Riding the Roller Coaster to Stardom
“I think we are all as beautiful as we are inside.
If you have an exciting life, it will shine on the outside.”
“If there is a good will, there is great way” a quote by William Shakespeare translates smoothly to the journey rising actress, Alessia Sushko, has experienced. 5 years ago, she moved from Belarus to New York City, and with each passing day, Alessia has learned something new, encountered an interesting adventure, or ran into an incredible opportunity. The struggle of this up and coming 25 year old actress has not been a walk in the park but her hard-head, strong-willed, and brave characteristics have allowed her to do it all on her own.
“Can I please have the oatmeal bowl with berries and a cafe au lait please?” she asked the waitress at Le Pain Quotidien as we set up early morning for our chat. Multi-tasking is the only way this motivated woman could possibly get everything she needs to accomplish in a day. Since she was a young teen, Alessia was taking on more than she could handle swinging ballet classes, voice lessons, sewing, going to high school, then break dance and soccer all in a day.
“I was exhausted, but I loved being busy, being challenged, and learning. In Belarus you go to school with the same people for 12 years, so that really propelled this competitiveness in me where I always wanted to be better, faster, and stronger.”
This strong drive stuck with Alessia through various obstacles and challenges she’s had to overcome. From finding her way to New York after a complicated process to acquiring a visa, to waking up every day just to try and survive the next 24 hours, Alessia has proved she can conquer anything she sets her mind to.
“It’s funny because when I look back, I’ve done so much! But in the moment you are just surviving, you’re just asking around, ‘please, I need a job, right now. There’s no other option.’ It was really drilling, but I loved it. I was so excited because everyday there were new opportunities coming up. I would go to museums and expand my horizons, and I read a lot of books about New York and I was never afraid of approaching strangers. I think that’s what saved me. I would always carry a notebook and would write everything down that I would learn from Americans: new words, and places I should go. At the end of the day I would have 10 or 15 pages of new things I learned that day.”
Alessia believes there are ‘mini wins’ you get everyday, though they may be small, they are a check mark that you didn’t have before. With a little help from the friends Alessia made on her path, she was able to round up money to apply for a language school, the only way she’d be able to extend her visa. She then got into Fashion Institute of Technology where she studied fashion and advertising. Soon after, got a job at BCBG Max Azria, then Prada, then as an Account Executive at an Advertising Agency. While at the agency, Alessia enrolled herself in acting classes and juggled both until combining the two became too difficult so she decided to leave the agency and model full time to support herself in order to pursue her dream.
“Now I feel like I have finally set up my life in a way that I can make an income as a model, but I am very focused and have a clear image of acting and how I am going to do that because there are many steps you have to take and things you must learn.”
Alessia has put in the work, time, effort, energy, and her heart. She has read up on her role models like Diane Keaton, watched Woody Allen films, and researched where to get proper training. Taking various acting, improv, Shakespeare, and modeling classes, as well as attending photo shoots, things are finally happening for Alessia She recently had a small role in the 3rd season of House of Cards and is constantly building her resume, slowly but surely making a name for herself in the industry. Currently, she is focusing on piano lessons because since she can already sing and dance, she wants to use all her talents as a tool. Alessia strongly believes it’s so much more interesting to be well-rounded and show that she is not only an actress, but a performer.
“Preparation means opportunity, It does not happen out of nowhere. At the end of the day, the lesson is, we all get what we deserve – if you don’t have it yet, maybe it means you have to learn more, work harder for it, or make a few more mistakes before you get it.”
A week in review for Alessia looks more or less like this:
Monday: casting calls, acting class, and theatrical scene study class
Tuesday: photo shoot, Shakespeare workshop
Wednesday: auditions, piano lesson
Thursday: play readings, ballet class, yoga
Friday: accent class
Weekends: Tunes in to her creative side by watching a play or film and observes other people’s work, goes to museums, or catches up with friends in order to get a fresh breath of air and find energy outside of the acting world
“Its a crazy hustle. My priority is rent, a little bit of food, and the rest of my income I invest on my education.”
Alessia is also in the process of creating an organization in the United Nations to help foreign women in New York succeed in their endeavors. She wants to send a strong message to women that they can accomplish anything they want and be independent. Alessia has read many biographies on incredibly strong, brave, and successful women who have inspired her, like Lauren Bacall, Diane Keaton, Katharine Hepburn, Cate Blanchett, Jane Fonda, Ellen Burstyn, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich & Faye Dunway, and is now on her way to be a role model for many young women out in the world who don’t know where to begin.
“I had to figure things out on my own, and I wish there was a place I could have gone that could help me [figure out] what to do, who to call, how to do it.”
Keep an eye out for this beautiful young actress in magazines, commercials, runways, TV shows, and on Broadway. Alessia has so much to offer with so much love and knowledge for her craft; she can confidentially and proudly say she is in this industry to stay.
“You just have to be very firm in what you want and listen to your heart because you’re never going to regret it. Even if you don’t win theoretically, you actually do win because you are being true to yourself.”
By Daniela Celi