13 year old Anna Pniowsky stars opposite Oscar-winner Casey Affleck in the highly anticipated film LIGHT OF MY LIFE (which Casey also directed). The young actress delivered an incredible Oscar-worthy performance garnering praise from critics.

In this exclusive interview, Pniowsky shares her growing up stories as an actress, her starring role in the dystopian drama opposite the Oscar nominated filmmaker/actor, playing Heather from PEN15, and her dream to work with Meryl Streep.

Photography  ROBIN HARPER

Photography ROBIN HARPER

Hi Anna, tell us about your story? Where are you originally from and how did acting start for you?

I’m originally from Winnipeg, Canada - a very cold city right in the middle of Canada. When I was really little I loved the little mermaid and wanted to be her in the movie! I got a small part and then bigger and bigger parts.


Tell us about your character “Rag” in Light of my Life. What’s the best part about playing her?
Rag is like any other girl that age. She’s learning that she is a person in her own right and she is trying to figure out who she is. Every kid that age goes through that. But she doesn’t have all the tools – (whether good or bad) - that kids today have and she doesn’t have peers or any sort of role models so she’s at sea and trying to do it on her own. And of course she’s in constant danger so she has another layer of not actually being able to explore who she is in any visible way.  She has a real emotional journey in the movie. 


How was it to work with Casey Affleck and the rest of the cast?

Working with Casey was absolutely amazing. He is such a talented actor and I love his style of acting. It’s so real and I really respond to that style myself. He is such a kind person and a generous actor so it was easy to allow myself to be as vulnerable as I really needed to be for Rag.  It was also great that he directed because he had such a vision of what he wanted and could try different things which of course elicited different responses from me. 

The whole cast and crew was so incredibly talented and an absolute joy. It takes so many people to make a movie and every one of them was great to be around, so professional and easy to work with. 


Let’s talk about PEN15. Tell us more about Heather.

Heather is the popular girl to Anna and Maya’s outsider characters   I think she’s not so much a mean girl as a girl who has always been the center of everyone’s attention and never had to struggle through the same things that Anna and Maya might. But I think she still has some of those insecurities that all middle schoolers have and tries to mask them with a sense of confidence. 


Why do you like playing her character?

I like to play her because it’s always fun to play someone that’s the opposite of you. I don’t really think I’m like her at all (or at least I sure hope not haha) so it’s fun to explore like that. 


What is your dream role/project?

I don’t necessarily have a dream role.  I like comedy and drama equally and I’m young so I can explore all kinds of projects.  I do love characters with really interesting back stories/ story arcs, so I guess you could say a character with layers and secrets. 


Which actor do you dream to work with?

 I’ve always LOVED Meryl Streep. She’s so extremely talented. She’s kind of the queen of acting and I think I would have an amazing time if I got to work with her and learn from her. 


Where do you get your inspirations from?

That is really tough to answer. As an actress- there is a whole big world of amazing cinema that I’m just starting to explore now that I’m 13. As a human being, I have so many inspirations- my family, people who give to the world in so many ways, teachers who I still remember from grades 3 and 4- there is inspiration everywhere!

What else keeps you busy if you’re not acting?

I used to dance competitively, but I stopped because acting usually keeps me busy. Otherwise I’m most likely doing homework. I also love to go to the beach or sit by the pool. Oh, I also love to shop as does almost every 13 year old girl! I’m trying cheer this year too. 


If you were a book, what book would you be and why?

I like all kinds of books but if I had to be one, maybe I’d be a comedic book. Life is short and there is a lot of heavy stuff out there so I’d like to keep it light and make people laugh and feel positive!

Catch Anna Pniowsky in LIGHT OF MY LIFE in Theatres August 2.