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The power of resilience: in conversation with Victoria Lacoste

The power of resilience: in conversation with Victoria Lacoste

For this latest interview we had the chance to speak with Victoria Lacoste, whose name is pretty much self-explanatory. However, the Lacoste heir made her way through a different path, embracing her inner passion for cinema and making her dreams come true every day.

Deeply admirable thanks to her sense of duty, her work ethic and her honorable purposes involving women empowerment, Victoria Lacoste told us about how her journey into acting and movie production started, how Edelweiss Productions, her production agency, was born and what are its mission and values.

She believes in the power of films and acting to bring out new perspectives on the world and different cultures we are not used to see on screen. Through her work in her production agency, she manages to find new voices to work with and to let shine.

Lacoste is definitely a name that reverberates through history and is almost impossible not to know what it means in the sports and fashion industry. Your story though, is quite different from the path traced by others before you. Can you tell us a bit more about how you found your path? What purpose did you find in the entertainment industry that was worth bringing forward?

I found my path a little by accident. The brand actually plays an important part in my interest in filmmaking. My mother handled PR for Lacoste for several events, including the Evian Masters Women’s golf tournament, where several film crews were hired to cover the event. I happened to quite literally stumble across one of the crews and they were somehow totally fine with letting a 13-year-old kid tag along for 3 days.

I had no interest in golf whatsoever (my paternal grandmother would kill me for saying that), but I loved riding along with the crew as we were trying (sometimes illegally) to find the coolest spots to film the players. From that point on, I was hooked. Every year for 5 years, I would tag along again, to the point where it almost became a tradition of sorts. I am still eternally grateful for these incredibly kind men for providing me with my first glimpse into the process of filmmaking. 

When I graduated high school, I had already had my mind fairly set on studying in the United States and to follow my acting dreams. However, college proved to be a challenging 4 years for me and by the time I finished, I had a bit of an existential crisis. But I believe it toughened me up and gave me the strength needed to assert my vision.

I moved to Los Angeles in 2018, when the cultural winds were beginning to shift and realized it was the perfect time to bring another perspective into the midst. That’s how Edelweiss was born, from a willingness to break new ground and appeal to an audience from a different angle.

You founded the US and Switzerland based Edelweiss Productions, a multifaceted and multi genres film production company. Its statement and mission say the main objective is to push boundaries and elevate within the film sphere. In which ways you’re succeeding at that? We know for a fact the film industry can be full of nightmares of misrepresentations, abuse and racism. How do you manage to fight all of these issues from the inside?

I wouldn’t say we have succeeded in that fully yet, as there is a lot to combat, but I strive to open opportunities for new voices and fresh perspectives. Both shorts I’ve produced with Kelsey Bollig, for example, offer somewhat edgy yet playful outlooks that remain authentic to the modern female experience. 

I also believe that by virtue of the types of project I choose, there is often a certain socio/political standpoint that emerges. I don’t go into a film thinking about making a political statement, but I’m aware that through supporting emerging filmmakers from different backgrounds, as well as telling stories from a more female-centric perspective, it winds up opening up new points of view.

shot here and cover image by Mike Van Cleven

You acted in and produced The Fourth Wall (2020), written and directed by rising star and award-winning filmmaker Kelsey Bollig, alongside actors Lizzie Brocheré, Jean-Marc Barr and Roby Schinasi. So far, the short film has won several awards, placing itself as one of the most interesting horror stories of the year. Aside from the horror story itself, your part in this project was also very personal and emotional. You supported the filmmaker, previously involved in a car accident while legally crossing the street and helped her manage to make the movie in the end. Can you tell us a bit more? This is the manifestation of how with support, strength and resistance we can achieve anything. 

I genuinely feel like the true hero of the story is Kelsey. Getting fully run over by a car and then somehow gathering the strength to direct a movie on another continent while barely healing from over 30 broken bones and lacerations is unheard of.

I will never forget the summer following the accident back in 2019. I was still location scouting – sort of on blind faith – thinking that by some miracle we might be able to shoot the next year. I remember that almost no one believed Kelsey would be able to direct the movie, let alone be even healed enough to be able to sit on a plane. She gave me a call one evening in August and flat out said, “When are we shooting? I’m good to go.” The next month, she came to Paris to scout with us. She had a cane, but even then, she wouldn’t always use it. Considering she was almost paralysed 4 months prior, it was absolutely insane to me. We ended up filming the movie in November, despite that almost everyone thought it was impossible.

I want to say that this type of story shows how resilience can help you achieve just about anything, but it is on such a different level that I’m also inclined to believe Kelsey just isn’t made from the same cloth as most of us. She always jokes about how she might be an alien and I’ve been telling her there might be something to it. Jokes aside, I will never stop being proud of Kelsey. I believe that what was considered to be a tragedy in some ways contributed to the brilliance of the movie. Her experiences fueled the narrative with a beautiful rage that courses through the screen.

You are working as executive producer of another horror story. Silent Lies is set to film in Belgrade in summer, and you are also the executive producer of another feature film in which you will play an escort, set to shoot in Paris this March. How are you managing to organize everything under this current state of events? Has coronavirus caused you to reconsider your plans? Can you give us a little spoiler of what these projects are about?

Honestly, making any kind of film project happen at the moment is not for the faint of heart. Making a movie is always a slightly risky endeavor but adding a global pandemic to the midst runs the risk of a complete nightmare.

We started working on Silent Lies before the pandemic hit, and since travel restrictions have been at an all-time high, we haven’t been able to go back since we started scouting, which has been incredibly frustrating for all of us.

The idea for the feature came into being given the current restrictions in mind. The director (Pascal Arnold), the team, and I thought that instead of waiting for the wind to turn, we’d take the problem head-on and create a story that could be shot within the restrictive parameters and to the benefit of the project. The movie itself isn’t about the pandemic, but it uses it as a backdrop to illustrate the coming together of very different characters during the first lockdown.

It’s a little strange to think that my first feature will be filmed during a global pandemic, but I also believe that these circumstances have encouraged us to be even more innovative. 

Your first production for your company was the multiple award-winning short film “Asking for a Friend” (2019) also directed by Kelsey Bollig. Your company is also focused on finding and nurturing new talents, how did the conversation with Bollig start?

Asking for a Friend was born back in 2018 out of Kelsey and my mutual frustration about not being able to work on anything that truly excited us. Kelsey called me one night to tell me she had been working on a scenario involving an ever-bleeding corpse and asked if I wanted to play the lead. The script was so fun and innovative that I couldn’t pass on it, and we both just decided we needed to make it happen. The initial goal was to showcase our talents in a concrete way, but it ended up turning into a lot more than we had initially anticipated, because it not only garnered a fair amount of success, but it also showed us we had a unique vision to bring to the table. The making of Asking for a Friend truly opened a wealth of new perspectives and ideas for me and gave me the confidence to pursue production. 

How do you stay focused on your work during this tough period? Do you have any wellness routine that sustains you?

Honestly, I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by incredible people in my work who continuously encourage me to create, which means I’m unable to stay too idle, thankfully. As far as wellness goes, I’ve never fully bought into the toxic “rest is for the weak” mentality because I had some genuine health issues back in college that put my life at risk, in part due to how much I was burning myself out. It taught me just how important healthy habits are and that you can never ever take sleeping for granted.

When it comes to sports, I especially like activities that allow me to release some steam, such as boxing or Krav Maga. I also drink very little – not out of conviction, but simply because I’ve stopped enjoying it all that much.

I generally believe that as both a performer and a producer, making sure that I stay healthy and happy has to come before anything else. I genuinely can’t be a part of a creative process if I don’t feel fully present and healthy in my body.

Another fresh project of yours is a Music Video for French rapper JoeyStarr and iconic Folk French singer Dani, in which not only you are the executive producer, but you also act in it. What has inspired you and made you decide to lead this project? 

Benoit Ponsaillé, my manager (who was also my co-producer on this project) and I have always been huge fans of Dani since she’s such an iconic figure of French culture. She recently released her latest album, “Horizons Dorés,” which features the duo called KESTA with JoeyStarr, who revolutionized the world of French rap in the 90’s. The collaboration of these two very different yet similarly irreverent icons was too good to pass on.

Speaking of the Music Video, fashion is not completely cut off of it. You shot with several iconic fashion brands of the likes of Saint Laurent, Yohji Yamamoto, Ray-Ban and Cartier. What’s your relationship with fashion? How was working with these brands?

We were so lucky to have these iconic brands collaborate with us on Dani and Joeystarr’s music video. Each brand has its own unique essence and feel, and the combination of them all made for a wonderful blend of aesthetics that was just as unique as the musicians themselves. 

Fashion and I have a bit of a love/hate relationship. I actually resented the fashion industry for a long time, because I felt like it wasn’t inclusive towards different body types. As a result, I stopped caring about how I dressed because I didn’t feel like I could express myself the way I wanted to. Given my background, the irony isn’t lost on me.

However, this has changed for me as I do think that the industry is evolving and that there are now more inclusive options than there ever were before, which opens up a wealth of new possibilities. And all of a sudden, all of the things I’ve ever loved are trending – let’s hope it lasts!

 

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