According to the Oxford Dictionary ‘Endearment’ means ‘Expression of Love or Affection’. This truthfully implies that my Tales of Endearment are stories about everything that is dear to me, stories about everything I affectionately love. So wouldn’t it make sense then that I write a Tale about my sister, Evelien? Because, like a friend told me, “doing a piece about a family member is the ultimate endearment.”
In a recent interview someone asked me: “What are the five things you can’t live without?” My number one answer was, “My sister, because she makes me laugh.” Evelien is the funny one in the family. Her sense of humor transcends any conventional boundaries and social inhibitions. She’s witty, silly, comical and ridiculously entertaining, in a Jim Carrey kind of way. When she’s in her element she can have the entire room in stitches, crying with laughter. I usually resort to a series of half-snorts, something we have genetically in common. “I like making people laugh or getting attention for being retarded,” she admits generously. “I like being the centre of attention!” When she was a little girl, Evelien was beyond shy. She barely spoke until she was five years old. Her teachers adored her because she always quiet in class. She hid in my mom’s skirt when adults said hello. Until one day we saw her act in a play in front of hundreds of people at our local church. This timid, little shell of a girl had transformed into a seasoned, masterful performer overnight.
That’s when I knew she had to be an actress. It would take two more decades, a battle against undiagnosed ADHD, a series of exciting and not-so-exciting jobs in Paris, Sydney and Kortrijk, on-and-off phases of serious partying and a long-distance love affair with an Australian guy she met on myspace, before she finally signed up for acting school. “When I arrived in New York three years ago, I started watching a lot of SNL,” she recalls. “I really like Kristin Wiig. She’s my inspiration.” As soon as she landed her dream job as Photo Editor at V magazine in March of 2010 and settled in the East Village, she set out to pursue a new, long overdue goal. “I started taking classes at Stella Adler. I did an intensive two-month workshop early this year and I really liked it. I met some really cool people. Now I am signed up at Upright Citizens Brigade where you can take improv classes. Much different! It’s actually really hard. Especially if you have to play with someone else. Most of them suck,” she laughs. “That’s why it’s hard! I hope they dont read this…!!”.
I would describe my sister’s dress sense as “stylishly wacky”. At times she’s a downtown girl with a bit of Wang and Belgian influences. Other times she’s an explosion of hippie colors, fringes and flares. “I don’t go with one style. Sometimes I wear all new, deconstructive things. Sometimes I wear all vintage. Sometimes it looks uber-hip. And sometimes it looks very Belgian. I guess you can say I have a quirky, all-over-the-place, transcontinental style??” Our shoot took place in April when it was still miserably cold. And gathering from the selection of items she’d laid out for me, Evelien was having a tapestry moment. She wore jackets, vests and body warmers in cool colors and softly woven woolens. And she had accumulated a collection of wondrous pants that would put Willy Wonka to shame. “I really have no idea how my obsession with funny pants started…” she thinks intensely, “but I think Stella Dallas has something to do with it. It’s my favorite vintage store in Williamsburg. They have all these funny and amazing things. I bought a pair of old Wrangler orange striped cropped pants and I thought to myself: Hmmm… could be a funny Balmain version! Hahaha! Also, I just wear the pants and pretend that they are normal pants. I wear normal shoes and normal sweater or t-shirt. If you start wearing a crazy top too, you become like a fashion freak and that’s so unattractive.”
It’s great to have a little sister. I know her better than anyone. I changed her diapers and helped her mend a broken heart. She’s complicated but never complicating. She has a crazy head with a sane mind. She holds no mask or excuses. She’s a trooper and a fighter. And though we are so very, very different, we understand each other, even if we don’t want to. We’re Capricorns. We’re daughters. We’re foreigners. I’ve called her Blinie since she was six years old. And the nickname stuck. Just like I know she’ll always stick by me.
Read more on Evelien Joos’ style notes on style.com.