Bertila Damas is an American television, film and theater actress. She was born in Cuba of a Puerto Rican-American Mother and Cuban Father. She is known for her no nonsense approach to acting and life as well as her irreverent sense of humor, her compassion, and a straight-up, heart of gold, no crap kind of energy. She is the eldest of 3 children born to Maria and Francisco Damas. Along with her siblings, Nancy and Francisco, Bertila grew up in NY and Miami.
Her work has been consistently admired in publications like Variety, the LA Times, Curtain Up and more. Some notable quotes; “Damas simply radiates as Clemencia”, “Damas–who has shades of the round-eyed but tough femininity of the original Nora, Helen Hayes–is just as stellar”, “Such lovely emotional resonance in the performances of Jorja Fox, and guest star Bertila Damas (Mrs. Santiago)”, “Bertila Damas has an impeccable charm as well as a regal allure which is most enchanting”, “Damas’ sexual toughness lends electricity to the mother-daughter confrontations”. The variety in these comments gives you an insight into Damas’ impressive range and versatility as an actor, which allows her to easily create and inhabit all manner of multi-dimensional characters.
With a career that spans from the boards on Broadway to films, she really is a treasure trove of an actress. She has also worked in the Off-Broadway and Regional theater scene. Her Broadway debut was playing Juliet in Romeo & Juliet for Joseph Papp’s NYSF on Broadway, directed by Oscar winner, Estelle Parsons. Notably in regional work she played Yerma in Yerma at the Arena Stage & Clemencia in Electricidad at the Mark Taper Forum. She is a Garland Award Recipient.
Her love of acting began at an early age and as a teen she won numerous awards for her school Debate team in statewide and national Dramatic Interpretation competitions, garnering a 3rd place win nationally as a junior high student competing amongst high schools. She began her formal professional work in Miami working in Spanish speaking theater and television while attending college. She went on to study further in NYC. With the help of a dear friend, winning an audition and being accepted to attend the prestigious Circle in the Square Professional Theater School. Fortunately for her, she met Terry Hayden at Circle who introduced her to the work of the Actor’s Studio and Lee Strasberg, where she observed regularly until Strasberg’s death and beyond. Simultaneously she studied with Stella Adler as an advanced acting student and in her acclaimed Script Analysis’ classes.
On the big and small screens she has starred alongside Dan Ackroyd, John Candy, Jimmy Smits, Greta Scacchi, Demi Moore, Vince D’Onofrio and John Larroquette, and worked with directors like Stephen Spielberg, Alison Anders, Tony Scott, Tyler Perry, Gillian Armstrong, and David Milch, among others.
Her films include the cult favorite Nothing But Trouble and Mi Vida Loca where her performance was critically acclaimed in Film Comment magazine. Her most recent film “Dependent’s Day”, is a wacky, wonderful Indie comedy where she plays the hilarious Mom in yet another demonstration of her wonderful acting range.
She has a long list of TV credits, from The John Larroquette Show to King of the Hill, from NYPD Blue to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and NCIS, as well as a recent and memorable turn — as the character Pilar on Grimm. There is a tale told that she has tested for over 20 TV pilots. It does look like Hollywood is trying to find a place for this talented enchantress and this writer hopes that happens sooner than later. On international Spanish television, Bertila is known for her role as the villainous Marta on Angelica Mi Vida for Telemundo. She has been seen and heard in dozens of commercials and voice-overs in both Spanish & English as well.
Embodying generosity and strength of mind with her huge heart, and never forgetting where she has come from, she is eager to spread messages of encouragement. The desire to make a difference coupled with her concern for the fair treatment of actors and better diversity on our screens and in our stories led Bertila to serve on the Screen Actor’s Guild Board of Directors (2010 – 2012) and also on the SAG-AFTRA Board (2012 -2015). She is currently the SAG-AFTRA National Chair of the Ethnic Employment Opportunities Committee (2010-2017).
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