Riveting Riffs Logo One  Sara Deray - Film and Television Actress

Sara Deray Interview Photo One

“Actors have to imagine a lot of things. We have to build life from words on paper. We also have to build a lot of things that aren’t written. You have to imagine them and create them. You have to try and find the truth and connect with the character. In all the parts that I play I try to find the parts within me that connect with the character.”

Those are the words of actress Sara Deray of Spain and she has had to imagine a lot of things during her career, as she has played a nun (El Sorbono del Cielo), an inmate in jail, a scientist who was the mother to a cloned daughter (Órbita 9), she incredibly funny  as Mary Ann, in the television series Yo Soy Franky (I Am Franky) for Nickelodeon (2016 – Colombia), and she just finished her fourth season of the comedy series El Pueblo, a Spanish Amazon Prime production, in which she plays Maria Luisa.  

Sara Deray’s ability to portray a broad spectrum of characters is due to a combination of her skills as an actress and her culturally diverse background.

Sara Deray Interview Photo TwoShe explains, “My grandma was born in France. That was my mother’s mother. She went to the United States when she was quite young and she decided to become a U.S. citizen. She left her French nationality behind and married an American guy. That was after she had my mom and she became divorced from my grandfather. She then married the American guy. My grandma married three times. The first time she married the father of my mother who was a French guy and she got divorced when my mother was fourteen. When my grandmother moved to the United States that is when she got married the second time and then the American guy died. She then married one of his best friends, because he had also lost his wife.”

You are thinking, well that is a bit diversified, but nothing that says hey, look at this. Just wait! She continues, “I traveled a lot. I did not grow up in Alicante (Spain). I grew up in Nigeria (she laughs). My father was an engineer in the oil (industry), so he traveled for several companies and sometimes there were American, Canadian, British or Belgian companies. We traveled a lot, my parents, my sister, who is six years older and me. When I was 18 months old, they took me by plane to Nigeria and I spent my first six years there. I learned English in Nigeria. I don’t remember learning languages. My mother always talked to me in French, my father in Spanish and when I was in school in Nigeria it was in English.”

Are you a little more impressed now? Keep reading.

We always came back here to Alicante, because my father’s parents were here in Alicante (Spain). This was always the meeting point to come to. Whenever my father’s contracts were over, we always came back to Alicante. Then they would say okay Mr. Rodriguez now you have a contract in Abu Dhabi, so when I was seven years old, we moved there for one year and then we came back to Alicante again. Four years later we went to Cape Town in South Africa and we were there for one year and then we came back. Now I was nineteen years old and I said mom and dad I love you, but I want to stay in Alicante and make my own life. There are too many changes for me. They moved to Qatar for five or six years and then they came back. It has always been like that in my family,” she explains.

As a child she was always drawn to the arts, such things as painting, drawing, singing, dancing, acting and writing. She was always in the theater companies at school, and her first love was acting.

Now that Sara Deray had decided to strike out on her on and not continuing to follow her parents, you are probably thinking she was ready to settle in one spot for a while. You would be sort of right, but not quite yet.

“At the age of twenty-five I decided that is enough of non-professional theater and I am going to move to Madrid to go to a professional acting school, because I had been studying other things that had nothing to do with acting,” she recalls.

After moving from Alicante to Madrid she decided to move to Bogota, Colombia. Wow! That is a long way from home Sara.

She says, “In Spain if you are not a famous actress it is very hard and very complicated to pay the bills only with your work as an actress. You always have to find other jobs to pay the bills, to pay the rent and I knew I had my parents’ support and even economic support, but at the age of twenty-seven my father had a terrible car accident and he had a serious brain injury. He wasn’t able to work anymore or live by himself. He needed a (caretaker) and my mother became that.”

For several years she twinned jobs as a flight attendant for nine months of the year, to help with family finances, and focused on acting for the remaining three months.

“little by little I (reclaimed) my acting career. I had some little parts in films.

“In 2012 the airline went out of business. I said, what am I going to do? For a European actress normally, you choose to move to Paris, if you are French and if you speak French perfectly. A lot of people asked me why I went to Colombia and not Paris to try and be an actress there. I said Paris is near and if I am still very young, I prefer to go far. In forty or fifty years I would not go to Colombia, instead I would go to someplace closer in Europe. Now is the time to take an adventure and a risk.

I thought if I stay in Spain, I know how it works here and it is very hard, but if I go overseas there are more opportunities for me to have more interesting jobs and interesting parts in movies or whatever. I started looking in L.A. and in New York and I started looking for an agent there, but there was no feedback. There was zero. They didn’t even answer the emails. Maybe life was telling me my place was not over there. Try somewhere else.

I started thinking about South America and also Mexico. I had a good friend in Colombia who told me, Sara in Mexico there is a big industry, but there are many years of history there. She said Colombia is rising up and now is the time to go to Colombia. They are more open to people who come here to work as actors. I started emailing agents in Colombia and the feedback was great. Everybody was interested in my actress profile and oh and you also speak French and you also speak English. Yes, I am interested why don’t you come? If you come to Colombia, text me or call me, because I would like to meet you and maybe become your agent. That is why I moved to Colombia.”

The move to Colombia turned out to be a good one, but a steady flow of opportunities did not happen overnight.

“I had been in Colombia for seven months and I said to my agent, I am not meeting producers and casting directors. I need to have a meeting, so they know I am here. Maybe I will be useful to somebody. She said Monday we are going to see the casting director for (a television) channel.  

They were casting for a character in the television series La Viuda Negra. They were mad, because they couldn’t find an actress for that part. When we went over there the casting director looked at me and he said are you Colombian and I said no, why? He said we are looking for a tall actress who can play this part. Do you know how to speak Colombian? I said not yet, because I just arrived seven months ago. I asked does the character have to be Colombian. The casting director said oh yes, because it is a New York jail. Oh, wait a minute that is an international jail and then the casting director said I am going to cast you with your Spanish accent.

Sara Deray Photo ThreeMaybe that part, that character was for me and that is why they didn’t find the right actress (sooner). The character was a girl in jail. I was in seven episodes, and I was the principal character in most of them. I didn’t start in Colombia with a little part, I started really big. I felt very fortunate, and I thought this is a great beginning,” she says.

Good fortune smiled on Sara Deray once again, “On the same tv channel, they were also casting for El Chivo, and it was another lucky thing that happened. One of the producers for the channel was looking for new faces and we had a meeting with that woman. She said, wow Sara, I know you from La Viuda Negra. By this time, I already had an accent coach, and I was working on (making my) Spanish accents into Latin accents. It gave me more opportunities to work in Colombia and (to play) more characters. My agent told me, now please talk in Colombian with this woman and she said trust me. When we entered, I spent the whole time speaking in Colombian. Then the producer said, Sara you are Spanish right? She said I know you from the character that you were in La Viuda Negra and then she said what happened to your Spanish accent? I said I have a coach for a Colombian accent, and I am working on it. She said you speak Colombian very well. I said yes. She then said we are looking for characters for El Chivo. Why didn’t your agent tell me that you speak Colombian very well?

She told me she wanted me there the next week for a casting for one of the big roles. I went and they gave me Blanca Domenech (she appeared in seventy episodes) in El Chivo. It was a Spanish character, but they didn’t want the Spanish character to speak in Spanish, because for Colombian people the Spanish accent is very strong and for them it is like we are upset. We have a very strong way of speaking. In South America people sound gentler and softer. I had to work on that part of my Spanish. My agent said if I spoke Colombian, I would get more parts,” says Sara Deray.  

We were inquisitive, as to how easily Sara Deray is able to adapt to other accents.

“For me when I work accents, I try to imagine drawings. You know when you play and you look at the sky and the clouds and you imagine (images) it is like that for me, I need to form clouds in the conscious part of my brain. It helps me to form shapes and to play with the sounds and my voice. It helps me with Mexican or Colombian or even different Spanish accents in Spain, like the Galician, Catalan or the southern ones.

In El Chivo they didn’t want my Spanish accent, because there were Mexicans in the movie, so they wanted my accent to be softer.

Weird things happen. You get cast and you imagine it was more or less because of your talent to play the role. Sometimes it is because of the way you speak or the accent that you have and freaky things like that. Sometimes it is because you are tall or because you are blonde or ginger.

While I was shooting that series Lisandro Duque Naranjo who is a great Colombian film director, was looking for a Spanish nun for his film El Soborno del Cielo. The character was Sor Teresa, a sixty year old nun (We point out that even now she isn’t even close to that age.) They changed the age of the character (for me). The first character I got in Colombia they changed the nationality of the character from Colombian to Spanish. The nun was sixty years old and now she was a forty years, old character. He wanted me to have my Spanish accent in the movie. That was difficult, because in two months I had to switch from the El Chivo character to the nun character. In El Chivo I had to play with a Colombian accent and in the film El Soborno del Cielo, I had to play with my Spanish accent. It was very weird.

It is a bit complicated for the first ten minutes (changing accents). It is like if you have never been training and then you do yoga, the first month maybe it is ugghh, but then you get used to it. The tongue is not coordinated with the brain and then you get used to it and you know how to switch from one accent to the other one. It is like switching from talking to someone in English and then speaking in Spanish. Now I am more used to it. Since I was a child, I have been used to switching between French, English and Spanish, but not speaking Spanish in a Spanish way and then in a Colombian way. It takes me maybe ten minutes to get used to switching from one accent to the other one,” she says.

Sara, we have to be honest with you, playing a nun is not exactly how we pictured you, and there is nothing in your background indicating you visited a convent or that you were taught by nuns or that you have a relative who became a nun. How did you prepare for the role of Sor Teresa?

“A cousin of my Spanish grandmother had a very good friend who was a nun,” (We tease her about having an unfair advantage over anyone else in the acting profession, because she comes from such a diversified cultural background.) (Laughing she says), “That helps me to build characters. I did not have the opportunity to talk to the lady who was the nun, but I remembered a lot of things that my grandmother’s cousin told me about her. I tried to speak with a nun in Colombia, but I didn’t have any time to do it, because I was shooting the El Chivo series. I watched movies where there were characters that were nuns. I saw a film that had a character similar to Sor Teresa (her character) and that helped me a little bit. Lisandro Duque Naranjo (the director) told me I don’t want the typical nun. I want a nun that is a rebel. (We tease, you were the Whoopi Goldberg nun. She laughs and says yes, but in Spanish.) He said I want you to be a rebel now, and who became a nun, because she wanted to get out of her house. She didn’t want to be with her parents.

It was a mixture of information that I had from what a nun’s life was like and the references I saw in feature films. Sor Teresa also smokes,” says Sara Deray.

The time came when Sara Deray felt she needed to move back to Spain for personal reasons, “I was working a lot in Colombia and my agent almost killed me (used as a metaphor), saying now that you are becoming famous in Colombia, you are leaving and returning to Spain! I said yes, my mother is getting old, my nephew is growing up and I am missing a lot of things. I am very happy, because my dream has come true. I am working as an actress and I am very thankful for all of the opportunities, but I am not happy, because I miss my family and I miss my friends. I miss my country. I miss the Spanish ham (she laughs).

When I returned to Spain it was hard, because it was like, wow they forgot I exist. I had left for four years, but when I returned to Madrid, they knew me, but a lot of things happened. I said hey, I have been here for sixteen years and in four years you can’t forget me. Hello, I exist. My feeling is here it is very hard. The feeling that you have here is that it is always the same people who are working. It is very complicated for somebody new to have a chance.

When I went to Colombia, I was a complete stranger and I was a foreigner, but they gave me more opportunities than in my country. Sometimes that makes you feel a little bit sad. It is very weird. It is very freaky.

I think more important opportunities will come (in Spain) than me just appearing in episodes of season one in a series. I know a lot of producers and directors think of me and when they have a pitch to sell their next film, they propose me (as the actress). I am in the project, but when a big producer like Netflix or Amazon or HBO buys the project, they put their actors (in the project). That is why I think I will have a character come, maybe not from a big production, but maybe through an independent film, like one that might go to Sundance. I think that is where I will have the opportunity for a lead role or a big role.”

She then brings raises the point that many actresses have made, “There are very few stories with lead roles for women that are forty, forty-two, forty-five. We are always the mother of, the wife of, the sister of, the lawyer of, the doctor of, but they don’t make stories for women in (strong roles). After that, maybe they find that women in their fifties have something interesting to tell or the stories get more interesting when women become fifty.”

Sara Deray then talks about how at the 2020 Premios Goya (The Goya Awards are like the Spanish Academy Awards), eighty-four-year-old actress Benedicta Sánchez received the actriz revelación award.Sara Deray Interview Photo Four

“I said wow! Maybe at eighty years (she laughs) they will finally give me the opportunity for a lead role in a Spanish production!” she says.  

We hope this will happen sooner than later, because Sara Deray is a good actress and deserving of those opportunities.

In recent years, Sara Deray has played Clara Lago’s character’s mother in Órbita 9 a science fiction film set in a dystopian future. Without giving away too much of the storyline, Clara Lago is Helena the subject of an experiment and she has very limited contact with her parents, her mother being played by Sara Deray. We asked Sara Deray how she prepared for this role.

“I don’t know how a mother feels, because I don’t have children, but my sister has my nephew and that was my starting point. What would happen if something happened to my sister and I had to raise up my nephew?” Then come those words we quoted in the beginning and bear repeating here, “Actors have to imagine a lot of things. We have to build life from words on paper. We also have to build a lot of things that aren’t written. You have to imagine them and create them. You have to try and find the truth and connect with the character. In all the parts that I play I try to find the parts within me that connect with the character. If I can connect with the other parts then I can imagine them. If I do not connect, I have to make a great work with my imagination (she makes that sound we make with our lips when we are frustrated) and after finding the truth.

It helped me a lot that I was working with my nephew. I have not been a biological mother, but it is somebody that I love a lot. I also experienced that with the children of my very best friends when they were babies. The first time that you see that little baby when it is born you feel a lot of love instantly. I thought (about the role) maybe I have not been a mother, but I can (still) feel that love. If tomorrow I had to give my life for my nephew I would. Those are things that are reserved for the mother. It is that strong feeling that you prefer to save your child’s life and (the child) is first and then you are next. I have experienced that unconditional love for a baby.

I like working with opposites. We all have good and bad, light and dark. I worked on that and the director said that is okay. He said I believe what you are doing sounds truthful and that is important for me. That is how I prepared for the part. For me it was like trying to take care of my nephew or adopt a child.

The character is (played) by Clara Lago. She is great and she is very nice. It is great working with her. It makes everything easy,” she says.

As for how she feels about the theme of the storyline for Órbita 9 she says, “I found it terrifying. When I think that we can arrive at that place for me it is wow, I am not prepared for playing with other people’s lives. It is like The Truman Show. What is terrifying about it, I think in some ways something like that may exist already. It makes me freak out! The older I get, the more connected to nature, to animals and the earth I want to be. When I was younger, I was fascinated by the future, robots, artificial intelligence and I loved all of the stories of Isaac Asimov. I would think I want to go into the future and now I say, no, no, no I don’t want that. I don’t like that. I think we have a very nice planet where we live.”

About eighteen months ago Sara Deray also narrated a video game that has been translated into many different languages and she was selected to be the French voice.

“It (the game) is about the duality from the world of light and the world of darkness. There is a Prince of the Darkness and the Queen of the Light. They (start off) as enemies, but they fall in love. That is the big dilemma and the players are always fighting between the darkness and the light and finally we hope light will win. Otherwise, it would be too sad,” she explains.

Tell us about El Pueblo and your character.

“It is a funny series. It is like La Que se Avecina, which was one of the longest and most well-known comedy series in Spain. El Pueblo has the same creators and producers as that series. They decided to make a series about a lot of people who are fed up with living in big cities and they decide to move to a little village. My character Marisa is the ex-wife of the guy who owes a lot of money to a lot of people. We have a child, and the boy must always go to the village to stay with his father, but the father doesn’t want to keep the child,” she says.

When you get to know Sara Deray, it is easy to cheer for her. When you watch her perform on television or in film, it prompts the question, why haven’t I seen more of her on screen? In many ways casting directors default to what is familiar and so art often imitates everyday life. The really good casting directors, like Carmen Cuba and Sophie Holland rise above the rest and that is why they cast some of the most prolific shows and they are always on the lookout for undiscovered or underappreciated talent and that is where we think Sara Deray’s future lays, coupled with the emergence of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, as the twenty-first century’s new studios.

Please take time to visit the website for Sara Deray and wander over to Vimeo where you can watch several lengthier videos of her acting performances. Return to Our Front Page

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This interview by Joe Montague published November 21, 2022 is protected by copyright © and is the property of Riveting Riffs Magazine All Rights Reserved.  All photos are the the property of Sara Deray unless otherwise noted and all  are protected by copyright © All Rights Reserved. This interview may not be reproduced in print or on the internet or through any other means without the written permission of Riveting Riffs Magazine.