Smart, sexy and successful, 30-something actress/producer Noa Tishby is in a class by herself.
Not only is Tishby the first Hollywood honcho who can boast that her Israeli army service trained her to “wield any weapon like she means it and kick some serious ass,” as she playfully reveals on her personal website, she’s also unafraid to parlay her starpower into political clout on behalf of her native country.
“I started Act for Israel at the end of 2010,” she tells ISRAEL21c in utterly unaccented English. Designed in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a digital nexus for Israel advocacy, the organization aims “to win the war of ideas” and provide opportunities for media movers and shakers to experience Israel for themselves.
“I was frustrated by the lack of available information, and after the [Gaza] flotilla incident I saw the need to do something,” she explains.
Sexiest woman in Israel
“Action” may as well be Tishby’s middle name. She’s been a household word in Israel since playing the lead in the musical King David at 16, followed by a major role on Israel’s prime-time drama Ramat Aviv. Numerous TV shows and films later (as well as the first English-speaking album by an Israeli artist, which hit the top of the charts), Tishby’s image was splashed across billboards and magazine covers in Israel and Europe.
By the time she was voted “sexiest woman in Israel” in 2007, she had one foot firmly planted in Los Angeles, racking up credits in films and TV shows including NCIS, CSI: Miami, Las Vegas and Nip/Tuck.
“I’ve been going back and forth for about nine or 10 years,” she says. “When people ask where I live, I say ‘Tel Aviv and LA.’ I go to Israel every two to three months.”
Tishby broke new ground by selling In Treatment to HBO. She is co-executive producer for this Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning drama that premiered in 2008, based on the award-winning BeTipul — the first Israeli television show to become an American series.
Through her Noa’s Arc production company, Tishby brought two additional Israeli television projects to HBO and another to MTV. The owner of rights to numerous television, film and theater projects from Israel and elsewhere, Tishby says only that she’s “working on a couple of things,” but word has it that she may bring King David to Broadway.
Changing perceptions in Hollywood
She’s proud of having forged a new link between her two homes. “When I arrived in LA, there wasn’t the kind of symbiotic relationship between Israel and Hollywood that exists today,” she says.
But ask what accomplishment is her greatest source of pride, and Tishby becomes introspective. “Being able to have a career I love and a marriage I love is something to be proud of,” she responds after a moment of thought.
She and her Australian husband, Andrew Günsberg, enjoy skiing together – they recently returned from the slopes in Montana – and doting on their white Labrador, Tuli.
Her striking good looks belie the truth that Tishby doesn’t get much beauty rest. She simply has too much to do, much of it involving Israel advocacy. A vocal member of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the Israeli Leadership Council), last December she hosted a star-studded Broadway gala for the OR Movement, an organization dedicated to developing and populating the Negev and Galilee.
And now there’s Act For Israel, whose website declares, “We believe that Israel has the right to live in peace and security, and that all people deserve the right to live in dignity. Our goal is to share this centrist position with a wide audience to correct misinformation, end demonization, stop delegitimization, and to give Israel a well-needed voice.”
In mid-March, the group sponsored its first press expedition for influential reporters and bloggers Claire Berlinski, Chuck DeVore, Seth Mandel, Tim Mak and Mollie Ziegler Hemingway. “It was extremely successful. When you are in Israel, you see what you’re fed in the media is not necessarily true,” says Tishby, who also continues to accept film and TV roles.
Growing up with four sisters and a brother in Tel Aviv, she spent a lot of time on the historic Kibbutz Degania in the Galilee, which her grandmother helped found. This is still one of her favorite spots on earth.
As a resident of both TA and LA, Tishby finds these two flashy cities quite dissimilar. “Life in Tel Aviv starts later and ends later, very much like in Europe,” she says. “LA is very work-oriented, which I love, but nightlife in Tel Aviv is way better. It’s a lot more accessible.”
A smooth navigator of both cultures, Tishby feels that importing Israeli entertainment has shifted perceptions in Hollywood. “When they hear ‘Israel,’ those in the industry definitely have new ideas of what they think of — not war and conflict, but good material and content. This is very important to me.”
Fast facts: Noa Tishby
Favorite movies: Casablanca and Moulin Rouge.
Last movie seen: Paul.
Favorite music: The Scottish pop band Travis, Queen, the Beatles and Israeli artist Gidi Gov— “anything melodic that I can sing to and chill out to.”
Favorite foods: Everything but cilantro.
Greatest personal fear: Disappointing people.