You may have a lot of privileges in life – a good job, beauty, good friends, financial opportunities and many more. You can be born with it or earn it all through hard work and determination. But a real privilege is having a sibling, and all you need is the chance to have that. No one will understand, protect, love or support you no matter what as much as them. Here’s a story which will resonate with those who have siblings and envy those who don’t. Let’s hear Hande Soral and Bensu Soral.
How would you describe the bond you have?
Bensu: It’s unique, indestructible. I think of her more than I think of myself.
Hande: She’s both my sister and my best friend. I think it’s not something everyone can have.
Have you always been close like this? Or has time improved your relationship?
Hande: We were the same when we were kids but, yes, the age gap slowly disappears with time. We got closer during the time we lived together. We held each other tighter because we were in Istanbul, away from our family.
Bensu: We lived together for six years. It was a lot of fun. The best days we had together.
Was this bond organically formed?
Bensu: It was our parents. They’re very close to each other and to us. We care a lot about this in the family. My father always says, “We’re a family. Family is what matters most. All we have is each other, there’s no one else. We should never hurt each other.”
Hande: Our parents have always been like friends. One could almost say that we grew up among friends. They’d ask our opinions about everything. Bensu: We didn’t keep anything from them. We were always free which kept us from doing big mistakes.
Has there ever been any dark periods in your relationship?
Hande: We do get angry but we don’t let it last long.
Bensu: We act as if nothing happened the next day. We don’t have the heart to stay mad at each other.
Hande: We’d fight a lot during my adolescence. But they were still very little and childish fights.
Hande: There are things I say “I wouldn’t do that if I were Bensu” but then I immediately say “She’s not me” and accept her truth. Just as our parents did for us.
You grew up in İnegöl, Bursa. They say, “Living in a small town resembles living with a big family.” Do you agree?
Hande: Definitely! We were a band of sheltered families.
Bensu: It was as if we lived in each other’s houses. Everyone knew each other. When someone needs something, the whole town would run for help. It brought us even closer. This was the best part of growing up in a small town.
What was the worst part?
Hande: You feel a bit under pressure. When I went out, my father would hear about it even before I arrived there! Not that I was being sneaky but you felt as if you were being watched all the time. So you had to be careful about what you wore, said or did. Though I never did…
Bensu: I did. I tried to act like a boy so that no one would say anything bad or misunderstand me. Hande was the free one. She didn’t give a damn about anything.
Hande: Yes but I always wanted to leave. Leaving for college was an escape. I knew I’d never go back there.
Did you want to live in Istanbul?
Hande: I never wanted that. It seemed so big, crowded and scary. That’s why I decided to go to Ankara for college. But since my father knew I wanted to be an actress, he encouraged me by saying “You cannot do acting there.” At the last minute, I changed the ranking in my college preferences replacing Istanbul Bilgi University with the Middle East Technical University, and got enrolled in the former one.
How did Istanbul greet you? Was it as scary as you imagined?
Hande: You can go astray once you come to Istanbul. But at that point, it matters what kind of family you grew up in. If your family is similar to mine, you’re aware of everything and know how to protect yourself.
Bensu: Our parents never forbid us to do anything or said “Don’t do that.” They always said, “It’s not good for you but the choice is yours. It’s your life.”
Hande: So we didn’t come here to conquer Istanbul. (laughs)
Bensu: We were never that ambitious. (laughs) But I always wanted to visit Istanbul ever since I was a kid. The walls of my room were covered with photographs of and articles about Istanbul to motivate myself. I took the college entrance exam and, the day after, I came to Istanbul to live with my sister.
She came here four years before you did. Maybe her experience was a bit more relaxing for you.
Bensu: Sure. She’d always lead the way. It was like that in the family as well. Since she received the necessary blessing of our parents, I didn’t have to ask them most of the things I wanted to do. But it’s not because she’s the older sister; that’s her character. Even if I were the older one, she’d still be the one to lead. I’m a bit shyer.
Hande was always the first one to try acting. We know how she began her career. She was a guest at a show and the rest followed. How did you decide to take up acting?
Bensu: Hande has always been interested in acting since she was a kid. But I never thought about it. Even more so, I saw how tired she was after she began acting and said “I’d never do that!” I’m a bit relaxed, she’s more disciplined. One day, her manager asked me if I wanted to become an actress. For a few years, I said, “No way!” Then, one day, they offered me a small role in a period show and I accepted. I trained a little. I began the show and loved it!
We know about the challenges and pressures of this industry. Were you worried when your little sister took up acting?
Hande: When she receives a request, I’d never tell her to do or not to
do it. She cannot know whether she enjoys it without trying. She has to experience it and decide for herself. I only said, “The conditions are hard. You have to work long hours. It may be a bit hard to be known by people and to deal with this reality. You have to experience it yourself.”
What did you reply?
Bensu: I said “Then I’ll try and see.” I knew Hande would support me as she always did.
Hande: There were some things I worried whether she could handle but she was very professional. For me, being recognized and the mindset that came with it were the hardest things. But she adapted quickly.
Bensu: It felt familiar. That’s how I felt when I was living in İnegöl. It felt like a catwalk just walking on the street, everyone knew each other. So being famous felt like a different version of it.
How would you react when you feel like you have to protect Bensu from the industry?
Hande: I’d bare my teeth – more than I would for myself. She’s my sister! No one can badmouth her in front of me.
Bensu: It’s the same with me. If someone said something unpleasant about me, I wouldn’t care that much but if it’s about Hande, I’d be devastated and feel a grudge for the person who said it.
Hande: We sound like a gang. (laughs)
How do you deal with being compared to one another?
Hande: It’s been like this our whole lives. “She’s prettier” or “You’re better than her!”
Bensu: They say the same things to both of us. “Hande is prettier and more successful.” I’d get upset when I received heavy criticism at first. But they all sound so trivial. I never let them get to me. I cannot be mad at the people who write those things. They grew up without feeling loved. Otherwise, why would someone talk unpleasantly about someone they don’t even know? I’m sure it’s not their fault, it’s their families’.
Hande: In this profession, it’s impossible for everyone to like what you do. We’re not manufacturers, we’re actors. What’s right or wrong is still unclear. So I’m okay with anyone criticizing my acting. But I cannot understand comment like “Your ears are really small.” So I never care about negative comments like this. No one has to love me.
Bensu: Comments on how we look are even more unimportant. They can say anything they like since I’m not full of myself.
Hande: There’s also this. They look at me and say “Bensu Soral?” I don’t know what to say. “I’m not her,” I say and they reply, “Then you must be Hande Soral!” (laughs)
Bensu: They walk up to me and say “Evlat Kokusu was so great.” And I say, “No, it was my sister who played in it.” Then they reply, “İçerde is also great.” They can never figure out which one of us plays in which TV series. (laughs)
Do you express your opinion on projects that are offered to either of you?
Hande: A lot! And it’s not just us. Our family is also included in the process.
You’ve never acted together, have you?
Hande: We haven’t but we’d love to.
Have you ever been the same role?
Hande: We have. We kind of look alike but we’re not the same cast type. There’s this difference in height and skin tone. So it’s a bit odd that they’d offer us the same role.
If you weren’t doing the same job…
Bensu: Nothing would be different.
Hande: Doing the same job only has its advantages.
And what is that?
Bensu: When I’m going to meet an actor or a producer, I always ask her about them.
Is there anything we don’t know about you and that’d make the other one a bit frustrated?
Hande: She was a chubby kid.
Bensu: She had a boyfriend when she was young. He was a Casanova.
How often do you see each other?
Bensu: We were together 24/7 when we lived together. We also have mutual friends. But now we’re living two separate lives.
Hande: There are times when we don’t see each other for 2 weeks or when we’re together four days a week. It depends on our schedule.
Tell us about a vivid childhood memory of yours about your sister?
Bensu: The moment we watched the video of my first birthday. It was so funny because all we see is Hande in almost the entire video. But I and Bedirhan (my twin) should have been the star of the day. But Hande keeps shouting “Shoot me, shoot me!” at the camera. She climbs the table and dances on top of it, or wears something on her head. She does everything to attract attention. I think she was a bit jealous. (laughs)
What is the thing you enjoy the most with Hande?
Bensu: Having breakfast. We usually prepare it together but it’s mostly her. She’s very good at that. I’m not that bad compared to people of my age. I can do everything but I prefer not to. I’m a bit lazy. But Hande is amazing. She’s almost as good as my mother.
Hande is never…
What was the most influential dream you had about Bensu?
Hande: I had a dream that she died. She burned and drowned at the same time. I woke up crying my eyes out. I immediately called to hear her voice.
What’s the thing you admire most about her?
Hande: She’s the most compassionate person I know.
If she weren’t in my life…
Bensu: I wouldn’t be myself. I’d be blind and ignorant. She constantly supported me when I grew up. She taught me everything. I feel stronger for having her in my life.
Hande: A half of my life would be missing. Bedirhan (her other sister, Bensu’s twin) is my everything. If it weren’t for him, I’d be missing my wings. If it weren’t for Bensu, I’d be missing my heart.
Thanks to Ayça Ceylan, Merve Midilli, Hande Cedimoğlu, Gamze Tosun