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Actress walks into 'Secretariat' role

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Carissa Capobianco hadn't intended to audition for the role of Sarah Tweedy in the Walt Disney Pictures film "Secretariat."

The 22-year-old actress happened to walk into her talent agency's office at just the right moment -- her agent at J. Pervis Talent in Atlanta was videotaping auditions for the role and handed Capobianco the script.

"I didn't even know what I was auditioning for," she remembered. "I thought it was just a small part that shot for a day or two. Next thing I knew (my agent) was telling me that I booked the role for Diane Lane's daughter in a film called 'Secretariat' and they were flying me away the next week for two months on set."

The former Gwinnett resident, whose parents, Vince and Colleen Capobianco, still live in Dacula (her younger brother Rocky is quarterback for Dacula High School's football team), plays Penny Chenery's eldest daughters in the film, based on the true story of the race horse Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner. The film stars Diane Lane as Chenery and is Capobianco's biggest project to date. Her previous work includes guest stints on the TV shows "One Tree Hill" and "Tyler Perry's House of Payne," as well as roles in a number of smaller films -- "Dance of the Dead," "The Marc Pease Experience" and "Fab Five."

Capobianco left Dacula High School her junior year to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting after her initial interest in appearing in commercials became a desire to be on TV and in films. It's a budding career that recently took Capobianco on a stroll down the red carpet for the Los Angeles "Secretariat" premiere alongside Lane, John Malkovich and other big stars.

"It was surreal," she said of that experience, one she shared with her parents. "I just couldn't believe that I was there. Everything just seemed like it was going in slow motion. It was magical."

"Just watching (Carissa) and everybody yelling her name," Colleen Capobianco said, "I could never probably explain (the experience) to anybody. It was like a dream."

Watching their daughter on screen during the premiere was another incredible experience for the Capobiancos.

"I think she just really, really becomes her character. She's gifted in that way," Vince Capobianco said. "After the initial shock of seeing her on the big screen I was just able to enjoy the movie and see her be her character."

While she has a couple of projects potentially in the works, Carissa Capobianco can't yet say where we might next see her. But we will be seeing her again.

"I crave to be on set," she said. "The most difficult aspect of (my career) is the waiting in between roles. I love my job and even if it's only two months before I book the next thing it feels like two years. The best part is all of the excitement that goes on in between actually booking the role and filming it and then finally seeing the final project."

Capobianco's dream role is to play the leading lady in a romantic film.

"I love movies like 'Pride and Prejudice' and 'The Notebook' and have always wanted to be those girls," she said. "Who knows? Maybe one day I can be."