Francesca’s story begins in central London, Hammersmith, believe it or not, a far cry from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Her acting roots date back to her school play, where she unwittingly found her career path.
Although now a Hollywood name and very much part of the acting vibe that only California knows how to show, Francesca De Luca was part of the UK stage scene early on in her profession.
An impressive portfolio includes playing Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Carla in Kennedys Children. Seeking diversity, an opportunity presented itself to work alongside Oliver Reed in the movie; “Orpheus and Eurydice “.
Francesca would later audition for Francis Ford Coppola and was cast in “Distant Vision” film. A notable achievement that I personally believe made her mark in Hollywood.
A photo at the premiere of The Unforgivable at the DGA Hollywood caught my eye. I wanted to learn more about the Londoner from my neck of the woods. We talk to Francesca about her journey into acting.
Did you meet family resistance when you told them that you wanted to be an actress?
No, not at all! My mother, in fact, encouraged and supported me. She took me to dance classes when I was growing up and went to every play I was in, she was very proud of me. ! She saw I had a lot of talent and how much I loved acting and always wanted me to have the success she felt I deserved, not just because she was a biased mother but because she believed in me and what I was capable of. In fact, when Francis Ford Coppola cast me, my mum said, “tell him he was right to cast you”! So it didn’t surprise her at all! I was also raised by my grandfather, Nonno, who was a wonderful father figure, and he was also very proud of me.
I’m very thankful for that support! It’s not an easy path; it requires determination and self-belief, so having family support meant so much, especially travelling to the other side of the world to make my dreams come true. I’m grateful for that.
Francesca and moving country
Moving country for a profession is a brave move; what was the catalyst that facilitated that move?
For many years I had thought about coming to LA. I was often cast as an American in plays, an Italian American New Yorker, a Texan even! I was actually told by a UK casting director that I didn’t look “British” ( especially as I have 100 percent Italian blood) and realized that I would be more castable in the States.
I also knew that so many TV shows and movies were being made in the States and felt that my talents would fit right into that market. I actually visited my New York cousins eight and a half years ago, and while there took some inspiring acting classes with my cousin Diane, also an actress.
I extended my stay to three months, and it hit me then! I was a single woman, felt confident in myself and my abilities, and my self-belief was at a high. I didn’t have any doubts holding me back. And I decided then that I wanted to go for my dream of being a successful working actress in the States, most likely LA! My vision was clear. I also had met some directors in New York who said they’d really like to work with me, and I also loved the go for it attitude many Americans I’ve encountered have. Something I also have. I see myself as a New Yorker at heart!
Preparing for roles
How do you prepare for roles?
I analyze the full script, not just my own lines. I look for clues to the inner workings of my character, find out what makes them tick deep down, and I like to discover what’s unsaid, what they really feel or think, despite what their lines “say.” What they really feel about the other character or characters they are talking to, what they want etc.
Having started out in theatre, I am used to going deep into a character and preparing extensively for a role. Sometimes, there can be only a day to prepare for a self-tape for a TV role, so I aim to make the words and thoughts of the character a part of me. If I have a specific accent for the role, I immerse myself in the accent for hours, listen to native speakers on YouTube, TV shows, etc. Before long, my ear picks it up. I often just talk in that accent until I have my audition or send a tape! If I have time, I’ll also hire an accent coach! I had a lot of coaching in various accents in the UK and can pick up new ones quickly! I find it fun!
Francesca – UK Vs US
What would you say was the main difference between the UK and the US in terms of lifestyle?
Where do I start? Haha. Ok, I’ll have to start with the weather in LA! I thrive in a sunny climate ( maybe that’s my Italian blood!); what can I say? It lifts my mood a lot! Also, I love to go outside in nature, so I spend a lot more time outdoors, hiking Runyon Canyon or walking or cycling by the ocean!
Also, LA is full of health and body-conscious actors, and that’s a lifestyle I too have adopted. I workout everyday at my gym or at least hike, I eat very healthily. I feel very energised by this lifestyle; it really suits me. That’s not to say I don’t eat pizza or chocolate every now and then! I do! Just work out harder the next day!
Francesca – Advice
What advice would you give if you could talk to yourself at the precise moment that you decided to be an actress?
Yes!!!! You’re doing the right thing! Go for it! You’re very talented so keep working on your craft, get confident in your abilities and let yourself fly! Keep working on yourself as a person; as you blossom, so will your abilities and your life.
You are capable of anything you set your mind to. Keep your thoughts positive, stay present and focus. Your dreams will come true. Don’t let fear hold you back. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people and avoid naysayers. Keep being you! Don’t hide your light! Keep shining! I love you!!
If I could talk to your best friend and ask them to describe you, what would they say?
They’d say she’s a very positive person. She’s authentic, kind, empathic, thoughtful, direct, a good listener, a good friend. They’d say she has a great sense of humour and loves to laugh! She’s fun to be around is youthful and energetic! She is passionate about life is strong, compassionate and determined. If she has any life obstacles, she’ll find solutions and has a go for it attitude!
If I could write a book about you, what would the title be?
Don’t forget to laugh!
If I asked you to name a song representing your life, which song would it be?
Here comes the Sun. The Beatles
Referring to looking on the bright side of life, believing life is what you make it, following my heart, going for my dream, becoming the best me I can be in every way. And literally heading to the Sun!
What was your greatest challenge? Why?
Probably in April 2020. My mom passed away suddenly from Covid in London. Unfortunately, I was not able to leave the US for her burial ( funerals were not allowed then). However, I asked a good friend to go for me, so I was thankfully able to attend virtually via a What’s App video call and give tribute to her.
I luckily spoke to my mum a week before, where I told her I loved her, and we had a very special chat where she told me how proud she was of me, and I told her how proud I was of her. That phone call I will never forget.
The pain of losing her and not being by her side when she passed away or even being buried was very tough to bear. I know that she would want me to be happy and continue to reach my dreams here in LA. Something like this puts life in perspective. Every moment really is precious.
If I gave you the keys to a time machine, which year would you travel to? Why?
Apart from seeing The Beatles perform live. Any year I could visit my mum and tell her I love her.
Your journey started in London, do you miss the city you called home?
I’ve adapted to life in LA very much, actually. I loved London of course, the culture, the theatre was amazing. The main thing I’d say has sometimes been missing family and friends. Though I have always stayed in touch. I accepted that my new life would come with sacrifice.
I just had to follow my true life path and follow my dream, so I feel at peace.
And I can still get Fish n Chips in a British pub in LA if I really want it! Haha. Though I’ve now become more of a sushi loving girl!
What do you miss about being on stage?
The audience. The feeling of it being live, you have to stay in the moment, keep it fresh, which is great training for an actor. You can sense how the audience is reacting to your character, can feel them listen closely and hear the laughter.
What’s on your wish list for the future?
To live a fulfilling and meaningful life where I’m in a position to select who I work with, to reach my highest potential as an actress. To inspire others as well as myself and be a positive influence and help others. To achieve a work-life balance when I can accomplish my goals and spend time with family and friends. Life is also about sharing, giving and receiving love and laughing often!
Tenacious, bubbly and sassy
As our time drew to a close, I couldn’t help but note that Francesca had spoken passionately about a profession that saw her cross the Atlantic Ocean (London to L.A.) and carve out a new life in Hollywood.
Tenacious, bubbly, and, dare I say, sassy, Francesca has subsequently caught the eye of key decision-makers in film and TV.
It’s hard to build relationships at speed, especially virtual ones, but you instantly warm to her personality traits. Moreover, you’re left feeling that you have known Francesca for a considerable length of time, a unique quality that is far from commonplace.
I hope, on some level, her story resonates with new talent and helps identify the challenges that can be overcome with determination, ambition and self-motivation.