Karen Lesiewicz / BETSY SIMON
Born and raised in Schaumburg, IL, Karen Lesiewicz attended Schaumburg High School where she graduated top 5% in her class and spent much of her time training and competing with the track team. It was in Athletics, which became Karen’s first passion, that she excelled and won multiple state titles in track and cross-country, before going on to run and represent the University of Notre Dame. Having been introduced to improv comedy in high school, she continued that pursuit by performing with Notre Dame’s improv group, the Humor Artists. Improv allowed Karen to integrate both passions, being on-stage and toeing the starting line, into her everyday life. She graduated with a degree in marketing and etched her name into Notre Dame Athletics’ storied Letterman award winners.
Upon graduation, Karen returned to Notre Dame to complete a semester long graduate program in Film and Television studies. She has on-camera training from many of Chicago’s well know studio’s such as: The Green Room, Vagabond School of the Arts, and Acting Studio Chicago. Most recently, Karen has appeared in commercials for Home Chef, eBay, and PHP Insurance. “Heavens to Betsy” is Karen’s first leading role in an independent feature film and has been a noteworthy milestone and catalyst in her young career.
Jim O'Heir / PASTOR JOHN
The state of Illinois is home to some our country’s greatest historic attractions. The tallest man in the world, the first skyscraper, sophisticated farming equipment via John Deer and the premiere aquarium were all born in the state whose Native American meaning translates into “Tribe of Superior Men.” This leaves little surprise that one of prime time television’s most loveable losers, Jerry Gergich of NBC’s “Parks & Recreation,” is brought to life on a weekly basis by Chicago’s own funnyman, Jim O’Heir.
While mostly recognized for playing the office dingbat on another one of Greg Daniels’ successful brainchildren, O’Heir’s edible face has graced the small screen on a regular basis for the last 15 years. Credits include; “ER,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “Ally McBeal,” “Diagnosis Murder,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” Star Trek Voyager,” “Just Shoot Me,” and countless other critically acclaimed shows. It wasn’t long before Comedy Central fell in love with Jim and gave him one of the leading roles in their original program “Strip Mall.” In 2012, Jim can be seen alongside Steve Carell and Keira Knightley in Focus Features SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD.
As for life off screen, O’Heir stays busy with a potpourri of activities including; boating, international travel, poker and seizing as many opportunities as possible to cross paths with old Hollywood greats. He is also a self-proclaimed pet lover and supports various organizations that work to protect the well being of animals. While nobody will make your belly ache like Jim, you might not want to carpool with him, as he is very open about his appreciation for Barry Manilow and the occasional Broadway show tune. Other hobbies include cooking and watching great television and game shows. Rest assure, he is Smarter than a 5th Grader.
Jim currently resides in the Los Angeles area.
Steve Parks / BRIAN
Another familiar face to the Sole Productions’ films belongs to long time character actor Steve Parks, who has played supporting roles in past projects like YOU DON’T SAY and D.I.N.K.s (Double Income No Kids) and last seen as Tom in MIND OVER MINDY. Other films include CURIO and A STOLEN JACKPOT where he lived the actors dream playing twins (Of course one was evil, it was a movie after all)
AS SEEN ON TV, he has also been in several commercials (these days mostly having to do with either Hospitals, Senior Medications or Gambling) for Lennox Air Conditioners, Safe Auto and Kentucky Lottery.
Stage credits include REQUIEM FOR A HEAVY WEIGHT and ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST and dozens of others.
Embracing a lifelong love for the muses, he enjoys learning how to play a new musical instrument every couple of years, and graduated from an Art School in Pittsburgh despite failing art in the first grade for not coloring inside the lines. Not because he’s a rebel, just bad eye had coordination and gets bored easily.
For more information, please check out his website at: http://steveparksactor.com/
Arianna Lexus / SALLY
Arianna is a professional actress born and raised on the South side of Chicago. She is currently working on the Netflix T.V Series “Clash of the Vampires” and another series playing the leading role as well as producing. Arianna has appeared in the feature films He Was Paradise shot in Atlanta, GA, M.I.A.Y.O shot in Miami, FL School for Gods, Wrong Package, Not Another Black Movie, and 3825 Forgiveness, all shot in Chicago, IL. She is also a spokes model for “Maxi-vac” and has modeled for music videos such as “So Strong” by MTV Artist John Hill and “Idea of Love” by Austin Fillmore.
“Being cast as the role of Sally in Heavens to Betsy was such a blessing.” says Arianna. “I instantly felt a connection to the character immediately after my first audition. It just felt right. I truly enjoyed every minute of bringing Sally to life, especially during the more powerful and emotionally driven scenes between her and Betsy. Working with Karen Lesiewicz, who plays Betsy, was wonderful. We had such great chemistry on set which was so vital to our roles and she is just so fun and sweet. Working with the director, Robert Alaniz was very inspiring to me. To see that level of passion, Commitment and determination that he showed for his film was truly something special.”
Arianna is a self proclaimed “adrenaline junkie” with a passion for acting. She has played everything from a vampire assassin to damsel in distress. Arianna enjoys the challenge of different roles striving to achieve more to allow her to grow in the industry.
Joshua Zumhagen / MARK BRADY
Joshua Zumhagen was born and raised in Berwyn, IL. He was the third of nine children and developed an interest in acting at a young age. After being homeschooled throughout his school career, he went on to earn a Bachelor’s in Marketing at Governor’s State University.
Joshua has been acting for the last 10 years, appearing in the theatrical productions of Fiddler on the Roof, Beauty and the Beast, and Cinderella at the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center in Cicero, IL. Heavens to Betsy is Joshua’s first feature film, however he has also appeared as an extra in several Hollywood productions like The Dark Knight, The Express and Wanted. He has also appeared recently in various short films. As a model, Joshua has worked on a variety of sets, such as The Fray’s music video for “You Found Me”.
Kimberly D. Garrett / MIRANDA "RANDY"
A “sweet home” Chicago, IL native, Kimberly D. Garrett’s longtime and primary creative outlet is writing. She has written an assortment of advertisements for multiple large companies including Disney, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, The Harlem Globetrotters, and Six Flags Great America. Kimberly began her formal training at the legendary Second City Theater in Chicago. Now a Second City Alumni, Kimberly is certified proficient in Improv, Musical Improv, and Sketch Writing. She has created, written, organized, promoted, and performed in numerous shows on many stages.
Kimberly flourished as an On-Air Radio Personality and co-host of The KNOCKOUT Show on The Source 95.1FM. In addition to many television appearances, she was casted in 3 independent films within a year’s time. Kimberly was blessed to travel the United States and overseas performing her upbeat and highly relatable stand-up comedy. Returning to the theater, she now writes stage productions and teaches Improv and Sketch Writing classes. Kimberly has recently written ‘LOCKED IN’ a hit faith based stage production, created to tickle the funny bone and touch the hearts of God’s people. Kimberly is also in the process of writing her first book titled, ‘Peculiar.’
M.J. Starshak / CAROLINE HOPPER
As one of nine children, MJ Starshak found it hard to stand out. So when she saw a chance to play a supporting role in a faith-based feature film, she jumped at it. With the support and encouragement of director Robert Alaniz and her friends in the Chicago acting community, MJ threw herself into the role of Caroline Hopper.
Prior to Heavens to Betsy, MJ appeared in independent films Hooray for the Madness and 1+99 as well as student films Cathy and Animus. She has also appeared in several industrials and commercials for a Wisconsin hospital, a St. Louis casino and a Chicago-area mortgage company (featuring HGTV’s Ty Pennington). She has also modeled for Travelon, Groupon, Vrdolyak Law Group and Knowles.
Outside interests include domestic and international travel, physical fitness and cooking.
Sharon Dalla Costa / MRS. POSCOTTI
Sharon Dalla Costa thoroughly enjoyed her role as Mrs. Poscotti in “Heavens to Betsy,” a Robert Alaniz Film. Sharon is a Chicago actor known for her work in films such as “D.I.N.K.s,” “B-Roll,” and “Cooke Concrete.” She has also been in many commercials. She is grateful to God for the many blessings in her life; her family and friends for their continued support; and Robert Alaniz along with the crew and the cast of “Heavens to Betsy” for helping to make her dreams come true.
Ruth Kaufman / ANNE WESTPHALL
Ruth Kaufman (Anne Westphal) has had numerous roles in pilots, independent feature films, web series, videos for The Onion, national and local TV commercials and more. She has recorded hundreds of voiceover projects including e-learning courses and film roles, and has performed at assorted improv venues and storytelling shows.
Ruth is also the author of four novels and a novella including The Bride Tournament, which Publisher’s Weekly calls an “emotionally satisfying romance.” Learn more at www.ruthtalks.com and www.ruthkaufman.com.
Diana Kleinaitis / VERONICA “RONNY LOVE”
Diana’s first opportunity with the “big screen” was the movie The Break Up. Diana responded to an open casting call on the radio. After waiting in a very long line, she dropped off her head shot & resume and ended up getting a call the very next day. Since then, Diana has been working as a background extra at for various productions throughout the city.
While working towards her Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science, she continued to work on various movies, TV shows and commercials during the summer. She went on to earn a Master’s in Education and a Special Education endorsement. Diana was able to teach during the school year and during the summer was able to be a background extra. She became a stand- in for a main character on the Fox show Empire for Season 2 and was a substitute stand-in for the TV show Exorcist and APB, where she also worked as a body double.
Diana’s first independent film was called Savage Youth in which she played a waitress. Heavens to Betsy followed where she was cast as the character “Veronica Lupinski” (aka Ronnie Love). “Robert is amazing!” says Diana. “The cast and crew were very helpful, supportive and a joy to work with. I learned so much from everyone. Working on Heavens to Betsy was a wonderful and exciting experience.”
Rebecca O’Connell / MRS. SIMON
Rebecca O’Connell was very happy to be a part of the cast and crew of Heavens to Betsy. This is Rebecca‘s fifth feature film and opportunity to work with Sole Productions. She was seen previously in The Vision, D.I.N.K.s (Double Income, No Kids), You Don’t Say! and Mind Over Mindy. Rebecca currently resides in the south suburbs of Chicago, Illinois with her husband, two children, and two basset hounds. By day, Rebecca is a teacher. In her spare time, she enjoys singing, Latin dancing, and traveling.
Giovanna Dal Santo / RECEPTIONIST
Although Giovanna Dal Santo, has lived in Chicago most of her life, at a young age, she moved to Arizona with her parents, where she fell in love with television and radio production. While in high school, her teachers presented her with a ‘Best Hostess’ award for her work with the television program ‘Issues in the Law,’ in which she interviewed attorneys on a number of different subjects. She returned to Illinois and received her Baccalaureate of Arts degree in Mass Communications. Giovanna became involved with theatre in college. She played the role of Mary in the The York Nativity Play. She has since been involved with modeling work for bridal shows under model Tracy Walker-Kinkade, commercial work, independent films, and multiple web series. Although acting is Giovanna’s passion, she also has another passion. Giovanna has a Master of Arts degree in Counseling, and is a licensed professional counselor. She is extremely grateful and blessed to have this opportunity to work with Robert, and the entire cast and crew for Heavens to Betsy.
IMDb Name/ID: Joanne Dal Santo 5057918
Louisa Heavner / YOUNG SALLY
Heavens to Betsy is Louisa’s second movie role where she again was cast as the “flashback girl” for the lead roles, this time playing the younger version of the title character, Betsy Simon. She is excited to be part of this project and even more excited to watch herself on the big screen. When she’s not busy practicing piano, or doing her schoolwork, or tickling (or being tickled by) her 5 siblings, she enjoys snuggling with her favorite cat, Glow.
London Laura Sofiya Clark / YOUNG SALLY
Heavens to Betsy was London’s first film, but not her first production. London has been active in community theatre where she has portrayed Flounder in Disney’s Little Mermaid, Tessie in Annie, Chip in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol. London is very active in dance and competes on a competitive dance team. She is a straight A, 4th grade student at St. Paul’s Lutheran School by day and an active 9 year old by night.
Rima Sabal / MICHELLE
Rima graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Illinois at Chicago. While she loves to sing, her main passion is acting. Rima has spent most of her acting career on stage and is new to film. Heavens to Betsy was her first film production. Her most recent projects include recreations on American Greed with Kurtis Productions and portraying Mom in The Dowry written and directed by Columbia College Student Albulena Shabani. She is also a member of Grove Players and has performed with the Downers Grove Community Theater for three years. During that time she has played Chris Gorman in Rumors, Blanche Cooke in Night Watch and Maddie in Making God Laugh.
Missy (Musette) / WISHES
Missy (Musette) is seven years old. She is what is commonly known as a “tuxedo” cat because of their black coat, white paws and breast. Contributing to Missy’s unique appearance is what looks like a white lightning bolt on her forehead.
Missy was adopted by Director, Robert Alaniz in 2010 from PAWS, a local animal shelter in Tinley Park, Illinois. Although Heavens to Betsy was her first film, she has aspirations of becoming a famous TV commercial celebrity like Morris the Cat.
She lives with her humans, Robert and Carol Alaniz and loves licking salt, eating French onion dip, watching TV until she falls asleep and hanging out high on top of the family stackable dryer in the utility room of their home.