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Capital Conversations: Gabriella Pizzolo

By Kathryn Taleporos and Rachel Wolk | November 6, 2023

Gabriella Pizzolo in “The Hollow”

Photo Credit: Musicians of Ma'alwyck

Many know her as Suzie, Dustin’s girlfriend from the hit Netflix show “Stranger Things,” but actress Gabriella Pizzolo is a person of many talents – recently starring in the Musicians of Ma’awlyck’s short film “The Hollow.”

Growing up in the Capital Region, Pizzolo returned to her roots with this project. Pizzolo said her high school music department, who attended the show, connected her with Ann-Marie Barker Schwartz, the director of Musicians of Ma’awlck.

“I was just delighted to finally be a part of something that they were putting on,” Pizzolo said.

The Capital Region is a key aspect of Pizzolo’s life. Living in the Capital Region was what got her to where she is today and she treasured moments living in “Smallbany” and having so many connections to those around her. Wherever she goes, she sees someone she knows which is such an uplifting feeling.

Her most recent project in the Capital Region focuses on the opera “Nina,” so Pizzolo was able to showcase her opera talents – something she has recently started exploring professionally.

Up until high school, Pizzolo said she mostly sang Broadway style, much of her career was focused on that style of music, especially after starring in Broadway’s “Matilda.” As she entered high school, she began getting involved in music events at Niskayuna High School that centered around the history and art of classical music.

“It honestly changed my mind about a lot of music that I had known before, and how I work with myself,” Pizzolo said.

Having the opportunity to showcase her operatic talents was something that Pizzolo was proud and excited about.

“Getting to finally highlight some of that work that I had put in all of these years in something professional is something I never foresaw, but it feels gratifying, it was very exciting to showcase some of that work,” Pizzolo stated.

In addition to the operatic aspect, the film also centers around the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. Pizzolo’s character has a spooky encounter with the Headless Horseman, and the film has a horror aspect to it – something that drew Pizzolo to the film.

“I am such a horror and psychological thriller person,” Pizzolo said, “If I’m going to watch anything it’s going to be that.”

After acting in shows such as “Stranger Things” and “Pretty Little Liars,” the film continues Pizzolo’s work on projects with horror elements. Horror is not for everyone, but for Pizzolo, it is a big part of who she is.

“My passion for horror was a gateway for performing in the first place,” Pizzolo said.

“The Hollow” was perfect for Pizzolo because not only did it incorporate the horror aspect that she loves, but also the rich history of upstate New York. The legend of Sleepy Hollow originated with Washington Irving in Kinderhook, New York. One of Pizzolo’s favorite parts of the film was the images of the historical houses where they filmed.

“‘The Hollow’ not only is it horror, but it's so based in Halloween and specifically upstate New York culture and I happen to be going to school right near Sleepy Hollow, it kinda felt like the perfect place to resettle into how much I love scary, Halloween horror,” Pizzolo said.

In filming, Pizzolo said that this project was unique because it was an independent film. Independent films are different from high-budget, big projects like TV shows. Pizzolo talked about how she loved the creativity of working on an independent film.

“With this, I felt like I had a variety and freedom that I wouldn’t necessarily have in a non-independent film,” Pizzolo said.

There were different challenges in filming, including a limited time frame. Pizzolo said that they only had three days of filming. The limited time frame meant that things changed as it went along. Pizzolo discussed how there were many aspects of the film that changed throughout filming. The premier was the first time that Pizzolo saw the film in its entirety.

“It came together in a way that I am excited and proud of,” Pizzolo said.

“The Hollow” is now available to stream on YouTube.


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