In FORGOTTEN EVIL, which airs (tonight) Sunday, March 12 on LMN (the Lifetime Movie Network), Masiela Lusha stars as a young woman who wakes up in a hospital with no memory of the accident that put her there six months ago. Indeed, she has no memory of her own identity. Selecting the name “Renee,” she endeavors to make a new life for herself – but the past inevitably resurfaces.
Lusha, originally from Albania, was raised first in the country of her birth, then in Hungary and Vienna before her parents moved to Michigan when she was seven years old. She was a regular for six seasons as daughter Carmen Lopez on the comedy THE GEORGE LOPEZ SHOW. Last year, Lusha appeared as Gemini in SHARKNADO 4: THE 4TH AWAKENS, which was directed by FORGOTTEN EVIL writer/director Anthony C. Ferrante.
ASSIGNMENT X: What can you say about your FORGOTTEN EVIL character?
MASIELA LUSHA: Renee is a blank slate, utterly effaced. She evolves into a dynamic character, a walking contradiction, and it was a pleasure acting out her literal and figurative growth.
AX: What appealed to you about Renee?
LUSHA: What intrigued me about Renee is her innocence, and her ability to absorb her world like a child. The enthusiasm to explore tastes, sounds, and touch for the first time, and process sensations before the camera, is her appeal. As an actor, living through these rudimentary experiences and forming each sensation into a back story is what made this role worthwhile to me. Renee is truly a sensitive soul, a sponge.
AX: When you were working on SHARKNADO 4, did you think you would be/want to be reteaming with Anthony C. Ferrante on a more serious project?
LUSHA: From the first day on the set of SHARKNADO, I understood Anthony’s style, and innately aligned with his expectations. In both projects, I cannot recall a moment when I second-guessed his direction or vision; it simply was never brought up. He has such confidence in his vision, and is so unapologetic about the creative stitching of his projects that, as an actor, all I could do was succumb to his direction. When Anthony approached me with FORGOTTEN EVIL, even though I knew it to be a contrasting genre from what we’d worked on previously, I understood his style and felt safe. I knew that if Anthony connected with the material, it would be successful.
One specific quality about Anthony as a director is that, while he understands the expectations in each genre, he has an innocence about the creative process, a level of authenticity, that allows him to redefine these genres in some capacity. He’s playing, and his choices strike from the heart, and are not merely boxes that need to be ticked. Because of this, I cannot fully place the SHARKNADO franchise or FORGOTTEN EVIL in their respective genres, because they have so many colors of life that they feel more abstract, and positively messy, and real.
AX: Was growing up all over the world good training for being an actress – adapting to new situations, new people …?
LUSHA: Living through many cultures, learning the languages, exploring countless religions and defining friendships has truly opened my eyes on the vast spectrum of humanity, its capabilities and nuances. As actors, our primary job is to absorb, first and foremost. It is one of the pillars of our craft. Without the ability to define reality, how can we interpret for society? Whatever critique I receive as an actor, my sense of accomplishment comes from one singular expectation – “Was she convincing?” If the answer is yes, then I know my job as an actor is complete. Everything else is delicious garnish.
AX: Is there a difference between playing someone who has amnesia and a person with a normal memory?
LUSHA: My interpretation of amnesia is unflinching innocence, the ability to experience the world for the first time, note familiar faces with a sense of awe, shock and shyness. FORGOTTEN EVIL opened a gateway I never anticipated. Through my training and back story structuring, I stopped living on automatic and simply tasted and lived through things for the first time. Berries, lavender tea, the Beatles were all explored deliberately and carefully. This practice forced me to come to terms with my own personal likes and dislikes, to parse out my preferences that are simply conditioned by society. I highly recommend others attempt this exercise for its cleansing effect.
AX: Were there any particularly challenging scenes to shoot/act?
LUSHA: Anthony wanted “tears, tears, tears” every day, and I don’t necessarily emote with tears, so the well ran dry a few times, but when we love something, it’s not work or challenging, it’s literally playtime with vicissitudes. As actors, we get paid to wait. That feels the most like work, for me. The fun is on set with twenty or so cast and crew dedicated to one vision, playing with toys, dialogue, and sentiments. Oftentimes, I would stumble into my hotel room after 2 AM, and would be so energetic and enthusiastic from filming that I would need a few hours of reading time to unwind. Only then would I recognize the hour of day.
AX: What would you most like people to know about FORGOTTEN EVIL?
LUSHA: FORGOTTEN EVIL has so many elements and genres stitched into one film that it was a joy to watch when we screened the film. We cannot place this delicious little film in one box, because it is inspired by authenticity, and by a sense of unapologetic sincerity that I relish. It is quite the journey, and I hope the transparency shines through the screen.
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Article: FORGOTTEN EVIL: Actress Masiela Lusha from SHARKNADO to sleeping with the enemy