Actress With The Right "Touch"
By Donna Leterese
Some actors have dreams from childhood. Others get "discovered," with their fame almost happening by chance. Actress Roxana Brusso always knew hard work was more rewarding. "If you put in your dues, it helps you," she states. "There's a sense that you got something because you worked hard for it. Nobody can take that away from you."
Originally from Lima, Peru, Brusso came to the States when she was four years old. Despite growing up in North Hollywood, it was not until age nineteen that she even considered acting. After going to college in San Diego, she returned home once her father became ill. No longer able to afford her school, and busy taking care of her father, Brusso enrolled in a community college. While there, she realized academia wasn't for her.
"I was a very good student, but I just didn't want to be in school," Brusso explains. "So I left community college and began working as a waitress." The majority of her co-workers at the restaurant were actors. Brusso became curious about the stories they told, and decided to try it for herself. When she enrolled in an acting class, everything finally clicked. "After my first few scenes, something took over," Brusso beams. "I had never been passionate about anything, until then."
Her first professional steps were securing her SAG card and getting an agent. She began in commercials, landing her first job on "Melrose Place." Her initial big break came with "Sharing the Secret," a television movie where she starred alongside Alison Lohman. Her career began blossoming from there, with guest spots on "90210," and then the film, "The Elian Gonzales Story." Although her later twenties saw much success, Brusso took a hiatus from acting when both her parents fell ill. Ultimately, they passed away within eleven months of each other. "When you're young, you think nothing is stopping you from getting to that pot of gold. But life always gives you a reality check," she reflects. "Grief made me stop everything for a while." As an only child, losing both her parents was a difficult blow to her identity. It was also frightening when she didn't even want to do the art that once made her happy.
Ultimately, Brusso returned to her craft when she made peace with everything. "In those dark moments of your life, you realize who is really there for you--and that's a positive thing," Brusso notes. "Even if your parents can't see your success, they are with you every step of the way. I know that my Mom's still a part of it, watching over me." The experience was also humbling. Once someone leaves the entertainment industry for a period of time, returning to it means starting back at square one. For a few years, she returned to bar-tending and restaurant work. Brusso continued to work and audition, and opportunities began to return. As of 2012, she is now a major staple of two prime-time television shows: Warner Brothers' "Southland," and Fox's "Touch."
To be cast in "Southland," Brusso read for show creators Chris Chulack and Ann Bitterman, as well as executive producer John Wells. As she was reading for D3, the lead detective, she feared she was too young to be cast in the role. Luckily, Brusso's talent won out, and she received the part. "I love working with Virginia King! 'Southland' is very well written, and gritty, shot like guerrilla filmmaking," Brusso smiles. For "Touch," she went on one audition, to read for the head showrunners. That same night, she was told they were waiting for network approval, although she did not think it was guaranteed. Funnily enough, the media found out about her being officially cast before Brusso or her team even did. "I got a message from an old agent congratulating me. There was even an article online about it," She laughs. "It was the first time I found out about my life on the Internet before anybody else even knew.
Now, millions of viewers know who Brusso is. More are poised to discover her with the upcoming world premiere of "Touch." She's thrilled, and grateful that both programs have helped her arrange her schedule around each. "Southland" just recently finished filming, leaving Brusso to focus on "Touch." "Touch" focuses on Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland), who is a widower and single father having trouble connecting with his mute son, Jake. He later discovers that his child can see past, present, and future events, all using numbers. Brusso plays Sheri Strepling, a major recurring guest star, who is the head of a Board and Care facility Jake is ultimately sent to. Strepling is also the boss of the social worker assigned to Jake's case.
"Kiefer's character wants his son back," Brusso elaborates. "From the medical side of things, I can't see the child's special abilities. Kiefer's character and I each want what's best for him, but our ideas conflict." Where there is no conflict is on set, where Brusso loves coming to work. Brusso describes "Touch" as a "dream come true," and likens the experience to an intensive acting class. While she recently wrapped her first scenes with Sutherland, the majority of the time she has shot scenes with Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Danny Glover. "Working with great actors makes performing so much easier," Brusso notes. She describes the show overall as an enormous story, with each and every episode showing an incredible depth of character connection and storytelling. She's also very excited that the premiere will be broadcast to several countries throughout the world.
While Brusso certainly has enough to keep her busy for the present, she remains excited about future work that will come her way. She remarks upon the fact that many of the strongest roles for women are on the small screen: "Back in the seventies and eighties, if you did television you wouldn't do film, and vice versa. Now, being on a good show is how you get a good movie." Brusso is simply delighted to get to do what she loves for a living, whether her next works will be more of what she has been doing, or a leap into film.
For anyone interested in the craft, her overwhelming advice is to study, and to remain positive. After learning technique and doing a lot of theatre, Brusso encourages people to not look at things as rejection. "There's only one space for a role," she points out. "You might not get that job. But do a good job, and show them your talent. If you're getting called back, you've won-- and you haven't been rejected."
To learn more about Roxana Brusso's work, please visit her IMDB page at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0116749/.
Tune into the FOX World Premiere of "Touch" on Thursday March 22nd 9pm/8c after American Idol.
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