Doing it Her Way

Actress Marlene Forte: Against All Odds

Published on LatinoLA: September 27, 2005

Doing it Her Way

With a name like Marlene Forte, one can only expect to meet the unexpected, that is a woman of great strength and determination, armed with a wicked sense of humor and blessed with that certain fiery Latin charisma. And indeed, Marlene wears her moniker quite well.


Simply because she has, against all odds, climbed her way to the top one tour de force at a time! Her biography is one of a life story that reads more as the perfect script on how to prove Hollywood wrong! Indeed, the talented Cuban native has carved her path in front of the cameras in a rather unconventional way: backwards, upside down and in reverse, yet always and still proving that acting is certainly her forte!

Now she sits comfortably at the top of a career that has only begun to flourish with not one but three film projects hitting theater screens across the nation: the critically acclaimed feature film "Glow Ropes" (Winner of the 2005 NY International Latino Film Festival), the Imagen Award-Winner Theatrical Short "Cuco Gomez-Gomez is Dead!", and the riveting pseudo-documentary "Indocumentados".

The road less traveled has proven to be the path to success for Forte who let thirty years of her life elapse before deciding to follow her dream. In the meantime, she accomplished everything established actresses do after propelling themselves into the big sky called "stardom".

And even during these pre-Hollywood years, Marlene managed to take on a series of stellar roles! She is the little girl who at ten years old graced the stage of her school in a unique rendition of the classic "A Christmas Carroll" as part of the prologue the production team wrote to create additional roles; she is the woman who taught aerobics at the defunct Toby Coburn Fashion Institute in New York; who got married and gave birth to her daughter at twenty; who divorced at twenty three and courageously ventured herself into the world of entrepreneurship by running her own video store dubbed "Arch Way Video" in West New York, New Jersey, during the pre-blockbuster era; who turns her video outlet into a porn store for a Robert Altman production entitled "The street", hoping in vain to meet the director and to get her first big acting break;

Who after six solid successful years as a video store owner turns herself into the female version of a Quentin Tarantino, with an encyclopedic knowledge in films, directors and actors. She is also the kind of person who upon turning thirty, decides that now is the right and only time to focus on her passion, and moves to New York to pursue her acting career.

As foolish and na?ve as it may seem, Marlene did not go against her better judgment!
She joined the LAByrinth Theater Company where she learned the craft of acting, studied
at Lee Strasberg, and worked as a production assistant on a variety of projects. She quickly signed with a commercial agent and went on to book a series of jobs.
And yes, there were still those moments when rent was due, funds were low and Marlene, short $400, accepted a national commercial for a 1-900 company showing up hidden under a red-hair wig and signing her name under a different moniker; there's also the roles of a lifetime such a dressing up as MacDonalds' "purple Grimace" and the "Hamburgler" for a hundred dollars an hour to christen the grand opening of a series of branches in upper Manhattan. Those highlights in one's career that come back years later and subtly turn themselves from forgettable to unforgettable!

In person, Forte seems quite delicately grounded and poised yet bathed in movie star glamour borrowed from Hollywood's hey-days - she is like a rare, glittering gem in a sea of ink-black tuxedos and designer dresses. It might also have to do with the fact that her father named his three daughters after famous Hollywood actresses (Marlene, of course, inheriting her name from Marlene Dietrich) But she rarely is on hand to promote one of her new films or attend yet another award shows. No, instead, Marlene joins a grassroots clique of rare artists who support the art - as opposed to the hype- of acting.

Forte carries a dossier that may rival of some of the most prolific working Latinas in the industry. The talented actress is known for her critically acclaimed lead role in the independent movie "Lena's Dreams". She also secured a lead in the highly popular HBO film "Real Women Have Curves" and Jim McKay's "Our Song". Her television credits include a series of recurring and guest-starring roles such as FX.s "NIP/TUCK", CBS. "CSI Miami", ABC's "The George Lopez Show", NBC.s "Law and Order" and "Crossing Jordan", to name a few. She will next appear in a guest starring-role in the upcoming Fox TV series "Bones", premiering this Fall.

A founding member of LAByrinth Theater Company in New York City, Forte has also recently completed a successful run of the Pulitzer Prize winning play "Anna In The Tropics" at Portland's Center Stage. She also joined the cast of "Young Valiant", a new play by Oliver Mayer performed at Casa 0101 Theater in Downtown Los Angeles.

While securing roles with major studios and TV networks, Marlene did not shy away from independent film projects. This Cuban born actress, turned 'bridge and tunnel' kid, has all along, kept her street smarts, energetic pace and burning fire, and is the first one to admit that her movie career was motivated by her dedicated involvement in the world of the independents.

This time, she is not striking once but three times with three respectively distinguished projects. She co-stars and co-produced the short film "Cuco Gomez-Gomez is Dead!" recipient of "Best Cine-Latino Award" at the 2005 DC Film Festival and the prestigious Imagen Award; she shines in her supporting role as "Miss LopeFraWitz" (the most wealthy Cuban Jewish banana import/export business woman in Miami) in the critically acclaimed feature film "Glow Ropes", winner of the 2005 NY International Latino Film Festival; and delivers a gripping performance in the pseudo-documentary "Indocumentados" in her portrayal one of the undocumented minorities affected by the tragedy of September 11.

Marlene Forte might have done it all in reverse, upside down and backwards, but in the end, she is certainly doing it the right way!

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