Before landing her breakthrough role, Andréa Figliomeni had appeared in independent shorts and features, along with an episode of Impeachment: American Crime Story. The actor sat down with Casting Networks — via Zoom — to share the story of how she booked her first lead role in a feature, which went on to gain popularity in Latin America and even become number nine in the world on Netflix. Keep reading for a window into the casting process that led to Figliomeni’s starring role in The Mystery of Her.
It’s nice to virtually meet you, Andréa. Before we get to your casting story, I'd love to hear how you'd sum up your character of Ali.
The Mystery of Her is the story of Ali Spencer. She’s a young woman who gets into a nearly fatal car accident. While Ali survives it, she does experience amnesia as a result and doesn't remember her friends or family members. As the story progresses, she finds a journal of poems she’d written before the crash. It serves as a kind of roadmap to figure out who Ali really was, which contradicts the version of herself that friends and family members experienced before the accident. This whole idea of the mystery of her connects to the sort of rebirth she experiences in the film. Ali essentially gets a second chance to be the person she actually wants to be, as opposed to the version of herself that everybody else expects.
I think many viewers might find that concept relatable. And what can you tell us about the process of booking the role?
I was actually very close to not meeting the deadline for the initial self-tape audition. I was out of town for a personal matter, and my flight back got delayed. So, I was late getting in, but my wonderful boyfriend had everything ready for me when I arrived. He’d set up the lights, backdrop, and tripod so that we could tape the audition the second I got home. And I got it submitted just in the nick of time. Looking back, I can see how the circumstances actually served the performance, though. I didn’t have time to worry about getting it perfect — it was just a matter of getting it done. I think that when you overanalyze an audition and do too many takes, the performance can actually lose some of its authenticity. So, that little mishap with my flight may have actually helped me get the first callback, which was also a self-tape. I found out that I got it the very next day after submitting the initial read — the whole casting process was very fast. I did that self-tape with the notes the director had provided and submitted it, as well. The day after that, I learned they were going forward with me and wanted me to do a director’s session.
Wow. That was a quick turnaround!
Every casting experience is completely different — sometimes you don’t hear back about a project you auditioned for until months down the line. But, it was wonderful that this one moved so quickly because there wasn’t really time to be nervous or overthink things. The director’s session was really nice and didn’t actually include any acting. It was just a conversation between the director and me so he could get to know me a bit. We talked about the story, as well as where I saw myself in the character, and I left the session feeling good about it. It felt like we’d really connected over the material and that we’d work well together. The director said that I’d know by the end of the day if I’d booked the role, but I didn’t hear anything that night, so I figured I didn’t get it. I was pretty sad about it and messaged my manager when I woke up the next morning to just check in. Within about 15 minutes, he replied that they’d just received word I booked The Mystery of Her.
What a roller coaster of emotion in such a short amount of time! Now, let’s talk about shooting the feature. Can you share a bit about your filming experience?
It was absolutely incredible. I love this career and getting to work as an actor. I love getting up every day to go to set, which the project afforded me for a long period of time. One thing I learned over the course of filming was the importance of pacing myself when it comes to energy expenditure. I’ve worked on other feature films and series, but this was the first time I’d experienced being in basically every single scene of a project. So, there were really no days off, except for the weekends. And even then, we were often doing something related to production, such as a photo shoot. Throughout all of it, I was keeping in mind that I wanted to be someone who was good to work with — I really wanted to make set a pleasurable place for everyone. Looking back, I wouldn’t change that aspect of my filming experience, but I also learned the importance of creating space to recharge and re-energize in the midst of everything. Between it being my first time leading a feature and the opportunity to tell such an interesting story, I went into filming with so much excitement. You always want to make something the absolute best it can be, but in hindsight, you also have to just take some deep breaths and pace your energy along the way.
That sounds like some great advice for our actor readers. And before we wrap, I’d love to hear how working on The Mystery of Her has impacted your career so far.
It’s taught me a lot about the logistics of being the lead in a movie, and all the love and support I’ve received from new fans in Latin America has been incredible. It feels like I now have a fan base there, and I try to respond to their messages as much as I can. It’s so lovely to talk with those fans and thank them for giving the movie a chance when they didn’t know anything about it. The response to the film in Latin America is also a huge factor in what The Mystery of Her has done for my career. It was on Netflix’s Top 10 list in 18 countries when it first came out, making it to number two in Brazil and number three in Mexico. Because of how well it performed, the film became number nine in the world on Netflix without ever streaming in the U.S. You can currently rent it here on a variety of platforms, though, and it will start streaming on Prime Video in the fall. I think that the success of the film helped me book other work, such as an upcoming feature called Magazine Dreams that stars Jonathan Majors and Haley Bennett. I’m also filming a thriller called Video Vision. My character deals with some pretty intense things in that one, so it was fun to go all out with it.
Those interested in keeping up with the career journey of The Mystery of Her lead actor can find Figliomeni on Instagram, where she regularly shares posts about her work.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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