Ana Vukičević is a young actor who is working on her career in New York. Leaving Slovenia, she also left behind the mindset that her goals were out of reach. She teaches the young not to be stopped by rejections, mean attitudes and occasional failures. Aside from working on the other side of the Atlantic, she visits Slovenia quite often because she is also working on many projects at home and in Serbia.
Why have you decided to study in New York and what were some of the difficulties you had to face?
I decided to study in New York because I’ve been in love with the city ever since I first laid my eyes on it as a little girl. I have always known I would someday move to New York. When I realized I was interested in art and acting, I immediately knew it was a winning combination.
At first, of course, I battled homesickness. But then, as soon as my studies started, I was confronted with new challenge: problems with the vocabulary, the American accent, financial trouble. I also had all kinds of bugs infesting my apartment. The list goes on. However, all these problems combined could not outbalance the feeling you get when you realize you’re living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. You advance a little every day, working on exactly what it is you like doing the most.
Studying in the USA, young people often face financial issues. How did you cope with that?
The problem with studying in America is that with the F-1 student visa, you cannot legally work and be paid during your studies. This means you must have had saved enough money to cover the tuition fees and pay for the costs of life before you apply for the student visa. I was lucky enough to have been provided for by my parents.
After finishing your studies you decided to stay in New York. Why is that? What is the life like there? Is it any different from what we imagine in Slovenia?
I stayed here because I simply fell in love with the city. I cannot imagine living anywhere else. I met a lot of people who I am developing different projects with. I have countless possibilities for work and the development of my talent. I think that Slovenians, in general, consider New York to be very glamorous and that solely by living here you are bound to get rich and famous overnight. This is, of course, far from the truth. Living here is tough, the rents are high, there are throngs of talented people competing for the same spot as you are, you are far from your family and home, etc. But at the same time, the experience is also inspiring, exciting and very varied.
Do you go out with other Slovenians? Are there any Slovenian clubs or associations? Do you organize any events?
I have quite a few Slovenian friends in New York, mostly dancers, musicians, photographers and entrepreneurs. We don’t have any clubs or associations but we do meet quite often and comfort one another whenever one of us gets homesick. We also help one another on our projects.
What do you miss the most? Is there anything you would have taken with you from Slovenia? What did you leave behind and what are some of the things you don’t miss at all?
What I miss the most are my family and the food I ate at home. A little more free time wouldn’t hurt either. When I left Slovenia, I also left my former mindset behind. I no longer believe that my goals are out of reach. I don’t miss that mindset at all and I function a lot better without it.
How often do you come home and what do you like to do when you visit? How often do your family members and friends visit you?
Lately, I’ve been visiting Slovenia more than I did before because I’m working on different projects in Slovenia and in Serbia. Most of all, I like spending time with my family and friends, eating good food and seeing a good play or a movie. My family and friends visit a couple of times a year but I wish they came more often.
Do you have any advice for young actors who wish to pursue their career abroad? What does it take to make it?
Just follow your dreams and don’t give up. Don’t let rejections, mean attitudes and an occasional failure bring you down. Believe in yourself and never hesitate to try again. Act because you love art, don’t do it for fame or especially money – there are countless more reliable ways for getting rich. Expecting success without exerting any effort and occasionally failing and being rejected is unreal. Be aware of the fact that you can do anything you want to, however, there are no shortcuts – hard work is the only solution. But it pays.
Photo: Ana Vukičević archive