Bria Vinaite Interview: ‘The Florida Project’
“There hasn’t been a film that tells such an impactful story from a child’s perspective,” raves Bria Vinaite during our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above) about “The Florida Project.” Vinaite made her acting debut as Halley, the rebellious mother of a rambunctious six-year-old (Brooklynn Prince) who goes on adventures with her friends while living in the Magic Castle, a ramshackle budget motel outside of Disney World. Willem Dafoe plays Bobby, the kindhearted and patriarchal motel manager who spars with Halley while doing his best to look out for her.
Before “The Florida Project” came along, Vinaite had no aspirations of becoming a performer. Recalls Vinaite in our interview, director Sean Baker “actually found me on Instagram. He reached out via direct message.” Despite trepidations over casting a novice in a leading role, “Sean really felt like I could do a good job.” She took on-set acting lessons with coach Samantha Quan, which, “really helped because they were at the Magic Castle, so I just got really familiar with the environment and really got to understand where Halley was coming from.” She also found guidance from Dafoe, who “treated all of us like we were equal.” She adds that “anytime I need advice or need to talk, he’s always been there, so I really appreciate him.”
“The Florida Project” is a leading Oscar contender in several categories for A24 this year. The film has already been recognized at the Gotham Awards with nominations for Best Feature, Best Actor (Dafoe), and Breakthrough Actor (Prince). Can Vinaite make her way into the Best Supporting Actress race for her acting debut? Check out our full interview above for more about her work on the film.