If you had to describe Meital Dohan in one word, it’d probably be overachiever. In her native Israel, Dohan is a familiar face, having worked as a television, stage, and film actress (she’s a two-time nominee of Israel’s Academy Award), playwright, director, and comedian since the age of thirteen. Weeds-obsessed Americans will recognize Dohan as Yael Hoffman, the severe Dean of Admissions at a rabbinical school who memorably dons a strap-on and widens Andy’s horizons. These days, Dohan spends less time in front of a camera and more time in the studio, where she’s looking playing her newest role—that of pop star. Her new single, “On Ya”—featuring Sean Kingston—is an infectious dance banger no doubt destined for clubs from Tel Aviv to New York City.
In New York for a show, we caught up with Dohan at a tea house across from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Even in this neighborhood of the fashion forward, Dohan stands in relief from the crowd. With a hot pink Louis Vuitton bag to match the pink streaks flashing in her hair and eyebrows dusted in gold, DohanIsrael doesn’t just walk into the tea house—she makes an entrance. Before she runs off to a photo shoot, we talk about her new album, why it’s important to complain, and her favorite superpower.
What were you doing last night?
We had the first show yesterday for “On Ya.” You know, I already performed the song in Dinah Shore. So, this was the second time I was performing it, so it was exciting.
Where was the show?
At XL – I couldn’t fall asleep until like 5 in the morning.
So, I know when you moved to the States, you came to New York first. Why’d you leave for LA?
Look, when I came to New York, I was obsessed with New York. I was like, “I’m a New Yorker now.”
What does it mean to be a New Yorker?
A New Yorker is somebody who doesn’t want to leave New York. As soon as you leave, you want to come back.
And you felt that?
Yeah, I was so addicted to this city. But after a while, it just…I’m used to the sun, growing up in warm weather, so I just couldn’t tolerate the weather anymore. After a while, it just wore me down.
Has it been a tough transition to the States?
It’s just the culture is very different. I would say European and Israelis live the present, while Americans live the dream. They live in the future. I’m trying to live in the present, but it’s so fast. Everything is too fast.
Do you miss being home?
I mean there is no doubt that today America and Israel are both my home. But, I still really miss it. I miss my family, I miss my friends—everything about it! I miss the beach, I miss the restaurants, I miss the coffee places, I miss the food. I miss being laid-back. I miss the Israelis complaining all the time, because here I’m the only one who complains.
We don’t complain enough?
No, not enough. The Americans—they say everything is great, great, great, and then they lose it. While the Israelis are constantly complaining, but in the meantime, they are having fun.
You play an Israeli on Weeds. Do you think Americans have a stereotype of Israelis?
Yeah, absolutely. I think the stereotype is somebody who is very aggressive in business and super blonde, too blonde—a little barbarian. So, I’m here to prove that all wrong.
Oh, so you’re not like that?
No, I’m a superhero. I’m a funny superhero, actor, and singer making social commentary through sex combined with comedy combined with music.
When did you start singing?
I started singing two years ago, but I was acting my whole life. Singing is a new thing.
You didn’t sing as a kid?
No, I’ve acted since I was thirteen and pursued my professional acting career since I was seventeen. I just started singing two years ago. I went to do Dancing with the Stars in Israel and met with a spiritual guide and she advised me to go back and to become a singer and then everything just happened immediately.
What’s up with this spiritual guide?
I have a spiritual guide in Israel. I talk to her very often. She’s very close to me and she kind of tells me what to do. I don’t always follow everything.
Did you find her? Did she find you?
Well, I met her at the beginning of my career in Israel and then kind of forgot about her. Then, after years I had the need to talk to somebody.
Why did you come to launch your music career here? Why not back in Israel?
I was already here. I was doing Woke Up Dead, Weeds, and Monogamy, all that stuff here. Then, I came to Israel to do a show and [the guide] said, “Go back to America. It’s going to happen in America.” And the, I met Che Pope here and we started working on my album. Che Pope has worked with musicians and still works with musicians like Dr. Dre, Kanye West, Lauren Hill, Eminem—all the people that I admire the most. So when he wanted to do my album, it was a no-brainer. You wouldn’t go and work with some other producer.
What’s your album going to sound like?
My album is going to be an electro-pop album combination with different types of tracks, different styles of electro, from lounge to dance, to trap, dubstep.
As an actress, do you look at Meital the singer as a character?
I think it’s a parody—between a parody of me and a parody of the typical pop star.
Which probably explains why you’ve been described as the Israeli Lady Gaga?
I mean, I’ve been compared to Gaga, to Ke$ha, to Katy Perry, to Madonna. When I was acting, I was compared to Debbie Harry and Rosanna Arquette—even Ingrid Bergman. You know, these are all phenomenal women. I think it’s a great comparison and I can only say thank you.
So on a tangent: Would you rather fly or be invisible?
Oh my gosh, yeah—fly, fly. I have dreams that I fly all the time. Once I was doing a radio show and I was interviewing a woman that was a dreams translator. She was like, “Flying just means that you’re not grounded.” I’m like, “No. That’s not what it means. That’s so boring.” If you fly, you can do everything. You have supernatural powers. I think that’s the idea in flying power, in my flying power. In my dreams, I always fly. So, when we were doing the video for ‘On Ya.’
In which you play a pilot, right?
Yeah, we had a double for me because we worked with this cheerleading group. Then, all of a sudden they were like, “Instead of using the double, why don’t you just stand here like that?” And, “Why don’t you just flip here?” And, this, this, this…And then, I just did the whole thing. It was the closest I’ve felt to flying. That was a phenomenal experience.
One last question: if the world were ending tonight at midnight, what would you do?
I don’t know if it’s legal to say what I’d do. It might be illegal. I can’t say it. I’m not like murdering anyone, don’t get me wrong—I’m not that type of criminal.
Photography by Dana DeCoursey