Couple’s Therapy Star Michaela Zannou Interviewed

Couples Therapy is about complicated relationships. What do you hope people learn from watching?
I hope that the show inspires the audience to give themselves permission to define what love, loyalty, monogamy, and a healthy relationship looks like for them as opposed to what society mandates. Relationships are not “one size fits all” and everyone should be able to decide what works for them and what doesn’t in a relationship regardless of what other people do or think. I also hope they see that when it comes to matters of the heart, even the smartest person can make the stupidest mistakes- and that’s okay. Relationships don’t come with a manual so you have to follow your instincts. But our instincts are sometimes burdened by our past experiences or trauma and can stir us toward the wrong direction. I hope the audience finds comfort in seeing that they are not alone in this.

You are also an advocate for women empowerment. If you can tell women one thing to help empower them, what would it be and why?

Love yourself, believe in yourself, and go for it! I am a strong believer in self-love and, unfortunately, it can be a very hard thing for women to accomplish. We are constantly bombarded with messages that imply that there is something wrong with us. We are always urged to change our bodies, our looks, and even our personalities, to reach an impossible and arbitrary standard. At the same time women are often expected to sacrifice a great deal of themselves for their children or their families and are praised when they do so. So no wonder women feel that self-love is selfish and resist it. But the way I see it, self-love is the greatest gift you can give to your loved ones and the world- you can’t pour from an empty cup. And when you learn to love yourself, that’s when you start believing in yourself and trusting yourself enough to take risks, to get out of your comfort zone and start taking action without waiting for permission.

Who are some women who inspire you?
I love and look up to women in film and television with multi-hyphen careers such as Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mindy Calling, Tina Fey and Reese Witherspoon. I am incredibly inspired by their immense talent and their journey in the industry. I am also very grateful to them for carving the path for other women filmmakers.

What is the best piece of advice you got from a female role model?
My friend Sonja O’Hara, an incredibly talented actor and filmmaker and a powerhouse of a woman, always says “Don’t wait for permission.” I love that motto and try to incorporate it in my life. When I decided to produce Couples Therapy I didn’t have the slightest idea about filmmaking. As an actor, I had picked up a few things here and there from the times I’d been on set but it wasn’t in the slightest enough to prepare me for the beast that is to self-produce a pilot episode. But I didn’t let that stop me. I could feel it in my gut that this was the right project and the right time to do it. So I went for it- I reached out to all my filmmaker friends, did research, worked non-stop, course-corrected and asked for help when I needed it. In the end, the project exceeded my wildest expectations and empowered me tremendously as a person and an artist. None of that would have happened if I had waited for someone to give me a “permission slip” or waited till I was “ready.” You gotta follow your gut, take a deep breath and go for it.

 

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