Born and raised in Rio de a Janeiro, Branca knew from a young age that she wanted to be a part of the arts. It was a DVD of the Cirque show ‘Quidam’ where she fell in love with the marriage of aerial performances and acting. This passion lead her to leave her home at the ripe age of 15 to travel across the world to the United States to begin attending The Emma Willard school. It was a bold move, but one that allowed her to peruse her aerial training by hanging her “tissus” in the school gym.
Upon graduating the Emma Willard school, Branca continued her love of acting by studying at various prestigious schools all over the world. She attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in the UK where she joined the ranks of many notable alumni including: Academy Award winners Daniel Day-Lewis and Jeremy Irons.
Branca’s hometown culture drew her to becoming a professional Cirque du Soleil aerialist in hopes that one day she could perform in Rio’s annual Carnaval celebration. Not only did Branca achieve this goal and get to perform at Carnaval Carioca, but she was able to perform with Intrépida Trupe – the most respected circus troupe in Brazil. From this experience she was later personally coached by Cirque du Soleil legend, André Simard, and was invited to perform in Simard’s innovative aerial company Les Gens d’R.
Built on her love of the Arts, Branca founded RAW Productions (Real Authentic Wisdom Productions) in 2009. Most recently, she not only acted in, but was an executive producer on the feature “Petunia”, costarring: Brittany Snow, Thora Birch, David Rasche and Emmy, Golden Globe and Academy Award winner Christine Lahti.
Please tell us about yourself?
I’m a Brazil Nut! An Aerial Actress. An Artist. A Storyteller. An Animal Lover.
Describe yourself in 3 words!
Love, Justice, Passion.
How did you get involved in acting?
I was always “performing” in front of the camera for my parents. My dad filmed everything we did as kids, and growing up. And I immediately fell in love with the stage and acting, the moment I was introduced to it, when I watched Shakespeare for the first time. I was 5 years old, and I knew I wanted to act.
Tell us about “Petunia”
“Petunia” is a story about a dysfunctional family. A very dysfunctional one! I loved how complex, and complicated the characters were. We were able to gather a very strong group of actors, who all just fell in love with the intricate personalities of each character. So we all just really wanted to be involved in the project. There is so much that we could dive into with the script – whether the roles were “big”, or “small”. When that happens, the process is a joy.
How do you prepare for the role of a character?
I find the “answers” mostly in the script. I like to be able to trust the writers, and that they give us enough information for us to organically discover, the more time we spend with the script and the character. My process may vary from role to role, but I also like to work with a coach when possible. In acting, as in life, it is always good to get perspective from outside oneself. We can get too close to see clearly. I like to dig deep first, and then take a few steps back, to look at everything with distance.
Who is your favorite actress/actor?
Thankfully, there is so much talent to draw inspiration from. The usual ones: Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, Daniel Day Lewis, Diane Keaton, and more “recent” standouts: Christoph Waltz, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne, Jessica Chastain…. Those are some names that come to mind, but there are several others.
If you could choose, what three actors would you really want to work with?
Oh… I could pick any one of those. I guess I will pick the first 3: Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson and Robert DeNiro.
So you Act, Direct, Write, Produce and also you are an Aerialist Acrobat, when do you have time for yourself?
Good question! I also have two dogs, who take up a lot of my time and attention! Lol. I guess all of those things I do are “time for myself”. Those are all things I love. But there is definitely a challenge in loving so many things! Doing a lot of those things from home also makes it even more challenging to know when to switch off and stop working. It can all become a bit of a blur at times. It’s a constant adjustment. You are always trying to shift a few things here and there and prioritize
Which of this activities are the more challenging?
They are challenging in their own way. Physically, circus certainly wins. But it is easier to find time to train my aerial than to work on some of the other things. Something physical is a lot more tangible, and concrete. So it is a lot clearer to know what kind of time you have to schedule and set aside for it, and when, and how often. It is a lot clearer than setting time aside for acting or writing, for instance.
Which do you enjoy the most?
Good question. I think I enjoy whichever one I am doing at the moment the most. They each satisfy an aspect of my life.
How is a regular day in your life?
Taking care of my dogs. A lot of walking, and hanging out with them.
Training: cardio, stretching, + conditioning on rope, and then tricks, transitions and choreography. Reading the trades. Making notes.Making submissions…. Drawing inspiration from videos, TV shows, film, books, music. Writing. I don’t necessarily get everything in, every single day. And, of course, as with everyone else, there is room for flexibility. 😉
How do you stay fit?
My circus training takes care of that for me. I just add in some cardio on the bike. And I want to add some dance classes, if I find some time. Essentially, I exercise 6 days a week.
What’s your favorite quote?
There are many. But I love Gandhi, and this one comes to mind: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
What is it like working with Cirque du Soleil trainers?
Nothing compares. I have been fortunate to get the best training in the world by Cirque’s Victor Fomine. And by other phenomenal coaches who were Cirque performers, and who teach at the National Circus School of Montreal. It is hard to accept any other training once you have been so blessed to learn from them. I am not a fan of circus Group classes, as I think circus is a very dangerous art that needs to be taken very seriously, and taught very carefully, with 100% attention on each student. I come from the Montreal “school of training”, where we get one on one coaching most of the time. And, if ever not one on one, each coach will be responsible for a very small number of students, and will still have their sole focus on one at a time.
How did you got involved with them?
I have incredibly supportive parents, who wanted my sister and I to get the best coaching. So, as soon as they saw how serious and passionate we were about it, they took it upon themselves to search for the very best. And so we went all the way to Canada, from Brazil, anytime we could.
Where do you see yourself in a few years?
Working to the full extent of my abilities. Having my work produced. Combining my skills together in one big, wonderful project. Happy, always.
What do you think of Social Media?
I’m a fan. I think it is a great way to stay in touch with family, friends, work associates, and fans. It should be used responsibly, as everything else.
Where we can follow you?
Best book: Oh… So many… “The Diary of Anne Frank” really impacted me.
Food: I’m a huge foodie…. I just love gourmet food. Italian. And Japanese. And French.
Restaurant: Sooo many…. Katsuya, NOBU, ALFREDO di Roma (they have one in NYC too).
Sports Team: I don’t have a sports team, reaaally…I always cheer on my country in The World Cup, though! Lol And I grew up saying I was ‘Flamengo’ for soccer. But, really, only because I did gymnastics there! Haha My uncle was president of the club at one point too, though, so I guess I am Flamengo. As they chant: “Uma vez Flamengo, sempre Flamengo!” (which means: “Once Flamengo, Always Flamengo!”