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August 2, 2021 11:50 am
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Israeli Actress Shira Haas: My Childhood Battle With Cancer ‘Shaped Me Into Who I Am’

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Shira Haas in an interview with ELLE UK. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

Award-winning Israeli actress Shira Haas said in a Friday interview that overcoming cancer at a young age made her mature faster than her peers, and helped mold the person she became.

Haas — who has starred in the Israeli show “Shtisel,” the Netflix limited series “Unorthodox” and most recently the film “Asia” — opened up to Flaunt magazine about being diagnosed with cancer at the age of 3. The 26-year-old Tel Aviv native said about her struggles with the illness, “It’s definitely part of me — I mean, I don’t remember my life before it. It’s not like it happened to me when I was older or more mature, so I could think of the before and after … it was really kind of like my starting point in life, so it’s hard to say what would have happened if not—lucky for us, we don’t need to.”

She continued, “I think that it definitely shaped me into who I am. It’s part of me. I think it made me more mature for my age, I was even like this as a child — 8-years-old going on 40. At least that’s what my parents are saying … I’m almost grateful that it happened, because I’m sure that I would be a different person without it — therefore also a different actress.”

Struggling with cancer as a child may have also made her more resilient, positive and hopeful in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, she suggested to the magazine. “Maybe it’s part of it, maybe it’s part of who I am,” she told the outlet. “Maybe it’s this understanding that it’s this moment, and it’s horrible, but it’s not the whole life, and it will pass — it’s like you have a bad day, not a bad life kind of thing — and maybe that is part of who I am and what I’ve been through.”

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She added that during the pandemic, “I had better days and worse days, but I didn’t take it too hard, because I had this belief that it will pass. Even when we had the hardest time in Israel, I always had this hope and belief that it will pass.”

In the Israeli drama “Asia,” which was released in theaters this summer, Haas plays a character suffering from an unspecified terminal illness. The actress has previously said that remembering her personal battle with cancer helped her tap into the mindset of her character in the film.

“Asia” made its world premiere at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival and won three awards, including a prize for Haas for Best International Actress. The film is Israel’s official submission to this year’s Oscars and Haas received an Ophir Award for Best Supporting Actress for her part in the movie. The actress is already a recipient of an Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Performance in a Scripted Series for her role in “Unorthodox,” a series which also garnered her an Emmy Award nomination in July.

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