Curious about the lady, Anaïs Googled her and discovered that in addition to having the same face, they had the same date of birth, the same place of birth (Seoul), and they had both been adopted. The girls name was Samantha Futerman. Anaïs then reached out to her via Facebook and after speaking via Skype for three hours, the ladies discovered they were twins, separated at birth!
Anaïs, who had been raised in Paris and was attending fashion school in London, and Samantha, who grew up in New Jersey and was pursuing her acting career in L.A., realized their story was the stuff of movies, and decided to film it as it unfolded, resulting in the premiere of their documentary Twinsters at SXSW film festival two years later.
Cosmopolitan.com spoke to Samantha and Anaïs, who currently live in L.A. and Paris, respectively, at the festival to talk about that fateful Facebook message, fitting into each other’s lives, and staying positive throughout. Read below….
It seemed like you fell into each other’s lives very naturally. Your first conversation was three hours long and after a point, you were having dinner together over Skype. Did that happen immediately or was there any moment, maybe at the beginning, where you were like, “What is going on?”
Samantha: No. We were immediately comfortable with each other. At that time, the two of us were the only ones that were going through this, so we found comfort, I think, in talking about it. Immediately, we were just comfortable with each other. And it never really went away. She’ll text me and be like, “I want to drink my tea but it’s too hot,” you know? Just random things about the day to feel like we’re connected.
When you first got that Facebook message that Anaïs sent, did you immediately know or assume that you were a twin? What were your first thoughts?
Samantha: At first, when I saw her Facebook page, I thought she was a KevJumba fan who had made a page. But then when I clicked into it and saw that she was an actual person and not a doppelganger or a catfish, I was like, “Well, we’re probably twins.” It was just my immediate thought. It was too crazy to not be true. I sent an Instagram screenshot to all of our friends, and they were like, “Yep, that’s your twin.” And then Kanoa [Goo, a producer of the film] was finally like, “Are you OK?” And I was like, “Yeah, yeah, I think so.” It was exciting the entire time, from the very beginning. But yeah, I thought we were twins. [To Anaïs] What about you?
Anaïs: I was thinking the same. On the bus [when she first found out Samantha’s birthday and place of birth], it was very weird to me. I was scared to pronounce the [word] “twin.” It sounded so crazy. I could see my friends’ reactions. Like, “She was born same day as me! And she was also adopted.” And I was waiting for their reactions, like, “So what?” And [instead] they went, “WHAT? That’s crazy! Let’s get out of the bus! Let’s get out of the bus now!” Then I told my parents and I guess that was the final say. I was like, “Mom, OK, so that girl, remember? She’s born the same day, she’s adopted from Seoul as well,” and I was waiting for her to say, “Oh, you’re crazy,” and she said, “Do you think she can actually be your twin?” And that was it for me. I could actually say it out loud. I probably had a twin.
How are your families together now?
Samantha: Our parents are very close, our families are very close. Our moms email back and forth. I’ll tell Anaïs something and haven’t talked to my mom yet; she’ll tell her mom, and by the time I get back to my mom, she’ll be like, “Patricia [Anaïs’s mom] told me this.” Great. [Laughs.] But we’re all so connected and everyone’s just really, really happy.
Anaïs: It’s been so easy for them to connect. And they have so many things in common as well. Like our dads have about the same career, and then her dad and my mom were born really close. [Both sets of parents] got married the same year. It’s really strange. They can understand each other, they can relate to the same things, which is insane because they’re in two different parts of the world.
How did you decide to start filming so soon? The first video is from two days after the Facebook message. How did you think to record yourself?
Samantha: I had been doing YouTube videos and so I was used to video blogging. I don’t even know why I would have decided to do that video blog. I think it was just, like, “Whoa, this is way too crazy. I gotta document this.” And then on the Skype session, someone was like, “Record it. Just record it.” And I was like, “I don’t know.” If it was just me, it would be a different story, but it was her too. I didn’t know her yet. I didn’t want her to think that I was a crazy American, like, I don’t know, somebody who was going to twist the story. So it was nerve-wracking but I asked her and she said “Yes, it’s OK.” And then we just kept filming, and then we realized that the story kept unfolding and we should share it. Everyone’s so interested already and my friends are filmmakers, so we decided to do a Kickstarter two or three weeks after, and then we did the Kickstarter campaign and I think two or three weeks after that, we said, “Shit, we’re going to London [for Samantha and Anaïs to meet for the first time]. We need somebody to actually shoot the film,” and luckily our friend Yamato Cibulka [a producer of the film] said, “I have the perfect guy.” And Ryan [Miyamoto, co-director of the film] and I Skyped a week later; he flew out and stayed for a month.
When you watch the documentary, are there still things where you’re like, “I can’t believe I reacted that way”? Are you ever surprised seeing it again?
Samantha: There are times I’m not proud of, for sure. I think the day we first met, my body just took over, and the laughs and the noises I was making — I don’t think I’ve made those noises again in my life and it’s so funny to look at. I was like, “Oh my god.” I was just so embarrassed. But it’s so important to have on screen…The second I start watching our first meeting, I go into a trance and relive the situation almost every time. It’s very strange.
Anaïs: Yeah, you just remember how you felt. And then I realize I was just strange, not saying anything, just being weird. I think it’s been like this for the past two years, of being in this state of shock. And now I’m starting to have normal reactions again. Not just, “What just happened?”
Samantha: Even sometimes when you see each other after a long time, you’ll just be like [looks at Anaïs], and just stare at each other for a minute.
Anaïs: It can be confusing. “Huh, I don’t remember wearing that. Is that Sam? OK.”
I noticed immediately the lighthearted feel of the film. You guys have a great sense of humor and the text messages you exchanged throughout the film were funny. Did you pull out the lighter moments, or was that just the way the story unraveled?
Samantha: I think the lighter moments were what felt the most “us,” like our outlook on the world, and we wanted to make it feel like our world.