Photo Credits: Iddo Lavie

Israel’s Moran Atias once dreamed of studying psychology, but quickly climbed the ranks of international celebrity as a radio host, model, and actress. With more than a pretty face, Moran spread her talent across a spectrum of mediums, most recently starring in the NBC series, “The Village.” Moran plays Ava, a closed off Iranian immigrant who is trying to avoid being detained by ICE, all the while protecting her U.S born son.

 Can you tell us a bit about your role in “The Village?”

I play Ava Behzadi who’s an immigrant that’s lived in the US for over ten years where she gave birth to her son Sammie who is now six years old. In the first episode of the season, the first time you meet Ava she’s getting arrested and sent to a detention center, accused of entering the country illegally. Throughout the season she will battle with getting deported and separated from her son and the community she created at the village.

What do you hope viewers can take away from the show?

Exactly what I took from the show; It opened my heart and reminded me to practice a sense of community, which means being truly curious about other people and leaving your door and heart open. Celebrate their victories and provide comfort when they need a hug or when they need to be listened to.

What does your Israeli identity mean to you?

It means a lot that I know I’m carrying the sacrifices that my grandparents made to go to Israel and I carry their legacy with me, practicing the values I’ve been raised with; which are respect, honor, kindness, compassion, hospitality and serving others. It’s the core of my personality that I often like to check in with and remind myself with it.

What is the dynamic amongst the cast on the set of “The Village?”

It has been the most loving and kind experience because the moment we got together, we all felt like we were a part of something special. And stronger together as a community, which is what “The Village” is all about. We each bring a unique piece of society with different ages, races, and backgrounds, creating a mosaic of what America looks like at its best.

What initially appealed to you about your role as Ava Behzadi on “The Village?” 

What appealed to me was her will to seek justice. The circumstances that she was in allowed me to study and get used to a culture I wasn’t, and the reason why people come to the US. Also, the fact that she had to leave a country that didn’t provide her true independence. The choices to seek independence and the family she was hoping to create in the land of hope and opportunities. I know people are still struggling in this country, but America is still a safe land for so many of us.

What would you say has been your favorite part about working on the project?

The people. Also, working with my adorable TV son, Ethan. It’s been a sweet journey to get to know such a bright kid. Also, shooting in NYC, it was an absolute treat. I’ve always dreamed of working in NYC.

What did you learn about yourself as an actress while performing with the cast and on set?

This show taught me a different tone of material. Until this project, I mostly acted in heavy dramas, shows, and film. Finding hope in each scene was a great lesson for myself not only as an actress but as a human being.

What is the most challenging part about playing an Israeli in American Films? And the most rewarding? 

I love challenges, so most rewarding is that I get to play such diverse characters from an Albanian gypsy in “Third Person” to an Arab first lady in “Tyrant” to an Iranian immigrant in “The Village.”

“I get to enjoy diving into complicated characters from complicated backgrounds and having that challenge is always what I seek in the material. It allows me to grow.”