At the peak of Ohio’s quarantine, a show aired on Netflix that quickly went viral, just like the pandemic. Unorthodox follows the life of a young woman named Esty, who flees her ultra-orthodox community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The limited series is a unique portrayal of Hasidic life, and the reality many confront when they leave their rigid bubble. Today, I was very excited to have the opportunity to interview one of the stars of the series, Amit Rahav, on a Cohort 8 Zoom call. Amit plays Yanki Shapiro, the husband of Esty, who scours Berlin in search of his wife.
Amit was very friendly and accepting of my subpar interviewing skills, and I think our conversation went smoothly. He explained that he began acting at a very young age, and his internal drive throughout the years landed him more auditions. He admires actors such as Timothée Chalamet and Saoirse Ronan, which was exciting news to me and others in the Cohort (I think I’ve watched every movie either Chalamet or Ronan have appeared in). Rahav compared differences between the Israeli and American entertainment industries, and explained how the U.S. is much more formal in terms of how they treat their cast.
In terms of Unorthodox, I tried to bring some insightful questions into the conversation. We discussed how even though Esty and Yanki reach Berlin for different reasons, they both change as people by the end of the series (and so will you, when you watch it!). Yanki and Esty learn that the world is not so black and white, a contrast to what they were taught in the Satmar orthodox community. These two characters evolve immensely, since everything they’ve ever learned is suddenly open to questioning.
By interviewing Amit, I learned about an actor’s perspective. Amit made Yanki the complex and endearing character that he is, and he did that by fully immersing in the show. Rahav learned Yiddish, and had to adapt into Yanki’s orthodox mindset. This interview is something I will never forget, as our conversation felt very natural and informative to me (yes, those two things can co-exist). I seriously can’t wait to see what else Amit will do, and if you haven’t already, I encourage you to watch Unorthodox. It will only take you a night, because the binging is real for this one.