“Merhaba! I’m a twenty-one-year-old actor, writer, and composer, born and raised in Türkiye. I love sipping a hot cup of tea and having long conversations on the side. Three years ago, at the ripe age of 18, I decided to move to the UK to chase my dreams, and this summer, I graduated from the East 15 Acting School. I’m very proud to represent my school as an international student with international dreams. My three years at drama school were the best years of my life where I made unforgettable memories alongside my classmates who I’d now consider my second family. Now, teaming up with two of my amazing classmates, we’ve founded our own theatre company ‘Quid Pro Quo Theatre’ where we create original plays, with touching stories and quality writing.”
What did you choose to perform for the Spotlight Prize and why did you pick it?
I decided to perform a self-written monologue for my live piece named 50,000. The title represents the 50,000 lives and counting that we lost in the devastating earthquakes that struck Türkiye and Syria earlier this year. During that time, my mother was visiting her parents in the affected area. It still shocks me how close I was to losing the person I love the most. I’m extremely lucky that she made it out unharmed. With this piece, I want to give a voice to all the people who weren’t as lucky as I was, and shed light on how it’s not the natural disaster itself that claims lives; it’s the structurally unsound buildings, the people in power who prioritize the rich and leave victims without the necessary support they so desperately needed.
For my screen piece, I picked the monologue of Christian from Festen by David Eldridge. Last year I saw the play performed by the final-year students at my school, and I loved it. The play is about a ‘perfect’ family coming together to celebrate Christian’s father’s birthday. As the evening goes on, Christian breaks his long-held silence, unveiling his father’s history of abuse towards him and his twin sister throughout their childhood. I think the monologue is an exciting challenge that could work well for screen so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
What’s your dream role?
It must be Konstantin. One of my favorite plays, if not the most, is The Seagull. I read the play for the first time in my second year at drama school when it was chosen for our class to perform. Every day in rehearsals I found something more of myself in Konstantin. I was drawn to all his complex relationships and the challenges he faces during his ongoing chase for validation. My favorite scene must be the conversation with his mother in Act Three, where she dismisses him as a nobody. “A skinned rabbit” is what my director said about Kostya after we improvised the scene. You can see all the veins, all the emotions and they’re all so visible. I would love to have a chance to play him again and continue to explore his depth.
I also love historical dramas with a sprinkle of fantasy! It would be a dream come true to exist in those on-screen realms. Perhaps, a dashing prince from Dorne in a Game of Thrones prequel, walking slowly towards the iron throne with style, in the middle of a family drama with the highest of stakes. Or perhaps, an elf in a Lord of the Rings project, gracefully shooting arrows with pinpoint accuracy.
What kind of performer do you aspire to be?
I want people to truly believe, connect, and see themselves reflected in my work. I dream of working in a wide range of projects, empowering those who share my appearance, my culture, and my background by showcasing my performances on stage and screen, so they can feel seen. As an artist, I strive to contribute to the diversity in theatre, television, and film, creating spaces where everyone can feel represented and understood.
What have you recently watched, read or listened to that inspired you?
I have just seen the play Possession at the Arcola Theatre on a pay-what-you-can Tuesday night. I had £6 left in my bank account after completing a workshop at their theatre with Mehmet Ergen, and they were extremely kind for letting me pay just £1 to see the show. After watching, I told three of my friends to go see it as well, so hopefully their tickets will make up for the amount I couldn’t pay! Possession is a new play by Sasha Hails, directed by Oscar Pearce. It’s about desire, immigration, colonization, and hope. It was a very touching story, told by incredible actors. As the show ended, I wiped away my tears alongside the rest of the audience, and thought about how the show was a powerful reminder; A reminder of how big of an impact we can have on others by telling the amazing stories of those who may not have/had a voice and use our art to encourage empathy.