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“Never compare yourself to others”: Actress Isla Cervelli on the 5 things she wish someone told her when she first started

Never compare yourself to others. Even though this is something that I really don’t do, when you feel down or insecure, you can let yourself go. So, remember we are all unique and one of a kind. No one will replace you. If it’s meant to be, everything has its time; be patient. I had the […]


Never compare yourself to others. Even though this is something that I really don’t do, when you feel down or insecure, you can let yourself go. So, remember we are all unique and one of a kind. No one will replace you. If it’s meant to be, everything has its time; be patient.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Isla Cervelli. Originally from Brazil, Isla Cervelli came to the United States and started going to school to become an Anesthesiologist but she noticed that her life was empty and it lacked what she loved, acting. With a history of theater in Brazil, Cervelli decided to take more acting classes here in the states. With a passion for helping others, She is continually sharing her knowledge and inspiring others to get a start in the profession on social media, using tools like instagram and Facebook.


Thank you so much for joining us! What is your “backstory”?

I was born in Rio and raised in Recife, Pernambuco; a state full of History and culture. It was fun growing up there, experiencing the things that I did. I always wanted to better myself and strived to learn as much as I could.

As a kid I loved watching Brazilian soap operas and films; they inspired me to become an actress. I would have dreams about talking to actors and actress.

At the age of 7, in the first grade, I organized dance performances with my teachers. I was really artistic and I loved helping organizing events with them.

Since I was 10, for what I remember, maybe earlier, I was quite the entrepreneur. I would sell things to my neighbors, classmates, friends, etc. Things like rabbit cookies that my mom would make; clothing, shoes, etc. I had a business mind and I always wanted to be independent. Being a little shy, I knew that pushing myself would help me to develop the skills that I needed to improve.

Growing up I always had a dream of going to the university and making my parents proud. Family came first and I was very disciplined. I was joked by my classmates in high school as “Sacoleira” which basically means “Bag”. The nickname Bag Girl was kind of funny, as I used to have a bag full of clothing to sell. I never wanted to ask my parents for anything and thought that being self-sufficient would help me to grow as a person.

Later in life I decided to go to school to make a difference in the world and started studying to become a doctor. Later on, however, I changed that plan when I felt my life didn’t have any meaning because I wasn’t following my true passion, being an actress and also painting.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your acting career?

I think it was my interview with Univision about my acting career that I did recently. They said that I could speak in English or Spanish and it would be fine but right before I went live, they said “Please try to speak in Spanish only! I freaked out. Certain things just wouldn’t come into my mind like the way I express myself in English every day. I do speak fluent Portuguese, but when you aren’t practicing a language and you go live all of a sudden, you can’t just switch and think in Spanish. The end of the interview went a little better. They asked me a question and I asked if I could respond in English. They said it was okay. I answered in English and some people that knew me were really happy because they can’t speak Spanish and really wanted to know what I was saying. I am really good about translating from Portuguese to English really fast but definitely not Portuguese to Spanish.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I am going to be hosting a party for a fundraiser and part of the proceeds from the clothing that gets sold, goes to a charity of my choice. I will also be displaying several of my paintings there. I paint Brazilian inspired art pieces.

I am working on promoting several brands and stores where I am a brand ambassador / marketer. I work as an influencer for Amazon, which I get to have my online store with all the things I recommend.

I only like to work with companies and brands that I believe in and trust. I am also developing a film similar to Anthony Bourdain’s style which is something that I been planning for over a year now. In the film, I will be exploring Brazil while bringing some fun and history to people. It will be really interesting, exciting, and funny at the same time. It’s still in paper, but a fun idea that I would like to do.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I had the opportunity to work with two great actors on the comedy movie “The Last Laugh” for Netflix. I learned so much from them. Richard Dreyfuss was very humble and talented. He was able to share some life experiences with me that made me realize that life and people are so precious. We should always value people and respect them and take our ego away of our lives .

I also met Chevy Chase, one of the big icons in the comedy and film industry. It was a pleasure to meet him and talk about his favorite films that he did. I loved talking to him, he inspired me to pursue my career and fight to make it happen. Sometimes we just got to believe in ourselves and make it happen by putting words into actions.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Never compare yourself to others. Even though this is something that I really don’t do, when you feel down or insecure, you can let yourself go. So, remember we are all unique and one of a kind. No one will replace you. If it’s meant to be, everything has its time; be patient.

Network. Go to where everyone in the business goes for meetings and film competitions. Participate in events that actors participate in, find social groups via Facebook/Instagram where you can meet and find auditions. Don’t be afraid to network.

False Promises- Don’t let people waste your time, you don’t have time to waste on dinners, lunch, and get to know type things. If someone is really interested and saw your Resume or IMDB they will work with you. So, if someone wants to invite you out, ask them to review the matter first via email. Have them send you an email with the projects details, or if you have an agent, have them send the information to your agent. Always watch out for people that just want to date you. I’d rather spend my time at home sending resumes, reviewing potential jobs, and doing film auditions. Remember to take your job seriously or no one else will. Also, be careful with scammers that say they work for big companies. There are a lot bad people in this world so trust your gut, and you can always ask a friend or experienced colleague what they think of the situation.

You are unique. You are your own Brand. Market yourself and invest time in knowing who you are, what you like. What makes you different from everyone else. It’s super easy. Just ask yourself what you like to do and start doing more of it. A great example might be if you are a great cook. Why not make some short cooking films? Start developing a community with instagram and other social media. Use live entertainment to teach others and share the knowledge that you have. Remember, people want to learn something new, want to better themselves, or want to be distracted with a good laugh after a long day of work. Be inspiring and influence others to do good and better.

Don’t give up. Do your best! It’s simple. We all came from different backgrounds and we are all different. There is no one else like you. We come from different cultures and we all have something to add to the table. Films are inspired by people’s everyday lives. Just remember there is always going to be a role for everyone so don’t give up. Just do your best!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Opportunities don’t happen. You create them.”- Chris Grosser

I am hustler by heart, a go getter. This describes me and, I believe, all successful people out there. You can’t achieve anything if you just sit and complain about things. It’s the actions and positive thinking that will lead you to move forward in life.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” -Samuel Beckett

This is another quote that I love, because we can never win. Failing or not getting it right the first try, makes us stronger and allows us to focus more on our main goal in life. Successful people try many times. Sometimes they get what they want right away, and sometimes they fail in other things, but they will keep trying. We are not born winners, but we can try the best we can to win.

Who do you consider to be your role model for the way in which you have molded your career? What can you share about that person?

Will Smith was very influential to me. In Brazil, I started watching the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”. It was hilarious and I loved it! I always loved sitcoms. Later he did Bad Boys with Martin Lawrence; they really influenced me a lot growing up. It was so funny! Today I still sing the “Bad Boys” theme song! Robin Williams was inspirational. As a child, I saw his movie “ What Dreams May Come”. It was lovely and vivid; a true romantic film that I could never get tired of watching, especially because I love painting. Jim Carrey is funny. He is so unique and artistic. I loved his films growing up; life was funny to live and had a lot more meaning after seeing his priceless big contagious smiles. In the end all actors, and people are going to inspire us and give us indirectly and directly.

Where were you in your career 5 years ago? What do you believe has changed in that time frame (personal, with the world, and/or with your profession)?

I was working full time and going to school full time finishing my bachelors. I was miserable. I worked for a jewelry store where the management was always staring over my shoulder and putting me down. I was often humiliated, and discouraged, and threatened that I would lose my job. I felt unhappy and life really sucked, going to school full time and no time for anything else, only work. I decided to change my course of life after watching my dad suffer with cancer while still working hard doing construction work and using a colonoscopy bag. He is definitely one of my biggest inspirations. He never complains about his life, even though he is in pain, and he enjoys and appreciates the gift of live every day. My dad is a very humble man and I couldn’t learn anything but good from him. He always says to me “Always work hard, no matter what kind of work it is. If it’s honest it’s good. If you clean restrooms, it’s an honest job and it’s good.” My dad always inspired me to be a good citizen to my country and to be a vocal leader, a diplomat, and an ambassador.

Even though it is hard, I also appreciate the negative people in my life. Indirectly, they helped me to realize I didn’t belong there and that I deserve better. They made me realize that I should fight for myself to be where I need to be. I had coworkers call me and write me saying that others were laughing and saying that I couldn’t make it. They said horrible things but, with a lot of courage and determination I continued to believe in myself. Surround yourself with positive people that don’t drain your energy, people who add to your life, not take from it.

I feel that I am more mature than before, that I value the beauty of simple things in life. I am more focused and I definitely am finding myself more and more. I am excited about my paintings and I am doing a lot beautiful and creative things in my art work.I am enjoying my life very much and very happy with myself.

We always hear about the best advice we have been given. Tell our readers the worst advice you ever received.

“You can never be an actress living in another place, other than Hollywood”.

Well, you have to start somewhere, so you can’t just sit around doing nothing, hoping to land a big Hollywood roll. Do what you can now, get better and prepare yourself, then, once you’ve earned it, you can make the move to Hollywood. Don’t listen to small minds. You can always take an airplane or drive. There are plenty of resources to get you to the jobs you want to do. Distance should never be a reason to stop, never give up on yourself.

What are you currently reading that might be something I should try to read as well? Why?

I like inspiriting books. “The four agreements” is a great guide for everyday life. “The Lean Startup” is really good as well. I got to read for my Business Class that I had. It definitely give you guidance for entrepreneurs.

When you have the time, what do you binge watch?

I love the TV Series called “MOM”, Saturday Night Live-SNL, Jimmy Fallon, Ellen Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Where have you travelled that has given you inspiration personally or professionally?

I think anywhere you go you will find something to inspire you, but a place that I loved and felt like home was Italy- Rome. I did my genealogy and on my dad’s side, I discovered that I am of Italian descendent, so it’s certainly in my genes. But the food, the people, the culture, the architecture, everything felt like love, felt alive, it’s definitely the city of the past.

What would you say we need to know as a society to “move forward”?

We need more compassion in our hearts. We need to learn about and fight for a healthy food industry that it’s sometimes killing us from inside out. We need to find resources and ways to be a voice in our community.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I think I have several people in my life that have influenced me directly and indirectly.

First, I am grateful to God for allowing me to fulfill my passions and dreams, for never giving up on me, and always protecting me.

I very much appreciate my grandma, and my aunt who died from cancer. My aunt always told me that I was born to paint and to be an actress. She was a psychologist and I was really close to her. My grandma taught me the beauty of helping others even when you don’t have much to spare. She would share her food with complete strangers. What would Jesus do? My grandma certainly did and she should get an award for the most humble person I ever known. She’s not selfish and she always believed in me. She was always happy no matter how hard things were, always laughing and happy.

I love my grandma but I certainly take on good inspiration from all people. There’s the positive critique and the negative critique, but as a certain person mentioned to me: I can never look at a negative critique as being bad. It only makes me stronger, helps me to improve, and become better. So, in the end, everyone I have met has helped me, and I am grateful for every single one of them that along the way, cheered me up and prayed for me.

Thank you.

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