Andrea Fantauzzi has not been out of high school all that long, but the 2013 graduate of Lee’s Summit West High School is making a big splash on the big screen.
Fantauzzi is the main character in the independent World War II drama “Adira,” produced by Lee’s Summit residents Irene Delmonte and Bradley Lincoln.
The film made its debut Feb. 6, but even before then Lincoln and Delmonte were singing praises for the 19-year-old Fantauzzi, a freshman at Oklahoma City College.
“It was really important that she looked the part because in the story she was 13 and it ends when she was 16,” Lincoln said of the main character’s attributes. “In between those years there’s a lot of growth spurts so we wanted to make sure that the actress looked the same and that’s where we found Andrea. At first she just looked the part, then we auditioned her and did a screen test.”
“She was so versatile and so talented,” added Delmonte. “The fact that she was so fresh-faced, we managed to make her look like a 13-year-old and a 16-year-old that’s been weathered. She was definitely great.”
Fantauzzi, a veteran of several theater hotbeds in and around the Kansas City metropolitan area, said to prepare for the role she studied a 13-year-old Lee’s Summit girl’s mannerism. The girl, a successful theater actress in her own right, had no clue she was being studied.
“I did a lot of research for a 13-year-old,” Fantauzzi said via telephone from Oklahoma City. “There is a 13-year-old girl who lives in Lee’s Summit named Ally Banks and we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well through the Coterie Theatre and the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre. I was her driver and her parents paid me to drive her to and from rehearsals. So, really a lot of the gestures I did as a 13-year-old Adira really came from her. She doesn’t know this, but I watched her and how she moved and how she interacted with people.
“That’s how I pulled that one off. When it comes to 16-year-old Adira that was a lot easier for me to do, obviously because I’m 19. It was wonderful to play a character with two different ages. It was a wonderful challenge.”
Biased as she may be, Fantauzzi’s mother Heidi Hagen said she was blown away by her daughter’s performance.
“Of course I knew she was in the movie and I knew she was the lead, but really the movie was her,” Hagen said. “She was pretty much in it from beginning to end, which completely blew me away.”
Fantauzzi, who has two Hallmark short films and a television movie to her credit, was in awe at the reaction “Adira” received at its premiere. She hopes it leads to future roles while she is an undergrad studying acting at Oklahoma City College.
“I enjoyed every minute of it,” Fantauzzi said. “Everyone who I talked to loved it. I got to make some connections with some more Kansas City stars and filmmakers, which was wonderful. It was a great night.”