Venice premiere for
acting starlet Grace

Just four years after graduating from UCA’s Acting & Performance degree, Grace Palma has made her feature film debut – starring in Luc Besson’s DogMan.

18 Oct 2023

Grace Palma recently had an experience acting students dream of, as she and her fellow castmates walked the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival for the world premiere of indie movie DogMan, which was nominated for the Golden Lion award. In it, the UCA Acting & Performance graduate plays the extravagant Salma, a teacher and aspiring actress who the lead character, Douglas (played by Caleb Landry-Jones), recalls in a series of memories.

“It was a blessing to work with Luc,” says Grace. “We had full rehearsals, which aren’t common, and so we were able to different explore ways of approaching the scene on set. I was given the space to discover Salma, and it was very collaborative.

“Caleb’s character, Douglas, is very inspired by Salma, and has her on a pedestal. She’s very flamboyant and extra, and so it was really fun to uncover that part of me through her.”

When Grace saw the role advertised on a Spotlight casting call, she sent in an audition tape and attempted to forget about it. “I tried not to think too much about it,” she said. “It was enough to know Luc was going to see my work! Then my agent called saying he [Luc] was interested, so I had a meeting with him via video call, where we talked more about the character and my interpretation of her. In all, it was about two months between sending in the audition tape and accepting the part.”

Grace filmed her scenes in Paris and Normandy across the first half of 2022. “I’ve grown up watching Luc’s films, so just to be involved in this project was so exciting,” she said. “Then to get to go to Venice was just really entertaining! It was exciting and fun to get to watch something that I took part in making.”

Grace Palma on the red carpet of the Venice Film Festival
Grace Palma on the red carpet of the Venice Film Festival.

Grace said of her time at UCA: “I was very much like, ‘I’m here to learn’. The course felt unique to me, getting to learn the different techniques for stage and screen, and then to have the opportunity to work with the film students and be on an actual set. You could experiment and explore without any of the pressure. I could push boundaries and make mistakes.

“And on top of that, it’s just a really sweet and safe place. UCA is so small, and calm, I had no distractions.”

Her advice to current and future acting students is to enjoy every moment and absorb as much as possible.

“Really use the time: it goes by in a flash," she says. "Enjoy it, let loose, try out ideas.”

Grace has most recently filmed a short film, again in France, but her next project is very different - albeit  connected to her studies at UCA. Having learned yoga as part of her course, she developed a passion for the practice, and is planning a month-long retreat to Indonesia to gain her yoga instructor qualifications. 

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