Meet ArtEx participant Catharina Vu
07.03.2023 / “ArtEx has helped me come closer to where I want to be professionally”
Text: Lene Christensen. Photo: Agnete Brun
“We can cheer each other on and support each other”
Being with ArtEx has made Catharina Vu (28) of Miss Saigon feel more secure and has given her more self-confidence.
“ArtEx has helped me come closer to where I want to be professionally”, says Catharina.
For nearly two years the actor has been part of Talent Norge’s elite programme ArtEx, which provides twelve selected talents with access to mentors, coaches and a broad professional network.
“You feel that you are part of a big house, where you can learn from each other and develop each other. It is reassuring not be alone in what one experiences”, says Catharina.
During the meetings with the other talents she has really appreciated exchanging experiences and knowledge.
“We can cheer each other on and support each other. That has helped a lot.”
I must bide my time
The award-winning director and actress Iram Haq has been one of Catharina’s mentors at ArtEx.
"She gave me some concrete advice on how to improve myself as an actress and how to get into the film-industry.
She calmed me down when I experienced job drought and told me to bide my time"
It was good for Catharina to realize that this is quite normal when doing film and TV, regardless of how far you’ve got in your career.
“It made me very calm to think that she had also experienced this, and that I’m not the only one.”
Catharina also brought calmness during the recording of the Netflix-series "A storm for Christmas" along with other advice to direct her focus towards her co-actors. This made her put less pressure on herself and made her perform better.
"By being calm you make others feel calmer as well. The goal is to make each other better in order to get the best result."
ArtEx funded her showreel
Her second ArtEx mentor Celine Engebrigtsen has been in the casting business for a long time. Celine founded Stella Casting in 1997 and knows what there is to know about what a director is after and what the camera catches.
“She gives advice on everything from auditions to making self-tapes at home”, says Catharina
Through ArtEx she has been given support to make a showreel produced by the production company Global Ensemble. Catharina’s showreel shows clips from her most talked-about role so far – the au-pair Pim in ‘Exit’. Most people who have seen the series will never forget the sly tycoons – William (played by Pål Sverre Haven) nearly ending up assaulting Pim.
"It was fun to hear that people cared so much for my role. The attention it drew was surprising.", says Catharina.
She uses her own background
This autumn will see the next highlight of her career. Miss Siagon will premiere on 1 September at Folketeatret (in Oslo). Catharina has the lead role as Kim. The action of the play is from the Vietnam War in the 1970s, which is especially personal for Catharina.
Her parents came to Norway as boat refugees from Vietnam in 1980 and during the research that was carried out for the role, Catharina has talked to them a lot about what life was like before they left the country.
"It is good for me to learn more about the background I come from" says Catharina "My parents didn't focus on the negative aspects of the family story, but rather focus on what is possible to make out of it now.”
She says that her mentor, Iram, wants her to use her background in her work as an actor. That everything is part of what makes her unique – and that she is good enough as she is.
“I’m not going to be afraid of showing everything about me. Instead of trying to live up to what I think people want in a role, I am going to focus instead on what I can bring with my sources ”, says Catharina.
She has learned various techniques from her ArtEx coach
Ever since she saw «Heksene» (The witches) at Rogaland theater as an 8 or 9 year-old, Catharina has wanted to become an actor. But when she made performances in the living room at home in Sandnes, she had no idea how much competition and performance anxiety her dream profession contained. The hunt for the next role may well feel overwhelming.
“It requires a lot of self-confidence. The thing is to keep your spirits up!”
She has spoken a lot about this with her ArtEx coach Kea Ostavany, because it’s easy to be lost in brooding over things when life is about performing, in keen competition with others. Was I good enough this time? Could I have done something differently?
“It may be very painful. That’s why it’s important to distinguish between my job and my private life, and Kea has given me techniques for handling this. We have worked on how I can become self-confident before auditions and how to get myself ready for performances”, says Catharina. And not least: How to find peace when my workday is over.
“It was so good that she said that we must find out what you like doing afterwards. That I must be good to myself and give myself praise for what I have done.”
Programme of Excellence in Performing Arts and film (ArtEx) is an interdisciplinary talent developing programme which is to help top-level artists to further develop themselves artistically and build an interesting and sustainable career. Through the programme you will become part of an extensive national and international network, you will get to take part in interdisciplinary professional gatherings under the auspices of Talent Norge. A support network will be available to you throughout the duration of the programme, consisting of a mentor, a coach and a place on Olympiatoppen’s health service. You will also get an individual scholarship that is to be used for professional development in consultation with your mentor.