Lorenza Izzo interviewed by Brianne Howey on her conquest of Hollywood

PHOTOS: Sara Newman
TALENT: Lorenza Izzo
CREATIVE DIRECTION: Sophie Tabet
STYLING: Jenn Rosado
MAKEUP AND HAIR: Alexia Molinari
STYLIST ASSISTANT: Khoi Le
INTERVIEW: Brianne Howey
TRANSCRIPT: Parker Schug
PRODUCER: Jasmine Perrier

This feature is taken from Grumpy Magazine’s ISSUE NO.16, available now in digital and print worldwide
Illustration: Jenny Sorto (@unblissfull)

Lorenza Izzo has gradually made her mark in Hollywood. Born in Santiago, the Chilean actress has been traveling back and forth between her native country and the United States since her teenage years — which is why we don’t perceive an ounce of South American accent in her voice, as she explains it. Today, she resides in Los Angeles where she filmed two of her latest projects, including Quentin Tarantino’s ninth feature film Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood — opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt — and John Logan’s series Penny Dreadful: City of Angels in which she portrays the magnetizing Santa Muerte, the Mexican folk saint of death. Interviewed by actress Brianne Howey, Lorenza described those months as “the happiest moments of her life” and recapped the key moments of her journey that have built up her promising career thus far.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. This is only an extract.

On her first American experience and how it has translated…

I lived in Atlanta, Georgia, from 12 years of age to 16. My mother’s second husband — my beautiful stepdad — got this scholarship to do his PhD at Georgia Tech. That was my first experience outside of my country. It was quite the culture shock, but also the most incredible experience. Now that I’m 30, I can look back and say, ‘If I hadn’t gone to Atlanta, I would have probably not ended up here where I am today.’ I had a really thick accent at the beginning, and I got bullied hardcore. So I quickly learned to speak like an American. My mom would make me Chilean food to take in a thermos, and I remember this awful traumatizing experience — I would open it up and all the kids would smell it and be not nice. […] I’ve always said that I want to write or produce a movie about that time in my life, because it was such a classic American story of coming into myself. I got bullied hardcore, but then I had a full summer where I watched this movie called Blue Crush with Kate Bosworth, and I came back from that summer — I ended up becoming one of the most popular girls, I was dating the quarterback. 

On modeling and making the transition into acting…

“The hilarious thing about me is that I  was never a proper model. My mother was a model. I was 5 years old — she would be doing a show and walk the runway with me at the end. At 16, I started doing a couple of commercials. My mom had a modeling agency at that time, so I signed with them, and I signed with Elite for a little bit. But it was never really my thing. I felt empty in front of a camera, just posing. Then I studied at Lee Strasberg in New York, which is my only formal actor training. There was this open call for this successful second part of a big comedy that had done really well in Chile. I ended up booking the part —it was my first-ever audition. That was about the time I was in my second year of journalism, grades started really going down, and I was on set and ecstatic [laughs].

On her evolution as an actor and the importance of self-appreciation…

“I feel so much more prepared today to handle both the dread and the success because I have a better hand. I remember joking with my friends who had older sisters — I’d be looking at them going, ‘We will always be young, happy, and alive’ [laughs]. Now I’m loving getting older because there’s a sense of calmness to who I am, and being more okay with who I am at whatever stage I’m at, even though it’s still incredibly difficult. I have to say, I really love being a 30-year-old woman. […] When I first moved here, the roles I would get were so stereotyped. It was either the hot Latin young mom or the housekeeper. Then I saw this switch into cops. All I auditioned for was the Latin tough cop. I remember having a pilot season where I was on fire. I had gotten callbacks for almost everything, and I was preparing the same character over and over again. I’m really happy that she’s a smart Latin cop, but there’s more there to do. At the beginning, I wanted to present the version that I thought everyone wanted of me. As you get older, you realize that’s an illusion, because the only version you can be is you. 

On meeting John Logan and portraying Santa Muerte in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels

“This was the first time I got a big offer. John Logan is an incredible legend. He’s that guy that wrote those epic movies — Gladiator, James Bond. […] He was a fan of Green Inferno of all the movies I’ve done — it’s a movie about cannibals — and he was like, ‘I’ve been thinking about you for a long time.’ At that point, I was still first priority for Amazon, I was shooting Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. This was my very successful time. The Amazon pilot didn’t go, but it was a blessing because if it had gone, I wouldn’t have been able to do Santa Muerte. […] Santa Muerte is not a religious saint, but she is a religion within itself. She’s portrayed in a lot of TV shows, film, and theater in general, as the Forgiving goddess — she doesn’t judge. That’s why a lot of gangs have her on their belt. What was cool about that is that we had a lot of wiggle room to create our version of her, without disrespecting anyone. I wanted to ground her, so in terms of acting, I just made her as real as I could. I wanted to humanize her.

On her favorite genres…

“It’s funny today I find myself really wanting to do action and comedy. When I was little, I wanted to be the female James Bond. I was always baffled by why he wasn’t a woman. When Angelina Jolie did Tomb Raider, I wanted to be her. What comes in to answer the question, I love doing horror so much, but I personally don’t like watching horror movies. There’s something so therapeutic about getting to do the scenes where you scream — I understand the thrill. As human beings, we don’t get to walk around in life scared, we are constantly pretending — when you watch those movies, you get a safe release that you don’t get anywhere else. You get to watch someone else be scared for you.

On producing Women Is Losers and discovering new sides of the business…

“It was honestly a very interesting process. I think it has more to do with having the brain, and being all hands on deck in terms of where we’re going on the day, what we can take advantage of, what shots we want to prioritize. It was a low-budget indie movie, so it’s much more contained in that sense. I also like having a voice in the creative. Producing allows you to have a say and have it be heard. […] Writing scares me a lot. I deeply admire people who do that. I’m not so sure that I could actually see myself writing a script, but I do love collaborating. Sophie — my partner — does that, and I find it incredibly soul-filling when we get to collaborate together. There’s something really magical about that process.”  

On supporting the charity “This Is About Humanity

“I was wearing the sweater this whole interview — it says ‘Phenomenally Human.’ There’s this charity about humanity that works at the California border, and the situation there with immigrants is dire — to say the least. They work directly with the Mexican shelters at the border that are taking these families from Honduras, Guatemala, running from really bad situations… They’re constantly partnering with different brands, shops, and places to have people donate money so that they can buy whatever they need. Lately for pride, we did a whole campaign for the LGBTQ+ shelters at the border, because it’s yet another level of hardship. Latin culture is quite strict and conservative in terms of LGBTQ members. So check it out!

Full conversation and story appear in Grumpy Magazine’s ISSUE NO.16. Purchase your digital or print copy!

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