Philly native and award-winning actress Brooke Lewis Bellas has a lot going on in her life – and then some.
Lewis Bellas was most recently seen as Pam Deluca in the comedy “½ New Year,” about a tight-knit group of friends letting loose once a year at their annual Half New Year Party. The film, which is distributed by Comedy Dynamics, won the Audience Choice Award at the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival. It is available now on Apple TV and Amazon Prime Video.
A veteran of the horror genre, she will next be seen returning to her roots with a role in the upcoming film “The Day of The Living Dead,” a zombie origin story set in 1950s Hollywood. It is set for an on-demand release later this summer. She also teamed up with Director Joshua Butler on “Red Rooms,” a streaming series she also executive produced and stars in. It chronicles a fictional reality show where a prominent Hollywood producer, a senator, a priest, and an international mogul are held captive and psychologically tortured as subscribers watch. The series will hit the festival circuit and streaming platforms later this year.
Her reputation for excellence is backed by the many accolades that she has received for her work. In total, Lewis Bellas has won more than 80 awards, most recently the Best Actress in an Indie Film at the 2018 Actors Awards.
PW recently caught up with Lewis Bellas to talk about her career and many projects.
You’re originally from Philly. Did your career as an actress begin here or did that come later? Are you still a big Eagles fan?
Okay, I think we need to begin with the latter. Am I still a big Eagles fan? That is like asking me if I still love Geno’s Steaks! I am a proud and die-hard Eagles fan, and that will never change! Don’t think that after many years in Hollywood, I have not experienced every Philly bar in town, while rockin’ my old McNabb jersey!
Now, back to the former… my career as an actress absolutely started in Philly. One may say that my career began when I was cast, at 12 years old, as a personality and dancer on Philly’s own “Dancin’ On Air and Dance Party USA.” At a young age, I played Frenchy in a community theater production of “Grease,” then went on to take acting classes at the Walnut Street Theatre and performed in shows at the Arden Theatre Company and the Brick Playhouse. And, here is a juicy share with your readers… I even performed in Halloween shows at Six Flags Great Adventure. You are making me reveal all my old secrets!
Your acting credits are long and varied. What’s been your most memorable or favorite role?
Thank you for your generous comment as, personally, I never feel like my credits are long or varied enough. That said, I am so grateful to be a consistently working actress and producer for over 20 years, so it is impossible for me to choose only one memorable or favorite role! Funny, my favorite roles tend to fall into the character actress roles that I so love to play and create, based on my favorite Philly/Jersey/New York people.
One role that I am so proud of (which is also my alter ego) was born out of the horror genre love and fame… Ms. Vampy. Ms. Vampy is a comedic mobster Brooklyn vampire with a heart of gold, and I am proud of this character and all the projects that I have worked on with Ms. Vampy over many years. I am also proud of the fact that I was able to create something positive for teenage girls with her, including, not only a streaming series, but authoring my book “Ms. Vampy’s Teen Tawk: There’s A Lotta Power In Ya Choices.”
Another role/project that I am incredibly proud of was playing Rosella in “Sinatra Club,” a film that I was one of the producers on, as well. This was a passion project for seven years. I found the script in 2004, we shot the film in 2009 and it was released through several channels in 2011. It was based on a true story about the night John Gotti became John Gotti and the story of Sal “Ubatz” Polisi. Rosella is a comedic mobster gumada, and it was just an incredible experience with the most amazing actors I could have dreamed of working opposite, including Danny Nucci, Jason Gedrick, Michael Nouri, and fellow Philadelphia native Joey Lawrence.
Last, but not least, I must shout out to an indie gem that I am forever grateful for, the role of Pam De Luca in the film “½ New Year.” Another talented Philadelphia native, Drew McAnany, created the Philly brother and sister roles for us to act in as Reed and Pam DeLuca. This was written with Georgia Menides and directed by Tom Morash, and we flew back last November for our Philly premiere with FirstGlance Film Festival at the historic Philadelphia Film Center.
However, the irony is, I love my dark, emotional drama performances I had the opportunity to play in “Sprinkles” and “Psycho Therapy” (watch both on Amazon Prime) more than anything, and I hope to have a lot more of them in my career.
Talk a little about your role as a film producer. You started Philly Chick Pictures to develop independent short and feature films. How has that project developed over the years?
I have always been a leader of sorts, and have had a keen sense of creating opportunities, managing personalities, and thinking outside the box. After making a living acting in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York City right out of college, I did not even realize I had, in some ways, been producing when I would be brought onto a project as an actress. Although I love acting more than anything, I had been inspired to produce when I moved to Hollywood from New York City and created my production company, Philly Chick Pictures, to create more roles for myself as an actress. I was not born into the entertainment industry in Hollywood, and there was no nepotism in my world, so I felt compelled to create/build something for myself to help move my acting career forward in La La Land. I took producing courses and workshops, then dove in and began partnering with other production companies, as it takes an army to produce a project! I have worked hard and am grateful for all we have created.
I have always been a leader of sorts, and have had a keen sense of creating opportunities, managing personalities, and thinking outside the box.– Philadelphia area actress and producer Brooke Lewis Bellas
In addition to acting and producing, you’re a certified life coach and dating expert. Any advice – as either a life coach or dating expert – for people during this pandemic?
This challenging pandemic and isolation period has forced each of us to slow down, get back to basics and look within. I feel it has shown us what is truly important in life and has taught us to be grateful for the little things that we may have taken for granted prior to this experience. As a life coach, I, too, have had to dig deep inside to find the strength to forge ahead in the face of adversity. I understand the fear many are facing now, as we do not have the answers or absolutes we seek to know when this world will heal.
I tell people to allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are authentically feeling. Cry, scream or journal it out… then, dig deep inside, find your inner Vamp, and Vamp It Out! You do not have to be a teenage girl to do this! Find the courage inside to forge ahead, however you can, and keep moving forward!
Let’s trust that, in time, the pandemic will heal, we will get back to socialization and financial stability, and this painful experience will make us stronger for it. In the meantime, always know that you are never alone and there is support out there for you!
You also are known for your philanthropic efforts, especially in terms of advancing breast cancer awareness. Why is giving back and helping others important to you?
It is important to me to give back in whatever way I can… whether little or large. I am grateful to have whatever little “celebrity” status, recognition, or fame I have that can help make a difference. I feel blessed, and I feel responsible to bring positivity to the world. I feel responsible to help others through my artistic endeavors and my work. I am a believer in being a philanthropist and I typically work with numerous charities at a time.
I am a celebrity ambassador for the Breaking the Chains Foundation that cultivates healing through art for those who have experienced eating disorders, self-esteem issues, and body image issues. I am active in charity work with the Los Angeles Mission on Skid Row and helping to feed the homeless. I have been active in several breast cancer charities and events, as I have lost people whom I loved to breast cancer over the years. I have also been active in quite a few charities and philanthropies to support AIDS research. I authored and have donated my book to support teen girls… “Ms. Vampy’s Teen Tawk: There’s A Lotta Power In Ya Choices.” And, in giving back to the world, I find that it brings fulfillment and gratitude to my own heart.
What’s ahead for you? Are you working on any projects now, or do you have something planned for after the pandemic passes?
I am so grateful to have acted in, and produced, a few projects that wrapped prior to COVID-19. My “Psycho Therapy” film director, Staci Layne Wilson, wrote a film with Darren Gordon Smith (“Repo! TheGenetic Opera”). Those two are so talented and I do not want to give any spoilers, but it is “The Second Age of Aquarius.” It is a comedy, with a little bit of a Sci-Fi twist and a lot of music. I am an executive producer and I act in it. I play Tawny Stevens. She is a young mom, stuck in the ‘80s, as a New Jersey, rocker mom. Wait until you see my hair, my make-up, and my leopard pants. I did the Jersey accent.
We also wrapped a TV pilot “Stripped.” It is a comedy/drama that was written and directed by Marc Clebanoff, who also directed the film “The Mourning,” which stars Michael Walton, Louis Mandylor, Dominique Swain and Larry Hankin. I was both an actress and co-producer on that one. “The Mourning” is a cool Sci-Fi/Love Story that was released in June on the new Tubi TV streaming channel.
“Stripped” was a passion project. I was also one of the producers with Marc and Frank Krueger (who also stars in it). I played Jules, the publicist to the star, Chris Cameron, played by Casper Van Dien. It was created by Mark Clebanoff and late actor Kristoff St. John. They had created the concept before he passed on, which is such a sad situation, but Marc wanted to carry on his legacy, and he did, and we did. It is such an incredible cast, and series, we are all proud of.
Lastly, at the start of COVID-19, my creative instinct kicked in and I knew I had to create to stay somewhat “sane,” so I spent most of the quarantine producing and filming a virtual streaming series. “Red Rooms” was conceived and completed out of “isolation inspiration!” Joshua Butler and I had been in development on a project and had been reminiscing about our favorite industry days of yesteryear when we met on the horror film circuit. I had already been a superfan of Joshua’s work for years. In 2019, we shot a proof of concept for our project, which paid homage to his hugely successful film “VLOG” (2008) from the producers of “SAW,” which went on to become a hit TV series. When COVID-19 hit Hollywood and we were all in isolation, I called for a production meeting, then suggested we use the footage we shot and attempt to experiment by filming each character virtually from their homes. In addition to myself, “Red Rooms” stars horror film and TV veterans David Alpay (“The Vampire Diaries”), Suze Lanier-Bramlett (“The Hills Have Eyes”), Ricky Dean Logan (“Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare”), and Noah Blake (“Teen Witch”). We are currently working on post-production and cannot wait to see where we end up!
What’s the best way for fans to stay up to date on what you’re doing?
Thanks so much! I am active on social media and love to hear from my fans. You can always find updated info on this Philly Chick at: IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0506989/. Press Site: http://brookelewis.com/.
Facebook Fan Page: @BrookeLewisLA