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The ZigZag Questionnaire: Rebecca Dayan

A chat with the French actress and artist on fashion, art and self-expression

Was she an artist or an actress first? We asked actress/artist/former model/Frenchwoman-living-in-New York Rebecca Dayan. Here’s what she told us on our ZigZag Questionnaire.

You moved to Paris to study art and design and only turned to acting later. What attracted you to acting?

I always had an interest in film, thanks to my mother who showed me a lot of cult and classic movies as a kid. She named me Rebecca after the Hitchcock movie! I was in theatre classes as a child, I loved to put on shows with my class and with my sister and cousin, until I turned 13 and I became… well, a teenager. Then I spent most my time in my room, drawing. So when I had to choose what to study after high school, art school felt like a natural path. I think what drew me back to studying drama was a desire to explore certain things that I had a hard time exploring in other disciplines, maybe because I was too critical of myself. It gave me a sense of freedom.

You once said in an interview that you had mixed feelings about going into acting because it’s a bit of an “ego trip,” but you were modelling at the time. Isn’t modelling equally ego-trippy in its own way?

What I meant is the insecure part of me was worried about what other people would think of my desire to be an actress, which is something I eventually didn’t care about.
I never modelled full time, not that it would be a bad thing, but it always makes me smile when people ask me about being a model-turned-actress in interviews because modelling was something I did on the side of so many other things, art school, fashion design, history of cinema and drama classes… I think I was just trying different things that interested me, which is what young people should be encouraged to do, unless they have a definite idea of what and who they want to be, which in my opinion is a rarity.

You also said that you have worked so much on your accent that you don’t sound French anymore. The question is, what DO you sound like? Have you morphed into the perfect New Yorker, accent and all?

Haha! That isn’t exactly what I said, I believe I said that my accent was kind of gone, not so much from actively working on erasing it but from living in the U.S. for a while. I am not trying to morph. I think I still sound like a foreigner. I don’t want to sound like something other than myself. I just want to be able to do any accent because it gives me more opportunities. And because it is fun!

If you had to pick a literary character to bring to the big screen, who would it be and why?

That’s a toughie. Most of the ones I love have been brought to the screen already… Maybe Masha in The Seagull, I’ve always preferred her to Nina, or a female version of James Bond because I’ve always wanted to be a secret agent!

What with being French and modelling and interning for designers, fashion must be second nature to you. Do you give a lot of thought to what you’re wearing or do you just throw on anything that feels good and go with the flow?

I could lie and say I just throw on what feels good, which is true sometimes. When I am on vacation for instance. But come on, we all put thought into our appearance, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of in the right context. Sometimes I don’t think about it and sometimes I do, because it is fun, and it is also part of being a woman, but it definitely doesn’t take up all my time.

Is there anything that you do that you know to be bad for you, but you can’t stop yourself from doing it?

Worrying.

Are there any Missoni pieces from the latest collections that you’d like to own?

There are a few actually from Spring 2015 – long dresses and suits. Are you taking my order?

What kinds of things can always be found in your handbag?

A set of dice!

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