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The Role of Identity

by Stephanie Curtiss

Dedication, research, practice, education, perseverance, resilience, confidence and passion, these are the essential qualifications actors today must have in order to truly succeed in their career. Yet for most actors living in New York City or LA, another element holds a significant reign over the future success in their career; citizenship. Foreign actors face the challenge of being able to stay in the states long enough to make a prominent career in the Theatre/ TV/ Film Industry. The opportunities, of course, are landing a movie / TV contract, signing with a prestigious agency, getting in the union, or starring in a Broadway play.

Being an actor myself, I have met many foreign actors pursing their career in the States with the forces of fate, opportunity and time controlling their future. I am also aware of the fact, that pursuing career in acting in the U.S. can be extremely difficult even if you are a citizen. Yet, we as artists choose to put aside our worries. We harness the brave fighter within and do all that we can to make it known that we can meet the expectations of success.

This brings me to introduce my very tenacious and talented colleague, Arianna Wellmoney. Arianna is the definition of a strong-willed actress who is ready to make her mark in the acting industry. She has studied at Campo Teatrale Acting School in Milan, and at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. In April of 2016, Arianna graduated from The Academy, thus began her acting career.

Ms. Wellmoney has starred in various plays, short films and has assisted in several stage productions. Some of these roles include Charlotte in Ellen McLaughlin’s Tongue of a Bird directed by Lisa Milinazzo, the lead role in the short independent film Terra Incognita, and Lori in the Alpha NYC’s production of Romantic Fools by Rich Orloff. Knowing that Arianna has already received many opportunities and establishing solid connections in the business, I was eager to learn more about Arianna’s view on her identity as a foreign actress.

Our interview took place in a unique coffee shop near Columbus Circle in New York City. Ms. Wellmoney was eager to discuss her personal insight. With Arianna’s beaming excitement, I did not hesitate to ask how she identified herself as an actress. Ironically, Ms. Wellmoney first thought I asked how she identified herself as a person. Once corrected Ms. Wellmoney said, “What is the difference? I am an actress…” She then proceeded to explain that how she is as person is strictly determined by her career thus far with the roles she has played. “Well, I’ve never been cast as an Italian actress. I always get cast as American.”

Arianna then explained that receiving only American roles was at most a sub-conscious choice made on her part due to her interests and upbringing. “I grew up watching American tv shows and films. I never actually enjoyed Italian films. Because I just don’t like the acting, it’s a completely different style of acting. I never liked theatre back home. Until, I moved here and I saw ‘Real Theatre’. I mean American theatre is a little different than Italian theatre. Italian theatre is very big and kind of exaggerated, and I don’t really like it…” I chuckled in response to Ms. Wellmoney’s statement. Since having known Ms. Wellmoney, I have personally come to find that she has a widely expressive attitude that is absolutely sincere and genuine. It’s as if her personality married the Italian and American styles of theatre. “Well I feel that American Theatre is much more truthful. That’s why I appreciate it more. I identify more as an American actor…” Having been trained by one of the most sought-after acting schools in New York City, and playing only American roles, it is easy to understand why she identifies herself as an American actor.

Arianna then went into further detail upon why she preferred acting styles in America over Italy. She described the acting in the U.S. to be truthful and not exaggerated. She then disclosed how her preference on ‘truthful acting’ to be slightly unheard-of with some of her acting colleagues in Italy. “One time I was on an Italian group on Facebook, of Italian actors. And I saw that people started sharing things like ‘Oh my God in America, people study how to be truthful, and how to be moment to moment instead of being very big. It was kind of funny to see how everyone, all those Italian actors on that one Facebook group were very surprised to know what most American actors are looking for is to learn how to be natural.”

In wrapping up our interview, I asked Arianna where she felt most at home. “I am definitely happier here (NYC). I guess it’s New York and the people here are more accepting. I mean I have not traveled the United States enough to say that it’s the whole country itself. But as far as the people are in New York, it is really nice. I don’t know it seems that people here have a much greater understanding of what it means to be a community. Not just in acting wise but in general. American culture is very much like, ‘Oh I’m going to help you out’. Wherein Italy it’s much more ‘I’m going to do my own thing, and you are going to do your own thing, and if I really have to, maybe I’ll consider helping you out. Here, it is more like, I accept you for who you are. If you are visiting my city you could totally stay at my house.” Despite the challenges Arianna Wellmoney faces in being a foreign actress in the states, it is clear that she is grateful for the opportunities she has already received and will continue to receive. Regardless of wherever she may go, and where she has been, Arianna knows that who she is, is an actress.