The Daily Fern: You star in the film ‘½ New Year’ which is now available on Amazon Prime and Tubi TV, what can you tell us about this film and your role in the project?
Brooke Lewis Bellas: ½ New Year is an indie film, with a lot of heart. The film focuses on a group of young people in their 20's who goes to Hollywood to "live “the life," live their dreams, live that excitement we all grow up watching in movies. Yet, it is not always that simple, and glamorous or fun! We see how these relationships and people are glued together, often through the trying times. I think the tagline truly sums it up best: “Friends are the family you get to choose.” It is about a group of friends that goes through the ups and downs of young life in Hollywood, and they learn that all you have is love and friendship. I play Pam DeLuca, the big sister of Reed DeLuca (Drew McAnany).
The film displays how sometimes we have family that is far away from our biological family, and it is what we go through together, and the support we need, to get from the worst of times to the best of times. It has an 80’s throwback vibe, and I think that is what I love so much about it. I met our star, writer, and producer, Drew McAnany, in Hollywood over ten years ago. Drew originally started out hosting in Los Angeles, and he was working at E! Entertainment when he interviewed me on the red carpet. He asked me about Philly, and we quickly bonded during that meeting, so he became like a little brother to me. Like so many young actors in Hollywood, Drew was fighting to get a break for himself as an actor, so he created ½ New Year as a vehicle for himself to star in. He also wrote the role of his big sister, Pam DeLuca (from Philly), for me to act in. We had worked through a few years of table reads and different directors and producers, then writer Georgia Menides jumped on board, did the re-write on the script, then became the producer who made it happen. Along with producer Zach Block, they hired Tom Morash as our director to creatively guide this project with this amazing team. I am honored and grateful to have had Pam DeLuca written specifically for me. I think that is something every actor and actress wants in their career. Pam is in her 30’s, and a bit older than her brother Reed and his friends. They are Italian from South Philly, so they argue, but are very close. Pam is part of the gang, but she is like the “mother hen” to them. Her journey is about protecting her brother and giving guiding advice to the girls they hang out with, including the gorgeous leads, played by Bo Youngblood, Shanley Caswell, and Rebecca Vinagro. She also likes to have flings with Reed’s young, handsome buddies, including Marty (played by Jermain Alverez Martin). Pam is an on-screen example of what we go through in “Hollywood life." She is single, and all about her career, she loves to party and doesn’t want to grow up! The film released in the USA on all TV On Demand and has recently released on Amazon Prime and Tubi TV. The Daily Fern: Do you currently have any other projects in the works? If so, what can you tell us about it?
Brooke Lewis Bellas: I feel incredibly blessed to have acted, produced, and executive produced a few projects that wrapped just before COVID-19. My Psycho Therapy (Amazon Prime) film director, Staci Layne Wilson, wrote a film with Darren Gordon Smith (Repo! The Genetic Opera). Those two are very talented. It is a fun indie gem. I do not want to give any spoilers, but it is The Second Age of Aquarius. It is a comedy, with a little bit of a Sci-Fi twist and a lot of music. It is really sweet and clever and stars Christina Jaquelyn Calph and Michael Ursu. I am an Executive Producer, and I act in it. I play Tawny Stevens. She is a mom, stuck in the eighties, as a New Jersey, Rocker Mom. Wait until you see my hair, my make-up, and my leopard pants! I did the Jersey accent. I cannot wait for this film to come out. Also, we wrapped the TV pilot Stripped. It is a Comedy/Drama. It is a TV pilot that was written and directed by Marc Clebanoff, who also directed the film The Mourning, which stars Michael Walton, Louis Mandylor, Dominique Swain and Larry Hankin. I was both an actress and co-producer. The Mourning is a beautiful Sci-Fi/Love Story that just released on the new Tubi TV streaming channel. Stripped was a passion project. I was also one of the producers with Marc and Frank Krueger (who also stars in it). I played Jules, the publicist to the star, Chris Cameron, played by the amazing Casper Van Dien. It was created by Mark Clebanoff and late actor, Kristoff St. John. They had created the concept before he passed on, which is such a sad situation, but Marc wanted to carry on his legacy, and he did, and we did. It is such an incredible cast, and series, we are all proud of. Lastly, at the start of COVID-19, my creative instinct kicked in and I knew I had to create to stay somewhat “sane," so I spent most of the quarantine producing and filming a virtual streaming series. Red Rooms was conceived and completed out of “isolation inspiration!" Joshua Butler and I had been in development on a project and had been reminiscing about our favorite industry days of yesteryear when we met on the horror film circuit. I had already been a superfan of Joshua’s work for years. In 2019, we shot a proof of concept for our project, which paid homage to his hugely successful film VLOG (2008) from the producers of SAW, which went on to become a hit TV series. When COVID-19 hit Hollywood and we were all in isolation, I called for a production meeting, then suggested we use the footage we shot and attempt to experiment by filming each character virtually from their homes. Red Rooms stars horror film and TV veterans Brooke Lewis Bellas (iMurders), David Alpay (The Vampire Diaries), Suze Lanier-Bramlett (The Hills Have Eyes), Ricky Dean Logan (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare), and Noah Blake (Teen Witch). We are currently in post-production and I look forward to sharing more soon. The Daily Fern: What made you pursue a career in entertainment and TV?
Brooke Lewis Bellas: As far back as I can remember, I knew I was meant to pursue something creative and emotional. I just knew in my heart. I was an “abnormally” sensitive, empathic, and feeling-oriented child. I think, like many actors who have dealt with challenges in their childhood, I had a void to fill. I knew that I was destined to share my deep emotions and work in entertainment. I would sit under the television watching TV for hours and I would put myself into the television series and talk to the characters, as if I were one of them. I was nutty… and, I still am! In addition to acting, I loved to emote and be artistically creative with dancing, singing, music, and writing. The arts truly helped me work through my insecurities and learn to be courageous! The Daily Fern: Do you have any advice for young girls looking to chase a similar dream?
Brooke Lewis Bellas: I feel like I have so much valuable advice for the young, female readers who dream of becoming an actress, yet, it applies to everyone, and I want the readers to really “get” this. My most valuable advice comes from my many mistakes! Let’s start with the obvious, as I am a firm believer in studying and training, no matter what area of the entertainment business you are in! I feel we have a responsibility to our craft, profession, and our audience to be the best we can be! My next advice would be that there are no guarantees in life or career. We can plan, study, prepare, create, and there are still no guarantees! I am such a workaholic, planner, and control freak over my own life and career and, so far, nothing has worked out exactly as I had imagined or planned, so I would advise you to follow the old slogan, “Trust the Process” coined by my hometown Philadelphia 76ers! Do not take yourself too seriously, nor criticize yourself too often, and have fun with auditions and your career endeavors. Do not get caught up in the “mind chatter” of believing that you have to look a certain way, be a certain weight or body type, have a certain skin color, and PLEASE do not get caught in the traps of social media or allowing it to define you, your value, or talents in any way! I am still diligently working on these things in my adult life and career. Lastly, I must share with your readers that when I became a Producer years ago, I learned such beneficial lessons for actors, including the fact that you can be the most talented actor in the room…you can give an Oscar-winning audition performance and you still may not book the role! I have sat on the Producer side many times now and have watched the most brilliant actors lose a role due to hair color, height, or an actress reminded the Director or his ex-wife! Valuable life lessons and advice!
Also, teen girls can gain more of my advice and insight in a fun, “Vampy” way with a book I wrote, Ms. Vampy’s Teen Tawk: There’s A Lotta Power In Ya Choices. The Daily Fern: How have you been spending this time in quarantine?
Brooke Lewis Bellas: Surprisingly, and gratefully, I have been as busy as ever! As an actress, producer, and philanthropist, so much of my “normal” life has been spent working from my home office, so I am still able to work and do all my media and press interviews, as I did before the pandemic. I am currently in post-production on film and TV projects with various teams for Red Rooms, Stripped, and The Second Age of Aquarius. As we know, a lot has been halted with COVID-19, but we have managed to forge ahead slowly. I have been watching and voting on content as a Judge for The New York Chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NY NATAS) and the horrific Shriekfest Film Festival 20TH year (Go my Girl Denise Gossett!). Also, I worked behind the scenes to raise money for The Actors Fund and Frontline Responders Fund during this pandemic crisis. That said, I deeply miss interaction and energy with my people and social activities. The quarantine has also offered me time to do some serious soul-searching, and I have learned a lot about myself. I have been compelled to reflect on life, work, and choices, and it has affected me both personally and professionally. I have been assessing the choices and mistakes I have made in my career, and how I plan to step back into my career space when this pandemic is contained.
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