ESTELLE BAJOU is a French-American polymath.
She began acting, writing stories, and playing the violin at age four, and now works as an actor, multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, composer, writer, and educator. Raised in a small furniture factory town in the mountains of North Carolina, she's traveled across North, Central, and South America, Europe, and the Middle East - including Iraq in 2009 - for projects, and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.
At age nineteen she earned a BA, magna cum laude, in Theatre and Creative Writing from Bard College at Simon's Rock, where she received two Division of the Arts Awards, the merit-based Hutchins Scholarship, and Honors on her thesis, a historically-based screenplay set in 19th century Mexico. She then made the big move to New York City and earned an MFA in Acting from The New School for Drama where she received a merit-based scholarship all three years.
As an actor, she's worked extensively, both across the U.S. and internationally, from Broadway to HBO, Greece to Venezuela to Iraqi Kurdistan, the Edinburgh Fringe to the Actors Studio. She's been part of film, television, and theater productions that have gone on to award nominations and wins, as well as critical acclaim. She relishes the visceral immediacy of theater, but has come to prize, equally, the intimacy and scope of film, and the depth and richness of long-form television. She's a proud union member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA.
As a musician, she's played and sung with numerous bands, from parlor rock to country to Slavic punk to free jazz to acoustic folk, on streets and stages across four continents. In 2012, she began making music for Film (Occupy Texas, Starring Austin Pendleton) and TV (Ken Burns' "Prohibition"), and scoring Feature Films (Fireworkers, Beneath Disheveled Stars) and Theater productions. In 2015 she put out her first record, Songs With Words. In 2016, she was a Drama Desk-nominee for Outstanding Music in a Play alongside such notable composers as Pulitzer- and Tony-winner Tom Kitt, and Oscar-nominee Philip Glass.
Writing poetry and fiction is something she's done since childhood. At fifteen, in college, she started writing plays and screenplays. Recently, she's begun sharing her work publicly. She's a member of The Beehive Collective (The Bees), a writers group in New York City created to empower the voices and stories of women.
BROADWAY: ONCE (Actor/Violinist, First National Tour). TV: "Boardwalk Empire" (Actor, HBO); Ken Burns' "Prohibition" (Musician, PBS). FEATURE FILM: Fireworkers (Composer); Chaplin of the Mountains (Actor, Set/Filmed in Iraq); subHysteria (Actor/Musician, Improvised Film); Occupy, Texas (Song Placement); Beneath Disheveled Stars (Composer). SHORT FILM: Starring Austin Pendleton (Add'l Music); Broke (Actor); Lullaby for Ray (Actor/Co-Composer, Best Short: Toronto Independent Film Fest); Henry Buys a Hat (Actor/Composer, Gold Remi Award: WorldFest Houston Film Fest). THEATER: Charles Mee's Soot And Spit (Actor/Violinist, The New Ohio); Conor McPherson's The Night Alive (Actor/Composer, Shadowland Theater); The Jag (Actor, NJ Rep); Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (Composer/Ensemble, One Year Lease / 59E59/Edinburgh Fringe, Drama Desk Nominee: Outstanding Music in a Play); Kushner's Mother Courage (Actor: Eilif/Violinist, Dir. John Gould Rubin, Harold Clurman Lab); pool (no water) (Actor/Composer, One Year Lease/PS122/A.R.T.-Boston/Barrow Street Theater); Laura Eason's The Undeniable Sound of Right Now (Actor, Rattlestick/Rising Phoenix Rep.); David Adjmi's Marie Antoinette (Actor: Marie Antoinette, The New School for Drama); The City Beneath (Actor, LaMaMa ETC); Ixomia (Actor, HERE Arts); Bryony Lavery's Stockholm, Skin Tight, What We Know (Composer, One Year Lease Theater Company); Tommy Smith's Little Rock (Composer, The Lark PDC - workshop); In the Blue (Violinist, New Dramatists - workshop, Dir. May Adrales); Romeo and Juliet (Composer/Musician, Theater for a New Audience - workshop, Dir. Danya Taymor).
As an educator, she's worked with students aged four to sixty-three, including undergraduates from such colleges and universities as Atlantic Acting School, Arizona State, Peace College, Bard, CalArts, Columbia, Harvard, Northwestern, NYU, Princeton, USC, and Vassar. Together they've investigated such acting practices as the Stanislavski Method, Suzuki, Viewpoints, Lecoq, Meisner, Boal, and improvisation, as well as the violin, songwriting, and composing. If (as Stephen Brookfield says) teaching is about making a dent, so that the world is different than it was before you practiced your craft, then, for her, education is a chance to cultivate curiosity. Curiosity is both a fuel in the engine of invention, and a shield against the spear of perfectionism. We live in an epoch which often values product over process; specialization, "mastery," and fame over broad enrichment and the human need to explore and express. As an educator, she seeks to create an environment in which students are released from such fetters as "good" and "bad," "success" and "failure," and are instead encouraged to find what questions make them burn, and to learn by doing.
What she longs for as she approaches each new artistic opportunity is to continue—or begin, is it?—her development and practical education by working on material that feels perilous, unachievable, purposeful, and pleasurable, with inspired collaborators who dazzle her with work beyond her current capacity.