Passionate about Lviv

  • Passionate about Lviv
Issue 3, July 2008.

Passionate about Lviv



Ukrainian actress Olha Sumska is best known as the lady who played the lead role in the 1990s TV series “Roksolana,” which depicted the life of the Lviv region girl who was captured by Tatar raiders in the 16th century and sold into slavery before entering a Turkish harem and marrying the Ottoman Sultan. Born in Lviv, Olha has become a living legend in the region and remains deeply attached to her home town.



Olha, tell us about what binds you to Lviv?

Both my parents were actors with the Lviv Drama Theatre and so I was born into an environment of Lviv culture. My nanny was an actress and my older sister Natalia gave me my theatrical training. Even though I moved away from Lviv when I was a young child, I still get a sense of coming home every time I arrive in the city.


What is your favourite spot in Lviv?

I love all the architectural gems – the cathedrals, the palaces and Lycharkivska cemetery, which is like one giant museum. I also love the arts and crafts market that is held close to the Opera House. Many of the artists there still remember my mother and father from their time working as actors in Lviv, so whenever I am there they like to share little reminiscences about my parents. Lviv is truly the heart of Europe, but that heart is currently suffering from an illness. With a little restoration Lviv could be as splendid as London. The government needs to invest in architecture and consider moving some of the government structures to Lviv to support the growth and preservation of this Ukrainian jewel.



Where do you like to relax in Lviv?

Whenever I arrive in Lviv the first place I visit is the Viennese Café for a good cup of proper coffee!



Have you ever had the chance to explore Lviv region?

Yes, it is very impressive and full of history. I have been lucky enough to film in Oleskiy Castle just outside Lviv, where we shot a love scene on a bed which has once belonged to the king of Poland!



You are still best-known to the general public as Roksolana, the slave who became an empress. Has the modern TV adaptation of the Roksolana legend helped raise awareness of the problems of modern-day slavery in Ukraine?

Unfortunately today’s Ukrainian society does not pay much attention to historical figures like Roksolana, but the slave trade remains a very big problem for all of us. Ukraine is a Klondike for beautiful girls and sadly this has made the country a focus of the international trafficking industry. As a celebrity I do not think I am in a position to fight this terrible thing. I can only encourage politicians to take action to block the trade.


How would you have responded to the challenge of being the Ottoman sultan’s wife?

I would have loved it! Just imagine knowing that you had half the world at your feet. Nobody alive today can truly understand how powerful she was. It was an absolute monarchy in the truest sense of the word.