LA Yoga Magazine
interviews lead actress, Elisabeth Rohm, on Finding Happiness in Everyday Practice.
Elisabeth Röhm is a modern-day Jane of all trades. The established actress played Assistant District Attorney Serena Southerlyn on the acclaimed series Law & Order, and has featured on such TV shows as The Client List, Heroes, and Angel. Her burgeoning film career includes co-starring alongside Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, and Robert DeNiro in director David O. Russell’s anticipated feature American Hustle (coming out this Fall), as well as starring as the lead in the docudrama Finding Happiness, in which she plays a skeptic who travels to Ananda’s Northern California-based residential spiritual community.
LA YOGA: In the new film, Finding Happiness, you play Juliet, a journalist who is assigned to a piece on Swami Kriyananda. This fictional narrative has a documentary quality since Swami Kriyananda is a real teacher and you visited the real location of the community depicted in the film. What was this experience like?
ER: I had been familiar with Kriyananda’s writing from my childhood and had wanted to meet him in person. I didn’t expect anything, but my intuition told me that it was going to be a wonderful experience. My perspective is a little different from Juliet’s because she is a cynic; she comes to Ananda thinking it’s all hocus pocus. Through the course of the film, as she spends time with the community, she sees the value of togetherness. Those concepts — togetherness and community — touched me at my core. Whether people suffer or not, people who live in communities are onto something. I probably didn’t feel it necessary before, but after having worked on the film, I can see the benefits it has for the soul. Being there touched my heart.
The experience on set was very dharmic. With the exception of a project I did in Cambodia, I had never been in an environment where everyone was this nice and genuine. I knew it wasn’t just because they were putting their best foot forward; it came from the heart. Caring for one another in a group made me very reflective of my own life. I was especially touched by a young family whose father had died. The community came together to help keep the mourning family fed. My own mother passed away a few years ago, but I can’t say that I had the same experience. We had maybe three or four good friends, but there in Ananda, the community became pearls that helped them deal with the loss. Communal living isn’t for everyone, and I’m not sure it’s the right thing for me and my family. However, I am able to learn and take these blueprints with me into my daily life and apply them as I see fit.
Elisabeth talks about the role of Juliet, and how her own personal spiritual search found renewal during filming at Ananda Village.
When Asha was enlisted as the script coordinator for the interviews with Ananda residents, she figured out her job on the fly.