Gigi Cesare is an award-winning actress whose film credits include the celebrated feature film “The Kids from 62-F” and the “Street” series, where she is well-known for her co-star recurring role as “Jessy.” In 2017, Gigi was nominated for an Imagen Award for best actress in a feature film “The Kids From 62-F” competing in the same category as Hollywood A-listers Salma Hayek and Eva Longoria.
At the age of 12, Gigi is a native of Hershey, Pennsylvania and has been acting and singing for most of her life. Taking notice of his daughter’s talent she was encouraged by her father to pursue the arts a few years after losing her biological father (South American) at a young age. Gigi excelled in acting and success came quickly. Her acting career began in NYC. In addition to the 2017 Imagen Award, Gigi’s awards and nominations include a Young Entertainer Award for best supporting young actress for Street and a nomination for a Young Artist Award for best performance in a short film. Her lead role in the television pilot “Amish Haunting” launched her west coast acting career. Gigi will reprise her role as Jessy in the upcoming “Street 2 – Death Fight” and has been cast in the role of “Exandra” in the fantasy series film adaptation “The King’s Prophecy: The Amulet.” She’s also rumored to be reviving her character, Nina, in “The Kids from 62-F” in a sequel to the multi-award winning indie film for which Gigi also earned multiple nominations, including the Imagen Award. Her credits include acting alongside many veteran Hollywood actors and icons in film and television. Gigi is an accomplished vocalist for School of Rock, equestrian, boxer and animal rights advocate.
We had an opportunity to speak Gigi. Check out the interview below.
Thank you for granting the interview, Gigi! 2017 has been an impressive year! Congrats on your latest projects. Which is the first one up for the release?
Thank you, Occhi Magazine for having me. I love your mag and the array of creative arts you showcase!
You’re right, 2017 is shaping up to be just an insanely busy year for me. I have several films on my upcoming slate: Street 2 Death Fight, The Kids From 62-F sequel, Without & Within and the medieval film fantasy series The King’s Prophecy: The Amulet.
In Street 2 Death Fight I am reprising my role, Jessy. She is the younger sister of the lead character in Street. In the second installment of the Street franchise (which is a Rocky-esque MMA franchise), my character has a much-expanded role alongside Hollywood heavyweight Mark Ryan (Black Sails, Transformers).
In this film, Jessy is at the center of the plot really. She’s grown up, both mentally and physically and she’s prevailed through much personal tragedy and adversity. There are some nail-biting things that will happen while her journey will cross the globe in an epic adventure of love, loss, villains, good guys and a lot of MMA action and stars! I promise it will not disappoint audiences!
Street did well in the USA in DVD and streaming services, however, internationally it was a whole different story. Street I was tied with Deadpool in DVD sales in many countries, such as Russia, Asia, South America, particularly Brazil and Thailand. I’m big in Thailand and Turkey! Big in Japan (that’s a song, right?) Fans of the franchise are so loyal and we adore them. Street was the top illegally pirated/downloaded film in 2016 in those countries as well!
I am so excited to say that I have been cast as the lead Exandra in Rick Stahl’s screen adaptation of his fantasy novel The King’s Prophecy: The Amulet. It is going to be a good, old-fashioned medieval film franchise that is shocking, gritty, captivating and truer to real events of that time than most similar adaptations.
I am very lucky to also be reprising my role as Nina, a role which garnered me a nomination for Best Actress in a Feature Film for the 2017 Imagen Awards/ It is known as the Golden Globes of the Latin American community. I competed in the same category as Salma Hayek, Edy Ganem and Eva Longoria.
What inspired you to become an actress?
I would love to tell you a beautiful story of falling in love with a certain actor or show, but I sort of fell into acting. My parents, when I was about 5, I could not find anything that I liked regarding sports or activities. They tried everything… soccer (huge fail), ballet (bigger fail), tap, gymnastics, on and on and on. It was my dad’s idea to finally to try acting. From the very first day at the open call we attended, we all knew immediately this was going to be it.
I had grown up with old movies, really good movies (Cary Grant, black and white film, Sophia Loren) and music, show tunes, so maybe this path was inevitable. The original 1970’s soundtrack and the movie version of Annie still play in my house non-stop today now that I have a 5-year-old sister. Bing Crosby, Jazz greats like Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis, Sinatra, Martin and Streisand are all mainstays in my house. Pretty sure I was destined for Hollywood.
Is there a role you would like to play on screen someday?
It’s funny, I was just saying the other day that I am very excited about my role as Emily in the upcoming film Within & Without, because playing an emotionally scarred (damaged) girl really appeals to me on many levels. Along with more human-nature, emotionally driven roles.
Anything Sci-Fi really appeals to me, as does a film or tv series with horses on a ranch (I love to ride) and I am still hoping that they will make Aquamarine II so I can play a mermaid or a Splash remake. That said, I will settle for a fantasy series that involves unicorns as well!
I’m excited also to utilize my boxing skills that I have been training hard for the past few months on in a role, but it looks like we may be incorporating some of that into my Jessy character in Street 2 Death Fight. We’ll have to wait and see!
Congrats on your nomination for the 2017 Imagen Awards for Best Actress in a Feature Film, The film is called The Kids from 62-F (Red Sea Media). You played Nina. Tell us about your role and character.
Thank you so much. It’s really sweet of you to mention. We are still pretty much in shock that it happened, the nomination. We were boarding a flight to LA when the news of the nomination came in from the Imagen Foundation. We were stunned. My mom called my manager right away to be sure there wasn’t a mistake. Not that my acting wasn’t solid to earn a nom, but how did I end up in the same category as Salma Hayek, Eva Longoria and Edy Ganem…? They are like icons. I am twelve. It’s such an honor. Also, on that magical evening of the Imagen Awards I spent time with some incredibly talented Disney stars. School of Rock’s Ricardo Hurtado (and his parents) may be the nicest people in Hollywood and meeting Ricardo was like meeting the prince at the ball. It was very dream-sequence-like! I was waiting for my fairy godmother to show up with a pumpkin carriage!
My character, Nina, is unlike any I have played before. She’s neurotic and over-reactive and she acts before thinking. I am hoping Nina matures in the next picture and that she will, well, evolve. She was funny in an annoying-kid kind of way in the last film so I am hoping she can still be funny while finding more of her redeeming qualities as well.
What’s next in your career?
I recently was lucky to meet with network casting executives to explore some upcoming roles. Ideally, a series will come along at some point (hopefully one with aliens, horses, mermaids or damaged souls) just kidding. Netflix is a career goal. The shows they are doing are absolutely incredible. I auditioned for one last week! Fingers crossed.
I tend to lean toward more dramatic roles. No wait, that’s not what I meant. I tend to be cast in darker, more dramatic roles, yet, comedy is really on my radar. I adore Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, they are two of my comedy idols. I hear there’s another Beverly Hills Cop movie on the table! Can you imagine being in an Eddie Murphy movie?! Let’s just say… hashtag #dreamroles #lifegoals #careergoals
My European agent has been getting me auditions where I am able to explore different accents. It’s beyond incredible auditioning in say a particular Irish dialect.
There’s also a super odd, quirky, adult-humor themed web series about a teen girl navigating her life written by this up and coming young writer Michael Rojo in which I have been cast. The team for it is still being assembled. It’s unlike anything I’ve done before.
Is there anything you would like to add that we haven’t asked?
Yes, I would like to add that if the Riverdale series is ever looking for a younger teen menace, say a dark-souled, menacing younger cousin to Veronika Lodge (played by actress Camila Mendes), have your people call my people (my mom). Kidding, but no seriously I’m all in!
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Featured Image Credit: Martina Zando.