Neraida Bega
Ben Cope
Neraida Bega is an Albanian - born actress and model whose martial art skills are as sharp as the swords she can often be seen wielding. With a presence already in top rated TV shows such as Marvel’s WandaVision, Star Trek Picard, and cinematic trailer for the video game Borderlands, her latest success has her front and center in the current expansion of the popular free-to-play game Apex Legends: Escape as its first martial art character, ASH!


Read on to learn more about the amazing woman who brought the deadly video game character to life!


Sword Woman

Ben Cope

Justin Lee Ford

First off, I'd love to delve into your martial arts background. Of course, I was able to hear some of the stuff you've done in the past, however I'd love to hear it from you yourself. Can you delve into your martial arts experience?

Neraida Bega

Yes, absolutely! I have always loved martial arts. I watched all types of action movies and cartoons that had martial arts in it growing up. The first opportunity I had to join a martial arts class, I ran to it

It started at the Fight Club, Riccione, Italy where I trained Muay-Thai for several years. I was obsessed with it. I trained five days a week with professional trainers and we did all kinds of drills, boxing, kicks, stretching–all of it. After I moved from Italy to the United States, I continued my training with Mr. Mike Chat, in XMA, Xtreme Martial Arts and have been training in that ever since! I am fascinated by all types of martial arts, especially wushu, kung-fu, and tai-chi

Justin Lee Ford

I love it. I love the enthusiasm especially. There's always something to learn from each and every one of those styles, right? Well, XMA is such a unique thing. It's, by nature, such a performative art and acrobatic art. Are there any particular aspects of it that's helped you in your acting career, in your stunt career, your modeling career?

Neraida Bega

Training in XMA helps me a lot mentally and physically. I am constantly learning new things, training my body and being put under pressure.

The consistency in training, and having a "Yes, I can!" attitude is very helpful. I apply this mindset to everything I do in life.

Justin Lee Ford

Yes! Absolutely. They look so superb. The latest project that we're talking about today, your character with Apex legends–Ash, one of the first martial art characters in the popular game–amazes me! She comes across as so elegant, so purposefully, yet also cold and ruthless. And the movements are superb. How did you prepare for the role, either mentally or physically?

Neraida Bega

I did a lot of research for Ash, so mentally I was very confident in my ability to fully portray her.

In her character description, like you said, she's cold, ruthless, a predator, but also elegant and precise. So I used that to figure out how she moves and designed specific choreography for her.

I was very happy to use my martial art skills to help bring Ash to life for Apex Legends. My Favorite part was creating ASH’s sword combinations because sword happens to be my specialty of all the weapons.

Justin Lee Ford

Phenomenal. You mentioned the sword was one of the things that you loved to work with. Was there any particular [reason] that you just adored working with a sword?

Neraida Bega

The sword is such an elegant and powerful weapon. It’s ancient and appears in Albanian, Greek, Norse, Japanese mythology etc. Also, I’ve always been a fan of sword work in films.

Justin Lee Ford

You've done a number of different projects from film to motion capture, it blows my mind seeing all that you've done.

Neraida Bega

Thank you!

Justin Lee Ford

Respect is given where respect is due. How different have your experiences been when doing stunts or motion capture?

Neraida Bega

Thank you. I’m an actress that knows how to do her own action and I have been hired for roles that required both acting and stunts. There can be many differences and a wide range of circumstances to deal with when working on location for a big Marvel project or Sony Studios project versus inside the EA mocap studio like I did for Apex Legends. On Wandavision I had to do my dialogue and action with very, restrictive wardrobe in the cold during long night shoots. For my Sony Borderlands campaign, we filmed in Croatia during the summer heat with over 110 degree temperatures outdoors fighting and doing wirework. Doing Mocap inside EA studios where temperatures are controlled makes it easier than dealing with outside elements. Since there’s no uncomfortable wardrobe to deal with, I definitely enjoyed wearing the fun mo-cap suits full of balls hehe :)

Justin Lee Ford

Well, you look so dang professional when you're doing it. My hat's definitely off to you.

Neraida Bega

Thank you so much.

Justin Lee Ford

Each person that ends up in the entertainment industry or the performance industry, they seem to have their own unique story for how they got into it. It doesn't seem like there's one true way that you break into it. I'm curious, how did you get into the film industry?

Neraida Bega

I love this question. I grew up in a family of artists, musicians, and actors. I played piano and violin growing up, so arts and performance were a part of my life since I was very little. However, being a martial arts fan, I always dreamt of being a superhero or action star, just like the ones I saw on tv. I never thought I would have the opportunity to pursue this career because I was studying to become a dentist and… I lived in Italy.

Then one day, I received a request to audition for a role in a movie that would film in AMERICA!?! That day changed the course of my life forever. Right then I decided to drop everything I was doing and move to Hollywood to become an action star!! Eight months later I was approved for my work visa, and was on a plane to Los Angeles.

Justin Lee Ford

Wow, that's a very motivational story to hear actually!

Neraida Bega

Thank you. I'm very, very grateful!

Justin Lee Ford

On the idea of travel and exploration, if you could travel anywhere to train in any martial art, where would it be?

Neraida Bega

I would go back to Thailand to train Muay Thai. I've been there twice already and both times I had the opportunity to train with great coaches who are the “real deal”.

I would also love to go to China and train in Wushu. It's so beautiful.

Justin Lee Ford

Yes, I'm sure that will come to fruition at some point in time in your life. You've already had so many amazing blessings, I'm sure that would just add to the list.

Neraida Bega

Thank you.

Justin Lee Ford

Looking back at your journey from the beginning to where you are now–again, being the actor for characters in top review video games–I'd love to hear some of the lowlights and highlights you've experienced. First, were there any frustrating moments or challenges either in your martial arts training or your acting journey?

Neraida Bega

Oh, absolutely.

The biggest challenge in the beginning for me was not knowing English, trying to communicate and understand what people were saying. Google Translator was a great tool for me. Can you imagine me 6 years ago trying to act in english, my fourth language? Ahahha!! I had to work harder than anybody to learn the language to be able to work.

When it comes to martial arts, I was not blessed with a lot of flexibility. Muay Thai training does not require a lot of flexibility but XMA kicks do. It took me longer to develop the proper technique and it can definitely get frustrating at times. I have learned to enjoy the process more knowing there will always be challenges to overcome.

Justin Lee Ford

Absolutely. Well, I'm going to switch over to the highlights in a second, but something you said is blowing my mind: what are the four languages that you know?

Neraida Bega

I speak Albanian, Italian, Spanish and English.

Justin Lee Ford

That's absolutely incredible.

Neraida Bega

Thanks. I'd love to learn more languages.

Justin Lee Ford

What would be next on the list if you could learn one more language?

Neraida Bega

I would love to learn Chinese!

Justin Lee Ford

That would definitely help out with the training in China goal.

Neraida Bega

Definitely * laughs*

Justin Lee Ford

Well, let's touch on the highlights now. What are some of the moments you just felt incredibly grateful for or you can hardly believe happened? Touch on some of your favorite moments on this journey you've been on.

Neraida Bega

I have...I have a lot of them but I will stick to two.

Justin Lee Ford

Okay.

Neraida Bega

In my first year in the States, I booked my first commercial for Merle Norman and it gave me so much hope. . . I was like, “Oh My God!” This is my first job. . .the first time I'm getting paid in America!!! Coming here on a work visa, it felt so surreal. Thanks to this commercial, I got to see myself on American television for the very first time!. So I will always remember this one because it was my first.

And the other one is when I saw Denzel Washington in person!

Justin Lee Ford

Oh my gosh.

Neraida Bega

I am huge fan of Denzel Washington! I've watched his films since I was little and he's my favorite movie star. I went to the screening of Fences, followed by a cast Q & A.

I can’t even tell you my level of excitement. I don’t know how, but I was able to get a second row seat really close to the stage. I watched the movie pretty much looking straight up. *laughs*

During the Q & A, Denzel, Viola Davis and the rest of the cast were right in front of me! I cannot tell you how dreamy that moment was.

I knew at the the end of the interview, they were going to say hi to some of the people and walk by and I had planned for this! I was thinking, I’ll tell him how much I respect him, and how much his work and speeches inspire me. But when he walked by, I completely froze. Coming from Albania and growing up in different countries, it's not normal to go to movie screenings, let alone being inches away and face to face with academy award winning actors!

Justin Lee Ford

Yes. That's such a precious moment.

Neraida Bega

It is. I was like frozen completely, but whatever *laughs*

Justin Lee Ford

What an emotional roller coaster I was on right there [while] listening to you.

Neraida Bega

I was so excited and inspired in this moment. I called my mom, and of course I was emotional. She also loves Denzel Washington.

That was a highlight. I have so many. I mean, it's been great and I’m privileged to be an actress living in Los Angeles.

Justin Lee Ford

Are there any other upcoming projects we need to keep an eye out for? Of course, readers are really going to be eyeballing the newest character in Apex Legends, Ash, but what else is up and coming for you?

Neraida Bega

I have two films coming out this spring! I am the lead in a film called Russian Room where I play Vetone, an Albanian character. You can also see me with Channing Tatum in his new movie called Dog.

Justin Lee Ford

I cannot wait to hear more about that and see that soon. Riding along with that question, how can interested readers keep up to date with everything that you're doing?

Neraida Bega

I do confess *laughs* I’m not the best with social media. My Instagram, Tik Tok and Twitter are @NeraidaBega.

Justin Lee Ford

Sounds good. Well, thank you so much for this interview! Social Media: TikTok | Instagram | Facebook I Twitter I IMDB

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