Actress and singer Berivan Kaya has a career that has spanned over 20 years, so far. Her face is well-known to German television audiences, having appeared on some of the country’s top-rated TV shows and memorable made-for-TV movies. Of her films, one of her most recent roles is as the title character’s mother in Andreea Boyer’s 2017 drama, Julia 17. Also a dancer, trained in many forms, Berivan has incorporated those skills into her stage productions. Her performance in last year’s two-person play, Ostwing von Emre Akal (The East Wind of Emre Akal), earned a prize for best independent theater production.
Here’s a rare opportunity for US readers to take a look at a great, yet unfamiliar talent, as Berivan graciously granted Idol Features what is only her second English-language interview. All photos by Christian Hartmann and provided courtesy of Berivan herself.
BERIVAN KAYA: Hi Chris, It’s a pleasure for me, too! I hope I don’t make too many mistakes with the language! This is my second interview in English. The first one was for a Kurdish film magazine.
CHRIS: What was is like to act with Andreea Boyer and to play her mother in her feature film Julia 17?
BERIVAN: It was quiet intense, as she was totally into her character and the relation between mother and daughter when they met first was very emotional.
CHRIS: Did you begin your acting career on the on stage?
BERIVAN: Yes. My first role was a pirate in a children’s play. I started acting very early, as one part of my German family have been theater actors for generations.
CHRIS: I see from your acting credits, that you’ve done mostly television. Of all the TV shows you have appeared in, do you have a favorite character you have played?
BERIVAN: My favorite character was a undercover agent for the Cuban government, she was working in a bar.
CHRIS: Would you say you prefer doing television over films?
BERIVAN: First, I love acting, no matter if it is theater, television, or film. The most important aspect is the project. That means the script, the role, the director, my colleagues, and the team.
CHRIS: Was your role as Laura in 1994’s Wilde Jahre your first film role?
BERIVAN: Yes. After some music video clips, but this felt like my first substantial project.
CHRIS: Have you ever appeared in any American TV or film productions?
BERIVAN: I have appeared in Kurdish, French, Spanish, and Turkish productions, but not for the Americans, yet. I would love to!
CHRIS: You were in an interestingly funny stage production last year in Munich, entitled Ostwing von Emre Akal (The East Wind of Emre Akal). Please tell me about that.
BERIVAN: This was the story of five Bulgarian immigrants in Germany. The script was made from real interviews and we were the only two actors. I played three characters; a Roman prostitute, a cleaning lady, and a woman who studied law in Bulgaria. It was exciting to play such a diverse range of characters. My scene partner played a street musician and a transsexual. The production was big success, very touching and funny at the same time. The stories were really tough, concerning people who were fighting for their existence in Germany. We tried to tell these sad stories with a lot of humor and I loved this production. We toured a lot, and we won a prize for the best independent theater production in Baden, Würtemberg.
CHRIS: You’ve also written and directed several stage plays. Please tell me about your most notable ones.
BERIVAN: I loved Returning by Rashid Novaire, who’s a great Moroccan-Dutch writer. It’s the story of a gold miner from the Netherlands who went to Africa in the 17th century. During this period, the African people believed that the people coming to their country from the sea were their ancestors. However, they realized this was not true. Then they killed the gold miner, his soul went into a body of a African guy coming to the Netherlands as a refugee in our times. He was not then welcome. This was the story of a soul traveling in two different bodies. It was about the conflicts between different cultures.
CHRIS: What has been your most physically challenging role?
BERIVAN: It was the last character I played, in my own play, that was called Vom Fliehen und Vom Fliegen (From Fleeing and From Flying). It’s the story of a depressed character, like a hamster trapped on a wheel.
CHRIS: You’ve also studied many forms of dance. Do you have a favorite?
BERIVAN: I love to dance and it depends on my mood which form of dance, but most important for me is to be in the moment. I find classical ballet restrictive.
CHRIS: How long did you study dance in Rio de Janero?
BERIVAN: I studied for some years with Jucilea Rodriguez Beetz in Germany and Kofi Koko in France. I spent six month in Rio going deeper and improving my technique.
CHRIS: You’re a singer and songwriter, as well. Who have you trained with?
BERIVAN: I’ve trained with different people. My favorite was Renee Rauchalles, an opera singer in Munich.
CHRIS: Who are some American singers who have inspired you?
BERIVAN: I adore Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Rickie Lee Jones, Norah Jones, Maria Callas, Joss Stone, Bob Marley, Tom Waites, James Brown, Andy Lang, and Tina Turner.
CHRIS: That’s an impressive list. So, I know you’ve performed with composer Wolfgang Gleixner. Have the two of you ever written any songs together?
BERIVAN: We have written a lot of songs together and we have a CD called Absolut Schön und Kleinkariert.
CHRIS: Who are some other musicians you have performed and collaborated with?
BERIVAN: There are a lot. At the moment, I am very happy to work with Fatima Melanie Emine Drame, a beautiful soul singer and Carolyn Breuer, a great saxophone player.
CHRIS: Are there any American musicians you’d particularly like to work with if you were given the chance?
BERIVAN: Tom Waites.
CHRIS: You also belong to a group that performs theater and classical music for children. How did you get started with that?
BERIVAN: I always love to perform for children because they are a great, very honest audience. They love you or they get bored. There is nothing in between.
CHRIS: What are you currently working on?
BERIVAN: I am writing a script of the story of my father, who is Kurdish and who left Turkey when he was 19. I have two band projects in Ibiza, Spain, and at the moment. I am writing new songs and I am waiting on two film projects, but as I still did not sign any contract, I prefer not to talk about them yet.
CHRIS: That’s understood. So, do you have any skills or hobbies most people aren’t aware of?
BERIVAN: I love drumming and I am interested in shamanism and natural healing.
CHRIS: With that, I’ll thank you so much for doing this, Berivan. In closing, would you like to say anything to US readers?
BERIVAN: Think about a human world, living with nature and in peace. When we die, we will not take any material things with us. Make love not war. Life on earth is a gift and it’s all about sharing and caring.
Berivan in a 2014 episode of the German TV crime drama
Bukow and König, entitled “Smoke on the Water.”