Mirjana Krisanovic – Life through my eyes
By Evana Simo
Mirjana Krisanovic is an international actress producer and career coach based in Sweden. Her prospective, talent, kindness and drive are unmatched.
Blind at 10 years old, besides acting, Mirjana has an amazing experience in singing, dancing and modeling. Her passion goes beyond this because she is a mountain climber too! It has been a long and tough way for her to achieve these things in her life. During the last few, years Mirjana Krisanovic has worked as an inspirational speaker and actress and she has won many awards. She held an inspirational speech at the Swedish Oscar gala. She is the main-actress, producer and script-writer of “Look through my eyes – the movie”. In 2017 she was one of the finalist in the competition “Holman prize” for the most inspiring blind person in the world. 2018 Mirjana Krisanovic won second place in a completion “best speaker on stage” by Talarforum Stockholm. She wants to inspire people and show that sky is the limit. Her vision is to be a role model and prove that she can do anything although she is blind.
The next challenge for Mirjana Krisanovic was “World Championship of Performing Arts” in LA, where she attended as an actress. She performed 3 monologues and she won 2 silver medals for her acting in 2 categories. An outstanding achievement due to the fact that she was the only blind competitor in the whole championship. She wants to share her message with the whole world: “There are no obstacles for you, only opportunities”.
Mirjana, you have had an amazing personal journey that has moulded you into the person you are today. Can you tell us more about that journey?
When I was 10 years old I became blind, which had me suffering from depression. I struggled with finding a strategy for “how” I could do things now that I couldn’t see. Each day was all about finding new ways and solutions of how I could be more independent because I didn’t like being treated as a victim. I wanted to show the world that I am much more than just my blindness, and that I don’t see any obstacles in life, no matter the many prejudices about me as a blind person. The journey has been long and with many ups and downs, because it felt like I always needed to do a bit more to reach a “good enough and acceptable level” in comparison to people who weren’t blind. For example, when I decided that I wanted to study at university a person told me “you can’t because you are blind”, and that person meant that I couldn’t make it since I come from a non-academic family. Then I thought that I wanted to prove that I can. Now I have finished my studies at university and I am working as a career adviser besides my acting career. I wouldn’t say that this journey has been easy. During this time, I have struggled to find strength in life and especially at those times when I was in hospital with terrible pain in my eyes. I had one point in life when I couldn’t see any meaning and I was very sad, unable to do the things I used to enjoy before I became blind.
How did you learn to be a professional speaker and actress?
I was bullied in school and this led to me having low self-esteem, which also meant that I was shy and afraid of talking in front of people. Despite this I wanted to share my story but at the same time I needed to work to survive since I was broke and unemployed. Because I didn’t want my stage fear to take over, I started working as an inspirational speaker with small groups and then I kept going with bigger and bigger groups. I listened to many speakers on YouTube to learn how to re-create their rhetoric and storytelling, and in that way, I gained the inspiration I needed. I never ever believed that it would lead me to stand on a big stage where I am talking in front of millions of people. Yet so it did: 2019 I got the honor to hold an inspirational speech at the Swedish version of the Oscar gala “Guldbaggegalan” and that was very powerful. I felt a little nervous backstage, but it was a positive feeling of excitement, not anxiety. I understand that I now am confident on stage because I always put myself out of my comfort zone. The feedback I always get is that my speeches and stories are very touching when I am just myself and speak from my heart, because then I am relaxed and truthful. This understanding did lead me to become one of the finalist in the competition “Holman prize” 2017 for the most inspiring blind person in the world. Also in 2018 I won second place in a competition ”best speaker on stage” by Talarforum Stockholm.
I have always dreamt of big things. My first dream was to become an astronaut, but I understood that this was unlikely to happen for me so then I decided to follow my other dream of becoming an actress because that way I can be anything I want to be. Since I had stage fear, I didn’t apply for full time acting courses after high school but I took some drama courses at school and after school. I loved film and theater because that was my way of escaping from the reality when life felt difficult. Still after all these acting courses I never got the roles that I had auditioned for, so I started to produce my own productions. Before I could do this I needed to do research on how things work behind the camera and I needed to network with people since I am blind and therefore must find someone to see for me. I found out that I am the only blind filmmaker and actress in Scandinavia. Right now, I am working on my feature film “Look through my eyes” and you can see the trailer on Instagram: @ltmethemovie. Don’t hesitate to follow the film project on social media. In the acting industry you need to market yourself, therefore I made an audition for attending the World championships of performing arts in LA 2019. I did a good audition and in other words I took part in World championships of performing arts in LA in July 2019, representing Sweden. I am very grateful for this opportunity and thankful to all people who supported me in the past and who continue to support me now. If you want to follow me, you can do so on Facebook and Instagram: Mirjana’s adventures.
Who was the most influential person in your life?
The most influential person in my life has to be my dance teacher. He once told me: “With your attitude you can climb mountains”. What he meant by this was the mountain inside my head, but he inspired me to climb real physical mountains as a new hobby. On the top of my first mountain I found the strength to keep fighting for my dreams. I understood that I have proved for myself that “I can” during that mountain climbing. It is during the way to the goal you are growing.
Another reason why my dance teacher was the most influential person in my life is that he was the only one who wanted to teach me as a blind student. I contacted different dance schools but they said that it would be hard to teach a blind student since they don’t have resources or experience with blind people. My dance teacher, however, said: “You know what, I have no idea how to teach you but I see it as a challenge. Let us find it out together”. He did teach me to be optimistic when it comes to challenges in life. He saw me as a human and he encouraged me to believe in myself. Once he compared my dance movements and acting, of course he thought my body language looks more expressive as I am acting than when I am dancing. That was one turning point when I thought that I should really try to go for it when it comes to my acting dream.
What is the one key insight that you have learned throughout it all?
The main thing I learned during these challenges and the journey itself, is that it’s important to have a positive mindset and always focus on the “how”. There are a lot of possibilities if you really want something, but if you don’t, there are only excuses. My advice to others would be: do what you want, and don’t let anyone tell you who you are or what you can or can’t do. It’s you who designs your own future and your life. The sky is the limit and I have learned that the way to your goal is not clear from the beginning and therefore you must be the one who plans your strategy and method on your own. To develop yourself as a person and in your profession, I would recommend to make friends of those positive people who inspire you and those who have experience in that area you want to learn. Yes, it may sound cheesy but you need to also go out of your comfort zone, because you are not brave until the moment you do what you are afraid of.
Recently you won two silver medals for your acting in two categories at World Championships of Performing Arts. Can you share this experience with us?
This experience was just amazing. It was time for my performance on stage and I felt satisfied with my performing when I walked off the stage. It went well even though I always find myself thinking about what I could have done better in the performing/acting. My strategy to handle the stress before I walk on the stage, in the backstage, was just to think this; I am proud of myself no matter if I make it to the final or not. Just before I went up on stage I was nervous because I felt that I got sick of all the air-conditioning. I was afraid that I would not be able to do one of my monologues where I was supposed to play the character Gollum from Lord of the rings, because my voice felt not good. But everything went well and I was happy and proud of myself. I cried of happiness when they called my name as the announcement of the medals was taking place. I won silver and it felt overwhelming to go up on stage again and get the silver medal around my neck, especially as I thought about how much I have fought for this. Besides, I need to add to this the fact that I was the only blind person who took part in the contest. I am so grateful to everyone who supported me.