Donna Benedicto: A New Generation of Actors

Focusing outside of yourself helps you thrive in this industry and helps you deal with so much and all the obstacles we face.

I’m a Filipina-Canadian singer-turned-actress who switched careers in order to champion Asian representation in film. I want to challenge the status quo and show the next generation of ethnically diverse artists that they can dream bigger than what the world tells them they can do.

Donna Benedicto is a Filipina Canadian actress and singer born and raised in Vancouver, BC. Growing up as an ethnic minority, Donna decided to make a switch from full-time singing to pursue acting in 2013 because she saw a gap in Asian representation. Since then, she has gone on to become the first Filipina lead in multiple TV movies, including Incendo’s Farmer Seeking Love, as well as guest starring on NBC’s The Good Doctor, and booking recurring roles on CW’s Supergirl and ABC’s A Million Little Things

In addition to acting, Donna is currently working on her first original album and recently released two singles that appear in the Lifetime original movie Wrath. She is also an avid boxer and kickboxer, having trained for 4 years at various MMA gyms in metro Vancouver.

Mustering the courage to be true to their own feelings, no matter what types of emotional and mental obstacles they face in their lives, can be a challenging process for everyone, especially those who are living in a society that expects them to suppress their sentiments. But actress Anna Maguire’s protagonist of Anabel is doing just that with the help of her best friend and colleague, actress Donna Benedicto’s character of Casey, in the new sci-fi comedy-drama, With Love and a Major Organ.

Donna explained the reason why she thinks it’s important to reflect on how technology dictates how people live in modern society, and how the film serves as an important piece of social commentary: “I think movies are made to make you take a look into your life and how much we rely on social media. Without giving too much away, it shows how feelings are important, and it’s great not to suppress them,” she noted.

“You see the big contrast between the two characters of Casey and Anabel. Anabel is all about feelings, to the extreme, and Casey is not about feelings, to the extreme,” Benedicto emphasized. “So, I think it’s very important to showcase that; it helps us reflect on ourselves, and how we deal with these new apps and AI coming out,” the actress added.

She also is in Lifetime’s Pride: A Seven Deadly Sins Story, starring Stephanie Mills. It’s the story of Bertie, an aging matriarch and reality television star whose carefully constructed world starts to crumble–like the baked goods that catapulted her to fame–when family secrets are brought to light. To see the truth and salvage her legacy, Bertie must let go of the pride that estranged her from her late college-dropout daughter. A pride that prevents Bertie from seeing her son Gabe as the thieving opportunist he is and her granddaughter Ella as just a lost twenty-something trying to build up her life after some missteps–not someone to hold in contempt. Pride brought Bertie up the climb, but it also made her blind–it’s time for her to see or face the consequences. Stars Keeya King, Stephanie Mills, Thomas Miles, Lucia Walters, and Jaime M. Callica (2023).

Instagram: @donna_b4real

FB: Donna Benedicto – Actor/Singer 

Tiktok: @donnabenedicto0
Website: donna.benedicto.com

Avra Sidiropoulou: Addressing an Age of Upheaval

Karen [Malpede’s] use of the play [Troy Too] happens in a most amazing and in a structurally brilliant way. She puts two goddesses that appear to teach us a lesson about how lives need to be re-configured. She also uses the story of The Trojan Women, a story of one nation turned against another, to tell us that even in these circumstances that we’re living in, these really turbulent times, there is a sense of solidarity that needs to be built among these women and these people, in general, who have been forced to leave their homes, be exiled, who have suffered the violence of the authorities…In a very subtle and beautifully poetic way The Trojan Women and the words of Euripides come together and blend with the rhythms of today’s world and of the city of New York, that has had its own share of violence, misfortune, tragedies, in the 21st century.
 

My work has always been about bringing people together, forging new transcultural and transnational artistic relationships, and combining research with theatre-making in order to explore and extend the limits of creativity.

Avra Sidiropoulou is a theatre director and academic. She is the Artistic Director of Persona Theatre Company. She has published extensively on directing theory and practice, contemporary performance and dramaturgy and is the author of Directions for Directing. Theatre and Method (Routledge 2018) In 2020 she was nominated for the Gilder/Coigney International Theatre Award by the League of Professional Theatre Women.

She is also the co-editor of Adapting Greek Tragedy. Contemporary Contexts for Ancient Texts(CUP 2021) and editor of Staging 21 st Century Tragedies: Theatre, Politics and Global Crisis (Routledge, 2022) In Spring 2023 she will be a Visiting Scholar at the School of the Arts of Columbia University in New York.

Avra holds a PhD degree in Theatre Studies (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece), an M.F.A. in Directing (Columbia University), an MPhil in American Literature (Cambridge University) and an M.A. in Text and Performance (King’s College London). Her main areas of scholarly specialization include directing theory, the ethics of adaptation, contemporary dramaturgy and practice as research. She was a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University, the Martin E. Segal Centre at CUNY, MIT, the Universities of Leeds and Surrey, the Institute of Theatre Studies at Freie University, the Berlin and a Japan Foundation Fellow at the University of Tokyo.

Theater Three Collaborative in New York and Persona Theater Company in Athens, two companies known for their social justice work, will present the world premiere of Karen Malpede‘s Troy Too, a poetic play in dialogue with Euripides’ The Trojan Women and the current crises of Covid, climate change, and racism. Directed by Avra Sidiropoulou, Troy Too’s multiracial cast features one of Greece’s finest classical actresses, Lydia Koniordou, who brings a modern and ancient Hecuba to life in English and ancient Greek.

This limited engagement runs May 11-21, 2023 at HERE (145 Sixth Avenue, Manhattan). Tickets are now on sale at HERE Arts Center 

Crafted in the heat of 2020 from language found on the streets during the protests for racial justice, in hospitals during the Covid lockdown, and from the mouths of endangered fish in the sea, Troy Too is an enraged and poignant play of what we have survived, and a poetic elegy for those who did not. Greek director Sidiropoulou, known for her innovative multimedia staging of modern and classical texts, brings Troy Too shockingly alive in an international production that cuts across languages and cultures. The play, one of the first to tackle the Covid pandemic, is an angry yet beautiful communal lament, one that has been lacking from public life.

Persona is a state of mind, a heart that beats with inspiration, a body that balances harmoniously but also irregularly, a team that experiments, adapts and transcends, simultaneously centrifugal and centripetal. It is a small hub of talent which was established in Athens several years ago as a way to keep us all connected to what is going on in the arts internationally.

Persona Theatre Company Fund Raising Campaign

Avra Sidiropoulou: https://persona.gr/en/people/avra-sidiropoulou/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/avrasid

Persona Theatre Company:  https://persona.gr/en/

Youtube Persona Theatre Company: https://www.youtube.com/@personatheatercompany4935

Theresa Chaze: Feisty Filmmaker

The [marginalized] community doesn’t want special treatment. They just want equality — to be who they are, to be respected for who they are. ~Theresa Chaze

Telling stories that activate emotions helps audiences be open to new ideas.  People can only change themselves. But until they experience the new they will remain stuck in the old–in other words, we are growing and changing or stagnating and dying.  My work helps people find the best of themselves.

Theresa Chaze began her career in the mid-1980s at a small independent TV station in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Moving to Traverse City, she worked at the local ABC affiliate as a producer, writer, editor, and director. In the mid-1990s, she ghostwrote two features and two shorts. However, after working as a producer on two independent films, she walked away from the industry. In 2009, she started her journey back began through a series of coincidences. Her time away from film and television gave her the strength and courage to turn “impossible” into “I’m possible”.

Kaleidoscope Film and Television is a new production studio that will produce projects based on age, gender, and ethnic diversity.  We will break stereotypes in front of and behind the cameras, especially for women, Native Americans, and veterans.  More of a cooperative than a traditional studio, we are looking for individual and production companies to join our team,  We will create quality entertainment while changing the world.

Kaleidoscope Film and Television combines the best of the old-school storytelling and innovative production techniques with modern technologies to create a financially stable business model for film and television projects. Based on the concept originally created by D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks with the creation of United Artists, Kaleidoscope Film and Television intents to once again pull together the talents of producers, directors, actors, and crew, who want to take back their independence by having more financial and creative control of their careers. By working together and combining their skills, the KFAT team creates a cooperative that will produce and distribute projects that are based on a diversity of gender, age, and ethnic backgrounds. KFAT will give voice to the people and messages that have been overlooked and thus attract the audiences, who have been ignored. This inclusive and innovative business model that will attract the creatives with good business sense, which in turn will diversify, and expand the audience based on all the projects. It will oversee pre-production, production, post-production, distribution, and the licensing and sales of all inherent rights in both domestic and international marketplaces as well as in all current and future distribution platforms.

Horses and Heroes will focus on the human aspect by telling personal stories of courage of how veterans have chosen to heal by facing the fear, pain, and guilt of the past. This message is also valuable to civilians, who have encountered traumatic physical and emotional events. It has the right message at the right time to create a bridge of understanding between those who have served and civilians while helping them all find a way to heal from the inside out. Veterans will also be hired for jobs both in front of and behind the cameras.

Kaleidoscope Film and Television

Cosmos Productions LLC
Traverse City MI 
Eastern Time Zone
231-943-3298

231-313-8327
Monday-Friday 11 am to 7 pm

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