Michaela May on her 70th birthday, family misfortunes and her contribution to the Ukraine aid

  • Actress Michaela May celebrates her 70th birthday.
  • The autobiography “Behind the Smile” was published on her special day, in which she openly shared private strokes of fate with the public like never before.
  • In an interview with our editors, she explains why it was time for her to reveal family secrets.

Ms. May, you are seen as a cheerful person who is always in a good mood. In this respect, the prologue of your autobiography is a surprise. The chapter is called “I want to live!” and reports on your personal strokes of fate. What made you take this step?

Michaela May: It was all about freeing myself. That was the real reason for writing this book in the first place. It is also important to me to arouse the interest of people who, like me, carry a backpack around with them. Almost everyone looks back on negative experiences or even trauma that have not been fully processed. Maybe I can help other people by using my own story to show them how one can lead a happy and carefree life despite family misfortunes.

The title of the book is “Behind the Smile”. Have you been wrongly put in this “feel good corner” in the past? Is that what you meant to bring up?

No, not that, but you mentioned it at the beginning. I’m not always, but very often seen and cast as a strong and happy person when it comes to my roles. That may be true to a large extent, but it’s not as if luck has always flown to me in my life. Sometimes you may need to study people before you judge them. All that glitters is not gold. With the book title “Behind the smile” I would like to sharpen the view that it is worth taking a closer look.

They write about the death of their mother three years ago and about their three siblings, all of whom died voluntarily at a young age. Your mother didn’t want you constantly being asked about it. But that’s exactly what you’re risking with the book. Why this about-face?

It is related to the death of my mother in January 2019. Up until then there had been no consideration whatsoever about re-opening my former life. After all, I knew that I would have opened my mother’s wounds again and again. With three children to bury, you can imagine the pain. And this pain came up again every year on special occasions such as birthdays or death anniversaries. We wanted to avoid everything beyond that, the door was closed.

Strange as it may sound, did that door reopen with the death of your mother?

In this respect, the painful death of my mother was also a liberation, if that’s what you mean!?

That’s what I was getting at, yes. Did you only start to process what you experienced today, more than 40 years after the death of your siblings?

At least I felt, in addition to the sadness, that I was suddenly a bit free and ready to deal with my past again. Writing this book is part of my processing. But again: I don’t just want to relieve myself, but hopefully also other people who have similar feelings.

However, they not only dare to look back, but also into the present. This impression is substantiated with the help of a quote from the Dalai Lama at the beginning of the book…

That’s very important to me. I try to focus on what the moment brings me. I can’t change yesterday and I don’t know tomorrow yet. I would like to encourage the readers to open their eyes, to live freely and carefree, to see things that one cannot perceive out of sheer sadness.

May: “The audience should laugh, cry and travel with me”

Is that a parallel between the long-time actress and the freshly minted author Michaela May: giving people things or perspectives to take with them?

I don’t think so. Of course, as an actress, I want to entertain the audience, but it’s more out of my own interest – because you feel like playing or immersing yourself in a role, in another life. It’s not primarily about spreading a message. Yes, the audience should laugh, cry and travel with me – but the drive is different than that of an author who writes an autobiographical work.

Her filmography is remarkable. There must have been roles in which you found yourself personally…

No, I refuse to say that I’ve had roles that suited me personally. Something like that does not exist. Of course, each role is a piece of me because I give it my soul and body to make it believable. But the story behind it has nothing to do with me. The further the role is away from me, the more fun I have shooting it.

According to your book, when your siblings died, you “felt like the whole world was dying around me.” Does it currently feel similar with regard to the war against Ukraine and Corona?

Every day when I watch the news. And of course I’m not alone in that, everyone knows this feeling. I think that with a view to the time we are living in, my book has taken on a completely different topicality. Namely, being drawn into a fate that you didn’t expect at all if you were born after World War II. Both politically and in terms of healthcare, we all feel a certain powerlessness. Here, too, it is important to tackle and seize the moment to overcome the crises together.

Michaela May: “I learned how short life actually is”

To what extent do you pitch in yourself? It’s no secret that you’re very socially involved…

My two main projects are of a permanent nature. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that must always be fought. We continue to work to find medicines and treatments, which we have already done, to ease this disease and perhaps even allow the young patients to live a normal life. We have already gained 30 years! In addition, I and my fellow actor Elmar Wepper have been patrons of “Retla e. V.” since 2019. the task of bringing seniors out of loneliness. The pandemic has made many seniors even more isolated because they are even less connected to the outside world than they were before. My charitable work has something to do indirectly with the Ukraine crisis. But we are finding that the current situation is causing trauma again, especially among older people. Through conversations we try to absorb these resurgent fears.

Many people are currently taking in refugees from Ukraine. They also?

Unfortunately, I can’t do this at the moment for reasons of space, but I support three friends who have already taken in refugees. I provide funds, buy clothes and food to do my part to help the affected families.

Despite the pain of the world and your personal life story, you remain optimistic. Is this in your blood?

It’s not in my blood. Rather, through my life story, I have learned how short life actually is. You have little time to experience and move something. Therefore, one should seize every moment. From this I can draw the joys of life.

VMany say: The sun rises with Michaela May’s smile. Will you also start March 18, i.e. your 70th birthday, with this smile?

With the sun of Italy for sure, because I’m spending my birthday in Sicily. That should make it even easier for me to smile myself (laughs).

Roles “from nun to witch”

The number “70” doesn’t seem to spoil your mood…

As long as you can do almost anything you want, you don’t feel old. At least that’s how I feel. You might take things a little slower than you used to, but it actually only makes you enjoy the moment more. For example, you no longer ski down the mountains quickly, but climb them up slowly with snowshoes. In short: I enjoy what I can still do and don’t get annoyed about what I might not be able to do anymore.

Last but not least, it can be gathered from your book that you have played almost everything “from the nun to the witch”, as one chapter is called. What are you still missing for perfect happiness?

I’ve played so many roles that I can’t really find a gap. Basically, the more substantial the story, the better I like it. For example, my husband recently wrote a book. There may be an opportunity here…

Are role offers becoming rarer with age – especially for actresses? Her colleague Uschi Glas spoke last year about age discrimination against women…

I can only speak for myself and the opposite is currently the case for me. I’ve never filmed as much as in the past year. I recently filmed a wonderful “crime scene” and on Wednesday the television film “Up to the last drop” was broadcast on ARD, in which I play a police chief. For the Amazon Prime series “Damaged Goods” I stood in front of the camera as a hippie grandma. I have no complaints and therefore cannot subscribe to this thesis.

Would you welcome a new edition of “Monaco Franze” or the “Munich Stories”? These are series that you once helped shape. Many cult formats are currently celebrating their comeback on TV…

There was actually the idea of ​​shooting a sequel with “Tscharlie” (played by Günther Maria Halmer; editor’s note) and Susi (Michaela May) in the old people’s home or at least to deal with the question of how the two with deal with age. I think a new edition of the “Munich Stories” would have its appeal. I wouldn’t mind.

Should your autobiography “Behind the Smile” be filmed: who should slip into the role of Michaela May?

I probably wouldn’t be able to play the young Michaela May anymore (laughs). There are a few young female colleagues I shot with that I could well imagine. Three names would immediately come to mind. But I better keep it to myself, after all I don’t want to exclude or disappoint anyone.

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