"I kept peeling back layer after layer after layer and when I finally found her, I was simply in the moment. Art had consumed me. It's the most thrilling and satisfying feeling."
About Sam Kamras
Sam Kamras is one of the mastermind writers on Creative Life. She’s part of a group of writers I found to share their stories month after month.
I was looking for people who were raw, open, driven, and willing to share their internal world with the world. I knew Sam from university. I watched her tackle Cordelia in the Bard in the Barracks Production of King Lear. Who is this woman? I thought.
She continued to surprise me in every theatrical production I saw her in thereafter. When I came up with the idea for Creative Life, she was one of the first people who came to mind. I was looking for artists I was curious about; artists I could learn from. Sam has been incredibly candid throughout this whole journey so far. I’m so grateful to have her as part of the team.
Learn more about Sam by visiting her profile, and enjoy the interview.
1. What is the force that drives you forward? What fuels your ambition?
I think a lot about the future. In some ways, it’s a problem… I’m so worried about where I’ll end up that I stop focusing on the present. Carpe Diem is kind of my motto because I know I need to do better at following it! But the positive aspect of being forward-minded is that I know where I want to be. I can’t imagine myself being happy doing anything with my life other than acting. I consider other paths I might take, and there is nothing that excites me nearly as much as a career in art. It’s that vision and that knowledge that keeps pushing me to keep trying
2. Can you talk about your greatest “failure”? (something that led to your most significant shift in consciousness, and made you who you are today).
Failures haven’t really shaped me. I take them very hard and when I do pull myself up again, I tend to keep going rather than reshaping.
But in terms of a moment that shaped me, I have to go back to when I was 16. I was diagnosed with crohnic illness. No known cause, no known cure. I knew of only one other person who had the same illness, and I knew how much it interrupted her life. I was angry. Sad. Concerned. Deflated. 16 years old and I already had to face this? It of course caused a huge change in my life. I had to start leading a very different lifestyle to keep things at bay, try various medical treatments that sometimes had strong side effects. And there was never a guarantee that things would be kept at bay. I’d be fine one night and hospitalized the next.
To pull myself up from this blow, and I had to change my perspective on life. It’s hard to say what exactly my perspective became. I became more strong willed, more embracing of opportunity, and more loving I think. I feel that I have a strong idea of what really matters in life. Bold statement, I know. It’s not that I have all the answers, but that I’m so happy with the answers to “life” that I have. Live life and love lots.
3. Are you happy? What does happiness mean to you?
I am happy. There are moments when I’m riding a bus through London and suddenly I realize that I’m in London. I’m lucky. I’m pursuing my dreams and so far am achieving them. I have people who love me and who I love deeply. When I think of the uncertain future I’ll constantly be stepping into, the debt that I have to pay back, I’m terrified and stressed. But then I’ll walk out of West End theatre, or finish a day of rehearsal on a great script and people who inspire and I think, “one step at a time.” It’s all any of us can do! I just try to constantly appreciate what I have, and when I think in those terms, I realize that I have quite a bit.
4. What do you think is your greatest strength? On the reverse, can you identify a personal challenge (something you currently struggle with)?
I think one of my greatest strengths is facing fears and acting past them.
It’s led me where I am today. It led me to my first auditions, which led me to realize my love of art, which led me to London. Leaving my family and my home, my friends and community to come to England was the toughest thing I’ve ever done. Of course it was exciting, and I knew that it would (most likely) be a unique experience. But god, godbyes are hard and scary. I could see myself very comfortable staying in Canada. And happy. But I was willing to take a risk to be potentially happier, and I kind of lept. The negative aspect of this is, of course, that I overthink and over analyze. I wish I was more fearless and a little more impulsive. I stress so easily and, really, why? I could be putting my energy into other projects.
5. When did you first realize that you wanted to be an artist? Can you talk about that moment or time in your life?
I’ve always loved theatre, but never wanted the instability that came along with a career in it. I thought that the stress of it would take away the fun of it. But then one summer I couldn’t find work, so I filled my time with theatre. There was a time when I was working on three projects at once, the biggest being Hamlet, which was an hour’s commute. During one performance, after I played Ophelia’s madness scene, I realized I’m crazy for not giving acting a try. In a world of no guarantees, what have I got to lose, really? I haven’t looked back or regretted a moment that my decision has led me to.
6. Habits, routine, morning rituals — What are the positive things you do daily that have had the most significant impact on your life and work?
My mornings are my time. I will wake up as early as I need to so that I can take time for myself. I always wake up, make coffee and breakfast. While eating and sipping, I’ll either read or watch an episode of whatever series I’m hooked on. Then I do my yoga. Get changed, throw on some mascara and I’m out the door. I don’t know why this ritual is so important to me. I don’t feel centered during the day if I don’t take the time to wake up. I’ll be tired, grumpy and unproductive.
7. How do you deal with doubt? Where do you go for support?
I talk to my mother. She’s always been my guide and my biggest supporter I feel. She always knows what to say to calm me. She reminds me how far I’ve come and all that I have. I’m filled with doubt. Even if everyone tells me that, say, a performance is great and full, I usually am not satisfied. But for whatever reason, I always trust what I hear from my mom. She’s my best friend.
8. What, in your opinion, are the qualities of someone who is a “great” artist (in whatever discipline)?
Passion, commitment and focus for starters. With those qualities, I don’t think you will ever stop pushing yourself to achieve that moment where everything in art becomes clear and you can truly create. Art never stops moving, whether it’s touching people who see a painting or hear music, or as an actor when you just keep making new discoveries and keep delving deeper. Art isn’t lazy, you just have to keep breathing life into it.
9. Any advice for artists on a similar path? (Perhaps advice you wish you’d been given when you were first starting out).
I’m still discovering this path, so it doesn’t seem right to offer advice. All I can really say is keep going. If you truly love your art, trust in that love and keep finding ways to let it blossom. If you keep refreshing your passion, you’ll never want to stop trying.
10 Ever experience flow/being in the zone? What does it feel like for you, and can you tell us about a time when you experienced it?
I think I just experienced it while playing Rosita in Lorca’s Dona Rosita. It’s a moment when I fall into my character and forget myself. She delivers this beautiful last monologue in which she finally speaks from her heart. I wanted so badly to do this character justice. To understand her. My love of her put me in a creative flow. I saw beauty and wanted to bring it to light in a very truthful way. I kept peeling back layer after layer after layer and when I finally found her, I was simply in the moment. Art had consumed me. It’s the most thrilling and satisfying feeling.
11. What is your favourite book? It could be about your craft, or maybe just an excellent story. If that is too difficult to answer, who are your favourite authors?
Oh I really just love so much literature that it’s hard to narrow down! I will read anything, from any genre. The most enjoyable experience I had reading though was going through the Harry Potter books. All seven of them. I love the story, the creativeness of it, the philosophy of it. I feel incredible nostalgia when I think of my first encounter with them. I feel like I kid again. And even when I reread them as an older person, I feel the wonder and magic. That’s powerful writing.
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