Please introduce yourself. What do you do? Why? What do you want people to know about you?
My name is Stephanie Terrero, I’m a Dominican actress and filmmaker that splits her time between LA, NY, and ATL. I chose to become an actress and filmmaker because I fell in love with movies at a young age. I knew that I wanted to be involved in the filmmaking process and was eager to find my way into the entertainment industry once I got older. I reached that stage after graduating high school and finally found my footing within the last few years.
I will always choose to be in this industry, no matter what because I love storytelling. During the pandemic I created my own production company, Last Laugh Productions NYC, and have been championing diversity in my projects. I want people to know that even though it is difficult to break into the entertainment industry, and even when it feels like your voice isn’t being heard, it is. There is strength in numbers, and the louder we make our voices, the more we are heard. I submitted my projects to film festivals and had the pleasure of winning a few awards, showing that there is a great need for diverse stories.
Being a Latina, I didn’t see too much representation of myself growing up. I’m starting to see more of it now but it isn’t enough. Whether it’s through my company or others, we need to increase our visibility in this industry and I’m doing my part in making that happen. For my personal projects, I make sure to hire more than 90% minority cast and crew, from pre production to post production. I wish the larger studios would follow through with this same initiative, but until then I’m glad to be taking part in this industry, one step at a time. I hope that in the future, I can see my goal of having more underrepresented narratives being told, come true.
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
Some qualities that make me different and unique from everyone else in the industry is my tenacity, passion, determination and commitment. There are a lot of people who join this industry and quit once they see how tough it is. I never gave up, even when I lost jobs because I made my auditions top priority over them, even when agents didn’t want to represent me at first and even when I couldn’t afford classes. I have always done what it takes to stay on top of my game in this industry. Whether that’s finding free classes, finding discounted headshot sessions, and booking student short films to add to my reels early on, I’ve always been a go getter.
A lot of people say that they want in, but aren’t willing to make the necessary sacrifices to make it work. If you aren’t willing to risk it all to chase your passion, then can you really say you gave it your all? Everyone has different circumstances and does the best that they can within those, but more often than not excuses are made, and dreams aren’t chased. I had no help and knew absolutely no one. I didn’t have any guidance or mentorship, I learned through trial and error and made it work for myself.
Describe THAT moment when you realized you’re doing what you were born to do.
I realized I was doing what I was born to do when I went to my first agent workshop. I had found it online via a now defunct company called Talent Meet Rep and signed up, because I figured I wouldn’t waste money on classes if I wasn’t naturally gifted. In hindsight this was a dumb mindset but I was nineteen at the time so bare with me. I showed up to the workshop and was extremely nervous, I saw all the other actors had professional headshots and resumes. I had nothing to show and didn’t even think of bringing or making anything. I didn’t know that these workshops were considered “pay to plays” in the industry, and that these were lowkey auditions for representation.
I told myself not to compare myself to them because comparison is the thief of joy. I walked into the room and read the script (or sides as it’s called in the industry) that was handed to us, for the agent. The agent asked if I had representation and told me it was the best read (audition) they had seen so far. I explained that I was new and didn’t know anything about anything. They told me to get into classes and pursue this career because I had talent for it. With that compliment in tow, I signed up for classes, got professional headshots, went on my first sag-aftra audition, booked a few student films and some extra (background acting) work. I filled my resume with the extra work I had booked, along with small supporting roles in student films and reached back out to the agent that I had met with.
They were proud of my progress in such a short time span and even referred me to a “beginner” agent who helps develop new talent. The agent that I was referred to told me that I was still too green (new) for representation but that didn’t stop me. I ended up finding a manager and my career went up from there. I knew that I was doing what I was born to do because I found reps who believed in me, and was receiving consistently good feedback for my work.
I’ve been doing this for over 8 years now and my auditions/callbacks/bookings only get bigger and bigger, and that helps to solidify for me that I’m right where I’m supposed to be.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to go through and how did you grow through it?
The biggest challenge I’ve had to go through is being seen. This industry has a catch 22 where you can’t book work without having worked prior, but you can’t have prior work without having booked already! How are new actors supposed to get auditions to book new jobs without any prior credits? It’s such a huge challenge at first and can be difficult to manage. For me personally, I had only booked one student film and then embellished more short film credits on my resume. Fake it till you make it.
This worked for me because I now had a resume with “credits” and it showed that I was a “bookable” actress. I started getting larger auditions and callbacks. Once I started booking real short films, I removed my falsified credits off my resume and my resume now only had real credits. That’s how I was able to work through that challenge when I first started. It didn’t take too long for me to book actual work but, faking it till I made it, worked for me in the short term. Then as I got older I removed old credits that no longer served me, not only because the footage was dated and I’m no longer a teenager but because they were for roles that I no longer go out for. This was my biggest challenge early on in my career, but now my biggest challenge is booking consistently to become a full time actor. I’m growing through this by coaching on my big auditions and showing up ready to book the room.
Who are the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could elevate your career or business? Why these specific individuals?
Claudia Forestieri – She’s a fellow Dominican like me, and recently she created a show about her life called The Gordita Chronicles. It was such a well done family comedy, and I’d love to work with her in the future! We need more Latinx stories in the forefront!
Carmen Cuba – Another fellow Latina, she has cast some of my favorite projects. Projects that she did casting for would include The Martian, Nope and Stranger Things to name a few. She’s had the pleasure to work on sci-fi’s and as a nerd I’ve been dying to work on sci-fi projects. I would love the chance to work with her in the future!
Sarah Finn – She casts all of the Marvel projects and I’d love to audition for her at least once! I’m a huge Marvel nerd and have been since before high school.
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