It is not often that an actor’s first big break on-screen involves playing Jennifer Lawrence’s daughter.
Through a friend, Eliana Adise, Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) alum (class of 2015), heard about the incredible opportunity to audition for the part of teenage Christie Mangano in David O. Russell’s movie, “Joy,” about a tenacious female entrepreneur. Adise gathered her confidence and mustered her professionalism to keep a level head during what was her very first film audition—a process she called “nerve-wracking,” but ultimately paid off.
“I was sitting in the dentist’s office when I got the call I was cast for the role,” explained Adise. “I was beyond excited. It was incredible.”
Only a few short days later, the producers of Joy flew her out-of-state to film her scenes with the one and only Jennifer Lawrence. Adise had to miss a couple of days of school—but that was nothing for the chance to work with the actress renowned for not only her Oscar-worthy acting skills but also for her alleged clumsiness, love for pizza and down-to-earth qualities.
“She was very, very nice. She was super funny,” admired Adise. “She’s exactly like she is in all her interviews. I love her. She was definitely the life of [filming] and working with her was fantastic.”
Though some of her scenes were cut during post-production when the filmmakers decided to change the direction of the movie, Adise reflected upon the experience as one that further inspires her to pursue a career in film.
“Everyone there was really professional—everyone there was really into what they were doing. It really opens your eyes to how professional and how comfortable everyone can be, even though you’re in such a big budget movie and working on such a huge film,” said Adise. “It really made me want to pursue acting all the more.”
Growing up on stage and part of the Metropolitan Educational Theatre Network, this is no big leap for Adise, who currently attends UC Berkeley majoring in integrative biology and theater.
Her three years at OCSA—one year in Creative Writing, two years in Integrated Arts—also prepared her for her sudden dive into the film industry. With a vigorous academic schedule on top of art-filled conservatory classes in the evening, OCSA equips students with the skills they need to survive in the real world.
“OCSA has prepared me so much more for college than I would have gotten from another high school. You have to stay until five o’clock everyday, so you learn how to balance your academics and your extracurriculars. It was really great that OCSA gave me that because I wouldn’t have got that anywhere else.”
Not only did OCSA give her the skills and work ethic, but also the infectious enthusiasm that abounds in the student body.
“It was so incredible being in OCSA because the environment is a place where everyone is passionate about what they are doing. I love that because it helped me grow as an artist and as a scholar. OCSA has really stretched me in certain ways,” reflected Adise. “Mrs. Stafford who runs my conservatory—she’s always had a big impact on me, on my academic and artistic careers. She’s really helped me grow to be the artist that I am today.”
Besides acting, Adise enjoys singing and tap-dancing. One of her dream roles is to be Pippin on Broadway. Her advice to aspiring actors is to keep trying, no matter what.
“Everybody gets rejected. I’ve been rejected so many times. You have to get back on your feet and go out to another audition because you never know what’s going to happen,” said Adise.
Recently, Adise went to the premiere of Joy in New York and raved about the female-empowering movie, which also stars Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper. Having been on set and working with A-list actors changed the movie-watching aspect for her in a way that was surreal and eye-opening.
“I notice different styles that everybody has,” she said. “It’s really, really great to watch people work in their raw form and then see the finished product. Joy is fantastic, I love it.”
Catch Joy in theaters on Christmas Day.
Check out more of my take on Jennifer Lawrence’s new movie, Joy, about a female entrepreneur facing every hardship imaginable. Review for Joy: http://www.crixit.com/review/movie/joy