The concept that following your dream will result in a happier and more healthy life is not simply fluff. Analysis has discovered that individuals who pursue their ardour expertise decrease stress ranges and are happier general. That is excellent news for Dominican comic and actress Sasha Merci Medina, who has been residing her life primarily based on this precept ever since she determined to take her first stab at comedy.
Medina, 33 who was born and raised within the Bronx, began performing in 2016 at open mics and standup exhibits. However she actually began making a reputation for herself when she started posting comedy clips to her Instagram account, @sashamerci, after the social media platform added the video characteristic.
Shortly after constructing a good following, Medina began touchdown every thing from standup gigs to bona-fide appearing roles, together with one in 2016’s “Honorable Mike” and within the 2019 indie movie “De Lo Mio.” In “De Lo Mio,” she performed the function of Rita alongside her real-life childhood buddy, fellow Dominican comic Darlene Demorizi. The buddies ended up internet hosting their very own standup present known as “Sancocho,” which ultimately led to their Fuse TV half speak present, half comedy skit “Like Share, Dímelo” in 2020. However the actress and comic not too long ago landed her greatest break but on the Lionsgate characteristic movie “Righteous Thieves,” which was launched in choose theaters and On Demand on Mar. 10 and is offered to hire or personal on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play, and main cable suppliers.
The 91-minute motion movie — directed by Anthony Nardolillo and produced by Jolene Rodriguez — stars Lisa Vidal as Annabel, the chief of a secret group whose mission is to recuperate priceless paintings stolen by Nazis throughout WWII and at present within the possession of neo-Nazi billionaire oligarch Otto Huizen (performed by Brian Cousins).
Annabel recruits a loyal crew, which incorporates Lucille (performed by Jaina Lee Ortiz), Eddie (performed by Carlos Miranda, recognized for his function in STARZ’s “Vida”), Bruno (performed by Cam Gigandet), and Nadia, performed by Medina.
Alongside a solid that consists of principally Latinx actors, Medina’s character Nadia is a Dominican lady from LA with a tough upbringing. “They did not give me a lot of a backstory, [so] I needed to create the backstory myself. She was an orphan. Her dad and mom are from the Dominican Republic, and so they moved to Los Angeles when she was a really younger age,” Medina tells POPSUGAR. “However as a foster child, she had these foster dad and mom that typically did not deal with her proper. There was that one foster father or mother that locked her in a room, and she or he was capable of break herself free.”
That is the reason for why Nadia has an obsession with studying to unlock issues — and ultimately, she learns find out how to even break into safes. “That is her energy, the truth that nobody can disguise something from her as a result of she’s going to seek out it a way — one way or the other. After which she finally ends up assembly the principle character who turned a mom determine for her — Annabelle,” Medina explains.
The primary scene with Nadia is about at her lock retailer, the place Annabelle goes to recruit her for the mission. The movie offers off very Latinx “Ocean’s” meets “Robinhood” vibes, seeing as not one of the thieves are stealing for greed however extra so to repair a flawed and make it proper. Medina does an distinctive job of inserting a few of her pure wit and humor into Nadia’s character whereas staying true to her essence.
“I put plenty of myself in Nadia, however I am extra of a wacky individual. Nadia is when I’m about enterprise — once I’m business-oriented and I received issues to do,” Medina says. “However I am very wacky and goofy, and I feel Nadia would not actually belief people who a lot, so she’s very reserved, very calculated, and chill. She would not like to indicate her feelings, however she likes to be easy.”
In some ways, Medina was destined for this function. For starters, she did not should audition for it. Rodriguez tells POPSUGAR that she instantly had Medina in thoughts for the half.
“I simply knew she was gifted. She was at all times behind my head. I used to be like, I need to work together with her in some capability.”
“I simply knew she was gifted. She was at all times behind my head. I used to be like, I need to work together with her in some capability,” Rodriguez says. “And it made essentially the most sense on this function particularly as a result of it was an ensemble, so I can construct round her.”
Rodriguez had been following Medina’s work for just a few years and had developed a friendship together with her. She says she at all times noticed the actress as a lot greater than a comic or an influencer — she noticed her star potential.
“Sasha is a breakout star. She’s a breakout star as a result of, one, she’s gifted as f*** and she or he has that comedic touchdown,” she says. “She’s tremendous animated the place she did not essentially have to speak so that you can get what she was doing. So, for me, it was an ideal alternative to present her.”
Identification may seemingly play a task within the movie; between their Spanish final names and delicate traces, you’ll be able to work out comparatively shortly that many of the crew — aside from Bruno — are Latinx. In a single scene, Nadia breaks out in Dominican Spanish. However Rodriguez and Nardolillo have been very intentional about not centering the movie solely across the characters’ Latinx heritage.
“The truth that it was a heist movie and there have been sure actors I knew I might be working with, I believed it was a cool idea to say, ‘Hey, let’s attempt to make a temple film that is made by and with Brown individuals, however not should have any particular cultural message,” Nardollio tells POPSUGAR. “Simply create one thing the place individuals can droop actuality and be entertained.”
Nardollio believes that the business is lastly able to see Latinx actors enjoying Latinx characters — with out the movie having to be very particularly about Latinx id or tradition. He needs “Righteous Thieves” to show that.
“I simply really feel that proper now the business, due to the shortage of illustration, I feel they really feel there’s a have to not solely solid however to attempt to oversell or overcompensate cultural messaging, whether or not it is cinematic or a tv episodic platform,” Nardollio says. “And what I attempt to do is, as Latinxs, we’re like all people else. I need individuals to see the way in which these characters gown and embody who we’re in actual life. There’s nonetheless that unstated swag or layering that [lets you] know our characters are Latinx with out deliberately attempting to push that they take these traits to an excessive.”
The scene with Medina talking in Dominican Spanish, for instance, was truly a line she improvised on the spot. Nardollilo and Rodriguez instantly gave her the inexperienced mild. It adopted a theme of Medina feeling supported and empowered by the function.
“It made me really feel like I can do something. I am so able to be any character.”
“It made me really feel like I can do something. I am so able to be any character,” Medina says. “I am so prepared for Nadia. I am so prepared for her. I need there to be a component two so I may play that character as a result of I beloved enjoying her.”
Nardolillo, for his half, is greater than prepared for a sequel alternative. “It simply actually relies upon if there’s the urge for food from a studio or perhaps a mini-major,” he says, however admits that the movie’s ending undoubtedly units it up for a component two. “That was the entire purpose why Bruno did get shot, however we did not essentially see him. So, does he come again? Did he have a bulletproof vest on as a result of he knew higher? You by no means know.”
Whereas we’ll have to attend to see a few sequel, Medina nonetheless has quite a bit happening nowadays. Final 12 months, she kicked off her well-known El Teteo events, primarily based in Los Angeles. Her imaginative and prescient was to throw an authentically Dominican get together that everybody in LA may get pleasure from, and the primary one kicked off in February 2022, with a turnout of 600 individuals. Medina’s most up-to-date El Teteo get together was practically a 12 months later, on Saturday, Feb. 25. It was offered out regardless of a uncommon LA rain storm, and over 900 individuals confirmed up, together with Hollywood executives, based on Medina.
“Within the midst of the storm, individuals got here out. No one canceled their tickets. Individuals purchased their tickets however did not cancel them as a result of that is how essential it’s,” Medina says. “I felt constructing a group off-set or off Hollywood is simply as essential as constructing it in Hollywood.”
Whereas Medina is greater than prepared for her subsequent film, she’s additionally letting this actually sink in: she’s in a characteristic movie enjoying in choose theaters throughout the nation. It is a dream she’s had since she was a bit lady.
“It feels loopy. It simply feels insane. It feels surreal. Once I watched the trailer and I noticed Lionsgate in entrance of it, I began to get emotional as a result of plenty of movies I’ve seen begin with the Lionsgate [opener] at first,” she says. “That was a big second for me the place I am identical to ‘Oh my god. What’s occurring?’ Issues are rising. Issues are altering. So, that was an enormous deal for me.”
Certainly, Medina is actually simply getting began — and proving that following your goals actually can have a cheerful ending.
Picture Supply: Todd Rosenberg and illustration by Aly Lim