Thea Gajic is an Actress, Film Maker, and Spoken Word Artist who seems to string words together in brilliant detail, highlighting the very humane part of our emotions and pin- pointing the details of every day life that we can relate to. The busy creative is set to release her next short film “Guilt” soon, so we caught up with Thea to explore her world of film and have a moment to discuss her inspirations before it all kicks off for her this year.
Where did you grow up? How old are you?
“I’m 22, I grew up on an estate in Brixton Hill called Roupell Park estate, I lived there 15 years and moved to Crystal Palace a couple years ago.”
I first came across Thea’s way with words on A2’s “Jasmine Tea” and fell in love with her spoken word piece that introduces the track, so much so that I had it on replay for weeks to follow. With the magic she brought to A2’s track it’s no surprise she’s embedding her poetry in music once again, with Jorja Smith’s “Carry me home” ft. Maverick Sabre.
Is music something you'd ever want to pursue yourself?
“A lot of people first heard of me because of music but I always started with acting, music kind of just kind of came and... happened. Pane & Yardz from back in the day, they were my close close friends, they were doing their rap thing and everyone knew them in the area, so I was always with them in their studio, so I was always around music, they used to go to a producers studio, called Dice, that’s how I met Bonkaz, just mutual friends and such. I used to write short stories and obviously I acted. Then one of my friends, back when George the Poet started out, he wanted to start his own spoken word platform, and because he’d read my stories and watched me act he said you’d be good at that [...] one day I tried and then people liked it and that was kind of it. So then the first [poem] I did music wise was with Bonkaz and my friend Jords called ‘Nala’s pride’, then ‘Jasmine Tea’ with A2 and now with Jorja [...] Music’s never been something I wanted to do it just kind of came about.”
“With all of these creative things you have to be whole heartedly into it, because I’m whole heartedly into film and acting I can’t be whole heartedly in music and songwriting [...] maybe eventually if I can, when I build my name up, but I’m not trying to build a career like that from the start it would be a bit difficult, but I definitely would”
How did you get into acting?
“I always did it as a child, then with Pane & Yardz again I acted in their music video as the set up chick, they shot in my house and all that, then from there I kind of took it more seriously and it just helped me to build upon that, because I always had some sort of following from there.”
Even though Thea’s poems always seem to be magic it’s interesting to find out that she never really saw poetry as a conscious creative direction, it all stemmed from that opportunity with a friend and the rest was history. “I was writing stuff to be heard, but now I write them to be read. Like with the Jorja Smith track, I stopped thinking of them as pieces of spoken word that’ll be heard and just approach them as pieces on their own. A lot of spoken word artists I hate their flow, they get into this false rhythm. I’d rather them just let them be pieces of writing. When I’m recording and they put the metronome on I’m like I can’t deal with this!” and it’s this attention to the poetry in it’s entirety that seems to make Thea’s pieces the perfect additions to music made for the soul.
“I literally started film making so I can act, I got fed up of waiting for stuff, auditions, and agents [...] I was hesitant with script writing because as an actress I know how good they have to be in order to act them out well, with how much training I’ve had to dissect scripts. So to do it yourself, you’re thinking is this good enough for someone else to be able to tell the story. It put me off for a long time. I wrote my first film in 2014 [...] got free kit from a company I’m close with, just got random people to help me who wanted to get into it and some friends to act in it for me and that was it. Since then, I realised this was a way for me to create my own work and put it out there.”
This do it yourself mentality is something that I think is driving the new age creative industry forward and it sparks excitement and inspiration. It’s something that can’t be manufactured. When the creativity is honest and direct from a source that is working for passion rather than profit, it creates art that feels real and Thea’s film work is just that.
“I met Olan [Collardy], the guy that shot “Run” and shot my new film “Guilt” which isn’t out yet. I met him a handful of years ago at Latimer, I’m close with them and they always have networking events [...] exchanged details, followed each other randomly on twitter and ended up acting for him in something that he did. From then on we created a working relationship and now we’re a strong duo [...] I’m lucky to have him on board, I trust him and it works, he just makes things look good, you know?”
What was the concept behind “Run”?
“Originally the poem, it was just like going through things with guys. Just thinking know what you want. I think actors are very observant and understanding of people because we have to be but it gets to a point where your like, bro!? I think women are very nurturing and we give a lot and then still... but I didn’t want it to be a man bashing thing because I love men, so I was conscious of that. Which is why in the film it was the girl who said ‘you’re beautiful by the way’”
A line that made me fall in love with Thea’s film work. We spoke a little more about the vision behind the upcoming film “Guilt” which will be released in January. “I’m tryna create films that are about more working class people, and like the people I grew up around, as opposed to always middle class, middle aged. I’m trying to create stories that are usually told by older, richer people and bring it to a younger audience and community. “Guilt” is about young parents who’s child goes missing, these things happen in every community, but you never see it [...] like how do 22-year-olds deal with that? I’m tryna go down that road more, like I said, I grew up in a council estate in Brixton Hill, I was around so many different types of people and you don’t even see Black families on TV. [...] London is one of the most multi-cultural places and you don’t see any other people, not even just Black, but Turkish, Asian, whatever, any people [...] I’m trying to use my voice to tell those different stories. Which is why “Guilt” is about that”
What does the title mean?
“As the story unfolds you learn that both parents could’ve done something to prevent it. It’s very much like “Run” in a sense where nothing really happens up until a certain point. I like that, taking a moment in life. life is like that you know, nothing really happens in life, people walk and have a conversation, or sit and talk, and then... something happens. People will probably leave after “Guilt” thinking ‘oh my God so what’s happened’, I like leaving things like that.”
As simple as it sounds I think Thea’s description is a perfect depiction of “Run” and observantly reflective of life - Young guys and girls just talking about nothing at all really, until something happens, something that stays with you, or makes you feel something a little more and then it passes and we just do nothing again. If “Guilt” is as humane as “Run” it’ll be a refreshing watch and one I’m sure will also be touching. Check out “Run” below, which was screened at BFI’s Black Star, which Thea not only wrote and starred in, but she also worked as Director and Producer for the short film too.
Do you think there’s a core aim in all your work as you’re creating film, poetry, and acting?
“With poetry I usually just write how I feel at that time and if I’m happy with it I’ll release it, but with film it’s a little more conscious. The only one I think about to that extent is film because I’m trying to promote that idea of realistic communities, but you can’t think about it too much as well and make art entirely for the purpose of other people too much or it changes your reason for doing it and feels like work - I try not to think too much about it but I obviously am aware of it to an extent because it’s important to use that voice to create change along the line, and as an actress I’m trying to choose roles that actually have substance and mean something.”
As time went on it was easy talking to Thea and understanding her passion for film as an actress. There was an attention to detail that was clear as she spoke about her interests and it made you acutely aware of how there can be such loveliness in the details of our lives because of how she focuses on it within film. I asked a few questions so you could all get to know Thea a little bit more along with us.
What’s your favourite film?
“A French film called ‘La Haine’ , I was like 13 or 14 with my Dad and he just said, we’re watching this. I remember it being black and white and thinking what is this but then he put it on and I just thought oh my God. It kind of sparked my love for foreign film, I think French films in particular, they have a way of capturing subtleties and just, rawness. That film has always stayed with me. I have loads of favourites but that film always comes to mind.”
Is there an actor/actress who inspires you?
“Going back to the French again, but I like a French actress called Marion Cotillard, she’s just aways doing really good work and a variety.”
What kind of music do you listen to?
“Now I listen to pretty much everything, I guess not Rock but everything else. I grew up on like R&B, Hip-Hop, Neo-Soul so that’s my favourite but as you get older you listen to more. My Dad used to play harmonica, he’s Serbian, so he has a lot of world music, he introduced me to Fela Kuti, Jazz musicians [...] so now I listen to world music too.”
Do you have a favourite song lyric?
“I don’t know about just one lyric but at the moment it’s one of the songs from Jorja’s EP called ‘So Lonely’ it’s my favourite. It changes all the time though, sometimes it’s an A2 song... it’s nice having friends who also make music that I love.”
How would you describe generation 94Five?
“I think we waver from extreme confidence to extreme none communication. I think our sense of fear and none fear is always up and down. Generations before us had to get things in other ways and suddenly we’re presented with the Internet [...] when we were little it wasn’t a big thing and we’ve just jumped onto it fully at 16, 17, 18 [...] I think it’s good because we can create work ourself and put things out there, but I think because it occurred at an age where we’re meant to be communicating more effectively, it made it difficult for a lot of people to communicate face to face [...] but hey at least we had like 15 years without it.”
Next year Thea will be exploring the States with her invitation to Sundance Film Festival and releasing “Guilt” for us lucky viewers, so keep your eyes peeled for the project. We may even get a full feature film from Thea and her film partner Olan Collardy, continuing on from her work Directing, Producing, Writing, and Featuring in all of her short films herself. (What doesn’t she do?!)
Is there one area you want to focus on in future?
“I’ll never drop acting so everything else is up for grabs. I think acting and writing I’ll always do both. I’ll definitely do a variety of different writing and always incorporate that.”
You can check out her work on TheaGajic.com and explore her Instagram and Twitter to keep up with the actress. The future seems to be exciting for Thea and we’re eager to see what will become of her work next.