"It was amazing to see my family, friends and even strangers believing in my idea"
Rebecca Momo always knew she would be an actress someday. Born in Brazil, Rebecca has started performing at an early age ("any birthday party was an excuse to gather all my friends and create a play").
After moving to Los Angeles to to pursue a career in acting, and doing a BFA at the New York Film Academy, Momo has written and performed in several films, including Note to Say, for which she's won Best Performance of Fest at the Actors Awards. The lead judge Roy Zafrani described Rebecca's performance as "Heartbreakingly beautiful. Rebecca brings a lovable character to the screen", giving her the highest rating in March 2018.
We asked Rebecca to join us for an interview, and met a super fun who keeps challenging herself with different types of roles (even a male character!).
Where did you grow up, when did you first become interested in acting, and what sparked this interest?
I was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. I always loved performing, when I was four I used to make puppet shows to my parents and older brother. Also, any birthday party (mine or not) was an excuse to gather all my friends and cousins and create a play or a show to present. When I was around six I watched a drama class in my new school and I loved it. I asked my parents to sign me up and since then I never stopped acting.
What training did you go through? What can you tell about studying BFA acting at NYFA, AFA Acting at Teatro Escola Celia Helena and other workshops you took?
I had drama classes in my regular school (after class) and at the same time I was going to a theater school (Casa do Teatro). I loved it because at the end of every year, we got to perform in a play. When I graduated from high school I decided to do an AFA at Teatro Escola Celia Helena so I could learn more about Theater. After graduating, I moved to Los Angeles to do a BFA in Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy (NYFA). Besides that I also did a workshop in São Paulo in which a lot of exercises were with a neutral mask, it was amazing! As an actress that had a lot of contact with Theater, this definitely added corporal knowledge. I took Flamenco and singing classes as well.
Rebecca Momo in "Note to Say"
Who are some of your favorite actors?
I’m going to be very cliche and say Meryl Streep, obviously. I also admire Tom Hanks a lot, definitely one of my favorites! It’s impressive how these two actors can embody so many different characters and bring an uniqueness to it in each movie.
Congratulations again on this wonderful performance! How did you prepare for your role as Emily?
TThank you very much! The preparation started with some research on the stages of grief. I tried to find all the possible ways people deal with grief, what are their actions, reactions and feelings. I created this very detailed background for Emily and my director, Helena, made me put some of it in practice. Emily is a painter, and even though that’s just a detail in the movie, I wanted to research and do the paintings. I remember that Helena took me and Stefan to take photos as a couple and that was very nice to create some chemistry between us. Something that really helped was the amount of rehearsals we had on location. Rehearsing at Emily’s house made me feel like I actually lived there and everything I looked at during the shoot reminded me of Josh and their life together!
"It was very difficult to feel her desperation". As Emily in "Note to Say"
Which scene was the most challenging for you to act in?
During rehearsals it was definitely the scene in which Emily has the breakdown, it was very difficult for me to get there, to actually feel her desperation. But on the day we were filming, that scene didn’t have any difficulties. What was actually challenging was the scene where she wakes up at the end of the movie, I remember Helena telling me “You’re still suffering!” (laughs). It took me a little bit of work to get to the “I’ve moved on” moment!
What was the most memorable moment for you in the entire production?
The best thing it came to my mind is how many people I had helping me! I did a fundraising so I could shoot this and I had more than a hundred people that wanted to make this come true, that was amazing! I was able to reach my goal and it was really nice to see family, friends and even strangers believing in my idea and contributing for it to become real! (Thank you again, everybody!)
Rebecca Momo in "Note to Say"
Note to Say was directed by Helena Sardinha, is this your first collaboration? What was the experience like?
Yes, this was our first collaboration. We met in a panel for sexual assault awareness and since I was looking for a director I checked her reel and really liked her work. The experience was amazing, she’s a great director! Her approach is very caring towards the actors, she was very supportive throughout the process since the story was very sad. Our relationship of director and actor during production grew into friendship and now we are very close friends, couldn’t have asked for a better director to tell my story.
Who is one director you really want to work with, in the future?
Christopher Nolan, without a doubt!
How do you prepare for auditions? Any tips?
Read the material as many times as you can, it doesn’t matter how well you think you know it, you can always find more! I like to read it and try to find clues, everything you say or the other character says tells you something about you. After finding these clues and making the choices I think the character would do, I ask my best friend to read the lines so I can make sure I’m listening! I also like to connect similar experiences I had and write it next to the lines, just to remind me who I’m talking to and why I’m saying what I’m saying.
As Natalie in "Glass"
You have extensive experience in Theatre. How is working in theatre different than working in front of a camera?
That’s a great question! Well, in Theatre you need to use your body and face expressions in a “bigger” way than in front of a camera. When I first got in contact with cameras I had to learn how to “tone it down” (laughs). In Theatre your voice needs to be heard by every single person in that space, it doesn't matter how far they are, if they can’t hear you, you lost them. When in movies, you have a mic right on your chest and a boom right above you, everybody will hear you with no doubt. But I think what I love the most about Theatre is the response of the audience right at that moment, you know if you’re doing a great job or not at the exact moment you’re performing, when in film, you wait months to get this response!
What were some of the most memorable characters you played in your career so far?
When I was around sixteen, I played a male character in a play in Brazil. I remember at first I was very upset because I didn’t really wanted to play that character and I thought me playing a male character wouldn’t be believable. At the end, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had! I had to work on my characterization so much, and that’s my favorite part about acting, bringing this character to life! It was a comedy and I remember how funny I made this character, the audience response was incredible!
"Who doesn't like to laugh?" Momo as Amy in "Le Garbáge"
What is your favorite genre to work in?
I love comedy, I mean, who doesn’t like to laugh?! I love making people laugh, brings me joy. But I also have a great time working in dramas, it’s very challenging for me, which I love.
Is there anything you wish to add?
I’d like to thank The Actors Awards team for choosing me as the Best Performance of Fest and for taking your time to do this interview with me!
Note to Say - Trailer