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Most people probably know Kristin Meyer from her role as Iris Cöster in GZSZ (Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten) – one of Germany’s most famous and longstanding soaps. However, as a TV, cinema and theatre actress, singer, dancer, student and dubbing artist, she somehow also found time to bring a charitable organisation to life. Discover Germany spoke to Meyer about her new projects and whether she has ever regretted leaving GZSZ.
Kristin Meyer knew that she belonged on stage very early on.“My parents were both classical musicians and I often went to see their concerts. I always felt as if I was on the wrong side when I sat in the audience. At 16, I finally decided that I should be on stage,” the actress laughs. Thus, Meyer applied to study drama and voice at Leipzig’s
Academy of Music and Theatre ‘Felix Mendelssohn – Bartholdy’. Since graduating, she appeared in various theatre plays, such as West Side Story, Carmen, Picasso’s Women or Shakespeare’s Richard III. Meyer was also able to land numerous TV assignments – many of them leading roles. From Wolffs Revier and Polizeiruf to Tatort, Kuestenwache, Ein Fall fuer Nadja, SOKO Wismar, Schloss Einstein and SOKO 5113, Meyer is mainly known for her appearance in Germany’s longest-running soap GZSZ.
“I got too comfortable”
During her time at GZSZ from 2006 until 2010, Meyer played the lead character of Iris Cöster.“It was the most intense time of my life. It felt like home and amazing to be part of such a huge, experienced team,” Meyer says. She adds: “I’m a team player and not a stage hog and GZSZ was the perfect setting for me to flourish. The controllability of one’s own performance in soaps is simply incredible. You don’t have this when filming a movie, but in a soap you have direct contact with your performance and you can already see what to improve a few hours after filming it,” the actress explains.
After four years at the soap, Meyer decided to quit. “One day I noticed my alarming mindset. The perks of working for a soap like GZSZ are incredible and I realised that I got far too comfortable. It was time to leave and the production firm fully supported me with this. Today I look back on the time at GZSZ with a warm feeling and am really grateful that I had the opportunity to be part of it. The soap opened up some great doors for me.” She adds:“Of course, the last day was horrible and a few months after I left, I fell into a big hole as jobs just don’t queue up. This was needed to become a bit more realistic.” Thus, she decided to dedicate her life to other, more social tasks.
“We all have a duty”
On her last paid vacation by GZSZ she visited an orphanage in Uganda for a month to teach them acting. “This personal experience quickly turned into a deeper relationship,” says Meyer. As she saw the impact of genetic malnutrition, she decided to take a one-year course to train as a nutritionist, gaining vital knowledge that she wishes to pass on to the children. Meyer also started a Master of Public Policy at Berlin’s Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance. As part of her course, the actress developed a project to support young HIV-positives and the charity Act To Be was born.
Act To Be seeks to foster a peaceful togetherness of all people around the world. Its pilot project, ‘Young & Positive – Art against Stigma and Discrimination’, in Uganda seeks to help children and teenagers who were infected with HIV. Its mission is to offer them a platform where they can test their skills, learn about themselves and express their needs and wishes through theatre plays.“Discrimination of the society is added to the burden of the illness itself so that Young Positives often grow up without safety or care,”explains Meyer. For at least a year, a local drama teacher coaches around 70 Young Positives to act, dance and sing to develop an improved body awareness and more self-confidence. After that, entire theatre plays are developed and the overall goal is to make people come together and to give Young Positives the needed tools for an independent and sustainable future. “Their wish to live a life without prejudices and discrimination is thus heard in an entertaining way. We further raise HIV and AIDS awareness,”Meyer adds.
Local institutions get supported too and donations are collected for them. Kristin Meyer notes:“We’re still at the very start and we need to generate more donations to make the charity grow.While our pilot project in Uganda is still at an early stage, I’m planning to bring others to life. The next one will be in Germany – maybe one in Berlin for refugees or about sustainability and environmental issues. After all, Act To Be wants that people deal with life in a
more conscious way – not only in Africa.” She adds: “I seek to create a world where people meet as equals. I don’t see myself as a saviour but we all have a task and duty. As an actress, my influence scope was always quite small, but with Act To Be I can be creative and have freedom to realise my ideas.” A jewellery designer from Dubai recently found out about Act To Be. Impressed with the charity’s ideas, Haya Jewellery designed and now manufactures an exclusive butterfly bracelet for Act To Be. While the designer takes over all production costs, the entire proceeds get donated to the charity.
Besides seeking to bring Act To Be to life and handing in her Masters thesis, Kristin Meyer is still a devoted actress and has exciting screen projects in the pipeline. An episode of the crime series SOKO Stuttgart, for example, will be broadcasted in February.“I just filmed a movie for another project too. I’m a partner for the Rescue Dada Centre in Nairobi and travelled there with MISEREOR.” It seems like there is nothing Kristin Meyer cannot do.
TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF I PHOTOS: BORIS LAJOS / T&T