Interview: Tanisha Parker
Photography: Sarah Roberts
Sara “Ludu” Malinowski invited Sarah and I to her studio at Kitchen, a new coworking space located in the heart of Williamsburg. Ludu told us stories not only on her artistry but also about living in London, being engaged, and driving cross country with $200. After settling in downstairs, we began to discuss what goes on in a performer’s head when they go on stage.
When Ludu begins to reminisce on past performances, she gets a faraway look in her eyes as she recalls what it’s like being in the moment. “When I sing or perform, I have this type of focus that feels out of body. I’m so present in one given moment because it matters so much to me telling someone else’s story, that it may make other people focus on something for a longer period of time than they normally would.” Ludu insists that it’s all about passing along a message or posing a question to the audience. “Someone decided to open their eyes about something and take a look at it, which is something that we don’t usually want to do.”
The experience that Ludu describes reminded Sarah of meditation. A lot of our friends who perform compared being on stage to meditating. As a performer, a lot of your craft is being in a single moment, present in front of a live audience. Your mistakes, as well as your successes, connect you to your peers, whoever is viewing your performance. However, Ludu mentions the key difference between mediation and what she does. “Meditation can happen alone in a room, but I cannot do what I do without people.”
Ludu mentions that love is the one thing that remains constant in every story. “It makes something come alive, when you are truly present with it. Everyone is vulnerable when it comes to love.”
As the conversation becomes more personal, Ludu suggests that we move into the cuddle room, aptly named for its soft lighting, cushion covered floor, and abundance of pillows.
Ludu was born at Lenox Hill Hospital and lived with her mom on the Upper East Side until she was four. The pair then moved to New Jersey where they eventually settled in the town of Fair Lawn. Ludu attended Fair Lawn High School known for it’s strong theater program. “Theatre is huge! Like $7000 for a chandelier to use in a play, huge.” In high school, Ludu became obsessed with acting, performing in multiple plays a year.
After graduation, Ludu went to London to attend LAMDA, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She reflects back on her stay in London which although was brief, obviously played a huge role in the actor she is today. “We did a cool version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, where the director made us go through this crazy maze just to get on stage.
“None of the other teachers knew who he was! So we thought that he was a crazy man who walked in off the street...but he was just new,” Ludu jokes. Ludu has a great way of allowing her listeners to feel like they are a part of the story. Several times I imagined myself in her shoes, leaving home to follow my dream, falling in love with a new city, and facing the reality that I would have to leave my dream behind due to financial stress. “I ran out of money and they told me that my loan didn’t go through because I wasn’t a citizen of the EU.” She went back home and enrolled in AMDA in New York City. Ludu was saddened by the vast differences in the two schools. She states that AMDA was more competitive than its London counterpart and it didn’t allow her to perform in a way that she was comfortable with. So two weeks later, she left.
Ludu describes open call auditions as the worst experiences of her life. “It’s wondering if you should pursue this career, only to go to the worst, most disgusting forum to test if you should continue or not. I waited for hours and then they lined us all up. And they just wrote on my resume, “Too fat”, “Gap teeth” or “Messed up teeth”. They handed me my resume back and I left. I didn’t perform or sing or anything.” Ludu opened up a discussion on beauty standards in the entertainment industry and the harsh reality many young people face when venturing out into modeling or acting. She stresses that there is a lot more room in theater for all kinds of people than industry leaders would have you believe. There sometimes seems to be this notion that one has to fit into one mold in order to be considered for any career in theater. “The truth is that there are a million spots...and there are so many people looking for you.
After being discouraged by her open call audition, Ludu made the decision to move to Sante Fe after randomly picking a city off the map. She drove to New Mexico with her then fiancé and studied Shakespeare for three years. She even published a book that she still profits from every so often. Ludu and her fiancé broke off their engagement after struggling to keep up their long distance relationship, which literally drove Ludu away from home. She packed up her car and what little money she had and drove south to New Orleans, singing for gas money. She volunteered at farms across the country and saw every national park in the US. However, she missed performing and decided to go back home.
Ludu moved to Brooklyn where she currently resides. She performs with the Collective Sex, a storytelling collective of activists bringing people together to talk intimately about a topic that somehow still manages to make people uncomfortable. She also reenacts Shakespeare from time to time with a group of actors in NYC. Ludu told us one of her stories at March’s WIP and had the entire audience laughing, crying, and remembering their own stories of past loves. Check out what Ludu is up to now on her website!