Welcome multicultural, multilingual actress, stunt driver, television host and model, Sulinh Lafontaine.
Sulinh is a mix of Vietnamese, Chinese, French, Hungarian, and Native American heritage. A former designer and stylist she returned to acting in 2004 and has been working full-time
after graduating from William Esper Actors Conservatory in New York City.
Sulinh has appeared in numerous feature films, network TV shows, indie short films, national commercials, and various global and national print ads. Her recent credits include Furious 7 as a stunt driver, What Just Happened with Robert DeNiro and John Turturro, Three Veils with She etal Sheth and Mercedes Sohn, The Winter Butterfly, and Law & Order.
You can also catch her in the new festival hit Myrna The Monster which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and is an official selection of SXSW in March. She also does some featured stunt driving in the upcoming Fast and Furious 7.
Norm: Good day Sulinh and thank you for participating in our interview.
Could you tell our audience something about your mix of heritage as well as the number of languages you speak?
Sulinh: Born and raised as a Global Citizen, I feel so fortunate by that. It is a perfect balance and combination of East & West. Very few people can actually say they have traveled to 149 countries. I am very proud to say I have. It grounds me. I speak 3 languages fluently (English, Vietnamese, French) and another three, conversational.
Norm: How did you get started in acting and what motivates you to keep on going?
Sulinh: Let’s just say I came out of my mother’s womb kicking, singing and dancing! Performance has always been a part of my childhood, but it wasn’t something I thought I could make a career out of until much later on in life. I did a double in major in college (Biology and Fine Arts). Then went on with a fashion career in Europe as a designer. I was in NYC during 9/11 and was one of the lucky ones who got rescued underneath the rubbles. This day changed my life. I left Europe for good the following year and pursued acting full-time.
What drives me to keep on keeping’ on is PASSION. More specifically, performing, being in the arts. It’s in my blood. It’s who I am. I live and breathe it.
Norm: Has your environment and/or upbringing influenced your acting? If so, explain?
Sulinh: Absolutely. As mentioned, I grew up all over the world deeply submerged in diversity, cultures, and all walks of life. Art was always a major part of my life. The world was my stage.
Norm: How much research do you undertake for a role and how do you set about working on your roles?
Sulinh: It all varies. Depends on the role or character. Some roles have been physically demanding, which have required months of training. While others have been emotionally challenging… i.e. my role as a “rape victim” in Law & Order. I did a lot of research as well as speaking to women who have been personally victimized. In order to become a character, one needs to understand, accept, and if at all possible, live the character.
Norm: What sorts of parts have you been drawn to and why?
Sulinh: I came from theater and stage. I do consider myself more of a “dramatic” actress. However, having lived in Europe and NYC for many years, there is that raw element of “dry humour” that often comes out.
Norm: Is the craft of acting something that can be learned?
Sulinh: Sure. Anything can be learned. The technicality is easy. One can learn to be a good and trained performer. But I do feel that to be great… it has to be in your blood.
Norm: How do you find your way into a character?
Sulinh: Research. Research. Research. Follow by understanding. Then acceptance. And BE.
Norm: Which one would you say is your most favorite character to play and is there a character that you would love to play in the future?
Sulinh: All my characters have been great, challenging, and fun. But the one that has stayed with me over the years was the character from Law & Order where I portrayed a surviving rape victim. It was deep, dark and painful. I had to go to a certain place to find it. After having spoken to all the victims themselves. I truly felt their pain deeply.
As for what kind of role or character I would love to play in the future. I think it would be great fun to play Wonder Woman. She’s bad ass, sassy, smart, dynamic and strong. One of my heroes growing up. And who does not love Wonder Woman??!! Joking aside, I would love to be able to land a role on a TV series… a strong, independent, smart, sassy, passionate, compassionate, witty and modern gal. Perhaps a cross between the role of Kerry Washington in Scandal and Maggie Q in Nikita. HA!!
Norm: What would you like to say to actors who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep acting, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?
Sulinh: It is important to follow one’s PASSION. If performing is in your heart and soul, then absolutely… stick with it. Don’t ever give up. Keep on striving to be better at your craft. Keep on persevering. Do everything in your ability to move forward. If you can dream it… you can make it a reality!
Norm: What are the qualities in actors you most admire?
Sulinh: Passion. Drive. Perseverance. Dedication. Sensitivity.
Norm: Which directors inspired you to do your best work?
Sulinh: Wes Anderson, James Cameron, Francis Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Kathryn Bigelow, Angelina Jolie, Mira Nair, Nora Ephron, Federico Fellini, Roberto Benigni, Sergio Leone, Roberto Rossellini, Bernardo Bertolucci, Robert Bresson, Claude Lelouch, Luc Besson… it’s a long list I know!
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you?
Sulinh: I truly appreciate the continuing love and support! Readers can find out more about me by Googling me.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Sulinh: If there is one thing that people should remember about Sulinh Lafontaine, if they walk away retaining nothing else from this little interview, what would that be?
That I grew up with the best Mom and family in the whole world. I am who I am today only because of my Mother and the love of my family. Mom’s unconditional love,
support, guidance, sacrifices, encouragement, strength, character courage, passion, compassion, creativity… ! I can go on and on. She has taught me many things, including believing in myself.
Anything is possible. If I could dream it… I could make it happen.
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors
Thank you, Norm! It’s is a true pleasure and honor. Thank you so very kindly! My best wishes to you!