Meet Cassie Berta: Movie Actress and Campus Activist

Cassie Berta transferred to Boston University from Point Park Conservatory, an acting conservatory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, thinking that it was unrealistic she would ever “make it” in acting. About a year after making this decision, she serendipitously earned a role in the movie Coda, directed by Sian Heder. Here, she details her experience.

Q: Before we go into the movie specifically, what things do you do on campus that you think are important to who you are?

A: Great question! I’m on the eboard for Transition to BU, a club for transfer students, and I founded Jewish Empowered Women (JEW) on campus. In my free time, I’m a high school sex ed teacher with Peer Health Exchange. I also live in the HER House, which provides subsidized living for low income women. 

Q: What was your audition process like?

A: I’m subscribed to emails from Boston Casting Company because I wanted to intern there. They send out general kind of calls, and one of them was for people 18-22 who had been in choir. I fit the description, so I went ahead and sent in my headshot and the number of years I sang in choir.  Then, they asked me for a video of me singing. I filmed a video of me singing in the bathroom and sent it in. Two months later, they called me and said they were interested in me and wanted a callback. Unfortunately, I was not in Boston at the time. I was on vacation with my family in Chicago. I Facetimed with the director from my hotel and sang again. It actually went terribly. I think it was the worst audition I’ve ever done, and I didn’t think I would get the part. About a month later, though, they called me and told me they were casting me.

 

Q: Can you tell me something about the movie?

 A: It’s about a hearing child in a deaf family.  She wants to go to college to be a singer, but her whole family is really against it because they would never be able to hear her sing. They also really want her to stay in the family fishing business because they need to have a hearing person on the boat to continue. It’s really cool because about half of the cast is deaf actors. The only two hearing actors with a main role are the main girl and her love interest.

Q: What was your experience on set like?

A: It was really fun! The first day I went to a costume fitting at Rockport. I didn’t know I would have to travel that far, so I had to wake up really early and take the commuter rail there. I did my fitting and met a bunch of cool people on set. The next few days we did filming. I had my own trailer and everything. They also had a lot of food and snacks for people on set, which was amazing.

My role was a singer. I sang before the main girl sang, and my character was supposed to intimidate her. I was really nervous about singing. What comforted me is that if I messed up most of the main actors wouldn’t be able to hear.

 

Q: What are your hopes for your career from here on out?

A: I’m in Film and TV, so any way I can get work is good. Getting a role in a movie showed me to believe in myself more, and I would love to do more acting if I could and to be involved in the arts as much as possible. If I don’t continue with acting, I’d like to work with casting movies. I’d still love to intern with Boston Casting Company.

Q: You’re a person who cares a lot about social issues. How does that influence your art?

A: What I really loved about this project is that a hearing woman was telling a deaf story with the inclusion of deaf people. She included deaf actors and deaf people in making the movie, which is really important for a majority person telling a minority story. What she is doing as a hearing person is giving deaf people a space. She listened to what deaf people had to say and included them in the process, which is really important in talking about representation.

The movie Coda will be sold at the Cannes Film Festival this summer. Stay tuned for it to come to theaters!

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