Alina Serban is an award-winning actress, playwright and director.
Born in 1987, Serban grew up in Bucharest, Romania. Overcoming tremendous obstacles, including poverty and discrimination, she became the first member of her Roma family to graduate from high school and university. After acquiring a drama degree in Bucharest at the Academy of Theatrical Arts and Cinematography, Serban attended the Tisch School of the Arts in New York, and obtained a master’s from Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
As a professional actress, Serban’s credits include numerous Shakespeare plays under the artistic direction of Philip Parr (among them ‘Périclès, Prince of Tyre’), as well as productions presented at European theatre festivals (’Turfed’, ‘The House Project’, ‘The Sun That Casts No Shadows’). She acted opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC television series ‘The Last Enemy’, and made her debut on the silver screen with a supporting part in ‘Written/Unwritten’, a short film that won more than 20 awards. For her first leading role in cinema, Serban stars in Marta Bergman’s feature film ‘Alone at My Wedding’, which premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2018 and earned her several Best Actress awards. She also stars as a boxer in Huseyin Tabak’s ‘Gipsy Queen’, a German-Austrian production set to make its world debut in 2019.
As a playwright, Serban pioneered Roma feminist political theatre, with three plays to her name by the age of 29. She led the way in 2009 with ‘Slumdog Roma’ (later renamed ‘I Declare at My Own Risk’), a poignant and often funny one-woman-show in which she recounts her life journey as a young Roma woman. In 2013, her second award-winning play explored the notion of ‘Home’. Three years later, she wrote and directed ‘The Great Shame’, Romania’s first play about the taboo topic of Roma slavery, becoming the first Roma woman director to have a play included in the permanent repertoire of a state theatre in Romania in 2018.
She lives between Bucharest, London and wherever filming takes her. Her work is driven by a strong sense of social justice, a desire to question prejudice and privilege, and the need to plant some good in the world — however small the seed.
Bio by Alice Hackman, journalist
Scroll for the full timeline and click on an image to learn more!
Director: Marta Bergman
“Seule a mon mariage” premiered at Cannes International Film Festival as part of the ACID selection
“Seule a mon mariage” tells the story of Pamela, an Insolent, spontaneous, funny young Roma woman. A single mother, she lives with her grandmother and her little girl in a small hut where the three of them share a bed. How can she reconcile the needs of her two-year old daughter and her dream of freedom?
Director: Alexandru Solomon
The concept of the spot was to try and transpose Romania’s past - idyllically represented - in the 21st century urban reality.
Besides acting in the spot and being the official image of the festival, Alina co-devised for the concept.
Director: Adrian Silisteanu
The film won over 20 awards as international film festivals
After a Roma family's underage daughter has a baby girl, issues related to their IDs and their status as parents of the underage new mother arise. The danger of state authorities separating them from their daughter forces them to take action.
Director: Renato Rocha
Commissioned London International Festival of Theatre LIFT
A cast of young artists — some of whom have experienced homelessness in London, while others have been street children in Tanzania, the Philippines and Brazil — use spoken word, sharp choreography and stunning visuals to shine a light on the global issue of youth homelessness.
Written by Alina Serban
A one-woman show based on Alina’s teenage diaries, growing up in a traditional Roma community, moving to a state-run children’s home, and later attending acting school in Bucharest and London.
Earlier versions “Slumdog Roma part 1” (2009) and “Slumdog Roma part 2- Two weeks, maximum one month, maybe six years” (2010)
The first street performance against Roma discrimination in Romania
Director: Catinca Draganescu and Sorana Tzopa
As a performer, executive producer, and project-manager, Alina put forth in 2009 a street-performance to explore the impact of anti-discrimination messages delivered as theatrical performances in open, unconventional spaces.