Face to Face Films presents the pilot to a new webseries by artistic director, Anthony Laura and featuring Rheanna Salazar. I Am Sabrina is a piece that shines a light on the cult of cyber celebrity. Sabrina Bright – in the guise of her YouTube alter ego, Hope Phillips, utilizes her internet fame to help members of the LGBTQ community to come out. The only problem is Sabrina hasn’t come out in her own life.
Face to Face Films did not take the knockdown as a time of waiting. Laura, enhancing his team and making many partners in varied ways, he created The Julia Initiative, which has become a conduit for valuable mental health services to those – audience and artist – in need and Theatre Interrupted, a reading series exploring plays, screenplays and original works presented virtually on various platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Zoom, and Broadway-On-Demand.
After a successful workshop presentation in March, I AM SABRINA (PILOT), WRITTEN/DIRECTED BY ANTHONY M. LAURA, will premiere AUGUST 5 AT BLUE ROSES FILM FESTIVAL, the first film festival produced by Laura and his team at Face to Films. RHEANNA SALAZAR portays the title character, SABRINA BRIGHT
What inspired you to create the web-series:
ANTHONY M. LAURA: This idea actually came to fruition in 2019 while thinking about wanting to find a vehicle for Rheanna. I spoke to her about the seed of this idea and we began collaborating with workshops. I love duality and the Sabrina/Hope duality in addition to the YouTube persona seemed like a great fit. I’ve been working with Rheanna for four years now and she is wonderful about tapping into stillness and always lends optimism to whatever she plays. I loved the idea of taking both of those and having them in the same series. I think we all struggle with comparing ourselves to the world in the social media age and people tend to think YouTube stars, actors of a certain caliber, Instagram models etc. don’t compare themselves because they have big followings. It’s usually the opposite. They are so focused on their persona, they lose their own value. Creating this is what originally made them happy and now it’s taken them over. These are all areas we wanted to explore and, interestingly, find a lot of them fit into the pilot episode. Filming this was a blast. Rheanna and I had so much prep time that once we got to set, we just tried things. We found so much. I can’t wait for everyone to experience it.
What was your reaction when you first read the material?
RHEANNA SALAZAR: I was so excited to show the duality of Sabrina to the audience, and I think Anthony really captured everything we had talked about. This web series has been a collaborative effort from the beginning, so the plot wasn’t a surprise – but Anthony’s writing really brought the complexity of this character to life. I was so excited to be tackling such difficult subject matter, and felt up to the acting challenge.
What did you and Anthony work on in rehearsals?
RHEANNA SALAZAR: Most of the rehearsal period was figuring out the mindset of both Hope and Sabrina, what they’re each going through, and how they relate to each other. Then, tons of work setting up how Hope and Sabrina would feel about or react to the given situations.
How long have you been working with Anthony? Can you speak about your actor/director relationship?
RHEANNA SALAZAR: I was cast in my first Face to Face production more than four years ago, and have been working with Anthony ever since. We have a great working relationship, and I think it helps us get super specific with the material we’re trying to bring to life. When you communicate effectively and put in all the work ahead of time, you save time when filming and can really get what you need out of the shots.
What do these characters mean to you?
RHEANNA SALAZAR: Sabrina and Hope represent the lengths people will go to, to hide a part of themselves. Playing this character has taught me that living your life honestly and authentically is the key to happiness.
What is it like playing two characters in the same series?
RHEANNA SALAZAR: It’s so fun for me, it’s like playing a variety of characters all in one! It’s definitely hard work – adding layers and layers to backstories, objectives, and emotions – but I really have to reconcile how both sides of Sabrina feel and act in any given situation.
What is different about this series that we haven’t seen before?
RHEANNA SALAZAR: The situation Sabrina is struggling through is a unique one, considering her very popular public persona – you’ll have to watch to find out the details! But the feelings of inadequacy, shame, and guilt are ones that I’m sure most people can relate to at some point in their lives.
What do you want people to come away with after seeing this?
RHEANNA SALAZAR: I want people to feel like they can live their lives as they truly want, as authentically as possible. That embodying their real self can set them free.