Almost famous

Almost famous

Fiammetta Cavatorta was born in Hong Kong and hopes to use her mixed ethnicity and acting skills to star in Hollywood

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Fiammetta Cavatorta starred in musicals such as Anything Goes and High School Musical in Hong Kong
Fiammetta Cavatorta starred in musicals such as Anything Goes and High School Musical in Hong Kong
Photo: Fiammetta Cavatorta
Hollywood film star Angelina Jolie once said: "Acting is not pretending or lying. It's finding a side of yourself that's the character."

Her fan, young actress Fiammetta Cavatorta, who was born in Hong Kong and is now working in Los Angeles, cannot agree more. She surrenders herself to every role she gets, exploring the characters in herself and vice versa.

The Sha Tin College graduate of Italian and Filipino descent just graduated from the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York, which also trained Jolie, Scarlett Johansson and James Dean. She has signed with a talent agency and production company.

Her most recent credits include a lead role in an award-winning independent film, Dear Megan, and a feature film, Neshima, to be released at the Berlin International Film Festival in February.

Cavatorta, 21, seems to have made a good start, but she knows her road to making it big in Hollywood will be a long and bumpy one.

She has always enjoyed the spotlight. She landed her first role at age 10 as Alice in Alice in Wonderland. And she went on to star in the musicals Anything Goes and High School Musical in Hong Kong.

But as soon as she decided to pursue an acting career, she discovered her guarded personality prevented her getting in touch with her own emotions and achieving a breakthrough.

Entering the Strasberg Institute changed that. Her teachers taught her to scrap the psychological walls that she had built around herself over the years.

"You need to be sensitive and vulnerable as an actress," she says by phone from Los Angeles. It was difficult, though, to balance the need to "remain tough and armoured dealing with the inevitable criticism and rejection".

She has been to countless auditions in Los Angeles during the past two years, but has secured only about 10 roles.

"I always feel like the work is the easy part," she says. "It's navigating through this extremely ruthless and competitive industry that's harder for me."

Reading scripts and acting scenes for directors have always been a nerve-racking experience for Cavatorta.

"It's OK to be afraid," she says, recalling a lesson she learned from Marc Marno, a teacher at the Strasberg Institute.

"He said I should put that nervous energy into my performance, and not try to block it out and pretend it's not there, because the camera will pick it up."

She likes to challenge herself with roles that have a different personality or lead a dramatic life. She often takes her character home to study its physical behaviour and discover emotions that she can use on the set.

"I think it's not about how to transform, but more like how to find who that character is within me," she says.

One big obstacle for Cavatorta is her "ethnically ambiguous" looks. Being half-Asian and half-European, she says directors have trouble matching her up with actors who would play her parents.

"Even if you're the most talented actress, if you don't fit aesthetically inthe role, the directors won't cast you," she explains.

She says actors need to understand the types of roles they're likely to get, which helps to promote themselves.

"Despite the challenges I face with identifying my type," she says, "I take pride in my unique look, because every actor wants to stand out from the crowd."

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