Fast Confession - actress Jitka Schneiderová: We got shots for pretty much everything when we were young, a small percentage of bad reactions is normal with every vaccine
Jitka Schneiderová is a well-known name in the Czech show business. The actress fiercely guards her privacy, but when it comes to her theatre or film activities, she is visible enough. Viewers can currently see her in the successful TV Nova series Anatomy of Life in the role of nurse Helena, with whom she has a lot in common - whether it's raising a daughter or a younger partner. In an interview for LP-Life.com, Jitka talked not only about filming, but also about the coronavirus era in general, and especially about her teenage daughter Sofia Anna, who inspires her in many ways.
In Fast Confession, you indicated that something was going on in the Chamber of Deputies.
For more than eight years, the government has been talking about getting children out of infant care facilities. A few days before the key vote, some ANO MEPs began to back down - they claim it is too hasty, we don’t have enough foster parents and so on.
The same excuses we have heard for so many years. We are the last in Europe to have infant care facilities! This is not some kind of an irresponsible experiment. All our neighbouring countries and several Czech regions have already managed to get small children out of state care. The vote was postponed to the end of April. So I still hope that the facts from experts and common sense will outweigh politicking.
Children under the age of three?
Yes, only those under the age of three. Older children will still be in state care. We really have crazy quotas, systems and the like from 1950s Russia. It passed at the last reading, and even the MEPs who were against it gave their agreement. And now, ANO and KSČM, parties that had already made a decision, are withdrawing it again, because of politicking. So the children will stay in those facilities.
Why does it worry you so much?
I’ve been associated with the Hledáme rodiče (Looking for Parents) Foundation for over eight years. I’m really invested in this topic. An initiative called 8000 důvodů (8,000 Reasons) was created under this foundation, because up to eight thousand children are still in our institutions. The transformation of institutional care has been underway for over twenty years, and as governments continue to change, the wheel of approval and persuasion keeps turning back to the beginning and it's an endless loop! Something is prepared only to be cancelled later, because the priorities are elsewhere. Children are still at the end of the chain of thought process and change. Now we are the closest we have ever been, thanks to experts and organizations such as 8,000 reasons, Lumos, Dobrý start (Good Start), Asociace dítě a rodina (Child and Family Association), SOS Villages and others. Data show that the number of children in infant facilities has decreased in recent years. At present, there are only 228 children under the age of 3 in state care, and according to experts, this means an exceptional opportunity to achieve the termination of residential care during a three-year transitional period. I have to believe that change will finally take place. Every child has the right to grow up in a family!
Virtually everyone I interview these days talks about covid. But not you.
Covid is terrible, but it’s here to stay. We have to learn to live with it. But I can't waste my time on something I can't change. Yes, I am disappointed, sometimes I get terribly upset, because, as the data show, our government has done the poorest job of all, at least in Europe. We have the highest number of deaths per capita in the world. That’s a tragedy! I’m trying to get through these days by promoting education and information about the issue of institutional care in our country, and attempting to make the Chamber of Deputies adopt a law setting the age limit for placing children in institutions during this election period. That’s something I can do and it’s what I pour my energy into.
Let’s talk about something nice. You've been on vacation recently.
We left for a few days to catch a bit of sun. I did it mainly because of my daughter, she needed to get some fresh air and, at least for a while, forget about the fact that she had been locked up at home without social contacts for a year. The purpose was fulfilled, it was great.
She is almost grown up now, how is she coping?
We’ve actually given up on this generation during covid. Yes, being empathetic to the oldest age group was the right thing to do, but the state failed. It didn’t care about children at all. Sofie is doing quite well, even though she also had some hard days and went through bouts of sadness and apathy. But it’s crazy what mothers with young children, first-grade schoolchildren, have to handle: studying with the kids, cooking for them, taking care of the family, earning money, and all of that while confined to four walls!. Hats off, I admire all these parents.
You said you’ve been shooting for the last six months. What does that look like in the covid era?
We were learning it on the go. It was a huge change. We were being tested all the time, the whole crew had to wear a face mask twelve hours a day, we only took it off for filming our scenes. The makeup artists were working on us while wearing a shield, goggles and a face mask. People weren’t getting enough oxygen, they had to take breaks to go outside and take a breath of fresh air. Sometimes the shooting had to be put on hold due to quarantine. It was an apocalypse at times.
I’ve read that during filming, people were divided into teams marked by different colours so that they wouldn’t mix.
In large productions, yes. In our case, no more than two or three actors met at a time, once in a while there were a little more of us, but the crew was always the same. We were in a closed bubble, I drove to work, met the same people every day and drove back home.
So Covid completely avoided you?
I didn't have it.
It surprises me too. It's either because I’m a jogger, or genetics play a role in it, or I have a good immunity system. It’s also a fact that I take care of myself and for several years I have been taking vitamins and nutritional supplements on and off, and Chinese medicine does wonders for me as well.
Did it come with age?
Yes. When I hit forty-five I began to check out what was on the market for better condition and health. (laughter)
So you cook yourself differently, too? Do you apply it at home as well?
I don't cook differently, I just try to eat quality food, I don't live on fast food.
Young people perceive global problems differently than older generations. Does Sofia already understand the way you take care of yourself at fifteen?
Yes, she gets it. All we can give our children is a good example - not to lie, to admit our own mistakes and to be authentic. I think this is essential. They don't need expensive designer clothes or an amazing holiday. Sofia perceives and sees how I live, what I do, how I think, what I create, where I make mistakes.
Does Sofie also understand the economic side of the current situation at the age of fifteen? Like that you were lucky with the series and didn't lose your job completely?
She's beginning to understand. Sofia has awesome friends in her circle. They seem to perceive reality as it is, they are able to say "I don't need this". Everything starts where they grow up.
Would you have accepted the role in the Anatomy of Life even if theatres weren't closed?
Yes. The format was purchased from Finland, where it was very successful. I knew what I was getting into. Another crucial factor for me is who creates it, the whole DNA of the production is a guarantee of the maximum quality. They always do their best to create something great with the resources available to them. I had enough room for artistic expression, and what they’d set up for us was nice. I would always say yes to something like this. There were rumours around it that it was another endless series, a cardboard thing. But I knew I was going to participate in a project where an entire hospital floor was being built, we weren't shooting in a cardboard studio. The project was set up nicely and I stand behind it. I enjoyed working on it, I got a nice role and I got to spend time with wonderful people. What more could I ask for?
Can you share a spicy tidbit or a pun from the shooting?
The start of the filming was spicy enough for me. On the very first shooting day, I had to do the most intimate scenes with Aleš Petráš. I knew him from another project, but I saw the crew for the first time. And they had us go all in right from the start. Aleš laughed that it was his first love scene in front of the camera, saying that I would have to give him some guidelines, and he asked me at seven in the morning in what position we were going to lie together. The crew quickly realized it would be entertaining, and in the end we formed an instant connection.
Do you know of any colleagues who changed their profession because of covid?
I do, a lot of my fellow actors went to do something completely different. I won't name them, they wouldn't like it.
Do you think we'll ever be able to return to the theatres?
We have to believe it. I hope that the summer scenes will take off, that will be a crucial first step. Some people will already be vaccinated, many people have already undergone covid. There are indications that we should gradually return to normal life. This must be taken into account. Of course, the virus will still be here, it will mutate, new vaccines will be created. We have to reckon with that, but we can’t go into lockdown again. Experts should be making the decisions, not what we’ve seen here during this whole ordeal.
What are you rehearsing in the theatre?
We’ll perform in Vyšehrad with Studio Two, and another stage has also opened. We already have a plan for the whole summer. And the Karlín Music Theater, which has been closed for a whole year, created a new summer stage in Letňany. There, we will have to make some changes in the Rebels, which we’d already rehearsed before, because the summer scene doesn’t have the same technical parameters as the theatre. In September, the musical will return to the theatre, but during the summer, the Rebels will play at the same place where they’ll have their opening night. Rehearsals for the partly finished Smoke at the Fidlovačka Theater will begin again, too, with an opening night in September.
I have a lot going on, but I don't really realize it, because I don't count on anything anymore. I live from project to project. I do have plans, we have yet to finish filming a movie, which we started shooting last summer. But since everything keeps being postponed or cancelled all year round, I don't completely count on things really happening.
What do you think about vaccination, will you get a shot?
Of course. Mainly because of my profession. Actors move from theatre to theatre, from one filming party to another. I don't want to endanger anyone. And if we get to the point when travelling will only be available to those who have a covid passport and you’ll want to go somewhere, you’ll have no other option. I also think the hysteria around it is unnecessary. In our youth, we got shots for pretty much everything. There is a very small percentage of bad reactions to each vaccination. One needs to perceive reality in context. But if someone doesn't travel and works in a small team and doesn't have much contact with other people, they might make a different choice. I will get vaccinated.
Are you still happy in your private life? Even after so many years?
Yes, we’re holding on. Everything is as it should be. It's still very nice.
That's great, because lockdown divided a lot of people…
That wasn’t our case, because my partner had and still has a lot of work. He was going to work where he was alone, he created a streaming studio and the whole company was operating online. So we didn’t have a problem.
How about you and dance? I mean, do you still dancey? Don't you miss it? What do you think about the new line-up of this year's StarDance?
No dance for me at the moment. And it wasn’t possible anyway. I have other priorities. But if someone came and told me, hey, we have a dance project for you, I wouldn’t hesitate! I really like this year's StarDance party. I will watch and cheer.
Is there anything you are really looking forward to, despite the coronavirus? Something you have planned and it has to work out no matter what?