It’s not often you log onto your Instagram and find a DM worthy of note. But when someone slid into Bria Vinaite’s, it changed everything. Having posted memes, dance videos and plenty of joints, director Sean Baker saw great potential in her happy-go-lucky wit and outgoing blue-haired selfies. After being flown down to Orlando and meeting her screen (and soon-to-be surrogate) daughter Brooklynn Prince, Vinaite turned from an Instagram star to a poignantly raw film debutante, delivering the performance of a lifetime. Born in Lithuania and emigrating to New York at about six years old, Vinaite empathised with the outsider feelings of the residents in Kissimmee, Florida, and put her all into becoming Halley. In the cyber age of facades and fake news, her humour, natural charm and emotionality is refreshing to find online, on screen and upon meeting her in person. We caught up with Bria Vinaite to find out how she stepped into the world of the Magic Castle Motel, and what it means for her future…
As a film debutante, what was your relationship like with movies before The Florida Project? Do you think it changed?
For sure! I really love to read and I’d say that was my love before, I never really watched many movies or much TV. But now I’ve ended up watching a lot, catching up. It’s so funny because I feel like sometimes I’ll be watching things and friends will be like “that’s so great” and I’m like “that scene must’ve been so hard to film” (laughs). It totally changed my view on cinema because now I think of the technical aspects and what’s going on in the background and stuff. I feel like I’ve learnt so much, I’d never been on a set before and it was so amazing to shoot with film. I asked a million questions a day!
What was it like acting the first time with Sean Baker?
Sean is so talented. I really admire the fact that he puts so much thought into the littlest details, that other people might not pay attention to. Every frame every thing in the background, it’s all so thought out. I love all his films. He has such a unique vision and does things in such an unconventional way. In the industry there’s a lot of pressure for things to be done in a certain way, but Sean can say he didn’t do it that way and he still has this amazing, unique product.