Few feelings can compare to the rush of acting for Adria Tennor. “I love the thrill and buzz I get from that magical connection between my heart and the audience’s, accessing my emotions to move a bunch of strangers, or even just one solitary soul. It’s such a powerful way to communicate – moving people emotionally. I absolutely love that part of what I do,” she says. Unfortunately, sexism has often diluted the potency of this bond for actresses. Adria would like to see the industry hold more opportunities for women at every level. “I’d like to see just as many roles in the breakdowns for women in film & television as there are for men. I’d like to see those female roles speak just as often (and as intelligently and powerfully) as the male roles. I’d like film festivals to program an equal number of female written/directed films as male, and I’d like the reason for that to be possible to be that film financiers are investing in female driven projects as equally and as often as they are investing in projects made by men. We can hire more women to produce and write and direct and program and design and shoot and edit and consult….”
Her latest film, One Moment, contends with the harsh eventual reality of our parents fading. “One Moment is a heartbreaking comedy starring the late, great Danny Aiello in his final feature film performance, about a family of middle-aged siblings trying to navigate the not so slow slip of their elderly father into dementia.” The project could not have come at a better time for Adria and she will never forget the magic of working with Danny. “It was a gift. I had just been dealt a tremendous life blow and my world, as I knew it, was crumbling around me when I got word that I’d been offered this role and opportunity. So, it was a much-needed escape for me to get to do something I love so much. Danny was incredibly generous, intuitive and wise. He did not pry into my personal life, but somehow just understood and knew what I was going through, and supported me in such a lovely, kind and generous way. He was humble and grateful to be acting in the film. He loved it so much, the piece, everyone working on it from the intern PA to the producers, and he just loved acting in general. He was a wonderful, giving, generous and sensitive scene partner, and a prince. He was incredibly supportive of Deirdre O’Connor, our writer/director. He really wanted to tell her story in the very best way he could. It was extremely important to him to fulfill her vision of the piece. It was inspiring to see him, an older, much celebrated and experienced, seasoned actor, paying so much respect and care to everyone else around him.”
The film offers a bittersweet perspective on the twilight of our parents and the painfully inexorable march of dementia. “Deirdre does such a gorgeous job of incorporating so much heart and humor in the piece, and that is certainly an underlying message – that life at this juncture is messy and hard – but at the end of the day, at the end of a life, what matters is our hearts and our soul. And did we have fun? Did we appreciate the moments, the times together, family, friends, siblings. We’re all doing our best, and we all have a different idea of what would be best for ourselves, for each other and for our aging parents. It’s impossible to recognize the best path, the best scenario when a loved one is slowly but undeniably losing their mind, but we just do our best. Our editor, Mindy Elliott, also did a gorgeous job of elevating our heartfelt performances with her skillful edit, balancing the comedy with the tragedy of the story. It really is a sweet, poignant, funny, moving film.” It’s crucial to raise awareness of dementia and its impact. “We can tell more stories about dementia and caregivers. We can portray these characters and storylines in media. We can fund projects that shed light on dementia and how our counterparts are dealing with it. Most importantly, we can talk about it, and listen and learn.”
Adria believes comedy can be found even in your hardest moments and can be a vital way to heal. Sometimes it’s necessary to laugh your way through pain. “Rewrite your life’s tragedies into heartfelt, belly laughing comedies and you will heal your way into terrific moving stories and connections. You’ll also pave the way for someone else’s healing and connection, too. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a professional storyteller or a writer. If writing your own story or telling one to a friend doesn’t feel like your jam, then read someone else’s or turn on the TV or go to the theater and watch something moving and funny. This is why the arts exist, and we need to support them so they don’t disappear!” She is helping to ensure that the industry continues to tell stories that matter. Follow Adria on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
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Adria Tennor Stars in Danny Aiello’s Poignant Final Film, “One Moment.” Photo Credit: Ben Cope.