In honour of International Women’s Day, we’re featuring a woman who has found success pursuing her (accidental) passion on our March/April cover. No one better represents the idea of success and joy than actress Chayanit “Pat” Chansangavej. Here, she talks to us about her unexpected path to acting and how she fell in so deep there was no other way out.
“I simply can’t imagine myself doing anything else besides acting.”
Such is the sentiment actress Chayanit “Pat” Chansangavej holds toward her career – or, dare we say, her calling. But her path to the big screen was never planned. Whether out of sheer humility or simply knowing herself really well, Pat claims she had always been a drifter who wasn’t sure what she wanted to do in life until she happened upon acting.
The independent-minded actress is one of the representatives of today’s generation of successful young women who have truly come into their own. Her path is not only a happy instance of happenstance, but one that is at once relatable to many.
So how, exactly, did the up-and-coming actress go on to become the lead actress for the first original Thai series on Netflix and HBO, two of the world’s largest streaming platforms?
Growing up, Pat always had a penchant for daydreaming and playing pretend. Though she never knew exactly what she wanted to do, her love for imagination and creativity lead her to pursue art, specifically visual communication design, at Silpakorn University. It was there she fell into acting, and the rest is history.
It’s all about surprises for Chayanit “Pat” Chansangavej
After joining her university’s film and acting club for fun, she realised she found something she enjoyed so much she could commit to for the rest of her life. “My seniors just kept introducing me to more people, and the more people I connected with, the more opportunities I stumbled upon… and here I am” she smiles. “I didn’t even realise I had become an actress!”
For Pat, it’s all about making discoveries along the way. Her first film role was in a Singapore-Taiwanese-Thai film Distance, a role she got without knowing what film she was auditioning for. Upon finding out her costar was Taiwanese actor Chen Bolin, she Googled him and made another surprising discovery. “I didn’t know who he was, but when I found out he was a big star in his country that was a complete surprise,” she laughs.
The freedom to feel
There are few people like Pat in this world who can proudly say they truly enjoy something they fell into. Though stumbling into acting has brought her international recognition for her roles in various films and TV series like Netflix’s Stranded, it isn’t the fame and fortune that has kept her going. “I love the moments where I get so deep into my emotions and my soul – it frees me.” When acting, experiencing her character’s emotions is just the tip of the iceberg. “I feel so deeply to the point it takes me to this free space, one that’s only mine.”
Fueling a healthy addiction
No one, and certainly not Pat, sets out to become addicted to something. But acting has sort of become Pat’s gateway drug to pursuing and sticking to something she loves.
“Acting is an excuse for me to feed my addiction to challenges,” she says. Her latest challenge has been playing a mother in the upcoming horror-thriller Cracked, in which she stars alongside Thai K-pop singer Nichkhun Horvejkul of 2PM fame. From gaining weight in the right places to attending training workshops that got her into a maternalistic mindset, she was eager to portray herself as a young mother as convincingly as possible.
To her, the challenge of embodying someone she isn’t in real life is like jumping down a rabbit hole of emotions. “It forces me to ask myself whether I can go deeper – whether I can express certain emotions more deeply than I think I can.” The hope to continuously experience this throughout her career is what keeps her coming back to acting.
Blurring the lines
If people asked what on-screen Pat and real-life Pat share, one thing comes to mind: her vulnerability. Pat doesn’t only master the art of feeling deeply in her roles. She’s very much an advocate of practising that in real life too. “Something I’ve learned to do more in the last few years is to be more open and vulnerable with myself. I now know what it’s like to be kind to myself and forgive myself.”
Buying herself flowers is also another gesture, or rather a ritual, she has come to embrace along with saying kind words to herself. She shares a story about a time while sitting alone in her car, she held a bouquet and thanked herself for being who she was. “I’ve never shared this with anyone before – this is so embarrassing!”
Chayanit “Pat” Chansangavej – Remembering herself
True to the free-spirit she is, Pat doesn’t idolise anyone in particular. “I don’t have any role models,” she says. “The people I admire keep changing.” For someone who feels deeply and enjoys feeling out her characters’ emotions and that of other people, there is one note Pat makes sure to mentally write to herself: don’t get lost, whether in your emotions or your path. Know yourself and remember yourself.”
Pat’s latest horror-thriller Cracked will be in theatres this year. In the meantime, discover her style tips, get her curated movie list, and see her responses to gender stereotypes in our March/April digital issue.
Photographer: Aekarat Ubonsri
Stylist: Arthit Chuenkamolpan
Makeup: Kachapond Phraengam
Hair: Chatchaphisitha Sukr
Photographer’s Assistant: Amnaj Waimalee
Stylist’s Assistant: Prok Maksuwan
Outfits: Prada, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Bottega Veneta, Max Mara, Off-white
Location: 195 Studio