Israeli Actress Inbar Lavi Talks About “Imposters”
Known for her supporting roles in the television series “Gang Related,” “The Last Ship,” “Prison Break” and “Underemployed,” Israeli actress Inbar Lavi takes center stage as the star of the dark comedy “Imposters,” now beginning its second season on Bravo. She portrays the chameleon-like Maddie, a con artist who seduces her targets, gets them to marry her, cleans out their bank accounts, and vanishes, adopting a new persona.
But as Season Two begins, Maddie has doubts about the life she’s chosen. “Maddie is determined to …live a life of her own after living other people’s lives for a long time. She realizes that leaving the life of a con is more difficult than living it,” Lavi told the Journal. “She wants a little stability but she doesn’t know what it means or how to get it. It’s all a little scary for her.”
Lavi relishes the many disguises and range of emotion that the part requires. “She’s not black or white. There are so many different shades to her,” she said. “In one scene she can be the most confident person in the room and in the next she could be completely broken, stripped down and lost. I love that. And I’ve been able to explore a lot of dark areas in myself through Maddie that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. What I look for most in my work is honesty, and I get to be very honest with this character.”
Always captivated by movies and inspired by the success of Israeli actresses Natalie Portman and Ayelet Zurer, Lavi, 31, knew she wanted to perform at an early age. She studied ballet first and then enrolled at the Sofi Moskowitz Acting School in Tel Aviv. Exempt from army service due to an old dance injury, she moved to New York at 17 and headed west after eight months when she got a scholarship to attend the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in Los Angeles.
She’s still close with the family friends, Iraqi-American Jews, who gave her a place to stay when she arrived. “I didn’t have family here, and this beautiful family welcomed me into their home. We do Shabbat dinners and the holidays. It means the world to me,” Lavi said, noting that she’d celebrate Passover with them.
Of Polish heritage on her father’s side, and Moroccan on her mother’s, Lavi was raised with both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish traditions. “They’re very, very different and sometimes they collide. But it’s a nice blend. I’m really lucky to have both sides in me,” she said.
“I love any project where I get to push myself and learn new things. Any time I push through a fear, I’m proud of that.” – Inbar Lavi
“I grew up in a home where my dad was very liberal and my mom was very traditional. On my mom’s side, my grandparents kept Shabbat and the holidays. My dad was the complete opposite of that. I’m somewhere in the middle. I find great joy in tradition and in fact, I seek it. I gain so much from those traditions. But I have my own faith and belief system,” Lavi said.
Lavi’s Jewish roots “affect and influence everything that I am—the way I think, my values. I’m very family-oriented. I’m very aware of freedom, especially because we [Israelis] have to fight for it,” she said, noting that she visits her mother, sister and brother in Israel “as much as I can.” (Her father moved to Florida after her parents divorced.)
Between shooting “Imposters”, Lavi acted in the independent film “Sorry For Your Loss,” a dark comedy in which she portrays a new mother dealing with postpartum depression. But as much as she loves acting, “You do your job and then it’s out of your hands. It’s tough for a control freak like me,” she said, laughing.
“That’s why I’m getting involved in producing. I want to generate my own material, tell my own stories. I’m starting to shadow directors who I’ve worked with in the past, and I’m excited to learn more about being behind the camera,” she said. Directing an “Imposters” episode next season tops her wish list.
As for future on-screen work, “I love any project where I get to push myself and learn new things,” Lavi said, citing the stunts and Russian dialogue she learned for “Gang Related.” She learned to play guitar and sing for her role in “Underemployed. “It was terrifying, but I did it. “Any time I push through a fear, I’m proud of that.”
Lavi, who is single, shares her L.A. home with her dog Chilly, a part-Havanese rescue. “I’m not seeing anyone at the moment. But there’s beauty in being alone as well. You get to know yourself better and can think about who you want to spend your time with,” she said. “I would love to have a family one day. I think I flourish the most when I’m in love and in a partnership. But I’m also quite picky. It’s hard to find the right person but he’s out there and I can’t wait to meet him.”
Right now, she gets her greatest joy from “waking up early, with the sun, and cuddling with my puppy for 10 minutes. It’s been a really pleasant, happy moment and way to start my day,” she said. “I lie there and say ‘thank you’ for being healthy.”
“Imposters” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on Bravo.