Inbar Lavi, a triple threat who hails from Israel is so completely humble about her recent success she could probably be your lifelong best friend and not mention her career once. She currently sings and acts on the show, “Underemployed”, one of MTV’s new sitcoms about the lives of five twenty-somethings trying to make ends meet in a haggard economy-an economy that we all know too well. Lavi plays the character of Raviva, a Chicago native who moves out to L.A. to pursue a music career. There’s a catch–she’s pregnant. We watch Raviva deal with this curveball called “life”, and in each episode (9 and counting!)we see layers of her character unfold. The character, Raviva, is strong, ambitious, and street smart, and it’s her “smarts” that take her back to Chicago with baby in tow to put her L.A. dreams on hold in order to take care of her own baby. It’s obvious Lavi plays a strong female character, so I wanted to get to know Inbar Lavi and what she’s like outside of Raviva’s shoes.
1. Who was your female role model growing up? Any words of wisdom you’ve heard that have just stuck and really resonated?
When I was younger, there was a very powerful actress in Israel called Ayelet Zurer. She was fascinating to watch and always carried herself with incredible grace. I remember thinking I wish I could be that classy. Years later, still hoping for some grace to class up my act.
2. So the character you play, Raviva, is a recent college graduate with a passion for music and a pregnant belly who moves across the country to pursue her dream. You moved from Israel to pursue acting in New York at a young age. What similarities do you see in your story and Raviva’s?
Actually Raviva moves to LA from Chicago to pursue a career in music, then returns back home to Chicago pregnant. Many similarities clearly. Maybe not so much with the bun in the oven, but following your dreams and leaving your entire world behind is definitely something I know a lot about. I do have tremendous amounts of respect for ‘dream infused’ individuals. I was raised on the principles of ‘life’s too short’ and ‘if you work hard enough ANYTHING can happen.’ So when I read a story about someone following those guidelines, I’m inspired and drawn to it right away. I think Raviva’s story in MTV’s “Underemployed” is inspiring.
3. Do you specifically choose shows/films with strong female characters?
I do. Raviva represents every girl who ever had to face struggles on her way to achieving her goals and didn’t let it stop or distract her from her path. I tend to be pulled in different directions when I examine potential scripts. I love interesting characters. Strength is relative. I think all women are strong. Some have a hard time discovering their strength, some are beaten by their surroundings and are too afraid to find the strength within themselves. These are all interesting stories to tell and all challenging exercises for an actor. I’m always drawn to any role that seems layered and complex.
4. If you could be part of a cast of any film what film would it be?
Something tells me “Oceans 11” would make any woman a VERY happy gal!
5. Who’s your favorite artist–from the time of Da Vinci up till now?
I grew up dancing ballet and contemporary, so I always had a soft spot for Edgar Degas’s work. Ballerina paintings always take me back.
6. Do you follow any blogs or online zines?
I wish I had more time to “surf the net”. I try to Tweet / Facebook/Instagram with my fans as much as possible, but I try to keep my “surf” time to the bare minimum. I sometimes catch myself checking out the “TopShop Timeline” to get inspired by the awesome outfits some fashionistas post. But that’s pretty much it.
7. Was there a specific actor you watched growing up? Did he/she inspire you to become an actor?
I saw “The Professional” with my dad when I was younger, and Natalie Portman played someone around my age. Her character was a young girl desperately wanting to be a grown up. I spent my childhood praying for that same thing. She was also the coolest chick I had ever seen and awesome in that film. I remember thinking, “I wanna be able to do that one day”. [Now I know better. I'll never be that cool :)] (Disfunkshion Opinion- We think she IS!)
8. So now that you are acting in the U.S. are you interested in going to other countries to act?
Absofrickinlutely. I’d love to see as much as possible – especially for work! It creates a real sense of living – getting up and going to work, usually for a good chunk of time. On short trips or being on tour, you basically travel for a bit and don’t really get to experience what it feels like to live in one place for while.
9. The cast of “Underemployed” is very diverse. Are you excited to be a part of show that represents multiple racial backgrounds?
Of course. It was quite educational. We taught each other some homeland slang and “dirty words” (of course). We made each other some home-cooked dishes from our respective homelands and picked up some cool diverse traditions. It was like we were all sent to “The Ethnic Summer Camp’ of Chicago”! All jokes aside, it’s not everyday that you see an ethnic character as the lead in a television series. We were all incredibly lucky to work with a brilliant mind such as Craig Wright’s, the creator of “Underemployed”. He was inspired by our diversity and felt it brought something extra to each of our stories. Our backgrounds, I feel, is the backbone of our relationships. On and off camera.
Also, the show’s theme seems to surround recent college graduates pursuing their dreams and trying to make it work in this difficult economy–definitely something I can relate to as a college student.
10. The character Sophia, played by Michelle Ang, is an aspiring writer getting by with a job at a donut store. Have you ever had to take a job just to make ends meet? Even if it wasn’t your dream job how did you make it fun for yourself?
I definitely had my share of awful jobs just to pay rent. One was at an awful restaurant in NYC where I waited tables. My girlfriend and I worked there at the time. We would pack up all the leftovers from the night in to-go boxes and carry all of it back to our Brooklyn apartment where we stayed with five other dudes. We would stay up all night, eat leftovers, play guitar, and talk about how awful our jobs were. Going through it together, knowing you’re not alone, and stuffing your face with a four cheese pasta plate at 4 in the morning makes everything better. Trust me.
11. Anything else you’d like to do besides acting?
I’d love to design a fashion line that’s hip and adorable or open an awesome restaurant that’s……… hip and affordable
12. And for all those hard-working ladies out there who are trying to make their dreams come true–any words of advice/inspiration?
First off I’d like to tell them they’re rock stars. They are the true superheroes of our comic book. Keep on fighting for those dreams. Don’t be afraid of the struggle. It’ll only breathe life into your scenes and make you feel alive. It’ll make success so much sweeter. Even if it doesn’t come true the way you envisioned it you might run into a new dream on your path. More than anything, expect nothing and enjoy everything along the way!
As Inbar Lavi’s career skyrockets it will be exciting to see where her talented self goes, but in the meantime watch her whip out her acting chops on “Underemployed” playing on MTV every Saturday at 8pm or catch the full episodes on www.MTV.com.
Words By: Kim Ip / Images By: Marc Cartwright