Carina Conti, who grew up in Germany and then moved to Orlando, Florida at the age of six, speaks four different languages, French, Italian, German and English. She grew up in the world of theatre and dance. As a child, she starred in over 30 commercials, had stints in leading roles on shows like Barney, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Jr and others while she studied dance. Carina graduated from Dartmouth College with a BA in Romance Languages and a minor in theatre. She also studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Institute in NYC and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. Carina will be the part much anticipated Lakers and HBO series, “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty.” Carina will portray the iconic and incredible Paula Abdul. Let’s find out more about Carina in our latest interview with her.
When did you decide that acting was something you wanted to pursue?
My mom used to be an actress, dancer, and model, so she made sure I had access to the arts at an early age. Until middle school, the only music I really listened to were musical soundtracks, which turned out to be as much a blessing as it was a curse, haha. I grew up dancing, participating in local theater, and doing commercials for Disney and Universal. I went to Dartmouth to find something I wanted to pursue as a career, but nothing captured me the way that performing did, so I moved to LA right after graduation.
Do you remember your first ever role? How was the experience?
I distinctly remember playing a frog in the local ballet when I was five. I was wearing a green unsuits and was so proud of how good I was at rocking back and forth in a butterfly sit. I remember that my mom was proud of me, too.
What does it feel like to be part of the much anticipated HBO series “Winning time:The rise of the Lakers Dynasty”
It was a total privilege to work with such an accomplish and talented cast and crew. There’s a lot of downtime for actors on set, and the whole team created such a welcoming, joyful atmosphere. In that sort of scenario, even when we’re going into overtime and I have a headache from wearing a wig for 12+ hours, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
How would you describe the plot of the show and your character in it?
This show is about a man with a vision who gambles against the odds and changes the world of sports forever. It’s about an unlikely combination of ordinary people who fight for their passions and become legends.
In stepping into the shoes of your character, how did you prepare for such a big role?
I did the bulk of my research while I was still auditioning. I watched as many interviews with early Paula as I could find, and I watched footage of the Laker Girls from the 80’s. I tried to get a sense of what it was like to be a high school girl in that era, and what it meant to pursue a dance career in that time. My major takeaway was that it was a tough, tough business, so even though Paula is famously sweet, I knew that she must have had an incredible amount of passion, discipline, and grit to get where she did.
How do you relate to your character?
Sometimes, in her early interviews, Paula stops talking and finishes her sentence by dancing. The movement is so much a part of her that it interweaves in her conversations. She’s filled with a passion that lights her up from within, and that’s something I understand. I feel most alive when I’m performing.
What part of ‘The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty’ and your performance are you most excited for viewers to see?
This show is all about dazzle and panache, and my favorite expression of that is in the dance numbers. Can you imagine what it would’ve been like to be a basketball fan and witness, for the first time, a team of extremely talented dancers bring a whole stadium to its feet?
When people watch the show, what are you hoping they get out of it?
I hope viewers feel inspired. This is a story about self-made legends, who work and fight and bleed to do what they love and be the best they can be.
You were also a part of the famous children’s programme ‘Barney’. Can you share any memories associated with that show?
I still remember all the songs and every now and then they’ll get hopelessly stuck in my head. Some of those trigger words are: “marching,” “sea,” and “great big monkey.”
You can speak French, Italian, German and English. Do you think that being able to speak different languages allows you to play different roles? Have you ever done any project in French or Italian?
I really believe that what’s meant for us will come to us. I love the idea that
all of the trials and passions that I experience will prepare me perfectly for
the roles that come to me down the road. So, although I haven’t had the
chance to play any multilingual characters so far, I’m definitely looking
forward to incorporating that in the future.
Who or what has had the biggest influence on your career?
My favorite actress has always been Natalie Portman. She fosters simultaneously a brightness and a darkness, and that really resonates with me. Being able to admire that duality in another person enables me to love those things in myself.
Any upcoming projects that you would like to share with our readers?
I’ve got a couple short films on the roster — I just finished filming a short called “Glimpse,” directed by Brian Hartley, and I’m looking forward to filming another short soon with my good friend and director Alex Hurt. Otherwise, I’m enjoying auditioning for new project and can’t wait to see what comes my way next!