Arianna Ortiz is a talented actress and filmmaker who is known for her work in TV shows and Movies such as This is Us, Girl Flu, Labyrinth and now, Nine Days. Nine Days is the directorial debut of Edson Oda and it also stars Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz and Bill Skarsgård. Arianna plays Maria, who is brought to this mysterious world beyond life and shares this world countless other people whose circumstances have led them there. We spoke to her about the philosophical depth of Nine Days, her passion for Making Movies and her diverse acting career amongst many other things. Check it out below.
Hi Arianna, I am Hardik Agrawal from The Movie Culture. How are you doing today?
Arianna Ortiz: I’m very well. Excited and proud that “Nine Days” is entering the world for people to finally see!
Q. Nine Days is such an exciting project and it has been receiving great reviews. So first of all, who is Maria and how does she get teleported in this world?
Arianna Ortiz: Maria is a brand-new soul who finds herself with the opportunity to audition for a chance to live life on Earth. We don’t really know how she gets to this place and I love the mystery of that. When I read the script, I was reminded of the House of Souls referenced in religious texts; the souls awaiting life on Earth. So, I instantly connected with who she was, her newness and anticipation of living life.
Q. The concept of Nine Days is so fresh and intriguing, and it boasts that through its cinematography and performances. What were some of the things that made this movie in immersive experience for you?
Arianna Ortiz: Our team was incredible. From the visionary talent of Edson, our writer and director, to our cast and crew. And we were all in this movie making bubble in Utah during the shoot making this incredibly vulnerable, soulful film. You can’t have a bad apple in that kind of situation. I think that – along with how naturally stunning Utah is – all of us being together like that really lent itself to being immersed in this realm. And I think it reflects on screen. I hope audiences feel safe enough to go the theaters to allow themselves to also be immersed. I think it does enhance the experience of watching it.
Q. Nine Days appears to have a concept which, in a way, blurs the line between life and death. Could you provide some insight on the philosophical aspect of this story?
Arianna Ortiz: That is such a big question! I will say that I think the philosophical aspects of the film will feel unique to every audience member and their personal experience. Some viewers may connect with a particular “candidate” and therefore be most affected by that part of the story arc. The candidates are each a kind of archetype, representing different parts of what we all experience. But at its core…the whole film is about reminding you what an incredible gift it can be to be alive.
Q. You share the screen with actors like Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz and Bill Skarsgård. What was it like sharing the screen with such a diverse range of actors?
Arianna Ortiz: What an incredible cast. I was inspired and am inspired by them all. From the magic that Winston and Zazie create on screen (I’ve never seen anything like their final scene together) to Bill’s preciseness as a performer. Tony is magical to watch. Benedict is my acting hero. David’s work moves me so. I honestly felt right at home with them as everyone showed up fully open and ready to bring this to life. And filming with Winston, I will never forget it.
Q. From projects like Parenthood and This is Us to Nine Days, you have constantly tested yourself and jumbled between Comedy and Drama. What is your process while approaching such diverse projects?
Arianna Ortiz: Every role has its own unique needs. Every set is different. Every cast is different. I’m experienced enough that I’ve honed a certain set of skills that allows me to be very nimble between projects. I think that actually started back in my days working in radio. I had a survival job where I would do news and traffic reports and other types of work on all different types of radio stations. So I would be on a news station in the morning, an R&B station in the afternoon, sometimes Hip Hop or Country. OR sometimes all within the same hour! It was a blast and I was well suited to the work and quite successful. I definitely approach every role with fresh eyes and ask what does this particular story need? I think I’m more known for my dramatic roles, where I play a lot of professional, smart women. But I once played a Lizard person on a Nickelodeon show. That was a BLAST. And it required me to just go for it. I recommend that to all actors. Just go for it. Make bold choices.
Q. Apart from Acting, you have also produced and even directed a lot of Music Videos and Short Films. Is making movies another passion of yours, and will we be seeing a feature film under your name anytime soon?
Arianna Ortiz: I’ve been obsessed with films, in particular, since I was a kid. I made my first short film in high school, which was a very derivative French language film called “La Belle Voix”, which starred one of my best friends. I was such a poser. But I loved foreign and art films and saw them as much as I could. My first day of acting school at Calarts, I went to my mentor and I asked if I could change to the film school. I was on an acting scholarship so they said no! Haha! So I would sneak into film classes when I could despite my busy theater school schedule. I would say my big dream has always been to make one great film. In one way, I feel like that dream is realized by being a part of “Nine Days” and Edson’s incredible vision. Now, as I’ve been diving back into my own writing during COVID, I’m really playing in what I’m creating. Mostly to entertain myself! It’s all very different stuff than “Nine Days”, darkly comic. But absolutely, yes. I hope to be producing and creating more for sure!
Q. This is Edson Oda’s first directorial feature and by the looks of the trailer, his debut work looks mesmerizing to say the least. What were some of the filmmaking experiences that you imbibed from him, that you will hopefully use in the future?
Arianna Ortiz: Edson is incredible and incredible example for other artists. He leads with a strong clear vision and with ABSOLUTE kindness. He’s collaborative and yet knows what he wants. He understands what actors can bring to his work. I’m in awe of both his artistry and gifts and who he is as a person. I feel so lucky to know him and have been a part of his debut feature. I got to absorb things from him just being on set with him that I’m not sure I can articulate, but I’m incredibly grateful for.
Q. Finally, what’s next for you in your diverse career. Is it comedy, drama or something completely different?
Arianna Ortiz: As an actor, you sometimes have so little control over what’s next for you. I’m hunting for the next great role like every actor. But I’m very excited about the projects I have written and am working to get produced. I’m from Texas originally, so I’ve been writing about a very specific world that I’ve built. I have a thriller set there that and I’m currently writing a sort of caper and dark comedy in that same world. On the surface, the genres seem very different. But the projects are almost like siblings. I’m having a lot of fun with them as the Texas that I know is diverse, complicated and very funny. Texas is mostly portrayed as dusty and filled with White men. It’s so much more than that. I’m excited to share my Texas with the world.
Q. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me Arianna. Nine Days looks absolutely breath-taking and I can’t wait to witness you in the movie!
Arianna Ortiz: I’m so incredibly proud of “Nine Days” and I truly hope you enjoy it. It’s definitely not for everyone. It’s a film that asks you to feel and connect with your humanity. I think that’s something we can all use right now as we are still in this pandemic. But that can also make people very uncomfortable. I’ve witnessed audience members completely joy filled after watching it and also shut down. So, enjoy your existential examination with a bucket of popcorn and get ready for the ride!
The Movie Culture Synopsis
Nine Days is screening in Theatres along US, and by the wide consensus and as Arianna herself says, its bound to make you question existence and the meaning of life.