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BROOKLINE

Actress reaches for stardom

Camille Solari, who attended Emerson College, is writing, producing, and acting in a series of DVD films. Camille Solari, who attended Emerson College, is writing, producing, and acting in a series of DVD films.
By Joyce Pellino Crane
Globe Correspondent / December 21, 2008
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Camille Solari penned her film "True True Lie" from a memory of a classic story her father once read to her at home.

The Brookline native is writing, producing, and acting in a series of DVD films in the hope of becoming a star on the big screen. The raven-haired Solari, a striking blend of her French and Italian heritage, is trying to take the bull by the horns and drive herself to the walk of fame.

"She's come a very long way in a short while in the last few years," said her manager, Joe Lorenzo, owner of Society Entertainment in Studio City, Calif.

Solari is an East Coast girl who caught the acting bug at Brookline High School, went to Emerson College, and headed to Hollywood to be a star. Those who know her best think her ambition and drive will make it happen.

"She laid her groundwork for the last few years doing these other films," said Lorenzo. "She gained 12 film credits in about three to four years, which is amazing, because she was the lead and the writer in every single one."

She sees her low-budget independent films as steppingstones, providing a platform for her acting talent, teaching her how to raise money, and building a network of contacts. Some of her films are bare-bones productions, but Solari said she's finally starting to get some financial breathing space.

"The budgets are getting bigger and bigger," she said. "Now I'm making movies above $1 million. It's more lucrative for me. More viable."

Co-written with Gary Humphreys, "True True Lie" sprang from an Edgar Allan Poe piece, "The Tell-Tale Heart," a story she and her father shared when she was a child in Brookline. Solari said she wrote the script in 2005 and soon clinched a deal with Castel Film Romania to shoot it in Bucharest. The finished product is pending release to domestic video stores by Genius Products, a division of the Weinstein Co. of New York, by the end of next year.

Though she shared the spotlight with better-known actress Jaime King in the film, it represents her transition to creating her own vehicles.

"She realized she didn't want to play 'Hooker Number One' anymore," said Lorenzo. "She realized she wanted to do something creative and innovative."

Her climb is no surprise to Peter Chvany, a former adjunct assistant professor at Emerson and now the school's postproduction manager for video editing.

"She's got a work ethic," he said. "She is able to focus and put other kinds of gratifications and distractions to the side. She really can order herself and put everything she's got into the moment."

Solari was a performing arts major at Emerson, where she acted in student film productions, Chvany said, during a period when he was teaching film and had a front-row view of her work.

"What I saw was a sweet, driven, more-mature-than-her-years young person willing to work for lots and lots of hours," he said.

If anything, her drive has since intensified, but the challenge is not about gumption and grit. It's about a race with time. Hollywood actresses, say insiders, have a short window of opportunity to become a household name, and even younger starlets are less bankable than their leading male counterparts. So Solari is racing against a harsh reality to reach the finish line sooner rather than later. Her 1995 Emerson graduation would seem to place her in her mid-30s, but Solari is guarded about revealing her personal timeline.

"I'm just interested in promoting my films," she said in a phone interview, and there are several to which she can point. Since 2003, Solari has churned out at least five more scripts and several are in pre- or postproduction phases. Among them, "Boston Girls," another thriller, is in its final stages after it was filmed around Boston last December.

Involved in the film as executive producers are North End restaurateurs Damien DiPaola, owner of Ristorante Damiano, and Nick Varano, of Strega Ristorante. DiPaola has appeared in several episodes of a Showtime cable television series, "Brotherhood," and is a member of the Screen Actors Guild. Filming for her next DVD flick, "The Godmother," is set to begin in March.

Solari's parents, Edmund and Therese, still reside in Brookline. Therese, a retired French teacher, credits her husband, now a semiretired lawyer, with encouraging the young Camille to read a lot. "Some of what she is writing," said the mother, "is what my husband made her read when she was little." Solari attended the Edward Devotion School, a public elementary school near Coolidge Corner, where she played sports, participated in music programs, and starred in a production of "Grease," according to her mother. "She loved to perform," said Therese Solari.

Lorenzo and the rest of the inner circle all said they expect Solari to become a household name. "If she continues on the path she's on now," said Solari's manager, Lorenzo. "Her name will be on festivals, marquees, and in magazines."

Joyce Pellino Crane can be reached at crane@globe.com.

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