Can you tell us about your education?
After my education in Turkey I went to France. In fact, I’ve studied banking and economy as well as art. After a year of college in Turkey I went to France to finally do my art qualification. I graduated from the theatre department of Grenoble State Conservatory. I also studied tourism in France.
What have you done until now and what are you doing at the moment?
I’ve done a lot of things. Actually, this is kind of my special feature. People are always looking for something. I mean, you study and people always want to lead you to do something: “You’re good at math, why don’t you study math? Your future will be guaranteed, you’ll work in a better institution. I was never lead into to doing anything. I think this is because of my family. I’ve been interested in almost every branch of art since primary school. I made music, painted, acted and danced. The important thing was that I enjoyed what I did as much as possible most and expressed myself in the best possible ways. So I have done a lot of things. Yes, I’ve studied economics, but I also constantly went to conservatories and worked with many people. I tried to develop my communication with the people around me. As for my academic work, I have acted in many professional plays, had parts in motion pictures and even worked in a bank.
Does your family have an effect on you being multi- directional?
Actually everything I did was my choice but my family never objected. This is a question I get all the time, about what I do and what I should do. I never restricted myself to just one option. As you can see I have two jobs, as an actor and a tourism and it’s a very beautiful thing. It’s possible to enjoy life with more than one job. So never limit yourself with your choices.
How do you direct yourself in what you do?
I’ve always done what I wanted to do. I mean, if I enjoy theatre, I let tourism go for a while and focus on theatre. Plus my choice in tourism helped me a lot in my acting career. Tourism had communication in it. I communicated a lot with lots of different people. Both of my choices were related to each other. An actor should be observant so I never had a hard time directing myself.
What is your point of view of art?
To be honest, artists are substantially receivers. We like to receive. However, on screen and on stage, we like to give until we faint because it’s a light, dream world and a life and we love to be loved. As an artist, I always worked on self-training. I self-trained myself in making music, dancing and acting. I always directed myself to learn different cultures. I also developed myself in learning what the other places on earth are doing for art. True artists need this anyway. Artists should be bright and ahead of their people. They should lead their people with their points of view and ideas.
Are France and Turkey’s perspectives of art different?
They are completely different. My conservatory education here was incredibly different to my education of acting in France. In Turkey when you play dramaturgy, the characters all have mimics that show how much pain they’re in. They specifically express and show how they feel. However, in France the characters act completely naturally. The more natural your act is, the more the audience likes you. They want to see you being yourself. They want to see the Ayşe, Fatma, Ali and Veli inside you. They expect to find something from you more than who you pretend to be. In Turkey we avoid being natural. We like to imitate. Being original is extremely important. That is why these two countries are very different.
How should a senior student that is in a dilemma between two different departments decide what to study in college? What do you recommend?
I think the biggest mistake in Turkey is how and where we lead our students. People are always too anxious about the future. To be honest, I figured that I’ll be doing art for the rest of my life. Then what can I do when I won’t be able to do art? After this concern of mine, I came up with the best question I’ve ever asked to myself: “What profession can make me as happy as my art?” The closest thing I could find was tourism, because I loved travelling and communicating with other people, and I enjoy making other people happy. So I preferred reception. This may be different for somebody else. Others might prefer the kitchen or being a hostess. Etc… My choice was tourism and I enjoy doing it. I think that it would be useful for our younger generation to do what I did. I think you should never limit yourself to just one choice of profession.
Is education important in art? Or is natural talent enough?
Of course education is important in art but it shouldn’t be forgotten that there are many uneducated but very talented artists around. Münir Özkul, Adile Naşit –I know that her entire family were actors but I don’t know about her education. Whether in Turkey or not, an actor like Gerard Depardieu for example- I mean these people are not from any conservatory but they are very talented. They develop themselves over time. How? With their point of view of the world, self-questioning and always stepping forward. So I am not against lack of education. I went to a conservatory but I don’t care about the education or background of my role mates. What matters is how they work and how much they respect their work. Still, education is important and being educated is a very good thing for art.
What are your plans for your life? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 or 50 years?
It may be a cliché but it was one of Zeki Müren the master’s last words: He wanted to shoot a movie as an artist who ended his life on stage before he died. I would like my life to end working in a movie set, reading, observing and loving people, loving nature and living creatures and always giving. But it’s hard for a person to tell how tomorrow or 10 years later is going to be. It’s professionally and personally hard to tell. But of course I want to be able to do good things in art.
How do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as Ümit. After my education in the conservatory was over there was something that one of my teachers had told me: “You went deep down into your heart, took out the beauty and it was very nice.” I think people who know me will notice this. You know when we say “beautiful girl”, “handsome boy”, I prefer being remembered as a “successful, hardworking and giving boy “.
Thank you very much.
No, thank you.