Actress who entered the children’s audience through the series “Bia”, has already worked in Globo soap operas, “Cumplices de Um Resgate” on SBT, and today is in “O Coro: Sucesso, Aqui Vou Eu”
Actress, singer, performer and composer, Gabriella Di Grecco had contact with art from a very young age. While studying at a Waldorf Pedagogy College, she took her first music and theater classes. She started studying classical ballet at age 7, graduating at 15. In the meantime, she also dedicated herself to sports such as volleyball and equestrianism. From the age of 16 to 18, she dedicated herself to Wushu Kung Fu training, winning regional championships. Also at that time, she graduated as a technologist in Environmental Sciences, specializing in the Pantanal biome.
In 2007, she moved to São Paulo, where she studied Advertising and Marketing at ESPM. There she studied audiovisual production, music and choral singing. Shortly thereafter, she formed her rock band Helena de Tróia. Vocalist, she was at the head of the band composed of her and 4 other men. They played shows throughout the region honoring the great names of classic and contemporary rock such as AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, U2, among others. In 2011, she had her first professional experience, starring in the first Brazilian web series, entitled Lado Nix. The following year, in 2012, upon completing the course, she decided to invest 100% in her acting career. Gabriella started studying musical theater at TeenBroadway, and concluded the course starring in Wicked, with the character Glinda. Then, in 2013, she passed the test that led her to star in the musical “Cinderella”, in Rio de Janeiro. There she was invited to star in the musical Ópera Rock Meia-Noite Cinderela, written by Jay Vaquer, directed by Rodrigo Pitta and vocally prepared by Jane Duboc.
In 2014, she moved to New York to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, the most traditional and oldest acting school in the United States. There she studied acting for theater and camera, dance, body preparation, vocal preparation, singing and musical theater. At this time, she also studied dance at the Broadway Dance Center, having acting prep with Susan Pilar and singing with David Fairchild. At the end of that year, she returns to Brazil with an invitation to star in the new musical by Jay Vaquer and, this time, directed by him, “Cinza”. Due to its irreverence, the show was invited to participate in FITA – Angra International Theater Festival. Then, she gave an unprecedented performance at Fundição Progresso, a renowned cultural center and venue in Rio de Janeiro.
In 2015, Cinza wins the stages of Oi Casagrande, this time Moogie Canazio, winner of the Grammy Awards, joins the team doing the sound design. The musical generates a lot of reverberation in the middle and the artist receives good reviews for her performance. At the end of the season, she is called to join the cast of the soap opera “Além do Tempo” (Rede Globo), in which she played the young version of the co-protagonist Emília, played by Ana Beatriz Nogueira in the mature phase. In 2016, Gabi is invited to the Brazilian version of “Cúmplices de um Resgate” (SBT), playing the role of Gemima. Then, still in 2016, she returned to the stage with the play “Os Donos do Mundo”, in the role of Helena.
Still on stage, but this time singing, in 2017, Gabriella was cast in the main cast of “Vamp – O Musical”, an adaptation of the television hit of the same name in the 90s. The musical version was also directed by Jorge Fernando and starred by Ney Latorraca and Claudia Ohana. A success with the public and critics, the play was shown in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and in the main cities of Brazil. At the end of the year, she was invited to participate in Disney’s selection process for the series “Bia”. In January 2018, he went to Buenos Aires to participate in the bootcamp to select the 15 actors who would form the cast of the production. In February, she received the news that she was approved to be the co-protagonist of the series, Ana/Helena, and she moved to the Argentine capital in March to start preparing for the role, taking workshops and training in acting, singing, dancing and Spanish.
A success among children and teenagers, “Bia” won a special entitled “Bia: Um Mundo do Avesso”, which premiered on Disney+ in February 2021. In the middle of the same year, she was confirmed as one of the protagonists of Miguel’s new series Falabella for the same streaming platform, entitled “O Coro: Sucesso, Aqui Vou Eu”. Launched in 2022 in Brazil and Latin America. Check out the interview!
In art from an early age, more specifically at the age of seven, you act, sing and also compose. From your high school days to the projects you are involved in today, how did art come into your life?
My first memories are actually seeing things that were on television. I came into contact with acting by watching soap operas and movies, with music by watching singers and with entertainment by watching presenters of the time. I loved Xuxa. I thought it was super fun what she did. After these first contacts, when I was older, I started school. Luckily, I studied at a Waldorf school of pedagogy, where art is included throughout the curriculum. There was when I had my first contact with the theater, watching and doing it, at the age of eight. I fell completely in love. Since then, I was sure that this was what I was going to do with my life.
Even before being 100% focused on art, you came to focus on practicing sports, both with volleyball and equestrianism, in addition to kung fu wushu, which earned you awards in regional championships. What made you choose the performing arts and music scene over martial arts?
I’ve always loved sports and activities that involve the body in motion. At the same time, I have always been fascinated by Eastern thought. This also started from a very young age, watching anime, then buying manga, watching Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li movies and studying Japanese and Chinese cultures. It always fascinated me a lot. When I was 15, one of my best friends at the time was doing Kung Fu in São Paulo and sent me a video of his training. I was fascinated, as it was everything I was looking for in a sport: mastery of the body in motion with a sense of purpose and self-awareness. Body, mind and spirit: this is the triad of any martial art and I was very excited to experience it. I looked for Kung Fu classes in Cuiabá and, coincidentally, they had classes in front of the office where I worked. It was then that I started training and soon after, competing. I highly recommend that people have contact with some martial art or some activity of oriental origin, such as yoga, for example. In the East, thinking is very focused on the present moment and physical activities are tools for this.
Theater was really a life calling, it’s what gives me answers to everything. I had to listen to it at age 21, when I actually made the decision to finish college and start studying to be an actress. However, despite not pursuing a career in martial arts, I am always training. After the period doing kung fu, already in college, I started to practice Yoga. I’ve been practicing for 15 years and it’s as wonderful as kung fu. By the way, it’s an excellent tool for actors, because it puts you in the present moment. Being an actor is all about being in the present moment. Even when I studied acting in the US, the practice of Yoga was part of our curriculum.
Shortly after moving from Cuiabá to São Paulo, he formed his first rock band, Helena de Tróia, along with four other men, where they honored groups such as AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters and U2. What was it like to have this passage through professional rock, and especially being at the head of a group made up mostly of boys?
It came naturally to me, actually. I always had male friends, at school, in kung fu, in sports, in everyday life. The differences in treatment between men and women never made much sense to me, actually. So it was easy. I was doing what I love, surrounded by dear friends who were also doing what they love, playing for people who loved what we were doing. Rock at that time was dominated by men, but what always mattered to me was music, art and I realize that for all these guys around me, music spoke much louder than any physical or gender difference. That moment was very special for me. Contact with music saved me in many ways.
As one of your first works in dramaturgy, the Brazilian web series “Lado Nix” in 2011, was the moment when you started to dedicate yourself entirely to theater. At that time, streaming and the internet still did not have the power we have in the market today. As a professional who is currently on the Disney Plus series “O Coro: Sucesso, Aqui Vou Eu”, how do you observe this “boom” that the platforms have had in recent times and how this has directly benefited artists in terms of opportunities?
Certainly, today the market and the industry are much broader than 12 years ago. At that time, people started talking about “on demand” products, but audiovisual in Brazil was still dominated by television stations and their soap operas. With the arrival of streaming platforms, demands for new products arrived and this domain spread across streaming platforms, television. Before how many soap operas were released per year? 4? 5 max? Today, thinking about streaming platforms, each player launches dozens of products per year. This opens up space for many more people in the industry to work: production, direction, artists, technical staff, etc.
However, I also notice that entertainment consumption has expanded exponentially. With social networks, people who are not necessarily artists create content and generate entertainment for a lot of people. Today we live in an era where there are many options to retain our attention. In this sense, I also see that the art industry and the entertainment industry can undergo significant changes with regard to the production and consumption of these materials. Before, he would go to the cinema to watch a movie, if he stopped to watch a soap opera. Nowadays, movies, soap operas, series, videos, photos, are available at the touch of a cell phone. The attention and retention of the audience today is more disputed than ever. So, I realize that this crossmedia of different platforms, products and people is a trend. Today we see internet celebrities transiting through the art industry; and artists, including renowned ones, producing content for the internet. I have the impression that this trend will continue for a long time. Let’s see what the future has to tell us.
In 2014, we had another change in his life, which was the idea to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, the same one that formed great names like Hank Azaria, Danny DeVito, Anne Hathaway and Frank Morgan. What was it like to go through this experience, both in the academic context and as a cultural experience?
It was one of the best decisions I made for my life and for my career. I needed this cultural, artistic and linguistic exchange. I really wanted to have contact with the American industry, which is a pioneer in cinema and musical theater. You can really understand why they are pioneers. The thinking there is very focused on making the industry spin. In addition, it was wonderful to have this contact with people from all over the world, with professionals from the American industry in acting, singing and dancing, not to mention that I left this experience with fluent English. I came out of that experience 30 times better than I went in. I really want to have another artistic exchange experience soon.
In mid-2015, we had the premiere of “Cinza” on the stages of Teatro Casa Grande, with the participation of the Grammy Award winner, Moogie Canazio, and which also earned you several positive reviews for your performance. What did this project mean to you?
Gray was a great school for me. In all respects. I had just returned from an exchange program in the US, so I was super excited to put everything I learned into practice. In acting, it was a delight to put everything I learned into play. In music, however, that’s where I made my main leap. The work was written, composed and directed by Jay Vaquer, a great name in our national music and our vocal preparation was done by Jane Duboc, a giant of Brazilian music. I had no option but to open up as much as I could and learn from both of them. They were great masters for me. I can say that everything I know musically I absorbed and learned from them. Before Cinza I sang well, but Jay and Jane taught me to sing with intention, with color, with flavor, telling a story, playing and playing with the emotion that only music can transmit. Before I sang and did entertainment, after Jay and Jane I understood and learned what it is to sing while making art. This was also another moment where I came out much better than I went in.
Among his highlights on open television is the soap opera “Cúmplices de um Resgate”, where he played the controversial villain Gemima. Could you tell us a little more about what it was like to play this character and especially to work on aspects of her personality?
Gemima is a very interesting character. She was a religious girl who began to question the dogmas of her religion, imposed by her family. It’s very interesting to see that when we are not aligned with our sense of purpose, of life, we find ourselves doing things that we don’t even identify with. This I noticed a lot in Gemima’s texts. She was following a lifestyle that was not compatible with what she really thinks about herself and the world. I think that’s the root of her villainy. She was a gossip person, she liked to cause conflicts in relationships… When she started to accept herself and be herself, despite the family’s disapproval, she flourished, all the energy, which before was in a conflicting place, started to be in a place of great strength and Gemima’s life began to flow much better. Once again, theater teaching us lessons. Giving life to this character taught me a lot about how to stay focused on what matches our real thinking about the world and about ourselves, life moves more fluidly and happily.
Another milestone you had on stage was the adaptation of “Vamp” for theaters in 2017, directed by Jorge Fernando, and where you performed with Ney Latorraca and Claudia Ohana. Adapting a 1991 classic to the present day was a great experience?
Having been a part of Vamp, The Musical was a pretty awesome experience in so many ways. In addition to being a joy to relive a classic of Brazilian television drama on stage, one of the most precious things about Vamp for me was learning from the cast. People loved each other. We created a relationship between everyone there, protagonists, supporting actors, supporting cast, dancers, etc. of a lot of friendship, a lot of complicity and an endless affection. A cast that is in harmony makes the show run in harmony and the audience feels it. It was amazing to experience that. Ney was a great example in that sense. He was like a great master of hospitality, companionship, the joy of doing theater. This reverberates for the entire cast. He taught me, demonstrating with his gestures and attitudes, the impact that a protagonist also has off stage.
Shortly after this show, came Disney’s selection process for the series “Bia”, which, in addition to taking her to Buenos Aires together with 15 other actors, also helped catapult her image among children and young people. What was it like dealing with this new audience and how were the selection steps for this project? Is it a big step for a multinational of such size to provide so many openings for the Brazilian and Latin American market?
Bia, without a doubt, was an invitation to take a bigger step in my career. Everything changed after I joined this project. I got to know, up close, how the industry works at an international level, and this learning started right away in the auditions, which had a few steps and several aspects to work on: singing, dancing, acting and mastering a foreign language. It was an intense 15-day selection process in Buenos Aires and it was wonderful. At this stage alone, I learned a lot. When we started preparing for the recordings, I also got in touch with a huge structure, with many people involved so that everyone was very ready to start recording. It was all very well organized. Camera tests, makeup, singing, dancing and acting rehearsals, Spanish classes, costume fitting, media training, among many other things. When we started recording, we entered a very immersive period and with a well-programmed schedule that allocated the study of the text in Spanish, recordings, interviews, rehearsals, business trips, among many things. It was a great school and certainly a big step for my national and international career.
One of the curiosities is that as soon as she was approved for the series, she had to move to the Argentine capital and undergo some preparations such as acting, singing, dancing and Spanish. In that case, what was the biggest difficulty you encountered in playing Ana/Helena?
Ana/Helena was a very mysterious character whose function was to lead the dramatic load of the series. I had many scenes of great emotional and dramatic appeal. Certainly, for me, a great challenge was having fluency and intimacy with the language. Our emotions are very connected with our mother/native language. When we speak in a new language, it takes time to start connecting with our emotions in a natural and visceral way. In my case, the challenge was to acquire this intimacy with the language so that this connection could happen as effectively and quickly as possible, in order to be able to deliver everything from day 1 of recording. This process was quite interesting. Despite having performed in another language in the US, I already spoke English, so the connection between language and emotion happened in a matter of weeks. In the case of Spanish, I didn’t speak that language. So, first I had to start talking and then connect, the process in this case took months. It’s a beautiful process, actually. When I look at Bia’s first chapters and compare them with the last ones, I’m so happy to see how much I’ve evolved and the fluidity and connection I’ve conquered with the language.
In addition to other company productions, such as “Disney Planet News” and the special “Bia: Um mundo do averse”, today, its newest project is the series “O Coro: Sucesso Aqui Vou Eu” by the renowned Miguel Falabella. What do you think of doing the protagonist Nora Labbra and how are the expectations for the 2nd season?
It is very happy to be the protagonist of another Disney project. Coro is a daring, sensitive and very beautiful project. Nora is a character that I will always be grateful to Miguel for. She’s a challenge because she has all the makings of a great villain, so she’s a character that provokes me to grow as an artist and invites me to have fun all the time. She is very “out of the box”, so everything can be allowed in the actor’s work. I love making characters like this! About the second season I am very excited. Nora is even more potent, provocative and “out of the box” this season. I hope people have as much fun with it as I did!
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