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Diaspora & Interview : Jonathan Eap, Cambodian revelation of the film "The Rascals"

Discovered to the public by his performance as Sovann in the movie ‘Les Rascals’, this young actor – Khmer by his father – has, however, an extremely rich past in both human and artistic experiences. Nowadays, he is surrounded by Anglo-Saxon, European and, of course, Cambodian culture. He exclusively reveals himself to Cambodia Mag as part of our series on atypical talents.

On the poster of the movie "Les Rascals". Photo provided
On the poster of the movie "Les Rascals". Photo provided

Today you are a headliner, but your charismatic physique had a negative impact on your childhood in Lyon. Can you tell us briefly about this experience?

I would describe this malaise as a real need to belong (at the time) to one or the other of the communities from which I came.

Born of a mixed race, but with a father born in Srok, our culture remains primordial in your construction. How important is it in your life?

Kabyle on my mother’s side, but Khmer on my father’s side, the culture of Cambodia has been the daily basis of my childhood and my education, from the cuisine to the traditions as well as the religion. The grandiose then tragic history of this country makes me feel the need to root myself in it and to pass it on.

Jonathan Eap with his father. Photo supplied
Jonathan Eap with his father. Photo supplied

As a brilliant student in business school, you decide to move to London to study. This place triggered a change in you: explain it to us.

London remains for me the trigger for a new open-mindedness. Its constant mixing of cultures and its strength of living together gave me a different energy. This energy had remained latent during my rather difficult childhood in Lyon.

You then choose in a paradoxical way to put your physicality forward. You went on castings and chose an unusual brand for your first show: NASIR MAZARH. Tell us about the highlights of this experience.

This experience was above all my most beautiful revenge against my past of exclusion. This physique which had earned me so much mockery now became my best asset.

Model for NASIR MAZARH. Photo supplied
Model for NASIR MAZARH. Photo supplied

This period of your life remains extremely rich in adventures. You join the famous modeling agencies like METROPOLITAN & ELITE. How would you position the place of Asian men in this very select environment?

They were certainly few; however, the physiques with the most pronounced ethnic characteristics were still the most highly rated. I would say that there was little room for mixed race.

This job will lead you for five years to discover many countries around the world. Which ones have marked you the most?

Definitely England, which I classify as a good compromise between American culture and European habits.

Back in France, after a certain latent period, an event pushes you towards acting. Why did this happen?

My years in modeling were also aimed at developing my artistic skills, I felt the need to express myself in a different and perhaps deeper way.

An exceptional encounter made you become the muse of PIERRE ET GILLES for a certain period of time. Can you describe this new association?

We met through a mutual friend and our connection was immediate, particularly because of their extensive knowledge of South-East Asian countries.

Following this, the actress-director Hafsia Herzi contacted you. Can we consider this new opportunity as a revelation?

Hafsia being a director, but also an actress in her films, she pushed me out of my limits by her innovative side. She led me to play my first real role in the cinema in TU MÉRITES UN AMOUR.

With actress-director Hafsia Herzi. Photo supplied
With actress-director Hafsia Herzi. Photo supplied

You are a very complete character, you practise very seriously several arts like singing, dancing and martial arts. In your choices we also note the KRUMP. Why this particular choice?

The KRUMP is for me the example of the dance expression; it is my release and the mirror of my compressed feelings of the moment.

In the middle of the Covid period comes the call to perform in Les Rascals. You describe this period as your ‘real passage to adulthood’. What were the reasons for this?

This period made me aware of the essential things in life, with no room for the superfluous. My legitimacy as a person of mixed race, as an atypical person, became obvious to me. From then on, it didn’t matter to me how others looked at me.

On the set. Photo supplied
On the set. Photo supplied

The shooting will put all the team of the film in a situation of Living together for two months. How did you feel?

MAGIC! I have nothing else to add, except that it remains my greatest human adventure to date.

Finally, are there any projects that are close to your heart?

I qualify myself as a multidimensional person; my need to explore the range of possibilities is omnipresent. And, of course, I hope to be able to share and realise my ideas internationally.

Early years. Photo supplied
Early years. Photo supplied

Interview by Chantha R.

Merci pour votre envoi !

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