We had the good fortune of connecting with Diana Salina and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Diana, how do you think about risk?
“Life without risk is not worth living”. (Charles Lindbergh, Aviator, 1927)
Risk can be defined as a factor or situation that might lead to loss or damage. To many, risk is quite simply the enemy. I see risk as a tool for the brave. Although risk is definitely in my blood, it is something I nurture every day – I have become good friends with it.When I think of risk-takers, I I think of fighters and survivors, not victims.
To be an artist, and specifically to be an actor, is a very risk-taking career. Being an actor requires very thick skin and endless courage. You are constantly exposing your most vulnerable self to people you’ve never seen before, whose job is to form a strong opinion of you in a matter of seconds. 90% of an actor’s job is risk-taking in that it involves auditioning, whilst the remaining 10% amounts to what I call “the comfort zone”, that is being cast and doing the actual work.
A drama teacher once said to me “when in doubt, do”. In other words, he was telling me to take the risk. When I think of my artistic journey, I’d be lying if I told that you self-doubt didn’t play a big part of it.
I dreamt of being an actor at 5. At 15, I had the same dream. Today, at 25, I am an actor. I have taken drama classes for over 18 years, and I am now honing my craft at a more professional level. So the real question is – why did I not take the leap and dive into the professional acting world sooner, say at 19 years old, before earning a degree in Political science and French literature, and working 2 years in advertising ? The answer is that I was afraid. I was afraid of judgement; for being a late bloomer in my mid-20s. I was no child actor, no Hannah Montana.
At this point, there were two available routes for me:
1. To take the risk and find a way to pursue my dream of becoming a working actor
2. Do any other job for the rest of my life and perpetually question my choice
I took the risk. Today, I am a living actor in New York.
How did I do it? I let go. I let go of the cloud of judgement I was surrounded by, and I put my priorities first.
The truth is, if you accept yourself, that is your thoughts and feelings, you will be much more grounded and prepared to follow your instincts. There is just a higher chance of succeeding if you take the risk. So do it. Accept yourself, let go of the rest, and give it all you’ve got. You’ll feel so good, you won’t look back.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My strongest asset as an actor is definitely my energy. I am tall and have a very strong presence and voice. What qualifies my presence, and therefore distinguishes me from other actors is my impulsive nature. If I can be, I’ll be wildly daring. See me in an improvisation class or in a rehearsal, and I’ll be all over my scene partner, pushing boundaries and testing limits. I am proud of my bravery because I am forced to be in the moment. Actor, director and teacher Lee Strasberg claimed that “Art is in the choice. The choice is what conditions the Art”. Not only do I swear by Strasberg’s words, but I also deem crucial the act of sticking to my choice, and to have the confidence to see where that takes both me and my partner in a scene. Strong choices equate to interesting environments to both live in as an actor and watch as an audience.
I am currently in my final semester at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute. In September 2021, I joined the school as an awardee of the prestigious Eleonora Duse Scholarship. Winning this Scholarship was a life-changing event for me; I quit my job in London and left Milan, my home-town. Although getting on a plane was easy, the journey to leave wasn’t. I think I won the Scholarship because I planned it, and worked hard for it, giving it my all. As King Richard says “ if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Of course, I then took the risk.
Since my arrival in New York, I have continuously auditioned for roles whilst going to school full time. Aside from being cast in 7 short films, my biggest achievement thus far has been to land a role in an Off-Broadway production, The Super’s Not In. It is a surreal drama and I play the role of a tormenting Goddess. The play will be running on June 6,8,and 11 at LATEA Theater (107 Suffolk Street). Tickets here – https://newyorktheaterfestival.com/the-supers-not-in/
I’d like to leave you with a brief anecdote, hoping to inspire other artists to follow their dreams. My first night in New York, back in August last year, I had a solo night and made my way to the theater. I went to The SoHo Playhouse, where I watched a one man show. I remember feeling emotionally overwhelmed for finally being here. I let my mind drift off, imagining myself on that stage. Little did I know that in March of that coming year, I would be doing a solo dance performance on that stage. So expect the unexpected, the magic is real!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am restless kind of person, I like to move a lot. My best friend definitely knows this about me, so she’d have to come prepared for my energy levels.
To kick us off, we’d walk. Walking is a no-brainer for me. I love walking (I walk so much to the point that I’ve made it a habit to learn my lines whilst walking, I find it deeply therapeutic).
A few of my favourite things to do in New York :
Walking down the Hudson River. I’d start from Pier 57, or Little Island, and go all the way down to Pier 25. I’d then lie down on one of the Pier’s wooden deckchairs whilst soaking up the sun. The view is beautiful and the breeze is just delightful.
Burger + Comedy show. This combo of mine all takes place in MacDougal Street. Burger at Minetta Tavern followed by lots of dry humour at the Comedy Cellar. Love it.
3. Fusion Cuisine for Dinner. It’s got to be Indochine on Lafayette Street or Chinese Tuxedo in Doyers Street. I love, love, love the atmosphere in both restaurants.
Having said that, what I love most about New York is the energy. Literally anything can happen. The best memories and experiences I’ve had in 8 months here were definitely NOT planned!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for a few people and things, so here is my expression of gratitude.
To my therapist, who taught me how to sit in stillness and accept the way I feel. Her motto is that “thoughts are like clouds in the sky, they come and they go”.
To my mother, who not only believes, but worships me as a human and as an artist every single day. She has blessed me with a passion for life like no other. I would not be who I am without you.
To writers, for feeding my soul every single day. For validating my thoughts and feelings, for teaching me about the beauty of life and subconsciously encouraging me to continue to explore it.
Jeffrey Mosier photography
Charterhouse school archives
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