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Conversations with Anastasiia Catz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anastasiia Catz.

Hi Anastasiia, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I’m not sure why, but it feels right to start with the backstory of me being born in a small village in Ukraine. Growing up, I enjoyed playing outside with the cans from food, pretending I was a cook. I would fill the cans with dirt and decorate my “dishes” with the little rocks and flowers I could find in our garden. I was always artistic. Christmas plays in kindergarten, kid’s parties, family gatherings, school events, college theatre… I was always performing. I always wanted to tell stories.

Fast forward to when I was 17 years old and in University, majoring in International Economics. It was then that I realized – there was no way I could do it for a living. So I enrolled in ‘Ukrainian Film School’ and never looked back.

Everyday I fell in love with the craft of acting more and more. After I completed the one-year program at UFS, I felt it was a good idea to move to the US. I was 20 years old, by myself, with no money and no plan whatsoever. Shoot for the stars they say, huh.

Since the moment I came to America my life has turned upside down. I wanted to move to LA and be a big star. But instead, I started working 14-16hrs a day to make a living. I was a busser, a cashier, a waitress, and a hostess. I was completely by myself, in a different country, struggling to understand how to make it work. So many nights, I would cry my eyes out thinking that I made a mistake leaving my family, relationship and my whole life behind. Nobody warned me how difficult being an adult would be.

After a year of unstoppable hustle, I saved up enough money to go to New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. It felt like the biggest accomplishment of my life. It was my dream. After I finished the ‘Acting for Film Program’ I came back to Chicago and started playing in student and independent films. I was trying to get as much on-set experience as I could, all while taking multiple acting classes and still working as a waitress.

As I was juggling all of that, The Corona show started. After having to overcome all of life’s obstacles before the lockdown, the lockdown itself didn’t even feel that horrible. I started reading a ton, educating myself, doing yoga, meditating. I quit smoking and drinking. I became an Intern at ‘Hollywood Casting and Film Studio’ and started learning about the filmmaking process. I was a Casting Assistant and a PA for multiple projects and directed two short films myself. One of them, “The Father’s Duty” was selected to be screened at the Fatherhood Image Film Festival.

In February 2021, I finally made it to LA. My fiancé and I drove here from Chicago. This time I came WITH THE PLAN. But guess what, nothing ever goes according to my plans. And I learned to be okay with that. It hasn’t even been a year, but I have already booked two principal roles in 2 National Commercials (Google Pixel and Univision), have gotten multiple callbacks for amazing projects and have been taking classes non-stop.

I have yet to find the right representation. I don’t want to have an agent just to have one. I want them to be able to see who I really am and represent me accordingly. I believe that everything happens in the right time.

In the meantime, I have been taking acting classes constantly, mastering my American accent with a private coach and building the life I always wanted.

By the way, I still finished college and got my BA in Economics, just for shits and giggles.

I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be and I am enjoying the process. Although I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the continuous support of my family, friends and the love of my life.

I am extremely excited to see where my acting journey takes me!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road for me. But I learned to be ok with that. To accept challenges and grow from them.

The biggest struggle was and still is being apart from my cats, my family and friends who are basically my family too. I always valued human relationships but moving thousands of miles away made me value them even more. The support and love my family and friends have been giving me is priceless and it keeps me going. I miss them so so much. I wish Ukraine was closer to the US, so I could just jump in the car and be at my grandma’s house within an hour to say: ” Hey, grandma, let me help you with the dishes”. But I am grateful I have been able to visit home 2-3 times a year.

At this point, I am not ready to open up about ALL the struggles I have been through. One day, maybe 🙂

Loneliness, anxiety, physical and mental health issues, childhood traumas, loss are all parts of our journeys. And I am not an exception. Struggles are given to us so we can appreciate the short periods of illusionary material happiness that come after you overcome the struggles.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am an artist. Currently, I am focused on acting for Film and TV. I do commercials because they bring good money. So then, I can take more acting classes and develop my skills. My acting type has its own niche and there is a demand on it right now. But, I am relatively new to this business and to this town, so it will take time to be noticed and to be “seen”. I am working on it.

I think I have done a pretty decent job in connecting with the right people, networking and creating my own brand. The next step is getting the right rep.

On Monday, I was on set for a commercial, on Tuesday I was working on an art project as a painter, on Wednesday I had an acting class and a few self-tapes to record, on Thursday I was at a Film screening surrounded by talented actors… Everyday is something new. My life is beautiful.

I am the most proud of… Honestly, I am the most proud of my values and principles I have formed at such young age. And that I carry them with me no matter what I do. It attracts the right people. I am proud of the deep connections I have built over time. My value is in prioritizing human relationships over money, business and other material bondages.

Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
Few of the biggest lessons I learned:
1) How to freelance
2) To ALWAYS have 2-4 different sources of income
3) Not to read/watch the news

One month after Corona started, the restaurant I worked in permanently closed. I was completely lost. God bless America for all the stimulus checks and financial help government provided for restaurant workers. That was really helpful. It gave me some time to figure out what to do next and find some online gigs.

The way this country takes care of their people made me appreciate my presence here even more.

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Image Credits

Photographers: @j.puranen_photographyla @yamkova.photo

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