Johanna Thea on ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’ and Poetry

Photo Credit: Kiera Rose-Riley

ATM: What were your comments on the experience that went on behind the scenes?

JH: Johnny Depp has a lot of dialogue. Everyone is friendly when coming on set. He was nice when thanking everyone on set. He received a standing ovation of everyone. He reached out to everyone such as co-stars and stars.

ATM: How is the element of power used throughout the series and film?

JH: There is a struggle with half-bloods and blood in society. We face this on an international level. A lot of her characters struggle with power. Of course, there is Harry Potter with being adopted. He realizes his power. He uses the power but does not abuse power. This is what humans struggle with this. The characters struggle with their powers and the decisions that have to make.

ATM: What are your perspectives on the wizard’s ambiance and appearance in the film?

JH: The films get darker as he grows up. He is becoming more conscious as an adult just like we are. A lot of us who are not psychopaths and sociopaths are not mindful of the amount of darkness in the world. We become more aware as we become older and this makes the world appear to be darker. The portrayal of the wizards, in the beginning, is distinct from the other characters. They blend more into society. She might be speaking more into the recent thing in our society in the things around them. People who decide they will challenge their wealth against our alliance with government bodies. The wizard’s powers are good.

Their integration into society is the same for individuals in society who are charitable. Hamina is strong, amazing, and charming. Ron is funny but not as clever. Harry is smart but still not as a clever. I always wondered why she did not choose to have a female protagonist. This is a bit like the antihero. The heroes in life are not who you would expect to them be heroes. In life, we paint people as evil and bad. They are really just wounded. This is something she brings to life. My friends and I talk about the things we bring to life, which is what we were taught in school. A lot of the things we have to deal with in life are often with relationships and connections. Not just with ourselves but with other people. Her series brings awareness to the younger generation and our generation.

ATM: What is the observation of the family structure and tackling the ideal family?

JH: We have all met ideal families. It is important that children are made aware that even if you have good ideas; it is hard. Harry’s mom makes a sacrifice that is love. The family that we gift ourselves are with people that we love. Their bond is not an idealized version that we get from Hollywood all the time. Their love for themselves and each other is what wins out. This is a fantasy, which you have the chance to not have to live in this. The struggle that people have in the world is that we have to accept that people die. Our connections and family bond help us get through these times. The power of the true bloods wants to keep the bloodline alive. They want to keep the pure bloods alive. This is the fallacy she is trying to illuminate through the series. It is not about genetics our bloods that make us a family.

ATM: How do you see yourself as a fantastic beast?  In a word associative view, what is in the name Fantastic Beasts? 

JH: Just like my character, who is a witch, I’m bound only to the laws of nature. I am aware enough to differentiate between areas of my life where I have real control – such as the direction of my focus, energies I choose to surround myself with (friends & pursuits) and effects, which embodying love generates in those around me, rather than wars happening in distant lands, and overall outcomes.

I’m a fantastic beast because I understand which gifts I give the world and that many worlds co-exist, which rather than undermining mine, brings awareness to the number of cooperative elements present for everything to co-exist in harmony. To my mind, the word Fantastic Beasts inspires feelings of beings who are wild, not in the primitive sense, but rather that of being true to their actual inner being and truth.

It strikes me as a celebration of all things natural, real and untethered by conditioning to any culture, idealization regarding physicality or approximations born of gender roles, and societal norms. It brings to a light representation of beings that can be masters of themselves yet also remain free from external dictate, without necessarily being rebellious, but rather, independent.

ATM: In our human world, what does harry potter represent more than an orphan?

JH: Harry Potter represents the egalitarian spirit in which we can all be heroes through overcoming our fears, facing each challenge, being okay with vulnerability, needing support, not being the best or being treated well, and yet above all our always having the choice to love, and be good. Harry Potter represents our freedom to be brave and keep fighting for what and who we believe in.

ATM: How has JK Rowling influenced fantasy literature?

JH: I’m by no means an expert on fantasy literature, however, what I can say is, through achieving her dream and sharing with us all the means through which this occurred, she has opened a world of hope and possibilities for all artists, regardless of their background. Equally, through maintaining her character and being consistently good, she diminishes the fable of power and money corrupting. Rather illuminating through her actions, much as in her books that being good, courage, love and self-belief are all choices we get to make over and over again, throughout our journeys.

ATM: What does this film adaptation say about magic and how it is depicted to the public?

JH: As ever JK Rowling makes us aware of our kinds of magic, and how we can determine to use them whatever the challenge, obstacle or fear. Naturally, David Yates enables his actors to open up on camera and through various shades of vulnerability, illuminate what can work for us as magical beings, and what invariably fails! Yes, and while it may mean different things to different people, what’s important is that we kept the poetry of our souls alive and tuned in to the silent rhythms our kinds of magic can form. For me, this lies somewhere between watching the sunset, in awe, at dusk, and my seeking within myself for the power to be still in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Having experienced trauma myself, and many of life’s challenges associated with our world, I’ve come to trust that inner voice which guides us, magically to safety and to increasingly better ways of living. For life demands many forms of strength from us, at different times, and it has taken me some time to realize that often this is present in moments of extreme vulnerability and openness to change. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

ATM: What is your connection with poetry?

JH: As a child before attending school at four years old, I began reading, writing and doing dictations, essentially getting homeschooled. So that it became natural for me to express my emotions through poetry. I’ve been writing poems ever since I can remember and was first published around seven years old. My favorite poems are The Lake Isle of Inishfree by W.B Yeats and of course Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass which lies somewhere between poetry, and prose drives me to sheer ecstasy. Having written so much poetry for so long, I’m releasing my first collection through Amazon in January 2019 entitled “Heart Beats.”

ATM: Why is Leaves of Grass and not Whitman’s Song of Myself as engrossing to you?

JH: Walt Whitman’s collection of poems is called “Leaves of Grass, among which lies his poem ‘A Song of Myself’. So that when I said Leaves of Grass was among my favorite poems, I was, in fact, referencing the entire collection. This is because each section illuminates a different aspect of the human condition and leg of our journey.

While Song of Myself is about introspection, loving oneself, and is playfully speckled with wit and wisdom to encourage and enable us embracing ourselves other poems in Walt Whitman’s collection are more somber and intense! For example, “Calamolis” broached homosexual desires, and different types of love and ways of loving, and “Songs of Parting” is one which creates a sense of the endless opportunities in life to embrace each moment and perhaps also live on in our work, and how we impact each other.

So, in answer to your question, while I agree that “Songs of Myself”, is among the most celebrated poems in American literature, for me, it depends on my mood on that day, what my soul needs as sustenance and if I feel the desire to simply celebrate human’s existence as part of the whole or am looking for a different type of introspective or experience in that moment.

Being dyslexic I also enjoy listening to each installment of his collection, for just like the natural ebb and flow of our human experience, so too does listening to Walt Whitman’s poetry bring us at once closer to ourselves, and to an even greater awareness of nature, and our part in it.

ATM: What poet or poem relates or is close to the plot summary to Fantastic Beast? 

JH: Hmm this is a hard task, what comes to mind though, albeit not quite poetry, is Shakespeare’s plays. For just like his works the nature of what it is to be human is explored through the challenges each character faces and their decisions thereafter.

In this sense the journey of souls through various battlefields is highlighted in the fictitious crusades of both artists characters, what Shakespeare draws through fictitious situations, J.K.Rowling does through her fantasy.

Both striving to illuminate the complexities and weakness in human nature through illuminating how these need not lead to one’s downfall unless one so chooses!

Also both attribute many weaknesses to characters chosen isolation, such as that of Shylocks blood-lust in The Merchant of Venice being synonymous with Voldemorte who at one time could have chosen to be good and celebrated. Which is interesting as one of the psychological principles of addiction states that substances can be used instead of true human connection, so that both authors create an awareness of the importance of keeping good company through illuminating the effects produced through its’ opposite.

ATM: How does the title Heart Beats relate to your life?

JH: Thank you for this question, for it has always been my heart which has saved me from great disaster, and encouraged in me a sense of integrity and ultimately, resilience.

Given my traumatic upbringing it was the love of those around me, who chose to adopt me as friends and family who gifted me a strong sense of duty to cling to life, because of their love.

Later, it was loving women which drew me again to the surface of turbulent waters, as I grew to understand that my sensuality and sexuality are far more complex than previously understood.

Also, that love is ultimately what drives me forward, gifting me the outlook and overtly positive sense of life being inherently a gift, and loving the penultimate definition of being alive.

So my poetry book “Heart Beats” is an encapsulation of how loves “beats”, have consistently encouraged me to grow, celebrating life, learning and this human experience with each new breath, and possibility of loving. It is a direct reflection of how my life has evolved so far, and perhaps the title was inspired, albeit subconsciously, by my mentor Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”, in the sense that each Heart Beat, much like each leaf, contains within it the fullness of every experience possible, while at once needing the one next to it in order to find, or indeed have any sense or meaning. Which is to say that I too believe that the individual is at once an expression of self and part of the whole dynamic movement of other selves!