Angela Sarafyan has impeccable posture and her neck is long and majestic. As she sits to have a chai tea and pain au chocolat, she offers, “I got this for us to share.” She tucks a red leatherbound Il Bisonte notebook—for her thoughts, records, and creative writing—into her bag. This is her second refill notebook in just a few months.
She is tearing a piece off the pastry when a ladybug lands on the table. Sarafyan’s large eyes widen even further, and she puts her fingers in front of the insect. She believes in luck. “You know what you can do?” she says, as she tries to encourage the ladybug onto her finger, “They say that you can make as many wishes as there are black dots. And then you blow them away, and hopefully your dreams come true.” She prompts it towards me and doesn’t blow it away. “It’s good luck. We’re going to have good luck.” She smiles.
It’s safe to say Sarafyan isn’t in dire need of luck. Over the past few years, she’s landed various parts in films and on television (The Informers, The Good Guys, and various others), gained a cult internet following as the “umbrella girl” in a Cingular ad, and scored a coveted role in the Twilight series. In The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, she plays Tia, an Egyptian vampire. Her twitter account has seen expansive growth, which mystifies her, as she’s more interested in Twilight’s fans than she thinks they should be interested in her.
“Do you understand the whole vampire situation?” she wonders aloud, before making a conjecture. “The vampires in Twilight are so different from human beings. They’re the minority. They’re not accepted by the group. I think that a lot of people can relate to that. Maybe the difference within us is what makes us powerful.”
Sarafyan hopes to translate those complicated emotions into next year’s Lost and Found in Armenia. For the role, Sarafyan traveled back to her home country, to which she hadn’t returned since she left at the age of four. It was a difficult experience, going back to the post-Soviet patriarchal society in which she was born, where merely walking down the street as a pretty young girl proved worrisome. However, Sarafyan is one who likes to take risks in life and translate that to her roles. “I’ll give you a great example,” she explains, “I was looking at paintings two days ago. There was this painter who would very specifically draw every detail that he saw. Then there was another painter; it was wild the way he drew. It was this risk, and it was his experience of what he saw. One was like a copy which was technical, and the other was taking that and bringing his experience to it and then creating this beautiful picture. I think that that’s the part that I strive for in acting, bringing that risk to that part.”
Sarafyan’s freethinking and risk-taking ways began early, soon after she immigrated to Los Angeles. She started classical piano training at the age of six, for which she made the competition rounds. Along the way, she took up ballet and considered going professional, but dancing didn’t quite do it for her, and so in junior high, she began playing the violin, cello, and bass. To top it all off, Sarafyan is fluent in Armenian, Russian, French, and Spanish.
So it happened that acting ended up being her calling card, and Sarafyan loves it. She enjoys exploring the different level of skill that it takes than with her previous creative outlets. “With piano and ballet, they’re almost outside of yourself, you have a separate instrument,” Sarafyan meditates, “but acting is tricky because your mind becomes part of it. You, as a human being, become a part of that discipline, so it’s finding honesty all the time and being truthful. You can bullshit yourself out of things—I certainly can—but with acting, you always need to be honest.”
The ladybug flies away, after an hour of dilly-dallying at our table. Sarafyan watches it leave with a smile, perhaps feeling a bit lucky, just as she takes off herself to explore the risks of her next project.