always succeed in what ever you do, regardless of how incredibly dire life can be, if you’re led with love in your heart. “The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.” This is something I strive to live by as an actor and I’d believe in it even if it meant getting up the hundred and eighth time, because in the end, the journey is what makes it worth it and not the destination. “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well, if we were in New York, I’d definitely would take you to my favorite spot in Brooklyn, it’s this corner on Wyckoff Avenue in Bushwick and within that 300 feet radius you have the best pizza, best seafood, craft beer, cocktails, burgers you name it. I’d also take you to the East Village in Manhattan to this place called Dumpling Man. My favorite place to get beer in Manhattan would have to be McSorley’s. It’s an old Victorian ale house close to Št. Marks church and it’s the oldest pub in NYC.
If you came to Belgrade on the other hand, I’d have to take you to Skadarska street which is a cobblestone street that has a strip of old bohemian restaurans where even Queen Elizabeth II visited once. You’d get to experience live music and traditional Serbian cuisine while being surrounded in a very charming rustic scenery.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The person who definitely deserves the most credit would have to be my partner Coral Mizrachi. In the past few years we went through so much together and she inspired me to manifest the best version of myself because of her unbreakable spirit and how incredibly dedicated she is as a human being and artist. She is by far the champ at making lemonade with the lemons she’s given.
I would also thank my mentor Miloš Paunović who didn’t just teach me how to tap dance, but more importantly, he gave me the necessary work ethic and tools to truly set myself on the path to becoming a great artist one day.
Youtube: Boris Lukman