There is a very old, and perhaps prejudiced, idea that young people rarely know what they want. Sometimes there are examples that go against the rule. Alba Batista, who is just a few days away from turning 23, knows his way well. He knows that, even if they push her there and have to accept it, he doesn’t crave stardom. That he wants, if possible, to dedicate himself to European, more experimental cinema, where “the sense of team must be present and egos must remain outside the studio”. Who liked to study philosophy. And that one day he can abandon acting to go on to perform, write or do something else. Because being an actress does not define her, even though this art has seduced her at the age of 15, when she entered the short “Miami” (2014) by Simão Cayatte. The “Forbidden Gardens” came, other soap operas on national television, Portuguese cinema (“Leviano”, “Caminhos Magnétykos” or “Patrick”) and now a great international production: “Warrior Nun” (by Simon Barry), which opens this Thursday on Netflix. He won the role when he took his first selftape (an audition recorded by the artist himself and sent remotely) and traveled to Ireland for a prestigious film festival. Now more selftapes and a feature film will follow, to be recorded in late July in Portugal.
Alba Batista is the protagonist: Ava, a resurrected young woman, joins a society of nuns and decides to fight demons. It has action, science fiction, fantasy, feminism. Women are in the forefront. She received a limited edition of the famous manga, very different from the series script, and she still saw the creator, Ben Dunn, washed in tears, after realizing that the actress fit perfectly in what she had imagined, as soon as the drawings jumped to the screen. . For the role, he had to go and get a part of himself that is usually reserved: the “silly girl”. “My research was to forget about Alba, who likes to stay in a corner reading and be a silly girl running around. I stayed at home listening to music that I thought Ava would hear. Listening to Arcade Fire and dancing without controlling movement, ”he says.
In this conversation with the Observer, we spoke not of demons that come from the beyond, but of those that hang in the head of someone who has doubts, desires, questions still unanswered and certain, despite having the seal of great promise of representation . It is that, despite the solid curriculum, Alba Batista is still ashamed to say that she is an actress, every time she travels abroad. He doesn’t know why, only that it may be due to his shyness. She is from Lisbon, but studied at the German School, something that helped her put work first and success later. However, he still explores an artistic side, outside the stage, which could also have been his path. A place where there is painting and piano, which took her one day to fulfill her promise to her grandmother to play Debussy’s “Clair de Lune”. But that side remains for you and yours, far from the media focus, interviews and social networks. Alba Batista wants to continue experimenting, “playing”, going against the tide with her feet on the ground. And to question. Because, deep down, we never quite know what we want. One day we are a warrior nun, the next we are just a 22 year old person.
How was this quarantine period for you that suddenly made this leap for Netflix?
It was the first time, since the eight years that I am working, that I stopped for more than a month. It cost a little but I knew it very well, I needed it. It’s the classic of not knowing that you were in need of something until you had it. I can’t complain. And it had a safeguarded space to be able to have these uncertainties, so it went well.
So if the professional part was safeguarded, it was like taking a vacation.
Yes No doubt. It was also not on recordings. The only thing that was scheduled was an eventual trip to the USA to promote the series but it didn’t happen. I’m even glad it didn’t happen, because I have more than enough here.
Enough of promotion?
Yes, and I don’t think there is a need for a huge promotion to validate my work. Anyone who wants to see it will see it and I am happy with the result. For the rest, the only job was postponed to July.
Alba seems to me to be quite pragmatic, regardless of being 23 years old. We now turn on the internet, search for his name and there appears “a great Portuguese promise of representation”. Are you not affected by that?
I am honored to categorize myself in this way, but in reality, any type of categorization is temporary. It’s all a fad now. Now it’s my turn, in a few months it will pass and everything is fine. It is to relativize the importance of things because the importance is at work. I am grateful that people are aware and want to see it. Besides, I like to keep these insecurities for myself and not project them.