WRITER, DIRECTOR & PRODUCER
Lucia Grillo received her BFA in Acting from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts after studying extensively at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute in New York. She acted opposite Mira Sorvino and John Leguizamo in Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam then played the principal role in Lee’s Finlandia Vodka spot; in Tony Gilroy’s Duplicity; and the forthcoming series, Switch, starring Olympia Dukakis.
Her filmmaking debut, A pena do pana (The Cost of Bread) premiered at AFI Fest, aired on La7 (Italy), and won awards. Ad Ipponion (Ode to Hipponion) was a Cannes Film Festival SFC Official Selection. Her documentary, Terra sogna terra (Earth Dream Earth), screened internationally and aired on CUNY TV; and Testardi (Stubborn) screened at Rome’s prestigious Apollo 11. Lucia has worked as TV producer & correspondent for over a decade – for CUNY TV, film festivals, and outlets like Italian Cinema Today, interviewing guests such as Isabella Rossellini, John Turturro, Chaz Palmintieri, Francesco Munzi, William Shatner, Maria Sole Tognazzi, PIF, Claudio Cupellini, Gabriele Mainetti. Currently in development are Lucia’s first narrative feature, ‘Na calma tigrata (A Tigered Calm), and a book adaption for the screen.
Engaging in various aspects of filmmaking – screenwriting, producing, directing, editing, and acting – brings life to the screen (or stage, as it might be in acting) and presents it to other human beings. My extensive training as an actress – which included Method acting technique as well as voice, singing, dance, movement, Tai Chi, script analysis, and much more – and performing both as a dancer and pianist in early childhood all come together when creating characters on the page and directing actors, then editing (or working with an editor) and musicians to bring those characters and their situations to life, and to the audience.
Human connection is really what makes me my best self. Storytelling, critical thinking, ethics and morality, and activism are the mediums through which I actively strive to be my best self. My curiosity about human beings’ experiences, emotions, outlook, thinking, hopes and dreams drives me to connect deeply and to tell stories that bring us all closer, through filmmaking and creating music videos; activism: studying the strategy for getting to a better world for all people and fighting for it; and caring for “other” sentient beings and the planet via lifelong veganism. Doing any and all of these things – especially connected with others – makes me the best version of myself.
My two biggest aspirations are: to continue telling stories onstage and especially on screen, with the goal of having an ever-widening audience to share the consciousness that no matter where we are on Earth, we are all human beings and what happens in one corner of the globe is similar to and/or affects what happens to people in other places; and to actively work to achieve a better system for humanity, as the current one is not working for the majority of people.
I think my biggest success is inherently not having a sense of competition. This gives me the tranquility to develop my projects – even something like creating a character for an audition – and genuinely feel joy for the successes of others, which I think we need more of, in general, and especially where women are concerned: instead of a dog-eat-dog attitude we are conditioned to subscribe to, if we uplift each other, things can function in a wholly different manner. This is not ingenuous but comes from careful dialectic thinking. No one, even if they imitate you, will have your same expression of things, therefore competiveness is actually ineffectual and counterproductive, a useless expenditure of energy that could be utilized for positive
There are always challenging moments. Personal sacrifices are unfortunately sometimes necessary in order to achieve one’s true “calling,” but then a true sacrifice would be in having to give up one’s passion for any reason. Possibly my own greatest challenge was in the decision to take a leap and make my first film as a filmmaker. I embarked on it as a birthday gift to myself, in order to transform any potential trepidation into a positive, and it was a success! My life transformed from solely acting to filmmaking – and much earlier in life than I had originally imagined or planned. Each time I embark on a new project it is a challenge, but if you take it one step at a time, it makes the challenge more readily surmountable.
Right now, my motto is: “Time will tell…” I don’t mean this in a passive way, by any means, or in situations that require immediate action, but I’m learning that sometimes, in certain situations, it helps to not intently act to remedy or confront something, but to take a moment and let it be – whether it passes on its own, or gives you time to reflect, or the answer comes spontaneously – sometimes you just have to breathe and give it time for a resolution…
Another one is “Fuck it!” We are conditioned to operate in fear or at least to avoid discomfort and so many lose opportunities because risk means potential loss of stability. So whenever I begin to fear taking something on because I might lose current stability, I think: “Fuck it!” and I take the leap.
My favorite person in the world is Bob Avakian. He is probably one of, if not the greatest thinker of our time and uncompromising in his love for humanity. Avakian has dedicated his life to devising a strategy to get to a better societal system worldwide, which is unprecedented, actually viable, and necessary – to end all oppression and for survival of the planet. Not enough people are familiar with him or his works and he should be a household name, in the sense that anyone who cares about humanity and the planet should engage in his works and they should be spread widely among different strata so we can actually get to a better kind of society than this one in which we currently live, which does not provide quality life for a majority of people.
Calabria (Italy) is always my favorite place. Not only is it the place of my origins, where my parents were born and where I consequently, currently make my films, but it is what I call the ‘tip of the Earth,’ where the sirocco winds blow, a crossroads of peoples and cultures; a ‘garden of Eden’ with epic history.
Revolution Books NYC (there are various locations across the US) is another favorite place. Not only is it an independent bookstore dedicated to critical thinking and social change, but it is the place where, through the amazing and effervescent literary and cultural events it hosts, we have a glimpse into a vibrant kind of revolutionary society. It is the kind of place with the kind of people I dreamed of as a kid, and it actually exists!
My favorite object is an instrument: my piano. I don’t get to play as often as I’d like, but it is very difficult for me to live without having a piano at my disposal in my personal space at which I can immerse myself in Beethoven’s sonatas at times when I need to “escape.”
I am passionate about fighting to get Trump and his hideous regime out of office – not waiting for the next election or for the powers that be to do so of their own tardy volition, but demanding it alongside the masses, which is the only way any civil rights have ever been won. RefuseFascism.org is the movement with which I’m working, formed with this exact mission.
My current creative passions are the two projects I’m developing: an original feature film that I wrote, will direct and play the protagonist; and an adaptation of a book for television. These are both set between New York and Calabria and are through my production company, Calabrisella Films, which people can find out more about at www.CalabrisellaFilms.com.