A Letter from Monique van der Werff, actress
As a reader of your book and newsletters I would love to thank you for another inspiring column. I have also read 'The Winner stands alone' (as I am a big fan of Paulo Coelho). Thanks for reminding people that fame is empty.
I would like to share my experience on this topic with you, as an example, because it exactly underlines what you were saying.
I have been able to experience it: fame, glory, signing autographs, fans going crazy etc, for a few years. I'm a Dutch actress and a few years ago I was in a children series, which accidentally became the most famous of our country then. It was on TV, primetime, daily, plus we made three movies abroad. But I was not happy. I've always been more of a theater person. I like to take a lot of time rehearsing, searching for the depth of a part and deeply connecting with my fellow-actors.
So, after two years I decided to go back to that. I went to New York to study at Stella Adler's Studio of Acting. When I came back, a lot of people would comment: 'Your colleague from the series is now presenting 'Holland's got talent', that could have been you'. I am so glad it is not me. I know she is really happy doing it, because this was her dream, but is was not MY dream. I really have a hard time getting people to understand that. They think I failed, and 'did not make it'. Even family says worried: 'I haven't seen you on TV for a while, are you okay?' Someone who's had the fame and fortune and now 'lost' it must be sick, sad and miserable...the opposite of which is true: I felt much more like that when I was 'famous' (in the Netherlands, I mean we're talking only 16 million people here...;-)) and couldn't walk the streets without being recognized and screamed at all the time. All this energy coming my way, I just couldn't handle it. And how was I supposed to do my job of observing people, if they were staring at me all the time? But if you say that, as an actor, a lot of people just find that you are being 'ungrateful' or they don't believe you don't crave for fame anymore and think that you are jealous of the ones that 'did make it'.
On TV people see the glitter & glamour, the smiling faces, so they think fame is related to a lot of other things, like happiness. It is not.
I try my best, in interviews etc., to discuss this topic, and letting my own view out on it. In one of the glossies here I literary said: 'Fame is empty'. People do not want to hear this message, they'd rather stay indulged on the illusion.
To complete my story, I have to tell you that (after acting in about ten plays by other people, feeling a lot of satisfaction), I have gained the rights from Paulo Coelho to adapt his beautiful book 'Veronika decides to die' for the Dutch theater. It is my dream come true, to make my own theater plays. I am producing and writing it myself, and (of course) I play the part of Veronika. The premier is October 9th, and I couldn't have been happier, working on this terrific material.
It's the work itself that is so fulfilling. It's working with all these magnificent artists (actors, directors, costume designers, art directors etc.) that makes it so worthwhile.
I am very happy to be able to tell that from my own experience now.
I hope my story was of use to you. Please keep on spreading your message of love and joy. In this world, especially the acting world, we get so many other messages, that this cannot be heard enough!
Monique van der Werff (1982) is a Dutch actress. She played the lead in several feature films (Loverboy, Zoop in India, Honeyz) and TV series such as Onderweg naar Morgen (based on Ryan’s Hope), Alex FM and the award-winning children’s series Zoop. Monique has her own statue in the Amsterdam Madame Tussauds Museum. She acted in ten theater plays for different companies (among others: Het Nationale Toneel, Urban Myth and MC). Monique is the co-owner and artistic director of the White Rabbit Theater Foundation, which is currently working on the Dutch theater adaptation of Paulo Coelho’s novel "Veronika decides to die." Paulo Coelho gave her permission to produce the play, write the adaptation and play the part of Veronika. Premiere: October 9th 2010 in De Toneelschuur in Haarlem (The Netherlands), national tour ‘till the end of January 2011. For more information and playlist: www.veronikabesluittesterven.nl