Paris-born actor and singer Stéfi Celma, who plays the ambitious receptionist in Call My Agent, on her cultural inspirations, social- media advice and dealing with racism
LUX: When did your passion for music start?
Stéfi Celma: Very early- it was as if I could sing before I could speak. My father found a little audio tape I made, so I have the proof.
LUX: What types of music have influenced you?
SC: I would say Latin music, Afromusic, French chansons and hip-hop. I also remember, as a child, discovering Lauryn Hill in Sister Act 2. her voice really affected me. Later, I listened over and over to her album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
LUX: What do you do to relax and disconnect?
SC: I have lived in Brussels for a few years and I’ve developed a real passion for antique collecting – the city has some real treasures. I love spending time at the flea market in Place du Jeu de Balle, just doing my thing. It is a good area to discover if you are passing through Brussels.
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LUX: What are your favourite restaurants and cafés in Paris to take a visitor?
SC: I’m not really up to date on good restaurants in Paris, but I do know a few in Brussels. If you pass by, I really like Le P’tit Chouia En +, a delicious Moroccan restaurant in rue de la Pacification. Certo Faim et Soif in rue Longue Vie is a quite simple restaurant, with original dishes that change every week. Boentje Café, in Place Colignon, offers beautiful fresh products, has a zero-waste approach and makes delicious little dishes.
LUX: What has been you favourite memory of playing Sofia in the TV comedy-drama Dix Pour Cent (Call My Agent)?
SC: The whole Dix Pour Cent adventure has been incredible – it’s been a real learning experience and I have met great people. But the scene that really comes to mind is the shooting of the theatre scene in episode 3 season 1. I perform the song Qui, which I also covered on my EP. It particularly touches me and is an important scene for my character.
LUX: Have you ever experienced any racism or sexism in the industry?
SC: I have not experienced racism in the artistic world any more than I have elsewhere. I would even say that my experience has been better in the industry and that I have been encouraged to affirm my identity in the. projects I have been involved in. When I started, I did hear things like, “They are not looking for a black person for this role”, where colour was not a subject in the project. Luckily, that didn’t happen often.
LUX: What do you think of social media?
SC: For discovering artistic talent and for ease of communication it is brilliant. I also really like Facebook groups that help me to look for antiques and give a second life to things – I am very touched by that kind of approach. But I think social media takes up so much space in our lives and we have to know how to slow down and discipline ourselves. Easier said than done…
LUX: Are there musicians you would particularly like to work with?
SC: I have has the opportunity to be surrounded by great artists every day. I am blown away by the singer-songwriter Matthieu Chedid, who I have seen on stage many times, and the singer and actress Yael Naim. My favourite album at the moment is Hamza’s latest, Sincèrement. It is hard-hitting but also very free-form.
LUX: What advice would you give to young international actors?
SC: To try and stay true to themselves, whatever happens.
LUX: What were you doing before our interview this morning?
SC: I was looking after my baby daughter, who is eight months old.
This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX