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Interview with actress Yael Shavitt creator of Amazon Prime Video series Split

Interview with actress Yael Shavitt creator of Amazon Prime Video series Split

It's a safe bet to assume that, over the past three months or so, you've watched more than your fair share of Netflix movies as well as prime-time series and reality shows.

After all, watching TV was one of the few ways to stay sane while we were all riding out the Covid-19 storm at home.

But, just when you thought that you'd exhausted all the possibilities that your streaming services and cable TV networks had to offer, along comes a must-see series by the name of SPLIT on Amazon Prime Video.

A six-episode dramedy, SPLIT is the creative offspring of multi-talented actress and writer Yael Shavitt.

This is a show that you definitely need to know about!

The storyline and cast of SPLIT evoke a watercolor portrait of emotions. You'll laugh and cry right along with the show's protagonists. And who knows; you might just see a little of yourself in them, as well.

Yael's script takes the viewer on a journey into the soul of her lead character, Sammy; a thirteen-year-old aspiring actress who has just completed an audition to get into the acting school of her dreams.

We don't know whether she eventually gets into the school or not.


Yael Shavitt Dance


However, the emotions involved in preparing for the audition creates a split in Sammy's life, fast-forwarding her twelve years into the future on two parallel paths with totally different lives.

In one world, Sammy is an uber-confident, self-absorbed actress on the rise who is engaged in a turbulent, hot and cold relationship with her girlfriend.

But in an alternate universe, she becomes the rock steady Samantha, an assistant director who is living a rather mundane life with her long-time boyfriend.

The problem here is that Samantha seems to be more invested in the happiness of others, rather than her own, creating a series of conflicts that force her to take a long, hard look in the proverbial mirror.

You will be on the edge of your seat as you follow along with the plot's intriguing twists and turns.

Yael was gracious enough to take some time out of her virtual promotional

tour for SPLIT, to "sit down" with to talk about her life and ever-evolving career.

Like so many of us, in Queens and throughout the city; Yael was not born here. She is, though, a proud New Yorker by choice.

Originally from Israel, Ms. Shavitt was involved in the creative arts from a very early age. It was something that was second nature to her.

"While doing my mandatory tour of duty in the Israeli Defence Force, I spent the majority of my three years operating satellites for military intelligence. It was interesting and very useful work," explained Yael.

"But, I still found ways to express my creative side. I started a base newspaper and did a lot of instructional work. You had to find a way to make the lessons interesting and be very expressive so that the soldiers you were interacting with didn't fall asleep. During my time in the military, teaching was the closest thing to acting."

Israel will always hold a very special place dear to Yael's heart.

"It is, after all, where I grew up, where most of my family lives and the country holds so many precious memories for me".

But, this multi-talented actress, writer and producer has fallen hard for the city that STILL never sleeps, despite everything we've been going through.

"New York is where I live and work; the place where my collaborators and so many new and close friends live. My future is undoubtedly here." firmly stated Yael.

This writer wondered; when exactly did Yael feel that the time was right to make the move from her home country to the Big Apple?

"It had been in the planning stages for some time. I had always wanted to attend acting conservatory here. I felt energized by the Broadway and off-Broadway scene and just felt that NYC would be a good fit for me."

Before settling down in the city, however, there was one very important task that Yael HAD to complete, a docu-feature by the name of IF YOU PULL NORTH.


yael shavitt crystal jukebox hymn 02


"IF YOU PULL NORTH tells the story of my grandfather, Rafi Mokady. The main themes of the film are loyalty and betrayal in their most raw, stripped-down form. The story unfolds gradually, piece by piece so that the viewer is taken on a suspenseful journey."

Yael's voice beamed with pride as she told about this labor of love which made its' debut at the Jerusalem Film Festival...

This hard-working actor paid her dues and then some, prior to launching SPLIT.

Yael's star shone brightly in a variety of media, ranging from commercials and voice-overs to web series, film, and, of course, the theater.

One particular show, however, stood out in her mind.

"I had the honor of performing at the Public Theater in a very unique piece titled THE RECORD by 600 HIGHWAYMEN."

"The show consisted of 45 actors and, believe it or not, each one of us rehearsed

separately with the directors. The first time that we came together was on stage on opening night. That experience was both downright scary yet exciting."

Ms. Shavitt's time spent at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts and doing improv with the Upright Citizen's Brigade prepared her to handle anything that a director might throw at her.

Not content to be idle for even a minute, Yael is also one of the founders of the ASYLOS Theater Collective.

"We are a group of theater artists who enjoy getting together to devise new works in a very collaborative spirit. We actually were going to debut a new play, in April, dealing with bodies and self-identities. But, of course, that did not happen due to the Covid-19 crisis."

The exciting concept behind the series SPLIT was partially inspired by the thespian's own life.

"The idea of investigating the way our choices in life impact the present and future has always been fascinating to me," revealed Yael.


Yael Shavitt Woolgatherers


"It's something that I think about a lot. How did this one decision I made years ago lead me to an unexpected place today? The event at the beginning of the series, when Sammy auditions to get into acting school was inspired by my own experiences. If I hadn't gone to an arts-oriented high school when I was a young girl, my life would not even resemble what it is today."

One of the totally cool aspects of SPLIT, as far as is concerned, is that many of the scenes were filmed in Astoria, at locations that are very familiar to our readers.

"Yes, everyone involved in the business community made our crew feel more than welcomed."

"Gibaldi Hair Salon and Spa is where Tamz, one of the characters in the series, works. The freedom that they gave us with their space totally helped to enhance the overall ambiance for those scenes."

SPLIT also shot outside the NYC Bagel and Coffee House, just off Steinway Street.

"We filmed at night," said Yael " and the colorful lights of Astoria made for a picture-perfect shot."

One of the things that Yael likes best about Astoria is that "it's a balance between being lively and quiet. The neighborhood is hip and laid-back, all at the same time."

In addition to a delicious multi-cultural foodie scene, there are numerous hidden gems to discover when it comes to parks, art galleries and other places to recharge your batteries and have fun.

"Recently, I discovered Rainey Park. It's so lovely and relaxing, being as it is, right on the water. And so easy to get to !" added Yael.


yael shavitt ediblered paralyzed 01


"I'd never been there before the pandemic but now it's become one of my favorite spots."

No matter how talented a films' lead actor or writer is, one person can't do it alone. Yael had some extremely appreciative words to say about the SPLIT team which includes director Molly McGaughey, producer Hannah Hancock Rubinsky and cinematographer extraordinaire Samantha Pyra.

"I am so incredibly lucky to have been able to work with such wonderful people!"

"SPLIT is absolutely a collaborative creation and the series wouldn't be what it is without each of the team members being at the top of their game."

Yael doesn't mince words in referring to Samantha as a "true rock star."

"She consistently created on-screen magic with the limited crew and equipment that was available to us ."

"Hannah was a lifesaver for me, early on in the process, because finding a producer for a low-budget project like this can be extremely challenging. Hannah infuses everything she does with care and love."

As far as Yael is concerned, she fervently believes that "SPLIT is as much Mollys' as it is mine".

"Molly was meant to direct this story. Her vision for SPLIT completed mine and also, in some ways, elevated it."

Getting an independent film or series launched has never been for the faint of heart. To say that it is not easy would be an understatement. wanted to know what Yael's greatest challenges were in getting SPLIT off the ground.

"It took years for me to bring my dream to fruition. Probably my biggest challenge was trying to center myself and find the patience to cope with the task at hand," replied Yael.


yael shavitt the record 01


"There is just so much involved, from writing the script to finding financial backing; actually doing the shoot and then there's post-production, finding a distributor or network and, of course, marketing the project. It can all be a bit overwhelming. Perseverance is key."

In closing, Yael told that she is looking forward to creating new series and films as well as acting in other people's projects.

"Most of all I want the day to come soon, when the lights return to Broadway and the various theater companies throughout the city can, once again, get together in person to rehearse and present their plays to a live audience."

By the way, when you check out SPLIT on AMAZON PRIME VIDEO, please do not hesitate to post a review.

"I love reading what viewers have to say and discover how they relate to Sammy's experiences in their own life."

A creative force to be reckoned with, Yael Shavitt was born to break boundaries.

Her fearless approach to life and the performing arts brings to mind a quote that none other than Bobby Kennedy frequently used on the campaign trail while running for President in 1968.

Originally attributed to the legendary writer George Bernard Shaw, these words captured the hope and energy that defined the Kennedy White House and the era of Camelot.

"Some people see things as they are and ask why? I see things that never were and ask why not ?"

Yael relishes the artistic freedom that she has created for herself, one streaming series, independent film and stage production at a time.

And the best part of all is that, you the audience, are invited along for the ride!

Contact Info:

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Tuesday, 16 July 2024