NY Elite: Tell us a Little bit about you and your career beginnings.
Karina Matas Piper: I grew up in Madrid, Spain, where I trained as an actress and studied psychology to try to understand the human condition. My passion for movies led me to film school in Barcelona, at Bande à Part. There I began my career in film direction while working as an actress, first in commercials and later on in film, TV, dubbing and voice overs. During my studies at Bande à Part, I wrote and directed four short films and collaborated on many others. My thesis film was a Sci-Fi drama inspired by environmental issues.
I have always wanted to understand my roots, as my mother’s family is from the U.S.. So after I finished film school I moved to Los Angeles, where I am currently based. Soon after moving to Hollywood I booked my first commercial, which allowed me to join the prestigious Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA). On that first job in California I had a bilingual speaking role in a commercial that is currently airing in both English and Spanish.
NY Elite: What are you latest and current movie projects?
Karina Matas Piper: I am now working on a short film I have co-writen with Gilles Gambino, a French independent filmmaker, which I will direct and star in, and which is also a teaser for a feature film we are working on.
My latest movie was a dramedy (called “Trevor”, directed by Carlos Domeque and shot in Barcelona. It is an ensemble movie about a dysfunctional family trying to figure things out. It was a very interesting experience, as I had to return to Barcelona a year after we had shot the exterior scenes to film the interior ones! Can you imagine walking through a door a year older and into a way colder place, with the flu?! Let’s hope we managed to make it look seamless!
I also worked on an independent pilot recently, “Eddie’s”. It’s a super fun comedy created by Alex Scrymgeour and directed by Michael Lange (Bones, Criminal Minds, The X Files), with a great cast, including Cheers star George Wendt.
NY Elite: Can you tell us about your character in the film?
Karina Matas Piper: In “Trevor”, my character, Jen, is an independent and adventurous woman. She has been travelling the world for years. During one of these trips she found a “partner in crime”, her boyfriend Dave. Funnily, Dave was played by Maarten Swaan, who was actually my boyfriend in real life when we started shooting, and my husband by the time we finished!
NY Elite: What was it like working with the director?
Karina Matas Piper: Working with Carlos was great. He is very generous and a great listener. It was his first feature film, and he was very passionate and creative.
NY Elite: In which movies have you played lead role?
Karina Matas Piper: I have played the lead role in “Trevor”, in several short films and in many commercials that have been aired all over the world, including one in last year’s Super Bowl and a beautiful European Union one that I shot in Prague. I have also played many supporting roles, and I feel very honoured for having had the chance to work with several very talented and accomplished people from my business, including director Mateo Gil (Open Your Eyes, The Sea Inside, Agora, Realive), Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Avengers) and Oona Chaplin (Game of Thrones, Quantum of Solace).
NY Elite: Among all your roles so far, which has been your favorite one and why?
Karina Matas Piper: I think my favourite is Levana, in the short film “Transience”, directed by David Barrera. I had the chance to play the soul of a number of girls from all over the world (from Tokyo to Los Angeles, passing through Shanghai, Dubai, Stockholm, Paris, Barcelona and New York). I spoke Spanish, French and English. And got to trick death himself!
NY Elite: What do you enjoy most about your acting career?
Karina Matas Piper: I have always been really curious and captivated by all sorts of knowledge and experiences. And acting offers you the opportunity to dip your toes into plenty of different lives, relationships and jobs! It is also a very social profession, and I absolutely adore the collaborative side to it.
NY Elite: What other hobbies and interests do you have?
Karina Matas Piper: Well, obviously movies! I have been a film omnivore ever since I can remember, and used to spend all my allowance as a kid watching independent films at movie theatres. I also really like hiking, yoga, skating, snowboarding and horseback riding. I love travelling, as I believe it really broadens your perspectives and challenges your beliefs. Science captivates me too, and I can spend hours reading about random facts! I am also very passionate about music. I am an amateur singer and I love attending live music events. I like eating healthy food and consider myself a foodie, so I cook quite a lot!
NY Elite: Are you working on your next project now?
Karina Matas Piper: Yes! I am in the pre-production phase of my short film and training for whichever projects may come! I attend ongoing acting classes and I am currently enrolled in stage combat classes, where I get to play with swords and quarter staffs and roll on the ground fighting. No worries, we don’t really hurt each other!
NY Elite: What personal advice would you give to someone about impressing the directors during audition? How to audition?
Karina Matas Piper: I would say, trust yourself! My new motto, taken from actor/coach Shaan Sharma, is “YOU ARE ENOUGH”. Don’t try to do too much, to look more interesting. You are already ARE interesting, because you are unique.
Your work should be done BEFORE the audition, memorising, rehearsing with your network of actor friends, making creative choices and putting yourself on tape to see how they work. A good work ethic will give you a preparation that will turn that casting into an opportunity to perform, and not an exam where you need to prove yourself. It will also give you a confidence that is way more compelling than the impression of a needy actor pleading for work. Play with what you prepared, and truly listen to your reader and use whatever she or he offers you. If you manage to be in the moment, your head and your ego will let you do your thing!
NY Elite: What causes/charities you actively support or feel strongly about?
Karina Matas Piper: I am very concerned with social causes at an international level. I was recently approached by Amnesty International, and want to partner with them in their work to promote human rights.
I also worked with autistic children for a few months. I really admire people who devote their life to people with disabilities, as it can be very challenging and frustrating, and it requires a lot of inner strength and selfless generosity. I would love to get a chance to help them one day through storytelling.
Last but not least, I have a environmentalist heart and I try to have the least negative impact on the planet, or even better yet, to have a positive one. I wrote, directed and produced a short film called “Apicalypse”, about the death of the honeybees. It was inspired by reading many articles that state that the last years have seen a dramatic decrease in the bee population, and that Nature as we know it would collapse if they stopped pollinating. There are several projects out there to create robotic bees to pollinate our crops, which are severely affected by this phenomenon. I am so happy that Europe has listened to our plead to completely ban neonicotinoid pesticides, an important element in the bee population decline!
NY Elite: What are the things in your life that you’re most grateful for?
Karina Matas Piper: I am eternally grateful for the love of my family and friends, as their support has been crucial for me. I am also grateful that, being a woman, I was born in an evolving Western society, which has given me the opportunity to grow professionally and be independent. And I am extremely grateful that I can dedicate my life to my passions, as many artists have to really struggle to do what they love.