Living Where It Belongs, in the Flow and Freely: Melis Sezen

He discovers something new in every character he portrays, receives a new gift from him and becomes more mature. 27-year-old young actress Melis Sezen, who will show a different acting performance with a new digital project these days, is also in the second year of her collaboration with Derimod. Melis, who has her feet firmly planted on the ground and progresses in her career with confident steps, has learned this throughout all this time: Miracles happen when she lets herself go with the flow. Then the magic happens. Then it goes to endless places… So how about going with the flow with Melis Sezen?

Can you tell us about your journey in the acting world? What inspired you to start your acting career?

When they are little, they always ask, “What will you be when you grow up?” I couldn’t find an answer to that, but I had already started playing. I would watch a movie on TV, then I would immediately run to my room and tell myself that I would be that character. Then I would make up stories in my head and live the woman in that story. When I took my first drama lesson in the fourth grade, my teacher told me that I should start doing theater, and at the age of 10, I went on stage for the first time at Müjdat Gezen Art Center. The stage is a wonderful place where I feel most free. I didn’t get off again. I love a lot! My dear uncle Bora gave me a camera as a gift after watching me on stage. Then we started shooting short films with that camera. As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to be both on stage and in front of the camera.

The stage is a wonderful place where I feel most free. As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to be both on stage and in front of the camera. Also, the stage means surprises. Life means flow!

What was your first acting experience and how did it shape your approach to this form of performance?

My first acting experience was the play we prepared at Müjdat Gezen Art Center when I was 10 years old. I played five different characters in this play and something like this happened to one of them. Someone has to play the mafia boss and auditions are held for this role. I coincidentally went early that day. I was watching while the men were being selected. The teacher couldn’t choose and I felt that what he wanted woke up in me. “Can I try?” I said, I went on stage and took the role. And I gave life to a mafia boss. I had so much fun and liberation that I can’t explain it! Whenever I remember this, I feel proud of myself and thank myself for my courage! And the stage means surprises. Life means flow!

You have played various characters in your career. Is there a role that holds a special place in your heart?

They are all very special to me. In all of them, I go on a journey I don’t know about, they all teach me very different things. They all have very special gifts for me that complement and differentiate each other. I am discovering completely different aspects of myself. For example, I loved Derin in the TV series Sadakatsiz, I internalized her very much. It was very special to play a young girl, a young woman, a young mother and experience every emotion of her. What women who are in the same situation as her and have the same experiences share with me is also special. There is also a work we did for a digital platform that has not yet met with the audience. Even though I can’t give many details right now, he taught me a lot. I experienced such transformations with him. I really want her to be born at the right time and for the best, so that we can meet. Now, I am eternally thankful for my new births, which I am very excited about, and for the existence of all of them…

How do you prepare for a new role? Are there any particular techniques or rituals you follow to get into character?

Each character has their own journey. When you read it, something inside you awakens. So hold on to that feeling tightly. Let’s see where that feeling will take you and what it will awaken within you. What emotions will come alive. I’m trying to get to the bottom of it, I’m always asking myself questions: ‘Why does he feel this way? What does he actually want? What does his heart say? What is he experiencing, what is he looking for?’… I’m trying to delve into every aspect of his way of existence. Sometimes they direct me to some music, I dance, I write from his perspective, I keep a diary, I try to create his world.

What were the challenges you faced in your acting career and how did you overcome them?

Acting means endless freedom on stage. Your own space belongs to you and you are infinitely free there. This is the scene. However, sometimes there are attempts to overstep and intervene. At this point, I believe that everyone’s space should be respected, boundaries should not be exceeded, and the only focus should be on doing the best job. In such situations, I chose to hold on to my character and never let go. I don’t think there will be any problems if you protect your space and respect well and focus only on doing your job well.

Can you share a memorable moment or achievement in your career that you are particularly proud of?

Every scene where I performed well, did things I didn’t know about when I went with the flow, and then surprised myself when I watched it! Continue from here, girl! (Laughs)

Is diversity in roles challenging? How do you make sure you take on different characters and avoid repetition?

In my opinion, it is not a difficulty, on the contrary, it is like a gift. The actor changes and transforms. He dives into a different world in all of them. It may be even more difficult to emulate. Rather than comparing before and after or to something I’ve done before, I follow how the character makes me feel. It is already unique and special. He takes me to himself.

Are there certain types of roles or genres that you haven’t explored yet but would like to explore in the future?

I want to play something like Harley Quinn (Laughs). I also watched a new movie called ‘Mafia Mamma’ and had a lot of fun. I would love to play something like that. One of the new movies, Julia Roberts’ Leave the World Behind, is a very successful work.

You have worked with various actors and directors. Is there anyone you particularly enjoy collaborating with?

I have always worked with very valuable people, passionate people who do their job very well. I’m very lucky in this regard. The Sadakatsiz team was very special to me. Everyone I worked with there, regardless of their field, was a very professional team that strived to do the best.

What makes for a good working relationship on set for you?

First of all, to be professional. Passionate about work and respect for each other. Not to exceed each other’s private boundaries, to be one, not me and you, in order to do well.

How has your approach to acting evolved over the years? Are there any particular lessons or realizations that influenced his development as a player?

We mature every moment with everything we experience in life, our perceptions change. As you said, our awareness increases, we can look at it in more layers and dimensions. As I discover myself, discovering the character becomes more and more important. One of my favorite things is to write something from that character’s mouth. It enables the character to awaken within me and create an identity. It takes me down to depths that I had not even anticipated or thought about.

What are your thoughts about the popularity of the Turkish film and television industry?

I believe that very good work was done and very good acting performances were performed. We have many Turkish TV series that have really strong scripts, have high sales abroad and are very popular. Foreigners I come across say that they love Turkish TV series and our acting and that they learned Turkish from TV series. Turkish TV series are industry leaders in the world, which is a very valuable achievement. We are a nation that understands emotions and knows how to tell stories. Our history is based on this. We do very successful work when we do business focused on performance, not just trade and mass production.

How do you see the industry evolving in the future and what role do you hope to play in this field?

I hope to develop further and grow further together by being born to the best of my potential at every moment, producing the best performances of myself, giving birth to brand new things and discovering at every moment. In our minds; Creating a world together without patterns, boundaries, psychological fears or experiencing the clash of egos, getting caught up in that magic… We do this work from very deep depths, there will always be works where we surpass ourselves when we go much deeper. We will grow even more.

Balancing personal life and a demanding career can be difficult. How do you manage to maintain work-life balance?

The work I do is a part of who I am. That’s why I don’t actually do anything else. The work I do is also my way of life. It is one of the best sources of nourishment in my life. Thank God. That’s why I feel where I belong, in it, in the flow.

You are in a very nice collaboration with Derimod. What would you like to say about this?

This is our second year with Derimod and we are a great couple! We are in harmony with the young and dynamic spirit of the brand. Additionally, Derimod is a very well-established, 50-year-old brand and I am sure that we all have a piece of Derimod in our wardrobes. I always went to Derimod when I was little, I always had a jacket from there every season. Now I have dozens of shoes from Derimod, because I can always find the latest trends in the fashion world, new generation touches can be felt in the designs. Also, timeless pieces are indispensable for me. That’s why “the shoe” brand for me is now Derimod. I am also proud to be the face of such a deep-rooted and trendsetter brand that I love so much. I like Derimod’s identity the most; Brave, true to herself, strong woman… This is my soul, and it will always be like this. That’s why I’m so happy and so proud.

How involved were you in the creative process?

They told me this during our first meeting. ‘We just want you to be yourself’. I am a woman who liberates herself. “I” means “one who moves freely and in the flow”, “one who can let go” and “one who dances”. So I did what I love most. I combined Derimod with myself, dancing freely and enjoying every moment. For example, when I wear my thin-heeled, stone-studded boots, I walk with thump… I love walking in boots. It makes you feel like the whole world is at your feet. That woman is so strong. An elegant lady with my stone ballet flats. I kept my own identity as it was and went exploring with Derimod.

So which one is your Derimod? What is your favorite model and the shoe model you enjoy wearing the most?

In fact, a different side of me emerges in all of them. Like I said, they’re all my babies (laughs). There are all kinds of cowboy boots in the new season; I love them all, tassels, stones, short and long. Also, cherry-coloured, patent leather heels with straps on the sides. Loafers with colorful accessory details, stone ballet flats, thick-heeled sports boots are all indispensable this season. Apart from the color palette of the winter season, the bright and vibrant colors in the collection add energy to my combinations and to me in this gray weather!

What kind of relationship do you have with shoes? In general, it is one of the important elements that form the building block of style for women.

The shoe determines how your foot lands on the ground. The stronger you are rooted, the stronger you will rise to the sky. As a Capricorn, earth sign, being rooted is always very important to me. That’s why the shoes I wear should make me feel both comfortable and strong. I have to feel solid and reflect my character. I like to make bold choices in shoes. I also like high heels, the highest ones. Flat models should be comfortable; My feet should feel at home.

I’m sure you’re very busy with acting and projects. Are there any specific strategies or routines you follow to stay focused and grounded in the middle of a schedule like this?

I am someone who likes to be in the center, and I also love spending time with myself. Dancing nourishes me a lot. Reading books is one of the greatest meditations for me. When I read books, I feel more mature, stronger, more centered, more open to production, more able to surrender to the flow. Protecting my private space also gives me peace.

Have you ever discovered anything new about yourself in the process of portraying various characters? How did acting contribute to your journey of personal discovery?

As I said, I discover something new in every character. I mature more with each character. But acting teaches me this about life as a whole: When you let yourself go with the flow, then miracles happen. Then the magic happens. Then something magical happens. This is the same on stage. The more you try to control it, the more you restrict yourself. You are actually setting invisible limits for yourself. You cannot know your own potential. Stop limiting yourself by thinking you know, the real power is to open your heart endlessly and ask for endless surrender. Then the magic at the core of life emerges. Something else, radiant, indescribable, the essence of life. I am also on his journey. Let us all pursue that magic, let there be light!

Have you ever felt emotionally taxing playing a character?

I felt a lot. First, I start to go into the depths of a character, where it hurts the most, where it feels the most. Because that character has something to do with his existence, with life, with his own identity, and that thing is a great source on the way to that essence. As you begin to live it, you begin to carry it, and as you enter into that character and begin to integrate with it, its weight comes with it. Of course, there comes pain. Sometimes I’m stupid, sometimes I carry his burden. When I watch myself from the outside in a character, I don’t see myself. I feel like I’m watching a completely different person. Acting, being able to transform and go to vast places is an incredible thing. Sometimes my farewell processes are difficult; It can take a long time. When I look in the mirror, I may still see the character, but if you want to live a character, these are the places to go. Not living with it, but living it! Afterwards, there is a process of purification, and after being purified, you realize that you have experienced a lot and learned a lot. Empathy is a very important thing. We are all one. Our journeys, experiences and experiences are different, but our path and essence are the same. That’s why I believe that acting is a special profession, and one must open one’s heart for this profession and for that journey. Empathy is a very beautiful thing.

Have there been situations where a role or story has affected your personal life or relationships? How do you separate a character’s emotions from your own?

I can separate the emotions because his story is different, but we are going on a long journey. After a while, that character lives in me more than myself. In this case, attitudes can be similar. Walking, talking and laughing can begin to integrate. If I’m playing a more rebellious character, for example, those aspects of me can come out more. While we were shooting the first episode of the second season of Sadakatsiz – a summer had passed – Caner and I were talking about something; He suddenly said to me, ‘You talk just like Derin.’ While shooting Gülcemal, I heard the phrase ‘Hah, Deva has arrived’ for some of my words and attitudes. Especially in this digital project I mentioned, my mother said, ‘I can’t see my daughter, I see the character. “I want Melis back,” he said. After saying goodbye, there is a purification process, and then you come to the zero point, transformed, with a lot of gifts that are not actually zero, that is, to yourself.

Do you remember a defining moment or experience that shaped the person and actor you are today?

I don’t look at it as a turning point, but I look at it as turns and transitions and see it as a whole journey. So I can’t say a clear point. There is a chain and I believe in this journey.

How have you managed to overcome any obstacles or moments of self-doubt in your career and personal life?

With my faith and surrender. By choosing to be one with the essence, by continuing…

Fans often feel a deep connection with the players. How do you handle the responsibility of being a public figure and maintain a sense of privacy in your personal life?

You do a job with faith and the work you do touches the hearts of others. We now establish a heartfelt bond with people we have never met, and we celebrate the resulting work together. That’s why acting is one of the most special professions in the world! Endless gratitude, endless gratitude for every bond I have established from my heart with the work I do and the person I am! I think the most valuable thing about becoming a public figure is the bonds of love we establish from this heart. Believe me, the essence of life is love. The more we can open hearts, be ourselves and embrace love, the better the world will be. There will be so much light. I will continue to be a part of this unity by being myself and opening my heart. Privacy is important to me, like every person. I am already someone who lives in a very specific private space. That’s why I don’t feel the need to do anything extra, I just experience the formation.

Looking to the future, what do you hope to accomplish in the coming years?

To surpass myself, to dive into the deepest oceans, to become more rooted, to fly further. A journey of love and light…

Interview: Serli Gazer

Photo: Umur Özcan

Fashion Director: Aslı Asil

Fashion Editor: Umut Sısıkı

Taken from ELLE Türkiye January 2024 issue.

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