We had the good fortune of connecting with Brooke Lewis Bellas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brooke, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I am a firm believer that behind my success as an Actress and Producer, and the success of any brand, is truth and integrity. I realize these words are tossed around quite often, but I mean integrity in my own personal “truth” in every sense of the word. After more than 20 years in the entertainment industry, between New York and Los Angeles, I have become very clear about my station, market and where I “fit” in the Hollywood industry. Years ago, I gave up trying to be something/someone I’m not and started embracing who I authentically am! I believe in order to have true success and joy in my life, I need to gravitate toward projects and acting roles that speak to me, and speak to others, in some way. I choose everything to do with my career and brands by FEELING, truly feeling inspiration. I always say, “I am the only one who has to sleep on my pillow at night and wake up with myself in the morning.” So, for me, true success comes when I’m feeling good inside and when I’m feeling proud of my choices and what I have committed to… with each project… with each endorsement deal… with each charity event I support. Those times (and, there have been many!) when I did not stay true to my gut feelings or pay attention to the “red flags”, were the times I ended up making mistakes or feeling miserable! I only hope to inspire others, and that is when I feel I have had true success.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Humbly, I am an award-winning actress and producer, most known for the mystery, thriller “iMurders” (2008) opposite Billy Dee Williams, Gabrielle Anwar and Frank Grillo, the mobster movie “Sinatra Club” (2010) opposite Danny Nucci and Jason Gedrick, the horror, thriller “Kinky Killers” (2007) opposite Charles Durning and Michael Pare, and my comedic mobster Vampire “alter-ego” character and passion project “Ms. Vampy”. After growing up and beginning my creative dreams in Philly, I moved to New York City and got my first little/big “break” playing Donna Marsala in the Actors’ Equity Off-Broadway hit comedy “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding”. I made my living acting in New York for four years, before packing it up and heading to Hollywood. Never forgetting my ties to the LOVE statue and Geno’s Steaks, I launched Philly Chick Pictures in 2002 to create more opportunities for myself as an actress. In 2007, I played Dr. Grace Sario in the horror, mystery “Kinky Killers” on SHOWTIME and had the title ‘Scream Queen’ bestowed upon me in the entertainment industry. In 2010, I was honored with the ‘B-Movie Award for Scream Queen of The Year’ for my work in “Slime City Massacre”. In 2015, I was a guest at the prestigious SAG-AFTRA Foundation Independent Features Screening Series with “The Mourning”. In 2016, I was honored with the ‘Mary Pickford Award’ to “Highlight Women in The Film Arts” at Zed Fest. In 2017, I was honored by the prestigious Actors Awards with the ‘Best Actress In A Drama Award’ for her work in “Sprinkles”. In 2017, I was also acknowledged with the honorable ‘Stella Adler Acting Award’ at the Action On Film International Film Festival, ‘Grace Kelly Gold Actor Award’ at the West Coast International Film Festival, as well as the Los Angeles Film Awards ‘Inspiring Woman in a Film’ Award. In 2018, I was honored by the prestigious Actors Awards with the ‘Best Actress In An Indie Film Award’ for my work in “Psycho Therapy” and the West Coast International Film Festival with the ‘Legendary Actress’ Jury Award. In 2019, I was inducted into The Carney Board for the honorable Carney Awards Character Actor Hall Of Fame created in honor of character actor icon Art Carney. I have been fortunate to work opposite a long list of talented veteran actors, which includes, Mark Ruffalo, Andy Richter, Charles Durning, Michael Pare, Michael Madsen, Tony Todd, Billy Dee Williams, William Forsythe, Gabrielle Anwar, Danny Nucci, Jason Gedrick, Michael Nouri, Joey Lawrence, Dominique Swain, Courtney Gains and many others. As a young child, I just knew in my heart that I was meant to be a performer. I think, like many actors who have dealt with challenges in their childhood, I had a void to fill. I knew that I was destined to share my emotions and work in entertainment. I was a very emotional child. I would literally sit under the television watching TV for hours, and I would put myself into the television series and talk to the characters, as if I were one of them. Clearly, I was nutty… and, I still am. The arts truly helped me to work through my insecurities and learn to be courageous! I think my greatest lessons I would want to share with the readers are to not be desperate (I have taken projects out of desperation and it never feels good in the end), to trust that whatever path I am lead down as an actress or producer will be the “right” one, even if it is another painful lesson or mistake for me to learn and grow from and, most importantly, always use contracts! Although, a wise entertainment attorney, Jim Pacitti, taught me years ago that, “Contracts are only as good as the people who sign them!” and, boy, have I learned the hard way! I would also share that, personally, I have learned that my integrity (and, I mean both professional and personal integrity) is worth more than anything! I always remember a quote that one of my favorite mentors, Lane Shefter Bishop, shared with me 15 years ago, “You have to always be willing to walk!”. This stuck with me and, if a project is out of integrity for me, I have to exit.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love to go out to dinner, dress up, and fine dine, so having friends in town is always a fabulous excuse to overindulge! I have a soul that fits much more in Old Hollywood! You will often find me at the best steakhouses in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, and I am a Mastro ‘s Steakhouse fanatic. We love to entertain guests at Musso & Frank Grill Hollywood, then take them to Pantages Theatre or the Hollywood Bowl for a show. A huge favorite friends night is a drive to the Griffith Park Observatory, then our favorite Italian dinner at Rao’s Hollywood!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First, we must give a shoutout to the talented and amazing singer, songwriter, and Billboard artist, FAWN, as we would not be together today creating this piece, in honor of her music video I was blessed to perform in, “Wait For The Sun”, to support the Black Lives Matter campaign. Next, a well-deserved shoutout goes to the women in my emotional support stable. I think it is incredibly important when you are in an industry as stressful as the entertainment industry, to make sure to have your stable of support people, and that includes my talent reps and extends to my life coach, Lori Bertazzon, my actress empowerment sessions with Michelle Colt, and my psychic healers like Mitra Rahbar, Marilyn Alauria and Chiara Maya. I could not possibly have any success on my own. Last, but not least, I have to shoutout to my two Old Hollywood icons… the late and great Elizabeth Taylor and the late and sassy little Mae West, because these two talented, beautiful, powerful women changed the face of the Hollywood entertainment industry. Even then, when it was a Boys’ Club at its best, they had the strength, courage and tenacity to fight through it and create iconic careers for themselves. Neither of these actresses had it easy in life, nor Hollywood, and they will forever inspire me!