School Night

Interview with Dash Kolos & Rand Faris

On one scorching afternoon in late September, I caught Rand Faris, a talented young actress, who was born in the Kingdom of Jordan, then followed her heart and passion all the way to New York. We walked the streets of one of my favorite Brooklyn neighborhoods, shared stories, immigrant dreams, ideas and talked about our fears. 

Dash Kolos: I know you just finished filming an important film, about a breakthrough New York Times story that helped launch the #MeToo movement. You got to work with a stellar cast and an amazing director Maria Schrader. How did it feel to be a part of such a strong female-led, female-written, female-directed project?

Rand Faris: It feels good to be a part of important stories, no matter how small or big the role is. Being an actor taught me to take in and appreciate every artistic experience. There is always a lesson to learn and experience to gain. I say this also as a reminder to myself, because as easy as it may sound, I find that challenging to live by. 

Working with Maria Schrader and helping her realize a vision that is bigger than any of us was a great honor. This is a very important story told on behalf of so many women across the globe, so it is essential that is being brought to light – written and directed – by women. It was my privilege to be a tool in this storytelling process, amongst the female artists who are incredibly passionate about what they do. 

You’ve been in the film game for quite some time yourself, what is the most apparent change you’ve observed in the industry and in yourself?

Dash Kolos: Well, in my opinion art is a reflection of us and the society. I think the most important change, that I see is happening right now, is the shift in storytelling. Who is telling the story is becoming as important as the story itself. This pivot in perspectives creates endless opportunities for artists and audiences as well. This is a recipe for fearless, honest and necessary filmmaking. As for my own personal change, I’d say, I’m shedding the desire to be liked and falling more and more in love with a very important set of words: “Fuck It/Off/That”.

Dash Kolos: Speaking of shifts, do you often get typecast? Moreover, do you think being something other than an American limits the possibilities of what people might see you as, or you find the opposite is true?

Rand Faris: Being an Arab woman in America can be limiting at times, but this also gives me many opportunities, like the film I just did.  About half of the parts I get are the “Arab” roles. But, more often than not, with the stereotypical, “western” perception of what it is to be an “Arab”. What this creates is an unhealthy,  unrealistic and unauthentic box. Therefore, we need more writers from the Middle East and more diversity in the writing room to break stereotypes across all ethnicities, races, gender, age – you name it! Just like you said – who is telling the story is crucial. 

What about you? You originally from Russia, what are the perks and crutches of your ethnicity in the acting industry in America?

Dash Kolos: Look, I am happy to take on any role that comes my way. I genuinely love acting. But boxes have been around. They have been shifting shape and, I think, we are in the moment in the filmmaking history where they are starting to give way altogether. I do not yet see “Russian” characters in film or on TV that represent me, but then, I try not to live in a box and don’t allow anyone to place me in one. I believe we are all so freaking complex, but we do, unfortunately, see the world through the prism of stereotypes. And the media, film and TV played a part in it. The sooner we admit it, the sooner we can move forward and hopefully address this issue. 

That was actually one of my fears – falling into one of those stereotypes and not living out my true potential. 

What about you? What is your biggest fear as an artist? If you have any, of course.

Rand Faris: Oh I have a few, but I’ll save the other ones for a rainy day. Today we’ll mention the infamous FOMO. The fear of missing out…on the dreams that I’ve worked hard for and hoped for daily. It’s a possibility, it’s a 50/50 chance. I realize that. You either ‘make’ it or you don’t. You might end up living a very different version of your dream vision, or you might end up on a completely new trajectory, with new hopes and new dreams altogether. But in the current version of my dream I have a successful acting career, I write and create my own projects too. It’s about finding myself, finding my voice and growing through the experiences. My passion is still a burning flame.

Rand Faris: Speaking of finding your voice, what is the most recent lesson you’ve learned or realization you’ve had as a multidisciplinary artist?

Dash Kolos: Good question! With everything I have on my artistic plate, I am learning to trust myself more and more. Getting rid of doubts have been a significant challenge. Not allowing any discouragement into my world as well. It feels like I am putting together this enormous puzzle, but when the pieces fit, they fit perfectly. My photography helps my writing. My writing motivates my acting. My acting informs my directing. My directing fuels my photography. You get my little artistic circle. 

How about you? What would be the lessons you’d share and advice you’d give to a teenage artist who is about to follow their heart?

Rand Faris: It’s all definitely about the journey, not the destination. The older you get, time will magically start to fly faster, so enjoy your ride and make stops at different points along the way. Some might be pleasant, some might be educational. Work hard of course, because the effort you put in plays an essential role – no hard work goes unnoticed. Celebrate every milestone, appreciate every sunset you get to catch, notice things that move you, embrace every experience – good and not so good. These things essentially fill your heart with life, and a full heart is the most important ingredient in success. A full heart will guide you in the direction that is right for you. Oh and PATIENCE! HAVE PATIENCE CHILD, or else this journey will be strenuous and you might overlook your accomplishments. And last but not least, it’s okay to have doubt, fall into funks, or wake up in your mid-20’s wondering about who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing. Nothing is set in stone, and nothing should be. If you have a change of heart, don’t be afraid to follow it.

Oh and learn how to take your own advice, I’m still trying.

Talent: Rand Faris (@farisrand)


Photography & Interview: Dash Kolos (@dashdizzles)

Text Revision: Paul Ulukpo

Film Developing and Scans: The Color House New York (@thecolorhousenyc)