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Hungarian-London Actress Henrietta Szentes on Origins of Acting and Pursuing the Performing Arts

June 4, 2019

ATM: As a Hungarian child, what focus did Hungary have that was related to the performing arts?

HS: I was into dance at nine years old. I was a Hungarian folklore dance group. In primary school, I was always a part of the stages such as for Christmas and other celebrations. I was singing very well and a part of the chorus. We have a poetry competition for children every year. I was into acting from a very young age. I took drama courses while in high school. I learned dancing, singing, stage and screen acting, and history of the drama. I graduated at 19.

ATM: What was so intriguing about the performing arts in your young eyes?

HS: I always loved the attention and being in the center. As a child, I was really bright and had an open mind. It was easy for me to play a character during Christmas. Acting is like a child play for me. For me, it was amazing.

ATM: Explain the prevalence of how important the arts became to you in London.

HS: At 18, I wanted to change my life. You know I like challenges in my life. I wanted to start a new life. I left my family at 18. At 21, I moved to London. I already had friends there. I had a place to stay and a lot of friends. During this time, my English was not that perfect. I started my career as a model. I went for a lot of photo shoots and fashion shows. I was a part of a few events. I went to a few beauty pageants in the UK during 2017 and 2018. In 2018, I started to improve my acting portfolio. I went for auditions. I went for the Netflix audition. This was my first serious acting job in the UK and the U.S. Then I was in a featured movie and television series. Other jobs started to come.

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ATM: While leaving Hungary, express your parent’s perceptive about your career and life.

HS: They were supportive. I was born in a small village. Not a lot of people are brave to leave the village they were born in. I was always a brave girl. I realized this once I had a chance. I still have a good contact with my parents. I just started my own life. My parents always support me, especially on Facebook. My mother and my father always comment on my posts.

ATM: Based on Netflix’s series Flinch, what tends to make you flinch?

HS: Fire. I tend to flinch from fire. I have a brother. At 10, We were playing with a lighter. He burned my hair. This was funny for other people, but it was scary for me. I had long hair. After this, I had to cut my hair very short.

ATM: Would you agree that most things make a person flinch derive from past experiences that influence them in a bad way?

HS: Yes, it does come from the past. Especially if something bad happened to the person. My other flinch are dogs. At 9, a big dog bit me on my neck. It was not really dangerous, but I am scared of them. I still have a phobia of big dogs. Small dogs are fine. If I see a big dog on the street without anyone, then I still have a feeling. I would say that it is 70% from the past.

ATM: So, it gives you anxiety?

HS: Yes.

ATM: From your experience on Mother’s Child, do you believe there is a young adult element in a mother?

HS: She did not realize it was her daughter. It is a little bit of a weird story and it is a different love. This is an interesting question. I am not sure.

ATM: The mother in the film is acting like a young adult. She is trying to relive her young years. During the years of the early 20s for anyone, these are the years for self-exploration. It is the years to discover what is best and what is not for you. The mother in this film starts to embody this young stereotype. She explores her sexuality and love with women and men.

HS: I think it can happen. I know a few people who cannot manage their lives. They do stupid things. They do things like a young person. They go for a date and fall in love with the person on the first date. They are adults, but they are not thinking like adults.

ATM: What have you learn from your mother throughout your childhood to now?

HS: She said, “If I wanted something in my life, then I needed to fight for it.” This is going to sound stupid, but as a child, I really wanted a Barbie doll. I remember crying in the middle of the supermarket. My mother said, “Do not do this. Do not do drama. You cannot buy this.” I did not understand. I wanted it and said please buy it for me. She said, “I cannot buy it for you because you do not have enough money.

You need to learn about what you are spending your money on. Would you like dinner tonight and a Barbie or no dinner for one week?” I realized I did not need a Barbie. I cannot go without eating dinner for one week. She taught me how to manage the value of things. She taught me to decide what is important.

Is it the Barbie doll? This was because I wanted to play. Or the food is more important to me? Every day you will go hungry because you need to eat dinner, but you do not need to play every hour and every day with a Barbie. I was very young. I use this skill in my life. I use this when thinking to buy things. Another thing she always said, “Never give up. To achieve something, do what I love. Just do it.” I push myself all the time. If the audition is not successful, then I go for another one. As I keep going, they will cast me as the lead.

ATM: At what age, did you stop struggling with the ‘giving up’ mentality?

HS: At 23, I stopped struggling. From this age, I went for a lot of events in London. I went for film premieres, casting, networking, and traveled. I invested a lot in this industry by managing myself. I can manage myself very well. I thought about if I did not invest in myself, then I cannot expect people to invest in me as the lead role. I think I have done well. I am proud of where I came and where I am now. I still have a lot to achieve, but I will never give up.

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