As we transition from kids to teenagers and then young adults, we tend to forget the joy of imagining, becoming in ways tenser and often too serious about life. Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Our imagination tunes us into the vibrations that bring into existence worlds within infinite potentialities. We create this world in our mind, with no limits to what can be and become.
Belgian-born artist, Lyne Renée, who shines through her leading role as General Sarah Alder in Season Two of Freeform’s Motherland: Fort Salem, says, “I’m a romantic who is in love with storytelling thanks to my grandmother. She was one of the most incredible storytellers. And, yes, I’m someone who still lives in a very imaginative world. And I’m grateful for that. I think it’s because of my upbringing, as I was brought up in the countryside of Belgium, and my mom would say one thing in the morning to us, ‘Go play outside.’ We were not allowed to watch TV or play Nintendo back in the day. And I think it’s just great. It’s such an incredible, imaginary world for me, and it’s a database in a bag that I now go to. I’m very free. I’m also a very positive person. I think the way you are in life and how the world falls around you really starts with how you think. And in the last two years, I’ve really been reprogramming or becoming aware of my thoughts again and just making sure that it stays positive because it starts there.”
Everything that we observe through our physical senses has been first an idea, a thought, a story we have imagined. Therefore, we imprint through our thoughts into reality while our emotions are the indicators of where we are in relationship to where we want to be. Weola, a contemporary inspirational facilitator, said, “It is not the thought that keeps becoming a thing. Your creation is created. It is your discovery of that which has already become.” The discovery of what we have already created through our thoughts is the most exhilarating experience, as the goal is never in the destination. In the process of becoming, we are always aiming for a fuller lifeforce expression through our physical self. And ultimately, we can’t experience the opposite of the stories we tell ourselves.
Although Lyne was born in Belgium, she lives and works between the UK and the US. She shares how experiencing other cultures has opened up and shaped her sense of self. “My father has been in the carpet business for forever, and he was traveling the world. So, through him, I had an idea that there was a bigger world out there. The beauty of my job is that I have chosen to go international and not just stay in Belgium—I’ve been in between Los Angeles, New York, and London for the last seventeen years. And that just brought so much enrichment to my life. I always feel or say to people, you will only experience growth when you leave your comfort zone. I was never scared; I was always very hungry and excited to see what these other countries could bring, how they could shape you, and how you could experience growth. And I feel that only happens when you leave that comfort zone. When you go somewhere where you have to start over again and find your new self, it’s great because you challenge yourself and meet new and different cultures and speak different languages. So, for me, it’s always something that I very much have embraced and will continue to embrace. I feel like when I’m in a place for three months, that’s when the itch starts for me to start moving again. I think I’m a gypsy at heart and a nomad. It’s so exciting to constantly be shifting yourself away from that, what could become comfortable because you grow so much. For me, it’s just shaped me into the woman I am today. I’m very independent because of it. I don’t have a lot of fear. I don’t really think about it; what if that doesn’t work. The other day, I had a friend in Belgium say, ‘But what if you don’t succeed?’ And I’m like, ‘That’s not in my vocabulary.’”
Our world is beautifully diverse. Observing and experiencing variety is always stimulating and brings birth to new desires and clarity to our preferences. More variety means more opportunities to become more proactive and less bored as there is more to compare and choose from. Everything around us is a mirror reflection of us from a different angle. It gives us feedback on how we project ourselves. If we desire to shift that outer projection, the shift always happens from within. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”
Lyne says, “When I was talking about my dreams, many people were like, ‘Oh no, don’t do that. That’s going to be impossible.’ And at the beginning, that’s interesting because it’s not what you want to hear. But you must differentiate and understand that it’s their fear. And you can’t let that affect you. I hope to show people not to let anything come in the way; just tell yourself that anything is possible. How do you talk to yourself? What conversations do you have with yourself? Because if you tell yourself, I’m never gonna be able to do this, you won’t. But if you tell yourself, I’m gonna be able to do this. Watch what happens. It’s a fascinating exercise.”
It’s interesting to witness how the entertainment industry is becoming more inclusive in its narratives and representation. The audiences are asking for more empowering stories where the essence can resonate with them in a more personal way.
“When I was 25, that was not even at hand. So there has been a huge change in that. And, definitely, because the stories need to be inspiring. I mean, Motherland: Fort Salem is such a beautiful example. Because it’s women in power, women in leadership. I get to play a general, who is both hated and admired, but you’re also looking at her and questioning her backstory. And to be able to play such a powerful woman, and when I say powerful, I feel like every woman is powerful; there’s no such thing as a weak woman, but it depends on the position they’re given. So, with Motherland: Fort Salem, it’s just such a great thing because you get to play a general in a leading position, like who would have thought that that would have ever happened with the diversity that’s brought in as well—I think it’s about time. We always lived such a divided life and such separate, and now everything is coming together. Having lived in cities like London, Los Angeles, and New York, for me, that was already normal because they are such cosmopolitan cities; there is a diversity in culture, and it’s just a beautiful thing. Now that’s being translated into television and film, and it’s such a beautiful concept. I feel very privileged that I’m in a time in my career where I can step into these women’s shoes. What I can bring to it personally is everything that I have experienced. That’s just such a spectacular thing that we get to experience today as actors, especially female actors,” says Lyne passionately.
As competitive as the entertainment industry seems, Lyne has made and is making her way, expressing herself through the art of performance and more. Although there are certain ‘rules’ that any industry might mark, it is always our choice to create our own perspective in how we see those rules as limiting or supporting us in what we desire to accomplish. Often, we measure ourselves too much in comparison to what success ought to be, and that can be overwhelming. But we can always ask ourselves, why do we want to do what we do? Behind that answer, in essence, there will always be a sense of love, a bursting appreciation for the craft we exercise, knowing that it’s not only beneficial to us but also valuable to others as a collective—and perhaps that is the ultimate success.
Lyne says, “Of course, the industry is competitive. But if you want to start in this business, and you’re going to be like, ‘Oh, my God, this is going to be so competitive,’ then don’t even start. I think every business is competitive; everybody wants to make their mark. For me, when I go to work, I always make it about the people around me. If people come to set and are in their own little world thinking about how they can succeed, then that’s when it becomes competitive. But that changes when they approach it as a collective of people who come together and are generous to each other. The most beautiful thing that one of my best friends, a theater director, gave me as a note is to make it about the other person. Because when you do, your performance will get better. We can get rid of competitiveness when we know that we’re people that come together, and we tell stories. It’s the weirdest thing how there’s so much envy and jealousy when you’re doing well, instead of celebrating somebody because it’s so difficult to get to a point and succeed in this industry. I’m working with an incredible coach here in New York, and I spoke to a good friend the other day, and I said, ‘You’ve got to work with him.’ And she was like, ‘Oh, wow, that’s so generous of you to share your coaching.’ I was like, ‘Why would I not do it?’ I’m happy for other people when they succeed because if you can’t, I don’t think you’ll ever be successful yourself.”
Playing General Sarah Alder on Motherland: Fort Salem made a significant impact on Lyne’s personal growth and awareness. Although the actress was a little bit intimidated due to the character’s power and knowledge, and considering that English is not Lyne’s first language, she focused on preparing herself for this role more than ever, which inevitably brought disproportional expansion not only as an actress but also personally.
“The amount of work that I’ve put in there for me has personally brought so much growth because I didn’t know I could push my boundaries and my instruments in ways that I’ve been able to do with others. When you get to push yourself and expand and do things that you haven’t done before, that’s when you go, ‘Oh, wow, that’s the importance and the impact that a character can make,’” shared Lyne, exhilarated.
But General Sarah Alder is just one of the characters in which we enjoy seeing Lyne’s performance on TV. Helena Bergman is another powerful female character Lyne embodied for the highly anticipated Gossip Girl reboot series for HBO Max. About her experience of becoming Helen, Lyne shares, “First of all, coming from Motherland: Fort Salem and being in a military figure for eight months, and arriving in New York City and being able to slip into Manolo Blahnik and Helena Bergman was one of the most incredible things. She’s a businesswoman. I don’t think she’s mean; I think it’s gonna be everybody’s assumption because she is a woman in power on her own. She was a top model in Europe before, which is a tough industry on its own. But now, she has stepped into the corporate business side. So, you’ve got to be able to stand your ground, and Helena is that when you see her. She comes across as very tough, very cold, and in charge. But for me, it was crucial to be aware of where her heart is. And that question was very easy to answer because it’s her son. Her heart is her son.”
Besides being busy with Motherland: Fort Salem and Gossip Girl, Lyne is continually looking for creative outlets—painting, stand-up comedy, and music.
“I play music as well. I’m a singer. So, I compose songs. And I am currently in the works of making my first music video to a song I composed a while ago. When I write songs, I usually start by writing the lyrics without having any of the music because, for me, it’s about what I am going to say. And this song that I want to make the video clip about is a French song, and not that I want to compare myself to Edith Piaf, but it’s that kind of genre. So, it’s quite dramatic. I’m also writing my own stand-up. I used to write, and I love doing comedy, but not many people know this. I used to write monologues when I was still in university in Antwerp. And they are these one-woman shows, and for an hour, you’re on stage. And it’s always been a medium that has interested me most because I think it’s one of the most difficult disciplines that an actor can tackle: being on stage by yourself for an hour and entertaining your audience. So that is something that I’ve been writing on, and I should really just get my butt on stage here in New York City at the comedy club,” says Lyne, smiling wide open.
Lyne’s mom, Annemarie De Smet, is a celebrated artist and a teacher in Belgium; it’s no wonder she is so creative in a variety of expressions. Beyond that, her mom is an inspiration to her and every one her mom encounters on her way. About that, Lyne candidly says, “I think the contribution that my mom brought to all of these young children she taught is far beyond. Still, when I go home, I see kids that approach me, and they’re like, ‘Oh, my God, I was taught a class by your mom. And she literally just changed my life and not just by her being a teacher, but the woman that she is.’ I think my mom has been one of the most beautiful inspirations of living life the way you want to do it, full of love and the freedom of being yourself. I think my mom has brought an incredible awareness to me of what the world is around us and the impact that we can have. So, she’s made a huge impact, and her work is just it’s so beautiful.”
Lyne is an avid painter, too. For her, the process of painting gets her to a meditative state. For as we all, when we have too much of a physical focus on doing things, we also need to balance it with time to be more unfocused, to going within. Lyne uses the process of painting to soften her thoughts and be more present in the moment. She can then apply that meditative state to other activities that require a sharper flashlight of attention.
“Painting is a meditative state. It’s where I stop thinking. It’s where I’m able to follow my instinct. I can be lost in creating something. And I think the beauty of it is that it stops my mind. Everything becomes quiet; I feel free. There are no voices; it’s just such a beautiful platform where I can freely express myself without having to think of an outcome. I’m not making this for anyone. I think, if anything, I’m doing it for myself. When I started painting and drawing, I never thought that the reactions would have been so beautiful to my work. And now I have people asking me for things that they want to be made, and I custom make pieces for them. And it’s just become this beautiful little hobby that has been expanding.”
Flowing within the new layers of balance is of utmost importance not only for our own well-being but also for what we offer to others. Everything starts with us taking care of ourselves, and then we can fully and most unconditionally inspire, uplift, assist, and impact everything and everyone around us. How can we like others if we don’t fully embrace and like ourselves?
“It’s very important to start liking everything about yourself. And I think in the last few years, with the current state of the world and everything that has been happening, I’ve done a lot of work on that. The biggest investment I’ve made is having a therapist and being able to talk to someone objectively—you get to know yourself better that way. If I were to think of one thing, I think my best quality would be that I’m disarming because I am myself. When you meet me, I will not put on a stance or pretend to be someone I’m not. You will always get Lyne, and I think that is one of my strongest suits. Because when you can be yourself, it’s quite amazing what it does to other people when you are disarming. It almost disarms the person in front of you, too. When you’re honest with someone, you’ll get honesty in return,” Lyne lovingly concludes.
When we are honest with ourselves, when we don’t try to pretend and just uncover the mirror reflection in front of us, it is the first step to moving from something we would like to shift. But that has to be done with love because criticizing and disliking who we are will always lead us to pretend to be someone else. Our natural state is love, we are love, and sometimes we think or perceive that we feel the opposite of that, but that’s a lie because that can’t be true.
So, are you ready to close your eyes, take a deep breath and say, I love YOU? Because that’s who you are, and we are continually becoming more of that love, eternally.
Photography // King Redman