IMMIGRANT STORIES: LILI BORDAN
NAME: Lili Bordan
HOMETOWN: Born in NYC, summers In Felsôörs, Hungary and Budapest
CURRENT COUNTRY: Los Angels, CA
It was a chilly December afternoon when I caught up with Lili Bordan, the Hungarian- American actress. We floated through downtown in our own little world – photographer and model- amidst heavy traffic and the clutter on Broadway, past the humming cars. You can’t miss this young woman in the crowd, as if she were a comet with a dust tail, her presence can be felt from a distance. Her eyes behold the ancestral wisdom of generations of women in her lineage and her velvet-like voice makes you want her to never stop talking. She is elegant, and humble with a deep sense of self and mission and you can’t help but wonder about the source of her drive and passion. Our shoot was quick and her professionalism shone through her devoir as she braved the cold downtown air, after which I presented her with the questions for our interview.
I understand you grew up in the family of two Hungarian-American parents. Could you tell us the brief story of how your parents met?
My mother, Irén Bordán was widely know to be Hungary’s most beautiful and promising young actress. She was in her late 20s when she met my father. He had escaped communist Hungary when he was 19, spent some time in Vienna and Paris before starting a new life in New York City. He and his brother opened a 5 table French restaurant, which expanded to become one of Manhattans’s most visited spots. He met my mother the first time he ever went back to Hungary and they fell in love. She became pregnant with me and moved out the the US to start a family with him!
What was your experience of growing up in New York?
I remember it being a very glamorous and clamorous life even as a child. The city lights, sirens and honking cab horns, the stars that ate at my father’s restaurant, the beautiful clothes my mother wore were in contrast to the simple life of my grandparents back in Hungary. They were farmers on the Yugoslavian border before my father moved them to a lakeside village called Felsôörs, where I would spend most of the summers.
How do you think the immigrant experience shaped you? Were there challenges?
I never felt I quite fit in anywhere, and that felt like a challenge at first. I later realized what an expansive experience it was to grow up between two very different cultures. I’m grateful to have been shaped by both experiences.
What were your summers like in Hungary?
I would go pick potatoes at the border with my grandmother and cousins in Kübekháza. I remember feeling very tired afterwards. I remember going to the market with my grandmother and watching her cook. My cousins and I would perform puppet shows with homemade puppets for the children in the neighborhood. I would lead dress up games with whatever we could find. We were cats once and used toilet paper for our tails. We used pen to draw whiskers on our faces and couldn’t get them off for days.
When did it crystallize in you that you want to choose the life of a thespian? Was there a specific moment- if so can you recall it?
I was always a good student in school, but where I really excelled was on stage and at auditions my mother would take me to. I booked my first national commercial and short film when I was about 6. As fate would have it, my mother would end up booking roles in both as my mother. I loved singing and played the lead in the school musicals and was voted most likely to succeed when we graduated from elementary school! I take this vote of confidence very seriously.
Do you and your mom talk about your roles, does she give guidance to you in your career?
We do exchange notes. Mom is very active in film and on the stage in Hungary. I’m in the US. They are two very different markets, but there are overlaps from time to time. We are always a Skype call away, and I actually just came back to LA yesterday after visiting her and seeing her in her new roles on stage. I am very proud of her. She often tells me she’s proud of me. I feel very fortunate to have this kind of relationship with my mother.
Who is your “dream” director that you would love to work with?
I’ve been fortunate to work with many wonderful directors, but there are so many more I would like to meet and collaborate with. I would love to work with Martin McDonagh, Francis Lawrence, Ildiko Enyedi, Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo Del Toro… basically anyone who I find to be a sensitive, artistic director.
I got word that you are stepping in the shoes of a director yourself. How did that expansion happen? And who would you love to cast and direct in your next project?
I would say I got a taste of it. I was given 5 days, a stellar crew, excellent equipment and fantastic material and actors to work with. The opportunity came from an acquaintance I’d mentioned to in passing that I would like to try myself at directing one day. Over a year later, she offered me the chance to direct the teaser of her project, La Reinita which we hope to pitch to networks as a TV series.
Who or What inspires you?
Poetry, art, love, and creativity. These things draw inspiring people. I try to find inspiration wherever I go, because there truly is magic at every turn. I would say my most inspiring element is the film set. There is a magical amniotic fluid of sorts that surrounds a creative team of people who seek to tell a story together. It’s very much like a birthing process.
What word of guidance could you give to the up and coming actor?
Before you become frustrated of waiting for others to give you a role, write your own material and connect with friends creatively. Build your creative network.. The acting part is easy.
Lili Bordan is wearing:
Yohji Yamamoto skirt
Faux Leather Skirt by Zara https://www.zara.com/us/
Bracelets by Jackie Robbins http://www.jackierobbins.com/