(Editor’s Note: To celebrate women making an impact in the advertising, film and TV industries, Reel 360 focuses on their personal stories.)
Meet Brianna Oppenheimer.
She was born in Pasadena, CA and moved all over the United States. At an early age she began performing with the Jacksonville City Ballet in addition to attending New Orleans Center For Creative Arts.
She then went onto studying theater at Desales University and Psychology at Marymount Manhattan College.
You can catch her on Amazon in The Trail. Watch the trailer below:
Brianna loves period pieces, accents, improv, and furry animals. And that’s only the beginning.
How did you get into the business? My career started in dance while I lived in Florida. Years later, I moved to New Orleans and a friend told me they needed dancers for a musical. I auditioned and I got the part! Suddenly, I had the realization that I loved musical theater more than just dancing!
When the run was over, I auditioned for the prestigious New Orleans Center for Creative Arts for musical theatre and was accepted. After Hurricane Katrina, I had to leave New Orleans and made my way to New York, where I started doing plays and short films. I then moved to LA to pursue this amazing career as a professional actor.
What obstacles have you faced specifically because of your gender? This is a great question. It is sometimes difficult for me to know as a woman if someone really wants to work with me or just wants to date me and is leading me along. I have had numerous people in the industry pretend to want to help me further my career; however, it turned out to be a bait and switch for a date.
Also, I feel that sometimes as a friendly and outgoing young woman, certain people blow me off and don’t take me seriously. Some people think because I am a woman I won’t fight back or stand up for my professional career. I train every week in boxing and people take note that I will indeed stand up!
Work you are most proud of? I am most proud of my work in the movie, The Trail. I think it is a beautiful movie and it is one of my best performances. Billy Labotski was incredible to work with, and so was the rest of the cast and crew. I love being on location. I am also proud of the short film Honeypot, with Director Merve Tekin.
Merve is such an amazing rockstar female filmmaker. I loved seeing her own the set and rock it as a woman. I also won an award for my role in that short film. That was very inspiring for me to experience. Additionally, I am proud of A Psycho’s Path. I love working with Rocky Costanzo and his team. Rocky always makes everyone feel like family on set. He’s such a respectful and caring filmmaker.
Do you think the #metoo movement has created significant change? I do think the #metoo movement has created significant change. In the past, I had men say disgusting things to me and get away with it because it was normal. Now, I think those men are aware that those types of things are unacceptable to do now.
Since the Weinstein incident, I haven’t been harassed by those in the industry at all, which is nice. I know if I have an industry meeting that the men in those meetings are going to be on their best behavior, which is a relief for me. I now feel like I can pursue my career without fear.
As an actress what do you think of the move by SAG to have intimacy coordinators on set? As an actress, I think it is a great idea by SAG to have intimacy coordinators on set. I think it would make me feel more comfortable. The best projects are made when everyone is comfortable. So I think it is great!
How have professional attitudes towards women evolved during your career? Professional attitudes towards women have definitely changed. There are so many shadowing programs for female directors. I know certain programs like the Half incentive by Ryan Murphy aim to give women and other minorities an opportunity to work in the industry.
When I first came to LA, I didn’t see women getting opportunities like this. I feel fortunate to see this industry evolve positively in regards to women. The industry now respects women more on and off screen. This is a huge step to setting an example to our country and the world. I think Hollywood is role model for the world. This is great that the next generation gets to grow up and watch an environment of respect towards women.
Has the industry changed its attitude toward LGBT? The industry has definitely changed its attitude towards LGBT people. Prior to Orange is the New Black, I don’t remember seeing a hit TV show involving so many steamy scenes with women who love other women. I think the industry wants more interesting TV and that means all kinds of stories including queer stories. Again, this is setting a positive example for the world in terms of how people should accept all humans; no matter their race, gender or sexuality.
Trapped on an island, what essentials must you have? Trapped on an island, I would have to have my favorite soft purple blanket. Hey, it gets cold at night!
An unlimited supply of Bubly or a naturally carbonated spring of water on that island. I guess I would need some sort of fire started, so also a magnifying glass. Lastly, I would want to bring my journal and a pen to document the experience.
If you had a time machine, what would you say to your past self? If I had a time machine, I would tell myself that life is going to get better. There was a time period in my life where it just felt like only bad things were happening to me: my sister and mom committed suicide, Hurricane Katrina destroyed my home and life and I had an extremely destructive relationship.
Just because it seems like bad things are continuing to happen doesn’t mean that bad things will continue to happen. There is a season for struggle and a season for success. Nothing last forever. You will get through this. I would tell myself to stand up for what I believe in and do what I want to do.
If you could have a one-on-one with anyone who would it be? And why? Industry-wise: II would like to have a one-on-one with Stanley Kubrick and ask him about what inspired him. I would also ask him what drew him to people or subjects. What was important to him as a person and filmmaker. I would ask him about his work and process.
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