Photo credit: Stephanie Girard

INTERVIEW: Krystle Houiess

Vents is happy to welcome accomplished actress, director, producer and – WHEW! – Ph.D. candidate Krystle Houiess to our hallowed pages! Before we get started, how has the first half of your 2021 been treating you, Krystle?

2021 has been an interesting shift from 2020. It was a tough year to deal with and having the world come back to normal feels rejuvenating and refreshing. It feels like a restart, 2020 was a lot of self-learning and 2021  has given me the chance to apply everything I’ve learned. Productions are coming back at full gear and I am so excited to jump back to work.

Congratulations on your upcoming work in the new web series Albna Beirut which, when translated to English, means Our Heats are Beirut. Can you talk with us a little bit about what Albna Beirut is about and what your role in the series is?

“Albna Beirut” is a fictional series that explore the lives of immigrants from Beirut living here in Los Angeles striving to succeed and make an impact on society. It is a story of 4 Lebanese students from different religions crossing paths and talking about the challenges of facing identity crisis and being far away from home. I will be serving as the Lead Story Teller because of my ability to speak Arabic. I will be able to connect to the audience with my true ethnicity and the true emotion of being so far away from home.

You’re originally from Beirut, Lebanon. Did this project take on some pretty special proportions for you because of that connection you share?

Yes, my ability to relate to Beirut and my Lebanese accent definitely was a plus to perform the role. I have lived in Beirut most of my life and have experienced most of the challenging times the country has been through. It’s funny that the young generation tries to get out as fast as they can but when you leave Beirut there’s something inside you that breaks. There’s this homey feeling that Beirut gives you,. The streets, the people the old man selling Kaak (A Lebanese type of Bread) on the side of the streets, the traffic, the driving, everything. As much I go into detail, you have to live it to really understand what Beirut feels. Being able to portray  this character makes me really happy to portray Beirut through my voice.

What do you hope people who watch Albna Beirut walk away with after their viewing?

I hope that the audience will get to see how hard it is being miles apart from your family and still want to live far away from them. I hope they see that our Beirut is a beautiful city but has been destroyed and doomed so many times that the only solution is to get OUT. The four people who I will be story telling have faced many challenges and as much as they love Beirut, they know that their future lies somewhere else. Their world collides through a series of coincidences and the story unfolds through sadness, anger, love, dreams, failures and acceptance. I hope the audience will connect with that.

Albna Beirut is being produced by Nadeem Hadaad. What has that collaboration looked like thus far?

Nadeem has been great to work with. We met through some Lebanese artist who were friends in common here in Los Angeles. He was already producing the project when I met him. When he heard me speak he told me he wanted me to audition for the part. I did two takes with him and booked the it immediately. We have been in constant communication since then preparing to shoot. I can’t wait to start attending the production in order to connect to all the characters that will be performing. So once the filming is done I get to come in and add the final touches.

What has your own journey from Beirut to America been like?

It has been a truly been a life changing experience. I officially moved here in 2018. I was still flying a lot before that, between classes, shooting a feature and film festivals I wasn’t able to settle down in one place. But I’m glad I did at the time I took my decision. It’s different when you come here on short term vs living here. I did face a bit of a cultural shock and I also noticed how advanced the film industry is in LA. We work very differently back home and being able to be on sets that we huge and the crew is 10times the size I was used to was an overwhelming feeling. The people here just want to hustle and being around this many creatives has been so inspiring and fullfilling.

There’s a pretty special script for a television pilot series entitled Luna that has been knocking around Hollywood garnering tons of buzz and attention. What is Luna, and how are you attached to it exactly?

Luna documents a girl in her journey of survival in a very shady apartment complex run by her mother the landlord. We get an inside peak into what truly happens in the underbelly if a major metropolitan city: sex, drugs, affairs, betrayal and much more all unwind and unravel in furious interwoven tales. I will be playing Luna and I super stoked to play the part. It fits the genre that I love which is Dark Comedy. I can’t wait for production to take off.

You’re a respected writer and director as well as being an accomplished actor. Do you find it difficult to juggle these three talents, or do you appreciate the challenge that it offers?

I absolutely love it. Yes I may spread myself too thin when it comes to that but at the same time being able to act and direct the scripts that I write is such a blessing.  I don’t think I could have it  any other way. I appreciate the challenges and I only work well under pressure.

What stoked your passion for acting, writing and directing?

Ever since I was a kid I always wanted to perform, I remember wining the talent show when I was 5 for memorizing a song and singing my heart out on stage. Growing up I always participated in theater productions and created a dance group with my friend. Entertaining was in my soul. I loved dressing up as a character, stepping out of my shoes and performing to the audience. I fell in love with filmmaking and acting. Being able to tell a story and have people connect to that is unbelievable.

Are there any people in the entertainment industry that have inspired your own journey?

A lot of actors I’ve met here have inspired me and kept me motivated. It’s really hard being an actor and having a backbone with people who understand and respect you as an actor is really important here in LA. There are days when you just want to give up because of the stress levels that come with it. But when you have other people who share your dream on your side, they know what to say or what to do to keep you going because they go through that too. I also met an upcoming rising director who sees the world the way I do. Sharing that with someone keeps me motivated all the time. Having people who share yours emotions and envision the world the way I do is all I need to feel inspired.

 You’ve become the face for NRJI Inc., a real ambassador for the group. For those not in the know, can you explain what NRJI Inc. is and what your specific role in the organization is?

Yes, I am excited to do this for the team NRJY INC We sells two different products: MyMark and COVID Testing Today. They are LA based healthcare ventures that promote preventative care through fast and convenient on-site and at home testing. They hired me as their BRAND Ambassador Actor to represent the company in commercials that will be shown on TV and used for promotional content to promote the products. They will be creating a YouTube web series where I will  be talking about the safety of having a healthy protective sex life and healthy living. We are set to start shooting  in summer 2021.

 How has the worldwide pandemic affected how you work as an actor?

It affected me a lot. It really was a struggle to survive in a city which is really expensive. The hustle for work was hard. Thankfully I do my accountings well so I was able to stay afloat. Work was scarce. Other than that emotionally as an actor I discovered a lot of emotions within myself that I was able to use as tools for my acting career.

You’ve got an upcoming lead voice over for the feature film Bonafide. Can you talk about what the project is about?

I can’t talk much about it but I can say that I will be voicing the story of two young boys who live in two separate worlds and end up colliding at one point. It depicts the way two very different lives can end up being so similar in ways that you wouldn’t think about. This story is something I can really connect to because it has a range of feelings that take you on an emotional journey .

When can fans expect to see you return with another writing-directing project?

I am currently writing a script that talks about dating in your 30’s after being divorced. I just wrote the entire story that I have to transform to a script. I haven’t yet decided whether I want to turn it into a series that the audience can enjoy It will a romantic comedy based on true stories. I am hoping to make a move on that in the next coming year.

Krystle is on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/krystlehouiess/

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