In our second installment of Name to the Face, where we introduce our audience to the actors whose name they might not yet know but whose face they certainly recognize, I had the opportunity to interview actress Stefania Indelicato. You may have seen her on Fox's Lucifer, A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix, or her recurring role on Freeform's Beyond. Equally adept in comedy and drama, she has a strong presence both on screen and off that is inspiring and impossible to ignore. Wherever you recognize Stefania from, with her growing list of credits, successful production company, and an unrivaled passion for the work it won't be long before her name is ingrained.
TVM: What drew you to acting and when did you know you wanted to make a go at a career in it?
SI: Actually, I don’t remember a time where I wasn’t drawn to acting. I knew my whole life, really. I was always performing for my family, or in school plays. I even loved it when we used to do skits in French class in Junior High. And when I was younger, when my family was in the living room watching TV, I would be off playing by myself in my room, acting stuff out and playing school or whatever - even going so far as to play giving detention to other kids that I went to school with. My mom always knew it was something I wanted, but when I told her seriously when I was 17, she was concerned - as most parents are when they don’t understand how the industry works, or see it as a viable career option. I was also quite studious and did well in school, so my family had other aspirations for me. But when people asked me what I wanted to be I didn’t have an answer because I wanted to be all the things; a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant, a scientist, a teacher, a mom, etc. But, I could never choose, and the desire to perform, and tell stories was always a part of me inherently, so acting was the only option, ever.
TVM: Do you have any rituals when getting into character or is the process different for you with every role?
SI: The process is really different for me for every role. I’ve studied a lot, both in university, and in classes both in Toronto, and Vancouver, so I’ve been exposed to a lot of different techniques, and a lot of different acting coaches and teachers. And some days one technique works, and some days others do. Sometimes, you just understand the character on a fundamental level or they’re so close to you, that you so easily say the words and speak the truth of that character that the process takes care of itself. The rituals also change for the character and for the situation. If I’m doing a play, my ritual and routine is quite different from when I’m working in Film and TV. Each medium demands something different. But the one thing that stays the same is making sure that I give myself some time to do some version of a physical and vocal warm-up to get grounded, and present, and to stay as loose as possible on set.
TVM: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the industry and what changes would you like to see as a result?
SI: I think the biggest challenge in past years has simply been the sheer discrepancy between the number of roles that are available to women, in comparison to men. It took me quite a while to get in the room, but there were a lot of factors that played into why that was the case. And one of them was whether or not there was work to be had at all. When I moved back to Vancouver we were in the thick of a writers’ strike, which meant there wasn’t a lot of work. Then the Canadian economy was really strong, which is never great for our industry because American productions come up to Canada to save money, and get more bang for their buck, so obviously that wasn’t happening as much. Now that things have turned around economically, and with more of a demand to write more roles for women and people from more diverse backgrounds, alongside the introduction of streaming services, there’s a need for more content, and in turn, a LOT more work. And luckily, I’ve cultivated a great team of people who have started supporting me in my career in a big way. My agent is the best, truly. And the casting people in Vancouver are really supportive, and have at times put up with my crazy in a way that creates possibilities, and opportunities to shine and really step up to the plate in ways that maybe I, myself, didn’t even see.
TVM: Your production company, dream of passion productions, has produced two successful stage productions. Has producing helped you as an actor in any way?
SI: I think producing - more than anything - helped me grow as a person, and as an artist overall. Producing empowers you, and gives you control over your career in a different way, and allows you to cultivate your artistic contribution to the industry. You decide that you want to play a certain role or tell a certain story, and then you decide that you get to play it. No matter what. You take the role in a way. And then, you as the producer, essentially, have final say in the artistic message, idea, and direction of the piece. You are contributing to the industry in a way that reflects who you are, what you believe in, and the things that matter to you, stories that resonate with you, and that you feel are important. And with a clear vision, and the smarts to hire people that are more experienced than you, you can accomplish miracles. At least that’s part of why I started producing. I don’t produce for the sake of producing, I produce when I feel I have no choice but to produce, and perform a certain piece. With the first co-production with my co-producer Jessica Anne Nelson (who I’ve co-produced with both times with her company Excavation Theatre), we produced AFTER, a piece written by a friend of mine, Martha Herrera-Lasso. First off, it was a comedy, which I had been dying to do. Also, I liked the piece, and saw a character I could play, and an opportunity to produce the piece - as a first time producer - because it was something fun, that I could do with friends, with a reasonable budget. With ITHAKA, written by Andrea Stolowitz, I had been searching for a new monologue for an audition, and I came across a monologue from the play, and then pursued getting a copy of the play in full. After reading the whole play, I connected to the piece so deeply right away, and knew that I wanted to play that character, and tell that story. It was happenstance with ITHAKA, essentially, as I wasn’t seeking out a new project, necessarily, it just came to me.
TVM: Does your production company have any plans to branch out into producing film or television?
SI: This year I’m definitely focusing more on Film and Television in my acting career, and in addition, am in the pre-production process of producing a short film that I wrote. So, yes, this is the next step.
TVM: What has been your favourite co-star role to date?
SI: I’d say this is a bit of a tie between a few different projects. I got to do a really fun gig a couple years back on Lucifer. It was a super chill set, and I got to work with director, Tara Weyr. It was a fun, comedic role, and for whatever reason I usually fall into doing a lot of drama, so it was really great to get to flex some comedy muscles and just be present and
encouraged to go as big as I wanted, which ironically, is the opposite of what I’m usually asked to do in my Film and TV work.
I also did a really great recurring on Beyond where I was playing a cop. It was my first time doing a lot of action on set with a shot gun, etc., and it was such a cool experience where I learned a lot about onset protocols around firearms, and how to communicate with the director, as well as the firearms expert, to make the scene really become organic, and a real part of me in the role.
I’m also really stoked to have gotten to work on Unspeakable which is a Canadian limited series airing on CBC about the tainted blood scandal from the 1980s. It’s such an honour to get to be a part of a Canadian story that is based on actual events, a story that a lot of people didn’t know about, but should, because it still affects people today, internationally.
TVM: Who has been your favourite “name” actor to work with?
SI: I got to work on A Series of Unfortunate Events with Patrick Warburton. That was really cool. I basically grew up watching him on Seinfeld, so he was one of those people I just had to get a photo with because my family was going to go nuts over the fact that I had gotten to work with “Putty”! Seinfeld is still a staple show in my family home, even now years later in reruns. I’m really not the best at snapping photos on set or asking to take photos, but I had to find a way to get a photo with Patrick, for my family at least, and Patrick made it easy. He was so friendly right from the make-up trailer in the morning, and so kind. And gosh, so handsome! And that voice! It was a really fun experience. And honestly, the more I work with bigger names, the more I observe that they’re just regular people, and I’m so pleased to see that they’re committed to telling the best version of the story, period. And that’s inspiring.
TVM: What is your dream role? Are there any current shows you’d love to work on and why?
SI: In film and TV, I’d say careers I aspire to emulate are those of Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Kate Winslet, Viola Davis and Meryl Streep. But also, I really look to the careers of fellow Canadians as inspiration; Sandra Oh, Rachel McAdams, and Tatiana Maslany to name a few.
“Dream role” is a harder one for me to answer. Mostly because, in the film and TV world, my dream roles probably haven’t been written yet, they’re coming down the pipe for me. But when I think about my theatre career - even though it’s possible these roles could be made into films - I think about Shakespeare’s canon, and I’ve always wanted to play Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing, and Lady Macbeth from Macbeth.
As far as Film and TV, I would love to work on Schitt’s Creek, I just think they are comedic geniuses, and it would be such a joy, and win, to fly to Toronto - a place I love, with friends I adore - to work! And in Vancouver, there are so many great shows happening and coming soon that I’d love to work on, it’s hard to list them all. But as far as shows that people are most aware of, as in shows that are in their second season or beyond, I’d love to work on The Good Doctor, Riverdale, and Supernatural (Supernatural seems like a rite of passage in Vancouver, as it’s shooting it’s 14th season).
TVM: What advice would you give to your fellow actors of all ages who may be struggling?
SI: If there’s anything else you’d rather do, do it. You really have to want to be an actor more than anything, or at the very least be essentially addicted to working in this industry. Because that’s what it is, an industry. And it’s definitely more of a marathon than a sprint. It can be a slow burn. There are times when the best person for the role won’t get the part for reasons or factors that are completely out of one’s control as an actor, reasons that at times obviously, have nothing at all to do with your performance. Also, take care of yourself. This can be a harsh industry, it can really beat you down, so make sure that you do whatever you can to ensure you feel complete as a human, regardless of whether you booked your last 20 auditions. You have to be passionate about the work, and focus on doing the most compelling auditions that you can, because booking the roles, that’s just gravy.
I also think, be really careful with the kind of social media that you consume, because it can be very confronting when you get into a place of comparing yourself to other people. It’s your journey. The roles you’re meant to play will come to you - when you’re ready. And when the role is yours, no circumstance will keep you from playing it. The stars will align, and you’ll be the only choice. So stay happy, and inspired, and passionate, whatever you do. And make sure that you have people in your life who aren’t in the industry, because that can really serve to ground you and offer you perspective about the real world, because show business is its own thing. It’s not math. It’s not science. There’s no formula. Train. Train. Train. And make sure that you also give yourself time to do your work on your own, not training, to cultivate your authentic instincts. Class is a great place to take risks, and play, and find community, but outside of class is where you discover your true self, so make sure you give yourself enough time just living, to truly develop a sense of self that no one can snuff out of you, because that will be your biggest competitive edge. And your confidence, self-worth and self-esteem are yours to manage. They are your strength. They are the source of your voice. Take care of them, and yourself, because no one else will.
TVM: What can our audiences catch you in next?
SI: The aforementioned CBC limited series, Unspeakable, is actually airing right now. Also, a show I did, The Chronicle Mysteries airs February 17th at 8pm on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. And Upcoming: Snowpiercer (Netflix), The Murders (FX Canada and CityTV).
TVM: Any last words?
SI: A quote I live by, is from Sanford Meisner: Risk is extra life. So, grab the bull by the horns. Dive in head first. And focus on the positive. I struggle with this a LOT. I come from a family of realists, and maybe one or two pessimists. So, I have to work hard to keep my head out of the gutter sometimes. But when I do, it’s so much better, because remember, you can’t feel the highs as the highs that they are unless the other parts of you are joyful as well. A career high is so much more gratifying and satisfying when you didn’t need it, but instead, when it came to you while you were busy enjoying yourself, and living your life. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans” - so go ahead and book that vacation, and expect a gig to come down the pipe and screw it all up. Get used to these surprises, because this industry is full of them.
Written by JessG on Jan 28, 2019