In the spotlight: Cera Naccarato talks "Chicago Justice" part and acting

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Catherine (Cera Naccarato) is encouraged by her father, Robert (David Morden), as he declares his mind is working the way it should once again in PROOF, presented by UA Arizona Repertory Theatre.

Cera Naccarato is an actress in UA's professional theatre BFA program.

Naccarato, a senior, recently played Catherine, the daughter of a deceased mathematician, in Arizona Repertory Theatre's production of “Proof.”

Fresh off of her "Proof" performance, Naccarato is set for the spotlight as she prepares for an upcoming role in NBC’s new legal drama “Chicago Justice.” Naccarato will play a role in the show's twelfth episode, which will air in May.

RELATED: Review: 'Proof' proves its worth

Naccarato said she was in rehearsal for "Proof" when she was cast in a bit part for "Chicago Justice." She landed the role after impressing several agents and casting directors during her senior showcase, a part of her major where students perform monologues or songs in front of casting directors or agents.

Theatre wasn’t necessarily Naccarato’s first passion. In fact, her career in theater has its roots in dance. Naccarato's career in dance was cut short after she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. She was then forced to quit dance, and theater was the next best thing.

Naccarato’s first play was “1984,” and she continued to perform in theater throughout high school before going to college. She decided to attend UA after high school, but even then theater wasn’t yet part of her plans.

She said she had planned to go into physical therapy and initially came to UA for the physiology program.

It was then when Naccarato had an encounter with a theater student who had found her lost CatCard.

“I received a Facebook message from a kid in the theater department saying that he found my CatCard," she said. "Then we started talking about theater, and I realized how much I missed it.”

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At that point, Naccarato decided to audition for the BFA theatre program at the School of Theatre, Film and Television. After auditioning, Naccarato was accepted into the program, much to her own surprise.

At first, she considered pursuing physiology in addition to theater.

“For a while, I was like 'I’ll double major and still do science,' but in truth, I was not happy with it and I ended up just sticking with acting,” Naccarato said.

She said her passion for theater was the main driving force behind her decision to pick up acting again after her encounter.

“When you recognize your passion and you don’t allow yourself to have that passion in your life, there’s always going to be something missing,” she said.

One actress in particular influenced Naccarato more than most.

“I’m obsessed with Brie Larson, she’s incredible," Naccarato said. "She was in an indie film called ‘Short Term 12’ that just transformed my perception of acting and what you could do with it.”

Naccarato learned from Larson the key aspects of openness and vulnerability and implemented them in her own acting.

“There’s a lot of room for putting on characters and not being super vulnerable and not being yourself but [Larson] inspired me not to do that,” she said, explaining the differences between acting as a character and being a character.

Naccarato said acting onstage is a unique experience, and while the script might be the same, the way in which the performance is given could feel different on any given night.

“Every night you're going to have a different part that really felt good or felt like it was firing,” she said.

She said there are certain scenes that stand out, and even simple scenes could be the best scenes.

“You discover moments where you can just be and you don’t have to put on anything,” she said.

For Naccarato, theater is a passion and forms a part of who she is as a person.

“[Theater] made me happy in a way nothing else could.” she said.

Editor's note: Cera Naccarato wrote for the Daily Wildcat in early 2016. She is not currently a reporter for the Daily Wildcat.


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