“I’m so happy I could cry,” begins the most recent Facebook post from Becki Dennis. “I just found out that I received the Best Actress Award at the Boston International Film Festival and our Director, Eric R. Eastman, has also won a well-deserved Indie Spirit Recognition Award!”
Dennis played the lead role in the new indie film “Spin The Plate,” which recently premiered at the Boston International Film Festival. In a plot twist of her own, she was not able to attend the screening as she was working on her new film, “Justine” in Los Angeles, which she now calls home. A recent transplant, she was amazed to discover how many other Bostonians, who like her have been performing their whole lives, have packed their bags for the City of Angels, where people really do become stars of the screen and stage.
Dennis has been performing since she was a kid, always in dance and theater productions and always drawn to the performing arts. She caught the acting bug pretty hard in high school and wanted to major in musical theater in college. After three years at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, she came back to Boston, took an acting class at Emerson, a music class at Berklee and did an acting/directing course at Boston University.
She worked as an actor and performer for several years in the Boston market and one lucky day was recommended to David O. Russell for a speaking role in a major film.
“Filmmakers started to shoot more in Boston so I started to show up as an extra and really fell in love with being on a film set. I started to do commercials, training videos, short films, things like that-then came my first big break, which was “American Hustle.”
After being cast in another blockbuster film, “Ted 2” which was also shot in Boston, Dennis decided that she no longer wanted to be a big fish in a small pond and in order to branch out to bigger markets she had to make the move. It has paid off. Landing the role of Jo in “Spin the Plate” was a turning point for Dennis.
“I always thought I couldn’t act in film or TV because you had to look like a model. Lead roles for plus size women have not come around too often in the past, unless it’s like the butt of the joke or something, but times are changing so to get to play something so complex and interesting is a gift.”
Dennis has gone on to have parts in 15 television shows in two years, though she started out slow and had to build up a portfolio of work to get to where she is now. Since she is in the middle of filming the feature film “Justine” there is not a lot she can tell us yet about her new role.
“It’s a supporting role, it’s a good role and toward the end of the film, I play a nurse, and there’s a really interesting scene. The writer, director and lead actress is Stephanie Turner, who wrote the script when she was in the Sundance Screenwriters lab. Hopefully it’s Sundance bound…hoping it can be the next ‘LadyBird’ or something.”
Meanwhile, she and her husband are embracing the good life and the abundance of sunshine in LA but when asked what she misses most about the East Coast, besides her family, she immediately responds with “really good Italian food in the North End.”
As one bi-coastal resident to another, I say, “Amen to that.”
San Diego: Kumail Nanjiani is receiving lots of applause for his writing and acting in the new indie movie The Big Sick, and was among a handful of Hollywood celebrities honored at the 16th annual San Diego International Film Festival‘s Tribute to the Stars. Hosted by Variety magazine and held in the ballroom of the smart, new Pendry San Diego hotel, the glittering gala included Nanjiani, who won the Auteur award, and his wife Emily V. Gordon, who co-wrote the script based on the true story of their relationship. (Actress Zoe Kazan played Emily in the film.)
SDIFF’s top honor went to Sir Patrick Stewart, who accepted The Gregory Peck Award for Excellence in Film, and was presented by Peck’s daughter, Cecilia Peck. (Last year’s recipient was actress Annette Bening.) Other awardees include Heather Graham, who brought her glam game on to accept the Virtuoso Award and Blake Jenner, who walked away with the Rising Star Award. The Chris Brinker award, given to a promising new director and inspired by the late director Chris Brinker, went to Manny Rodriquez Jr for Butterfly Caught.
One of the premier festivals in the region, SDIFF opened with the screening of Marshall at the iconic Balboa Park Theatre and was followed by four days of screenings, panels and parties. Executive and Artistic Director Tonya Mantooth and her team deserve a big round of applause for continuing to bring quality films to the arts and film communities of southern California. For more coverage see the links below.
Fox 5 covers Variety Night of the Stars
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