Anna Lakomy caught the acting bug in the fourth grade when she was picked to play Pocahontas in the school play.
She discovered the part helped classmates get to know her better.
“I was always into academics as well — particularly science — so there was a dilemma on what high school to attend,” said Lakomy, who grew in New York City before her parents moved to Shelton when she was a teenager.
She went to the LaGuardia Performing Arts High in Manhattan, a specialized public school made famous by the “Fame” movie and TV show.
Now a 25-year-old college graduate who lives in both Shelton and Brooklyn, N.Y., Lakomy is about to release her first short film as a director and producer. She also stars in the film.
“Brave Little Soldier” focuses on the issues of U.S. women not being allowed to fight in combat and sexual violence in the military. The film — expected to be about 30 minutes in length — should be ready for the film festival circuit this spring. She’s been finalizing the music and special effects.
Lakomy wanted to make the film to bring attention to these two social issues. She also was inspired by watching other people make short films.
“I just jumped into that water,” she said.
Once completed, Lakomy will attempt to get the short movie shown at film festivals — both general festivals and those specializing in military and social issues.
The self-financed movie was shot last summer in Brooklyn, New Jersey and Stamford. About 20 people have been involved in the project, including actors, editors, musicians and a paid cinematographer. Many of her friends are actors.
“I’ve been amazed at how generous people have been with their time and talent,” she said. “They get involved for the opportunity. And you bribe people with booze and food.”
As an actress, Lakomy has appeared in episodes of a few cable-TV series, short films, student films, independent feature films, and plays. Her big break may come soon, as she has just signed with an agent.
She has since landed a speaking role in a movie with well-known French actor Gerard Depardieume that will be directed by Abel Ferrara, who made the 1992 film “Bad Lieutenant”with Harvey Keitel.
Why this film
Lakomy decided to write and produce “Brave Little Soldier” after reading about how women couldn’t join specialized units in Afghanistan due to the ban on females in combat (a policy the Obama administration has since announced is changing).
She said many women soldiers actually fulfill the same combat-related tasks as men in the military, but don’t get the official recognition. This means they can’t receive certain benefits and promotions.
“It seems extremely unfair,” Lakomy said.
She is “shocked” at the level of sexual violence against women in the military, calling it “an occupational hazard” that is ignored. When women victims do speak up, they often are labeled as mentally ill and discharged, she said.
In her film, Lakomy plays a female soldier who has trouble adjusting to civilian life when she returns from Afghanistan. She can’t relate to her peers back home and can’t get a job due to the economy.
“No one knows what she went through,” Lakomy said.
Lakomy wrote much of her film during train rides between New York and Connecticut. It was the first script she has written.
As an actress, she always wondered why it would take so long to ready a film after the shooting. Now she no longer wonders.
“It’s been a huge learning experience,” she said. “I have more appreciation for what everyone does. A lot of work goes into every minute of footage.”
With today’s technology, most of the editing can be done on her own computer. “It’s amazing because before you wouldn’t have been able to do this,” Lakomy said. “With today’s technology, there’s so much more opportunity.”
Her parents, Zenon and Dorothy Lakomy, are Polish immigrants and live in Shelton. She and her sister, Melania, 20, spend time in both Shelton and Brooklyn.
Anna’s father is a construction worker and her mother has been active in the theater in Poland and New York. They had to leave Poland due to her anti-communist activism.
Her mother trained Lakomy in acting as a young child. “We’re proud of her,” said Dorothy Lakomy, noting that acting can be a tough way to make a living.