Born in Habana, Cuba, Mariela Garriga is from rich Italian, English, Spanish and France ancestry. Her artistic career as a dancer began at the age of 13th. Later, she moved to Italy at a young age where she continued her dancing career and started her acting studies. After coming to the United States, she continued her acting studies in NYC at the Terry Schreiber Studio and The Actors Studio. Since then, Her dream as a working actress was realized, dividing her time between TV series and movies in Italy and the United States.
In 2017, she filmed the movie "Nightmare Cinema," directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. And, she was cast as Elana Marks in the NBC show, "Law & Order "SVU," directed by Alex Chapple. This fall, Mariela is on the big screen once again, cast in the Italian film, "Chi m'ha visto," directed by Alessandro Pondi, where she played Sally, opposite to the Italian actors Beppe Fiorello and PierFrancesco Favino.
Editor-at-Large, D'angelo Thompson, spent some time have a quick chat with this wonderfully talented actress. Enjoy!
DT: Tell our readers Mariela, where you grew up and what inspired you to become an actress?
MG: I grew up in Havana, Cuba in a very small community. I was inspired to become an actress when I moved to Milan, Italy, my dream initially was to study archeology but destiny wanted something else for me. A casting director saw me at an audition for a role that I didn't receive but he insisted that I pursue acting. The casting director (Roberto Bigherati) was very persistent in pushing me to make an acting career and called me on my cell phone daily. He is now one of my best friends, I never thought of being an actress but when I discovered that world, it was for me a perfect escape to express what I was feeling, especially being from a country where freedom of expression was not allowed or came with a price.
DT: I know your career as a model and actress have taken you to many great places and cities. What has been your favorite city thus far and why?
MG: I am discovering a lot of places that I love, but my most recent trip to Carmel, California was a magical experience. Also for me, another beautiful city in the world beside Habana, is Venice, Italy. I have so many good memories from that place and the landscape is just breathtaking.
DT: What was your first film? And what are your most recent project(s)?
MG: My first film was "Amici come Noi' (Friends Like Us) an Italian comedy, I literally booked the audition on my birthday while on a much-needed vacation in Sardinia. But my first role as an actress was a web series called "Horror Vacui". I would literally travel back and forth to Rome from Milan for auditions at least twice a week. My current projects are "Nightmare Cinema" (which premiered) in Los Angeles, and then (streamed) on SHUDDERS, June 21st, 2019. Also, BLOODLINE produced by BLUMHOUSE, co-starring with Seann Williams Scott. Also, I have a film coming out in Italy, November 7th, 2019 called "Gli Uomini d'oro". And working on my first book which I am very excited about.
DT: How has growing up in Cuba influenced your creative choices?
MG: There were economic concerns, but I was very happy and unaware of the outside world. I started to work at 13 years old because my mom had health issues. I understood professionalism and work ethic would give me more work opportunities. I always look for roles where my character has a message.
DT: When I met you on Law and Order SVU two years ago, I was drawn to you. What impressed me the most was that you kept your word and followed up. How has this helped you in your career?
MG: Being this way has helped me a lot. Growing up without the internet in Cuba, direct contact is very important to me especially with friends and family. It helps me connect deeper on a human level and it translates into all parts of my life professionally and personally. Also with people like you D'Angelo, it's much easier, I like people with your kind of energy, always looking for constructive environment and peace, It's the kind of things I look for when I decide to stay in contact with a people in my work environment.
DT: What would be your ideal job?
MG: My ideal job would be able to create without judgment, with the people I love around me, prosper, in a healthy and constructive environment. (Sharing and helping each other in order to get a great final result of our product).
DT: If you could design a perfect world, what would it be?
MG: A world without wars, greed, disease-free, respect, and justice for all.
DT: What inspires you?
MG: It could be someone's story, my cousin (Isandra), civility towards the elderly, successful love stories, self-actualization, and movies like Forrest Gump.
DT: What would you tell your younger self (10 Years Old)?
MG: "You don't know what the hell will happen in your life. Be patient, and always keep your integrity."
DT: I know we chatted about projects, but I also know you're a writer and want to produce content, as well…what are some of your passion projects?
MG: Writing books and screenplays that bring optimism to the world and in teachable ways. I hope everyone can read my work in the near future, I'm working constantly to make it happen.
DT: Mariela, thank you for your time and we look forward to seeing all your projects and continued success globally!
Learn more about Mariela here!
IMDB: MARIELA GARRIGA