TV Debut, Off-Broadway Debut, Big Screen Debut: An Annus Mirabilis in Review!

Image courtesy Natanael Ginting

Image courtesy Natanael Ginting

As Frank Sinatra once crooned, it was a very good year.

In 2015, Luisa made her TV debut, her Off-Broadway debut, and — in a speaking role opposite Academy Award-winner Jennifer Lawrence — her big screen debut. On a personal note, she got married, ventured onto a new continent, and had a lengthy conversation with the Pope. In sum, last year was nothing short of an annus mirabilis. Read on to learn more about this year full of wonders.

Review: Professional

  • Christmas Day saw the release of Joy — the latest from director David O. Russell — starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro, and Isabella Rossellini. Also in the credits is one Luisa Maria Badaracco, making her big screen debut in the speaking role of Susan. Luisa portrays the fellow airline employee of Ms. Lawrence’s title character Joy. For the scene, which appears during the first 30 minutes of the film, Luisa had the career highlight of being directed by Mr. Russell, an invigorating experience for which she will forever be grateful.
  • In August, Luisa made her New York City stage debut, which also coincided with her Off-Broadway debut. The play, titled Dream Street, is the first and only theatrical production Luisa has auditioned for in New York. Directed by Laura Luc, it ran at the Pearl Theatre to sold-out audiences and marked the work’s U.S. premiere. Luisa remains stunned by the talent of cast and crew on display during the run.
  • To complete, or rather to kick off, the trio of debuts made this past year, January featured the airing of Most Evil, Luisa’s first appearance in a TV show. In typical New York episodic fashion, she portrayed a murder victim. In December, however, she filmed her second TV role on the show The Perfect Murder, in which she portrays a woman who narrowly escapes her aggressor. Indeed, she is moving up in the world of crime drama.
  • In the commercial world, Luisa’s national commercial for Goji Insurance — in which she played the lead — continued its run from fall of 2014 to spring of 2015. This December, she filmed her second lead in a national TV commercial, this time in a comedic spot for Care.com.
  • In the bread and butter department for working actors — that of corporate videos — Luisa has had the immense fortune of working with Grovo, a Manhattan-based start-up that creates content for a variety of clients worldwide, such as Walt Disney, Major League Baseball, and Comcast. Being a member of Grovo’s talent roster has enabled Luisa to work steadily while skipping the audition process, and perfect her on-camera and cold-reading skills.
  • In voiceover land, Luisa recorded spots for IBM, the Maine Department of Labor, the Bozzuto Excellence Awards, and St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua, NH. Voiceovers routinely rank among Luisa’s favorite types of projects, and in 2016 she will reach out to New York voiceover agents for representation in order to increase her workload.
  • As for short films, Luisa completed a second film with director Konstantin Lyubimov entitled Morning Star. A short Luisa filmed in 2014 entitled Mail.Man continued its run on the festivals circuit, appearing at the Oscar-sanctioned L.A. International Shorts Festival, the Boston Film Festival, and the Carmel International Film Festival, among others.
  • Finally, in the fall Luisa began the invitation-only second year of Meisner study at the William Esper Studio in Manhattan. Under the instruction of master teacher Suzanne Esper, Luisa has never been so happy sitting in a windowless room for seven hours of class every week (plus rehearsals!).

Review: Personal

  • Luisa married quite actually the man of her dreams.
  • She was blessed by Pope Francis at the Vatican while on her honeymoon as part of the Church’s Sposi Novelli audience.
  • And she traveled to Tokyo and Kyoto for her first trip to Asia!

Review: Arts & Culture

What she saw. What a world.

  • Broadway: Hamilton; An American in Paris; Hand to God; Old Times
  • Off-Broadway: The Humans
  • New York Philharmonic: Joan of Arc at the Stake; On the Waterfront
  • Shakespeare in the Park: The Tempest
  • Metropolitan Opera: Anna Bolena
  • Boston Symphony Orchestra: Handel’s Messiah
  • Kabukiza Theatre: Kumagai Jin’ya
  • The Sheen Center: An Evening with Jeannie and Jim Gaffigan; A screening and discussion of the Dorothy Day documentary Don’t Call Me A Saint
  • Comedy Cellar: Various
  • Creek and the Cave Comedy Club: Various
  • Morningside Opera/Harlem Opera Theater/Harlem Chamber Players: Voodoo
  • Juilliard Jazz Ensemble: The music of Billy Strayhorn

Preview: The Year Ahead

  • Having amicably parted with her Boston representation last spring, Luisa’s top professional goal of 2016 is to sign with New York representation for legit, commercial, and voiceover. She begins her outreach to agencies this winter.
  • This spring, Luisa finishes the acting portion of her studies at the William Esper Studio. Upon completion, she will continue classes in audition technique and script analysis, among others.
  • For most other matters, Luisa finds beautiful calm in a lyric penned by Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda: “We’ll get a little place in Harlem and we’ll figure it out.” (When she’s not driving between her two homes of Boston and New York for gigs, Luisa happily lives in Harlem). And Lin-Manuel was declared a GENIUS this year, guys.
  • Finally, it wouldn’t be a new year without a resolution. Inspired by the powerhouse that is Shonda Rhimes and her book, “Year of Yes,” Luisa in 2016 will be embarking on a Year of No. Having now had a full year of pursuing acting in New York — and approaching the third anniversary of when she decided to pursue it professionally at all — Luisa will work on stepping back and assessing where she truly wants to devote her time, energy, and resources. In a word, she will focus. Her strides in the last year have endowed her with a foreign feeling — that of confidence — and she is eager to see where it can take her. In addition to the successes of 2015 and, genuinely, Ms. Rhimes, Luisa also credits the terrific talent and overall human being David Oyelowo in her reaching this conclusion. Below is an excerpt from his interview on NPR’s Fresh Air from last May that quite literally stopped Luisa in her tracks and changed the entire way she views the stakes of actors and, particularly, actresses’ decisions.

 

Happy New Year, indeed, everyone, and God bless.

***

Fresh Air with Terry Gross

Terry Gross: Did you turn roles down that you didn’t want to do?

David Oyelowo: Always. You know, I would much, much rather, you know, work in a supermarket than take any role that I didn’t believe in. I’ve never, ever taken a role for money purposes or for some bizarre notion of what may be the kind of career move that would open things up for me. If I don’t believe in it, I can’t do it because I won’t be good in it if I don’t believe in it.

TG: Is there an example of a kind of role that you’ve turned down?

DO: Well, you know, roles that basically feed into a kind of stereotype of what it is to be black. Don’t send me your script if you want me to play the black best friend. I just won’t do that.

TG: What if it’s a really interesting best friend?

DO: But then it’s not the black best friend. Then there will be other ways to describe that character. But you can feel when it’s literally an afterthought. You can feel when it’s like, “Oh quick let’s get some color in here.” You know, that I won’t do because it’s disrespectful. And for me I’m either part of the solution or I’m part of the problem. So I won’t do that. I won’t do roles that I deem to be stereotypical or caricatures of what it is to be black or even just to be a human being.

(Later)

Also anything that basically is overtly celebrating darkness and, to be perfectly honest, sanctioning it. That’s something I can’t personally do. I feel you cannot see the light without darkness, but for me a prerequisite I have for myself is that light must eventually win out. And that’s just what I choose to put out into the world. I believe in it. I know that films affect and shape culture, and I want to put stuff in the world that I feel is edifying as opposed to stuff that is detrimental

 

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