South Philly-born actress Brooke Lewis talks about the new movie “½ New Year”, showing at this year’s FirstGlance Film Festival

By Julia Tucker
Photographer: Birdie Thompson @birds_eye_photo
Hair & Makeup: Allison Noelle @allisonnoellemakeup

Brooke-2679_r3_adjBrooke Lewis (from South Philly!) is in a new movie called ½ New Year. Movie lovers and fans of Brooke Lewis can catch the film, along with many other releases, at this year’s FirstGlance Film Festival here in Philadelphia. ½ New Year is a comedy about a group of friends who celebrate annually by throwing a Half New Year Party. The movie, which won the Audience Choice Award at the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival, can also be viewed world-wide on TV On Demand, including Comcast in Philly, as well as on Apple TV and Amazon Prime. 

Lewis is an award-winning actress with over 80 various awards. Most recently, she received the award for Best Actress in an Indie Film at the 2018 Actor Awards. We spoke with her about ½ New Year, her role in the film, and what she misses most about Philadelphia. 

Before our Q&A began she wanted to point out that she discovered Philadelphia RowHome Magazine about ten years ago when she was flying from Hollywood to Philly. “I was so in love with it,” she says of finding the magazine. “I was flying with US Airways before it became American Airlines. I was like ‘one day I am going to be in this magazine’, and here I am!”

Q: You play the character Pam Deluca in your new film; what is she like? 
A: Her character is a lot like Brooke Lewis! She is a character of me, and I am so blessed to have this character written for me. Drew McAnany, who plays Reed Deluca in the film, is like my on-screen and off-screen brother. He wrote the character for me! After Georgia Menides came in to do a rewrite with Drew and brought our Director Tom Morash to create this talented team. All the characters in the film are in their ’20s while Pam Deluca is older. She is the mother hen of the crew. She is a typical mouthy, South Philly chick. This is the character that I modeled as a South Philly chick growing up. Pam has conformed to the Hollywood culture, which I am guilty and proud of as well. You know, I chose not to get married young or have children young; I merged myself into the LA scene. Pam is having fun and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! 

Q: Do you feel like you can relate to your character, Pam? 
A: As actors and actresses, we do sense memory and recall feelings and emotions. Pam is very much like my girlfriends and I when we were running around downtown and South Philly. Big hair, lipstick, lots of makeup, no care in the world; you can take the girl out of Philly, but you can’t take the Philly out of the girl! I gravitate toward sassy, mouthy characters that aren’t afraid to speak their mind. That is Pam, and Pam is so me!

Q: How did you prepare for this role in the film? 
A: I still had to prepare even though Pam is written for me; I absolutely had to prepare. I am a perfectionist and I work hard at what I do. I take all my roles very seriously, and I work with an acting coach. To prepare, I began practicing with my acting coach and we dissected the script. I always try to find the subtext in the writing underneath. It is also extremely important to have the motivation for the character. I did a lot of table reads, and I also thought back about a lot of fun memories of being a young girl in Philly. Then, the movie was born into reality once the rewrite happened and the producer was brought in. 

Q: How exactly did you become involved with the film?
A: About 10 years ago, I met the writer on the red carpet in Hollywood. He interviewed me on the spot and heard my Philly accent. He told me he was from Philly as well. It was an instant soul connection! It is truly challenging in Hollywood; it looks glamorous, but it isn’t always. You must find a family of your own. “Friends are the family you get to choose”, which is the tagline of the movie and is so true. Drew became part of that family for me; we connected right away. 

Q: Can you tell us about any of your favorite scenes from ½ New Year?
A: There are so many fun and heartfelt scenes in the film. This is not a million dollar or a ten million-dollar film, but it has so much heart! These are the type of movies I grew up loving. Without giving too much away, I can say the video scene at the end pulls at my heartstrings. There are also several crazy, fun moments. There is the bathroom scene, and all the scenes with the character Marty are my favorite. Pam is the older sister and she is a lot like Stifler’s mom in American Pie. Pam really likes the young boys!

Q: This is a movie about friends. Are there any specific aspects of the movie that you feel people watching will find relatable or be able to connect to?
A: I worry that movies about Hollywood or LA will only evoke emotion for LA people, but that is not the case with this film. I love that this film is also not all about the entertainment industry. It is about a group of young friends living life and learning to navigate through loneliness, challenges, having no family around, making new friends, and starting over. Like I mentioned, the tagline of this movie is “friends are the family you get to choose,” and I believe you create a family wherever you go. You could put this movie anywhere in the world and people will be able to relate to it. It is very relatable to those that have moved away from their hometown. It is a slice of life film, and young people will really connect to this film. This movie needs to get out to the Philly college kids because I believe they will go nuts for it! 

Q:  Since you are a Philly native, what are some of your favorite things about this city that you miss?
A: I miss the people, the food, the restaurants, walking on South Street, Penn’s Landing, the museums. I really miss the Eagles! Like I said, you can take the girl out of Philly, but you can’t take the Philly out of the girl. I watch the Eagles here at the bar. I miss Geno’s Steaks with whiz cheese, Termini Bros Bakery with the best cannolis and sweets, and Tastykakes. I am going on a diet from now until November because I am going to pig out when I come home! I am so excited to come home and thankful to Bill Ostroff, the director of the film festival, for inviting us to the FirstGlance Film Festival in Philly!

The 22nd annual FirstGlance Film Festival will be in Philadelphia November 1-3. To learn more or purchase tickets, visit www.firstglancefilms.com½ New Year is directed by Tom Morash and written by Drew McAnany and Georgia Menides. It is produced by North Air Entertainment and distributed by Comedy Dynamics. The trailer for the film can be watched below:

 

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