In the fourth episode of Netflix’s Unorthodox, Esty, as played by 26-year-old Israeli actor Shira Haas, reveals a hidden talent: she’s a gifted singer. Before then, the Yiddish drama had documented how Esty, a Jewish 19-year-old fleeing her family, had been raised religious, forced into an arranged marriage, and encouraged to be silent and subservient. But in a Berlin audition room, Esty belts out “An die Musik” by Schubert and a Hebrew wedding tune, unleashing her voice to a handful of mesmerised judges. Subsequently, this transcendent scene doubles as Haas showcasing her acting and musical abilities to the millions who streamed Unorthodox during the pandemic. So much so, the mini-series was nominated last year for eight Emmys, including a Lead Actress nod for Haas.
While Haas’s global breakout was, ironically, during her own lockdown in Tel Aviv, her filmography already boasts numerous daring projects. In fact, Haas started out, at 17, in the Israeli series Shtisel, then was cast, a year later, as the award-winning lead of 2014’s Princess. Notably, in her early 20s, Haas further cemented her versatility with arthouse smashes (Foxtrot) and Hollywood crowd-pleasers (The Zookeeper’s Wife), thus suggesting that her post-Unorthodox possibilities are endless. First up, there’s the newly released third season of Shtisel (it was such a belated hit on Netflix, it’s been brought back), then Haas will star in the upcoming Israeli film Asia and as Golda Meir in Lioness, a TV drama exec-produced by Barbra Streisand.
Text Nick Chen