From Professional Dancer to Award Winning Actress, from Austria to Hollywood – A Portrait of Ursula Maria
While some walk through life, others, like Ursula Maria, seemingly dance to the various rhythms and melodies of life. Ursula is an Austrian native who has been working in the entertainment industry since her teenage years. Extensively trained in dance, discipline is nothing foreign to Ursula. But foreign she is, to Los Angeles, the place she has called her home for the last decade.
Ursula Maria’s entertainment pursuits were initially sculpted by the art of dance. During the dawn of her teenage years at age 13, she was the youngest performer in a successful and competitive dance team. “Starting to perform at such a young age really helps with getting used to being on stage and on screen.” the actress says.
Getting signed by a major talent agency led to the young girl moving to Vienna, where she enrolled in a musical theater academy while continuing high school, performing all over Austria and being a dance instructor. Acting classes that were part of the musical theater program led to her discovering her talent, and she quickly got signed by an acting agency and appeared in numerous commercials in Austria.
After graduating from university, she moved all the way to Los Angeles to continue her education at a prestigious acting academy, and to start working in the entertainment business in the US.
Having appeared in plenty of projects from commercials too short and feature films, from pilots to tv shows to stage plays, Ursula knows a thing or two about the entertainment industry by now.
“It’s best to stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. Auditions can come in at any time, and sometimes they are due immediately so you have to drop everything and start preparing. Many times, you will spend a lot of time and energy on an audition and it won’t lead to a booking. That’s part of the deal. As far as shoots go, days can be very long starting super early and finishing late. Some days are busy, others are not. No week is the same. But it’s all worth it. I have been performing for as long as I can remember. I like to create. I like to immerse myself in a character and bring it to life. Studying at an acting academy for many years has helped me really understand the craft and coming from professional dance with lots of stage experience has helped me feel comfortable in front of the camera right away.”
Being comfortable in front of the camera is just as important as figuring out what your strengths are and highlighting those, instead of trying to be like someone else.
“Everyone is unique. Why try to be like someone else who already exists. Maybe they’re looking for whatever you bring to the table! My uniqueness definitely comes from being a trained dancer as well as an actress and being fluent in German and English. I’ve also lived in many different places, done theater, musicals, films, pilots, commercials, shows and plenty of dance performances and I think that gives me a unique understanding of the craft. And I have booked roles because of that, plenty of times.”
But booking isn’t easy. Oftentimes it takes plenty of auditions to book a single role.
“You need to love the process of creating in order to stick with it even when things are tough. You’ll audition for lots of projects that you’ll never book and you can’t let yourself get down about that. It’s the nature of the game. Only one person can get the job. But when you do book the role, it’s the most exciting thing ever!”
Speaking of exciting, Ursula is excited for the coming year and the projects she has lined up. “I have some fun projects coming up and I can’t wait to be back on set and work with creative and talented people. I just spent a week filming with a really great team and can’t wait to find out what the new year will bring.”
Hopefully, the new year will bring no lockdowns!
This article has been based on interviews with Ursula as well as information taken form her Imdb and various published articles about the actress.