Thoughts on Ya Albi

When Christine first approached me with what would become Ya Albi (My Heart), I had to literally tell myself to play it cool. She probably doesn’t know this, or that I had written her name down on my wish list of directors I’d love to work with after seeing “A Bird’s Nest” two years prior.  I guess I played it cool enough … thankfully!

 

Christine wanted to tell a story about immigration in homage to her parents and to update her original concept for a female lead and to encompass current topics, namely the current Syrian refugee crisis – she said the story would be a theme of conquering alienation. Ummm, ok – twist my arm … I’m in!

 

I am an actor because I love to tell stories. This is one of the best stories I’ve gotten to tell. The refugee crisis, war in Syria, and immigration are all topics that are very personal and important to me. I feel privileged to have gotten to talk about them without actually talking about them. I am profoundly thankful for Aya and for this film.

 

This was one of the best productions I’ve been a part of. From conception and rehearsals to principal photography, I was given the space and support to dive into Aya’s world and tell her story as best as I could. I was given answers when I needed them and the freedom to find my own when I needed that too.

 

After the initial “hooray” of knowing this was going to be Moth to Flame’s LA Film Prize submission this year, it was time to get to work. Research, rehearsals, and repeat for a couple of months and then it was time to film on location!

 

I had never been to Shreveport before and I LOVED it. Everyone was extremely nice and accommodating and the town was lovely. Production took great care of all of us (special thanks to Mrs. Duncan!) and the crew was incredibly kind, efficient, and supportive. Then there was my amazing cast. “Aunt Mary” Thoma brought simultaneous complexity and hilarity to set. Wanetah was delightful to work with and the best Julie I could imagine – I am grateful for our friendship on and off screen (Julie and Aya forever!). Adam was a star in front of and behind the camera – I know how hard it is to produce and act, and he pulled it off seamlessly. Every single person involved with this film was wonderful to work with and I would do so again in a heartbeat.

 

I’d like to give a special thanks to my parents for their help and guidance in making this film (and me). Thanks to Darrell, for his ubiquitous support and talent in front of and behind the screen.  To my director, Christine Chen, a million thanks; I hope I did you proud. I’m excited to see the film for the first time on the LA Film Prize screen and to reunite with this special group. Thanks for letting me be a part of it. -Diana

Official Trailer

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