Interview: Deborah Liss on Cross-Cultural Storytelling from Brazil to Hollywood

Exploring Cross-Cultural Storytelling through Film, Literature, and Culture

Photo credits: Rory Lewis

In the vibrant crossroads of Brazilian vibrancy and the cinematic canvas of Hollywood, Deborah Liss has etched a distinct path as an actress, writer, and storyteller. Embarking on a journey from Brazil to the heart of the entertainment industry, she weaves a captivating tapestry of cultures that undeniably shapes her craft. In this exclusive interview, Deborah opens the doors to her world, sharing her experiences, insights, and creative intricacies that reflect her multicultural roots. From her transformative presence in the film “Catharsis” to her literary exploration in the upcoming book “The Diary of Madness,” Deborah dives deep into her storytelling fervor and the delicate equilibrium she maintains between acting and writing. Her unique perspective on genre and culture amalgamation shines through, offering a tantalizing glimpse into her forthcoming ventures. Step into the realm of Deborah Liss as we explore the contours of her emerging brilliance that promises to leave an indelible mark on both the realms of Hollywood and literature.

Tell us about your journey from Brazil to Hollywood.

My journey from Brazil to Hollywood has been an interesting fusion of cultures. Brazil alone is already a huge mix of cultures that becomes one, and coming to the US is another huge matter of diversity that deeply influences my writing to create stories that transcend borders, mirroring the vibrant diversity of our world. And I can also say that I’m living in an era where Hollywood is being more approachable to foreign cultures, especially the Latin filmmaking community. That makes my journey even more exciting.

I also love the fact that Hollywood has already been deeply in love with our Brazilian Bombshell Carmen Miranda, one of my biggest inspirations alongside Fernanda Montenegro who was the first Latin American and only Brazilian to be nominated for an Academy Award for best actress. The amazing talent of these women definitely inspired my career.

Deborah Liss blends writing and acting seamlessly in “Catharsis,” uniting talents including her husband, director Ed Gallo, and cinematographer Ricardo Cohen. The story of a workaholic woman’s unexpected job loss unfolds in gripping fashion, blurring the lines between reality and her deepest desires. Amid the intricate web of thoughts, hopes, and fears, an enigmatic hummingbird emerges as an unexpected guide, leading her on a transformative path back to life’s vibrancy. This collaboration envelops the audience in the characters’ journey, showcasing the powerful synergy when creative forces unite.

How did your multicultural background influence your acting and writing career?

My multicultural background has had a profound impact on both my acting and writing career. Growing up in Brazil exposed me to a rich tapestry of traditions, languages, and perspectives. This exposure to diverse cultures fostered a deep appreciation for the intricacies of human experiences. When I transitioned to Hollywood, this background gave me a unique lens through which I approach storytelling. I strive to weave together various cultural threads to create narratives that resonate universally while celebrating the richness of our global heritage.

Deborah Liss – Photo credits by Anthony Anastasi

From acting to screenwriting, you wear multiple hats in “Catharsis.” What inspired you to take on such a challenging dual role, and what can the audience expect from the film?

I’ve done a couple of small projects before as a writer and actor, but nothing as big as “Catharsis,” so it was definitely a transformative journey fueled by my passion for storytelling. And it somehow also helped me cope with my own grief after losing my mom a couple of years prior.

Creating a narrative that dives into the complexity of human emotions became a personal mission. This project not only allowed me to create a film that resonates with audiences but also became a cathartic process for me personally.

I know I wear different hats on this project but I can’t talk about “Catharsis” without mentioning the essential people that believed so much in this project and in me; my husband and the director Ed Gallo, our cinematographer Ricardo Cohen, our producer Ana Silvani, our songwriter Sarah Cleary, as well as the entire amazing cast. Collaborating with the right people who understand and share my vision was vital in bringing “Catharsis” to life.

The audience can expect a thought-provoking experience. With the synergy of my unique perspective and a passionate team, “Catharsis” offers an immersive cinematic journey that touches upon themes of healing and self-discovery, reflecting not only universal emotions but also my personal journey of finding solace through storytelling.

Deborah Liss – Photo credits by Anthony Anastasi

Horror films often evoke intense emotions in viewers. Could you give us a glimpse into the spine-chilling worlds of “The Baby Seeker”? What drew you to this project?

I love exploring new realms of storytelling, and I always wanted to write a horror film. So based on some of my real experiences as a babysitter, “The Baby Seeker” was born.

Horror films wield the power to evoke intense emotions, and “The Baby Seeker” is no exception. This project truly offers fear and suspense.

And in my opinion, “The Baby Seeker” is the kind of short film that you watch and you want more. So, we have a great opportunity to make a great horror feature film (the script is already in the works!).

The Baby Seekers – Movie Poster

With your upcoming book, you’re venturing into the world of literature. Can you reveal any hints about the book’s theme or what inspired you to explore writing beyond scripts?

Delving into literature with my upcoming book is an exciting extension of my storytelling passion. My mom was an amazing teacher and nurtured my love for reading and writing from an early age, which resulted in me already reading and writing at the age of three. This passion took root and flourished over the years. By the time I was ten, I had already penned what I considered my first book, and at 12, I wrote and produced a play, and the same year, I wrote my first screenplay. These small achievements emphasize how deeply passionate I am about storytelling.

As for my upcoming book, titled “The Diary of Madness”, it’s a thrilling narrative that will be published by WeCreate Publishing. The story revolves around a young woman and a doctor-scientist on a quest to cure a disease. However, what sets this story apart is the unique reference the doctor employs – a dairy containing the methods of one of the most inhuman minds of the 20th century.

The mix of intriguing characters and an exploration of the human psyche contribute to what promises to be a compelling literary experience. I’m very excited about this opportunity to craft a novel that allowed me to dive even deeper into character development, intricate plotlines, and the nuances of the written word. It’s an exhilarating project that I’ve eagerly embraced, and I’m excited to share “The Diary of Madness” with readers who appreciate the intricacies of a thought-provoking narrative.

 

As an artist, how do you strike a balance between acting and writing? Do you find that one creative outlet influences the other?

As an artist, I navigate the delicate balance between my two passions; writing and acting. My heart is equally devoted to both realms of storytelling, and rather than viewing them as separate entities, I see them as interconnected. Acting offers me insight into emotions and enriches my writing, and crafting narratives enhances my performances by deepening my understanding of characters and storytelling. This harmonious duality allows me to pour my passion into both creative outlets, ultimately fueling more profound and versatile artistic expression.

Deborah Liss

Your work showcases a variety of genres, from drama to horror. Is there a particular genre that resonates with you the most? How do you approach each genre differently as an actress and writer?

While I’m drawn to a variety of genres, the ones that resonate with me the most are psychological drama and psychological horror. Exploring the complexities of the human mind in art has always captivated me. Approaching each genre as both an actress and writer involves immersing myself in research and understanding. As an actress, I’m all about immersing myself in the emotions and motivations of the characters. But when I put on my writer’s hat, it’s all about crafting stories that peel off the psychological layers. Both sides of me are working to bring out real feelings and connections, giving the audience a deep and thought-provoking experience they can truly get lost in.

Movie poster
Catharsis

Being both an actress and a screenwriter for “Catharsis,” how did you find collaboration with the director and other cast members?

Well, I could start by saying that as an indie filmmaker, I found myself juggling various roles; writer, actress, makeup, organizing the crafts, while also delving into the character’s psyche. So collaborating with the whole team was the heart of the production.

Working closely with my husband Ed Gallo as the director has allowed us to align our creative visions, making the process organic and fluid. Our mutual respect for each other’s talents has fostered a collaborative atmosphere where we breathe life into the script’s characters and narrative that we create together.

The cinematographer Ricardo Cohen and producer Ana Silvani put so much work in this production as well. I could never thank them enough.

Our remarkable cast members further enrich the experience. The dedication and passion that each actor brought into “Catharsis” added a unique layer to the story.

Our entire journey, from script to screen, has been marked by a profound sense of unity and a common goal to create something memorable.

As a rising star in the industry, what advice would you give to aspiring actors and writers who are trying to make their mark in the world of entertainment?

My advice to aspiring actors and writers is to cherish your uniqueness and hold on to your passion. Network, learn, and collaborate with those who inspire you but don’t compare your journey to others. Embrace setbacks as chances to learn and persist through challenges. Let your passion be your guide, and remember that your authentic voice is your greatest asset. Keep refining your craft and enjoy the journey.

Brazilian and American cultures are distinct yet vibrant. How do you incorporate elements from both cultures into your art, and how has this blend enriched your creative process?

Blending Brazilian and American cultures in my art is like painting with vibrant colors on a canvas. The mix of these two worlds enriches my creativity, adding depth to my characters and stories.

This cultural fusion sparks my curiosity, leading me to explore fresh narratives and challenge conventions. It’s about capturing universal emotions while celebrating diversity.

Incorporating these influences into my work not only resonates with diverse audiences but also adds layers of authenticity. It’s a joyful process that empowers me to tell stories that bridge cultures and speak to the core of human connection.

Deborah Liss  – Livia Wippich

Are there any dream roles or projects you’re itching to take on in the future? What kind of characters or stories excite you as an artist?

Absolutely. The horizon brims with dream roles and projects that ignite my artistic passion. Infusing Hollywood with the vibrant hues of Brazilian culture is a vision close to my heart. Unveiling untold historical tales from Brazil’s past captivates me too – shedding light on the hidden gems that deserve recognition.

Ultimately, I’m drawn to narratives that blend my love for acting and writing with my dedication to amplifying Brazilian voices, maybe bringing the first Academy Award to Brazil for best picture would be a dream.

Is there a message or theme you strive to convey through your work, whether it’s in film or your upcoming book?

Absolutely. My work is driven by a commitment to infuse every story, whether on screen or in my upcoming book, with a meaningful message or theme. I believe in the transformative power of storytelling to spark discussions, evoke emotions, and leave a lasting impact.

In both film and literature, my aim is to craft narratives that resonate deeply with audiences. I strive to touch upon universal human experiences, inviting reflection and fostering connections. By embedding these messages or themes, I hope to create stories that people can draw inspiration from, sparking conversations that linger and enrich lives.

What’s next on the horizon for Deborah Liss? Are there any exciting projects you can share with your fans?

Exciting things are on the horizon for me! We’ve just wrapped post-production on the horror short film “The Baby Seeker” and will soon enter the film festival circuit. “Catharsis,” our feature film is also nearing its post-production completion, and we’re looking forward to sharing it through festivals.

My book “Diary of Madness” is set to launch in August 2024, and I’m thrilled to connect with readers through its pages. Additionally, I’m wrapping up another screenplay titled “Child Star” that will be in pre-production next year.

It’s a whirlwind of creativity and passion, and I can’t wait to share these projects with everyone!

To know more about Deborah Liss, please visit her website, and follow her on Instagram and YouTube.

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