The actress, who has become a sensation at the Toronto Film Festival in Canada thanks to her debut movie Some Boys Don’t Leave, reveals she was travelling through Europe trying to decide what to do with her life when she stopped to become a teacher.
She recalls, “It was just incredible. I was a senior in high school and not quite sure what I wanted to do. I really wanted to act but it’s a really hard profession to go into.
“I took a year off between high school and college and I went and taught English in this tiny village in Transylvania. I was like Anna in The King of Siam (The King & I) but without the big hoop dress! I lived 30 miles from Dracula’s castle, Vlad The Impaler.
“I was in an Hungarian village and didn’t speak any Hungarian at all when I got there – it’s one of the hardest languages to learn. The people there were so welcoming and kind and they really have nothing. It was just so out of the blue. It was one of those experiences that, looking back on it now, I don’t know how brave enough I’d be to do it if I knew how hard it would be.
“It really gave me a perspective on life and shaped me incredibly. The poverty level is extreme because the country came out of communism, so it really opened my eyes to how blessed we are in this country with opportunities.”
And now, as her career takes off, she insists she’ll always head back to Dracula’s town whenever she gets the chance: “I can’t wait to go back because those people hold a special place in my heart.”