First thing's first-- my name is pronounced uhh-LEE-see (or, Khaleesi without the "kuh").
The story behind it:
My family is originally from Brazil and I was named after my grandmother, so it was important to my parents that we keep the Brazilian pronunciation. (And yes, this is what every first day of school has been like for me.)
Why I Do What I Do
I'll keep it short and simple--
I believe that storytelling has the power to open someone’s eyes.
And I believe that by telling the stories that open people's eyes helps us all find a way to better relate to and care for one another
Who I Am
(In less than 200 words cause time is money, people!)
I'm a Brazilian-American actress, who spent my childhood in the crazy little college town of Clemson, South Carolina (Go Tigers!).
I found my passion for acting at the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities, where I attended the residential high school program. After high school, I moved to New York City where I studied theater performance at Fordham University for two years before deciding to continue my studies at the Atlantic Acting School in the Full Time Conservatory program.
Since graduating from the Atlantic, I've begun volunteering with the Department of Corrections Arts Program and learning how to be a human/contributing member of society after living in the vacuum of a conservatory for 2.5 years.
Well, I didn’t always know. But when I started acting, it felt like I’d discovered a part of my identity that had been lying dormant so far in my life. I didn’t know why I was feeling this way; it was an odd and very easy sense of belonging.
It all came together one summer when I was visiting my grandparents in Brazil. Every yearly visit, without fail, my grandma insists on pulling out the big box of old photos that lives at the bottom of her closet, and sits with me as I look through each and every one. This was the year I had just started going to my performing arts boarding school, so when we came across a photo of my Dad from around the same time in his life, she started telling me about his acting days during his 20s. And I was totally shocked to hear this! How did I not know that my dad had been an actor?!
I’m sure I was told either by him or someone else, but it was never the go to thing that people liked to talk to me about when telling me about my father. They told me how I was strong like him, and driven like him, but never that I took after him in this way as well. Now, it seemed like a part of who I was was being woken up and liberated.
So, my grandma starts telling me all these things about him, like that he was working with a well respected theatre company in the south of Brazil, helping out in any way they would let him, and even had his union card. But, after two short years, he had to leave those dreams behind after turning 18 and being required to enlist in the military.
Don't worry though-- this isn't a story about him being ripped away from his dreams.
His change in career didn’t slow him down one bit. He went on to become a well respected packaging scientist who provided so much for me and still does, even though he isn’t with us anymore. And there’s not a day that I wake up and don’t find something that reminds me of how much my dad will continue to provide for me for the rest of my life.
But, what I discovered that day was that he also passed on the best gift he could have ever given me. And that is my passion for storytelling, for people, for empathy, and for acting.