Actor Diana Salina talks to Close-Up Culture about her love of acting, overcoming self-doubt, performing in Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit”, and much more.
How do you reflect on your early years as an actor and the journey you went on?
I have the privilege of having a multicultural upbringing, being half English and half Italian. As a result, I had the opportunity to train as an actor in both Italy and England. My journey as an actor began at a young age of 4 in London, and I continued my training for 8 years at the Centro Teatro Attivo in Italy. Alongside my acting training, I pursued more traditional studies during my time at the University of Bristol and my year abroad in Paris at the Sorbonne, where I focused on politics and French literature. Despite my academic pursuits, I remained actively involved in acting, studying at the Cours Florent and the Bristol Old Vic, as well as participating in the drama department of the University of Bristol.
After graduating, I took a break from acting for two years and worked in advertising. However, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and I realized that I was unhappy with my job. In a way, the pandemic became a blessing in disguise as it forced me to pause and reflect on my true desires. I asked myself daily, “Diana, what do you really want?” The answer was clear: I wanted to pursue acting, and I wanted to do it in New York. With this newfound determination, I decided to take a leap of faith and apply to acting schools in New York. Fortunately, I was awarded a scholarship to the Lee Strasberg Institute in September 2021. Upon completing the conservatory program, I am now a full-time actor based in New York, actively involved in theater and feature projects.
My journey is still unfolding, and while it may be daunting at times, it is also incredibly exciting. I understand that this journey is a continuous process – it’s all about taking one step at a time.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?
I have a personal understanding of the word “challenge.” While some may perceive auditions as challenging, I actually enjoy them and find them incredibly valuable. Auditions provide an opportunity for self-discovery, especially when they are conducted in person.
However, the biggest challenge I faced was overcoming self-doubt, which persisted until I made the decision to move to New York. I constantly questioned whether pursuing an acting career was the right choice. I viewed it through the lens of a conventional 9-5 job and sought answers to questions that ultimately had no concrete solutions. These questions revolved around security and stability, which are fundamental concerns for artists. Embracing the unpredictable nature of this profession and accepting that circumstances can change in an instant was a significant challenge for me.
Now that I am fully immersed in the acting world, I remind myself daily to approach this uncertainty with a positive mindset. I ask myself, “What’s next?” or I anticipate the exciting people I may meet each day. By framing my thoughts in a positive manner, I find that life becomes more vibrant. It’s the law of attraction at work—positive thoughts attract a positive reality.
And what were some of your biggest triumphs?
One of my greatest triumphs was finding the confidence to let go of my judgments and overanalyzing tendencies, which ultimately led me to quit my 9-5 job and pursue my true passion. This internal victory marked a significant milestone for me. If we consider triumphs as tangible accomplishments or objective wins, then the past two years have been truly magical. Here are some notable achievements:
- September 2021: Winning an international scholarship to attend the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.
- June 2022: Achieving a double award at the esteemed New York Theatre Festival, the largest international theater festival in America. I was honored with the titles of Best Supporting Actress and Best Upcoming Talent for my portrayal of ‘She’ in the production ‘The Super’s Not In.’
- August 2022: Being signed by my Italian agent, Stefano Chiappi Management.
- October 2022: Playing a lead role in a feature film.
- December 2022: Receiving a callback for a co-star role alongside Sydney Sweeney.
- January 2023: Landing the role of Hamlet in an Off-Broadway production of the iconic play at the Flea Theatre in NYC.
- March 2023: Taking on another lead role in a different feature film.
- June 2023: Continuing to play Hamlet and securing the lead role in Jean-Paul Sartre’s play ‘No Exit.
These achievements serve as significant milestones in my journey as an actor.
What does theatre and acting bring to your life?
Acting on stage brings an unparalleled sense of vitality to my life. I can feel my blood coursing through every cell of my body, creating an incredible sensation. This experience grants me a level of self-awareness that surpasses anything else I have ever encountered. Additionally, there is a captivating sense of connection and belonging that arises when I perform. It’s both strange and fascinating how, merely through the energy exchange, I can intuitively perceive the audience’s presence and their varying dispositions. They may be kind, intelligent, interested, or judgmental, and this dynamic fluctuates with each performance.
Acting embodies the essence of our humanity. It revolves around our behaviors—how we live, breathe, speak, and move. When I am entrusted with the privilege of “acting a part” or “playing a character,” it becomes yet another opportunity to delve deeper into self-discovery. Isn’t that remarkable?
Finally, acting has gifted me with a multitude of friendships. Working on Hamlet over the past six months has been an immensely fulfilling experience in terms of the relationships I have formed. My castmates and I have become inseparable, often sharing synchronized thoughts and experiences. It’s truly mind-boggling.
You will be performing in Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit” in July. What excited you about this opportunity?
There are numerous aspects of this play that excite me tremendously. Firstly, I am thrilled by the fact that it is a one-act play, which means we remain on stage throughout the entire performance. A 90-minute journey allows for a complete rollercoaster of emotions, with no interruptions.
I am particularly fond of the play’s single set, a dressing room that serves as a symbolic representation of Hell. The simplicity and symbolism of this setting greatly appeal to me. Moreover, the title itself, “No Exit,” carries a captivating concept that piques my interest.
One of the main sources of excitement for me is the character I will be portraying, Inez Serrano. She is an incredibly strong and fierce woman—a lesbian living in the 1940s. Inez exudes aggression, sensuality, and power. She fearlessly follows her own desires and possesses a sharp intellect, making her the most astute individual in the room. I believe her character embodies Sartre’s notion of existentialism most profoundly, despite occasional deviations due to her sadistic tendencies. I simply cannot wait to bring this dynamic and captivating character to life on stage.
What are your hopes and ambitions for the future?
My aspirations for the future revolve around a global career. I dream of acting in the four languages in which I am fluent, and I am even open to learning additional languages to participate in more international projects. The diversity of humanity intrigues me, and I have a deep love for travel and immersing myself in different cultures. Having the chance to work in various countries would be profoundly transformative and inspiring.
Ideally, I would like to pursue this dream career in both theater and film. If I am able to accomplish this, it would feel like my own personal Cinderella story come to life—a realization of my ultimate aspirations.
Follow Diana on Instagram – @dianasalina