Guslagie Malanda, an actress with demanding choices

Guslagie Malanda, an actress with demanding choices


In Saint Omer , by Alice Diop, she was Laurence Coly, a woman on trial for abandoning her baby on a beach with the rising tide, becoming more and more static and indecipherable as the trial progresses. A year later, Guslagie Malanda goes back in time with La Bête, the new film by Bertrand Bonello, in theaters on February 7. In this space-time journey which stretches over more than two centuries, artificial intelligence ends up anesthetizing all human feeling.

Guslagie Malanda appears there as Kelly, a doll overcome by emotions who begins to have a beating heart. “What a joy to be able to play a doll which is, for Bonello, a recurring allegory,” analyzes the actress with a smile. Although his presence only punctuates a few scenes of this two-hour-twenty-six-hour feature film, it turns out to be poisonous. “What matters to me is that a character has, like here, depth. For the rest, first, second or sixth role, I don’t care,” she assures.

A film buff, a khâgneuse with overflowing libraries, this actress born into an “intellectual” family from Pontoise – mother a professor, normal and graduate of German, father an engineer – says she “never allowed herself to dream of cinema” . She was an art history student when, one evening in 2012, during an opening, a stranger slipped her a number. He is a hairdresser who acts for his casting director client Sarah Teper. “But it’s not okay!” » She had to lose her bet against her boyfriend at the time for her to decide to sheepishly call him. She auditioned for the film then in preparation, My Friend Victoria (2014), by Jean-Paul Civeyrac.

“I skipped a class to go, ” she remembers. During the first meeting, I had no text. Jean-Paul Civeyrac simply asked me to choose a piece of music and filmed me listening to it. » She believes she has failed but, a year later, is called back to offer her not only to be in it, but also to take on the title role, that of a young black woman who struggles to integrate into the family, wealthy, from the father of her daughter, with whom she reconnects after years of silence. From this first time, Guslagie Malanda retains, “in front of the camera, the feeling of being a tightrope walker”.

Cascading stereotypical propositions

However, between the release of this first film and that of Saint Omer , almost eight years passed without us seeing her on the poster again. She tries to flourish as an independent exhibition curator, deciphering the approach of emerging visual artists (Nathanaëlle Herbelin, Hamid Shams, Sirine Ammar, etc.), while she systematically returns disappointed from castings. Prostitute, drug addict, terrorist, radicalized… she is only suggested to take on stereotypical jobs like the demeaning place given to characters from the suburbs, Muslims or blacks.

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