WRITER / DIRECTOR
Robert Alaniz – Producer / Director / Writer
Award-winning filmmaker, Robert Alaniz and his company Sole Productions have been making full-length feature films in Chicago, Illinois and surrounding suburbs, since 2003. He and his films have been featured on WCIU the “U”, FOX NEWS, ABC Morning News with Linda Yu and Sylvia Perez, WGN Radio with Andrea Darlas, WLS Radio with Jonathan Brandmeier.
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His past films include Timeserver (2004), Barrymore’s Dream (2005), Angels In Our Midst (2006) which is currently being distributed by Bridgestone Multimedia Group, and THE VISION (2009). As a writer, Robert found his nitch with his first comedy D.I.N.K.s (Double Income No Kids) (2011), followed by You Don’t Say! (2013) and Mind Over Mindy (2016), all of which earned him several film festival awards including “Best Comedy”, “The Auteur award”, “Audience Favorite” and “Best of Fest.” Mind Over Mindy stars Larry Thomas (best known for his role as the Soup Nazi on TV’s Seinfeld) and features the very funny, Jim O’Heir (who played “Jerry” on NBC’s Parks and Recreation). Robert’s current film Heavens to Betsy (2017) also stars Jim O’Heir and newcomer, Karen Lesiewicz in the title role. His second faith-based film is also a comedy that explores the subject of faith and unanswered prayers. It tells the story of Betsy Simon, an aspiring children’s book author who comes to a better understanding of God’ will after each and every one of her prayers, from past to present, are suddenly answered all at once, erasing her past and altering everything in her present. Heavens to Betsy is being distributed by Gateway Films / Vision Video.
His latest film, Heavens to Betsy 2, picks up where the first film left off continuing the story as Betsy Simon’s new novel “Heavens to Betsy” (her account of what happened in the first film) starts climbing the bestsellers list, presenting all new comedic circumstances and problems when she decided to tell the world that what happened in the book is true.
BEST “WINDY CITY” FEATURE: “Mind Over Mindy” – 2016 BLOW UP Arthouse Film Festival, Chicago, Illinois BEST OF FEST: “Mind Over Mindy” – 2016 Illinois International Film Festival, Chicago, Illinois BEST COMEDY: “You Don’t Say!” – 2014 Illinois International Film Festival, Chicago, Illinois BEST COMEDY FILM: “You Don’t Say!” – 2013 Route 66 Film Festival, Springfield, Illinois AUDIENCE FAVORITE AWARD: “You Don’t Say!” – 2013 Route 66 Film Festival, Springfield, Illinois BEST COMEDY: “D.I.N.K.s (Double Income No Kids)” – 2012 Route 66 Film Festival, Springfield, Illinois ILLINOIS AUTEUR AWARD: Robert Alaniz (for D.I.N.K.s (Double Income No Kids) – 2011 Illinois International Film Festival, Chicago, Illinois BEST FEATURE FILM: “Barrymore’s Dream” – 2007 Route 66 Film Festival, Springfield, Illinois
Classically trained, Karen is a professional actress based out of Chicago.
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She graduated from the University of Notre Dame, performing both on-stage with the campus improv group, the Humor Artists, and on the track as a long-distance runner. She graduated with a degree in marketing and etched her name into Notre Dame Athletics’ storied Letterman award winners.
Karen has on-camera training from many of Chicago’s well know studios: The Green Room, Vagabond School of the Arts, and Acting Studio Chicago. Most recently she has appeared on TV in commercials for Shorewest Realtors and the Brookfield Zoo. Karen was very excited to don her beret and reprise the role of Betsy Simon in “Heavens to Betsy 2”, and of course, work with comedic genius Jim O’Heir once again.
Life off camera, Karen enjoys themed parties, leaving sporting events early, and temporarily jumping on the latest health craze (ask her about the juicer she’s forgotten about! Sorry, mom.)
The state of Illinois is home to some of our country’s greatest historic attractions.
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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 and Recreation was brought to life on a weekly basis for seven seasons 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, Boston Legal, 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 also be seen alongside Steve Carell and Keira Knightley in Focus Features’ Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Since the final season of Parks and Recreation, Jim has kept himself busy with appearances on TV shows like Brooklyn 99, Long Island Medium, and Hot In Cleveland. He will also soon be seen in Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky starring Daniel Craig and Channing Tatum. Jim most recently won a Daytime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Guest Performance in a Drama Series”, The Bold and the Beautiful.
As for life off screen, O’Heir stays busy with a potpourri mix of activities including; boating, international travel, 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 assured, he is Smarter than a 5th Grader.
Jim currently resides in the Los Angeles area with his two dogs.
Another familiar face to the Sole Productions’ films belongs to long time character actor…
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…Steve Parks, who has played supporting roles in past projects like YOU DON’T SAYand 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/
Gary Gow – TANDOM DACKERY
Gary began performing on stage in high school and has continued honing his acting skills through community theater productions, primarily with the Palos Village Players of Palos Park, IL.
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Notable productions include Dracula, The Sunshine Boys, Barefoot in the Park, and the world premiere of The Secret of Insignificance. He has been seen on television’s The History Channel in two separate episodes of Investigating History with Bill Kurtis. Gary has also appeared in the short film, Bubble-Rama, with Annie Parise (Law & Order) and Ed Kerr (Men in Trees) as well as Michael Keaton’s The Merry Gentleman. Rounding out his acting endeavors, he has taken on commercial, print, and voiceover work when time allows.
Gary and his lovely wife currently reside in a southwest suburb of Chicago. After attending Moraine Valley Community College, Gary earned his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Animal Science (Equine Science specialization) from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Before returning to the classroom as a junior high school science teacher, he made his living managing horse farms in southern and central Illinois.
Gary has been involved with Sole Productions for over 15 years as an actor in “Timeserver” (2004), “Barrymore’s Dream” (2005), “Angels in our Midst” (2007), “The Vision” (2009), “D.I.N.K.s (Double Income No Kids)” (2011), “You Don’t Say!” (2013) and “Heavens to Betsy 2” (2019). Then as co-producer & assistant director on “Mind Over Mindy” (2016) and production coordinator on “Heavens to Betsy” (2017).
Chris Galvan – ROBERT TRAINER
Chris Galvan is a Chicago native who is very excited to have worked on Heavens to Betsy 2 as his feature film debut. He holds a B.A. in Theatre from St. Ambrose University and has acted professionally in shows such as…
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Phantom (Count de Chandon), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Matt), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Chip Tolentino), and Christopher Shin’s Dying City (Peter/Craig). Many thanks to the Good Lord, Brooke, Shellee, Cory, Mom, Dad, and the outstanding cast and crew. “I have got to make sure that Youtube comes down to tape this.” -Michael Scott
Ruth Kaufman – ANNE WESTPHALL
Ruth Kaufman has had roles in independent feature films, short films, web series, national commercials, videos for The Onion and more. Her thousands of voiceovers include e-learning courses, medical narrations, commercials and assorted characters.
More about Ruth Kaufman
She has performed with improv teams and at many corporate events. Ask what she did on America’s Funniest People and at the Season 8 live judges round of America’s Got Talent.
Ruth is also the award-winning author of six novels, including MY LIFE AS AN EXTRA and MY LIFE AS A STAR, which may or may not be based in part on truth. She presents writing and acting workshops on a variety of topics. Learn more atwww.ruthkaufman.com and www.ruthtalks.com.
Michale Nicole – PATTY
Michaele Nicole was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois. At an early age, she exhibited a passion for the arts. After she graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans with her BA in Speech Communication & Theatre Arts, she returned to…
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…Chicago to pursue her professional modeling and acting career.
Throughout her career, Nicole has starred in numerous theatrical plays and in recent years, she has made a solid transition into television and film acting. The Black Theatre Alliance Awards nominated Nicole for Best Featured Actress for her outstanding performance in ETA Creative Arts Foundation’s production of The Trip.
For nearly a decade, Nicole was the face of Vitale Olive Oil haircare line and she has done numerous print modeling gigs. One of her most popular modeling jobs was when she was featured in Ebony Magazine as a Clairol model for their product advertorial.
Nicole is currently filming and preparing for upcoming projects. She loves bringing characters to life. As a woman of faith, Michaele Nicole is especially ecstatic and grateful to join the cast of Heavens to Betsy 2!
Diana Kleinaitis – VERONICA (RONNIE LOVE)
I was born and raised in Chicago, IL and surrounding suburbs. I attended Hinsdale South High School and later attended and graduated from National Louis University with a Bachelor’s of Arts, Master’s in Education and an endorsement in…
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After I graduated, I began teaching at a special needs school. During the summers, I worked as a background actor for various movies, commercials and television shows. I stepped away from teaching, at least for now, and worked as a stand in, body double, as well as a background actor. My first movie was Savage Youth in which I had a small part playing a waitress. After that, I played Veronica aka “Ronnie Love” in the movie Heavens to Betsy and just recently, I had the opportunity of watching myself on the Fox hit TV show Empire, season 4 finale.
Then one day scrolling through my emails, I read that Sole Productions was going to make a Heavens to Betsy 2 and that my character Veronica aka “Ronnie Love” was also going to return. I was so excited! I just love playing her! Veronica is so energetic and confident and she doesn’t let anything stand in the way of her dreams.
Becca Morello – TAMMY MOORE
Becca Morello is honored and excited to be a part of Heavens to Betsy 2 as Tammy Moore! Although a native to the Chicagoland area, Becca attended UNC Asheville where she double majored in Drama and Mass Communication.
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When she returned to Illinois, she worked as an intern at O’Connor Casting Company before ultimately gaining full-time employment at Your Performing Arts Center in Yorkville, Illinois. In June 2016, Becca left her full-time position to pursue her acting and modeling career and has never been happier!
Becca performs both on stage and film. Recent stage work includes two credits with Buffalo Theatre Ensemble: Improbable Fiction (Ilsa) and The 39 Steps (u/s for Annabella/Pamela/Margaret). Recent film credits include: The Most Important Thing (Emily) produced by the Harold Ramis Film School at Second City and a commercial for Wisconsin Tourism which is currently airing regionally! As for modeling, Becca has had the privilege to represent a variety of brands and designers including Project Runway Finalist Shernett Swaby, Lewis N. Clark, BhavyJ Designs and KI Furniture. You can find out more about Becca at www.beccamorello.com
Sharon Dalla Costa – MRS. POSCOTTI
Sharon Dalla Costa is so happy to reprise her role as Mrs. Poscotti in Heavens to Betsy 2 – A Robert Alaniz Film. Sharon is a Chicago actor known for her work in films such as D.I.N.K.s (Double Income No Kids), B-Roll, and Cooke Concrete.
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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 2 for making a wonderful film together and creating so many good memories.
Vic Vargo – BETSY’S FATHER
Born and raised in Michigan as the youngest of 4 children, Vic Vargo traces his earliest interest in film making to the time he visited the shooting locations of Twin Peaks in Snoqualmie, Washington, met David Lynch and watched the…
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…world premiere of Twin Peaks – Fire Walk with Me with its cast and crew.
After moving from Michigan to Chicago he responded to a Chicago Fire featured extra casting call for a “Computer Nerd”. After filming this brief scene with Emmy winner, Eamonn Walker (“Chief Boden”) his passion from years ago was re-ignited and he immediately signed up for both Acting and Improv classes at Chicago’s Second City to prepare himself for a wide variety of roles.
In addition to Second City, Vic has on-camera and theatrical training from other Chicago studio’s such as Vagabond School of the Arts, and Chicago Actors Studio. Vic’s first independent film roles were School For Gods and Broken Bridge in which he played a news anchor and mob boss, respectively. He most recently just finished filming his first lead role as Detective Dixon Wells in the independently produced TV pilot, Triangles, releasing soon.
Vic was especially excited to film the role of Young Betsy’s dad, Mr. Simon, in the original Heavens to Betsy: “Robert and the crew were such a pleasure to work with! “says Vic. “Even though I was originally cast in a small role, Robert improvised the scene on the spot and graciously expanded the role. Actresses Rebecca O’Connell (Betsy’s mom, Mrs. Simon), Louisa Heavner (Young Sally) and London Clark (Young Betsy) are especially a joy to work with and made for a very fun set. We are all thrilled and blessed to back for the sequel and look forward to bringing Robert’s expanded vision of Betsy’s journey to life!”
Heavner Louisa – YOUNG BETSY
Louisa Heavner is known in our family as “the flashback girl”. She’s been the young version of the main characters in Redemption Way, Heavens to Betsy and now Heavens to Betsy 2.
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She’s a lightning fast soccer player, fantastic pianist, and has the quickest wit of any 9 year old! Her creativity and spunk are hard to match. She loves pretending and coming up with new characters.
London Clark – YOUNG SALLY
London has appeared in both Heavens to Betsy and Heavens to Betsy 2. Her other acting credits include: Disney’s Little Mermaid as Flounder, Tessie in Annie, Tiny Tim in Christmas Carol, Zuzu in…
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…It’s A Wonderful Life, one of the Lullabye League in Wizard of Oz, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast as Chip and Disney’s Mary Poppins, as Jane. London also competes on a competitive dance team. She is a seasoned dancer in tap, ballet and jazz. She will be a 6th grader next year at St. Paul’s Lutheran where she is involved in their musicals and their drummer in the band.
Ronald P. Smith
After a forty year-plus career in radio and five music-related books authored, Ronald P. Smith is currently…
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…Database Coordinator for an Alsip, Illinois-based online municipal backflow-tracking management firm. Ron’s association with and support for Sole Productions began when he wrote a review of D.I.N.K.s (Double Income, No Kids) for the IMDB and has continued through three more films.
Mr. Wagoner first met Director Robert Alaniz in the early ’80’s when Alaniz was shooting one of his first independent films at…
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…a local nightclub. The two became good friends and Wagoner agreed to help finance Alaniz’s next film Miles from Nowhere. Mr. Wagoner then moved to Tennessee in 1983. In 2007, he reconnected with Alaniz via the Internet. After viewing Alaniz’s film Bitterblue (aka Angels in our Midst), Wagoner was instrumental in getting the film aired on a local TV channel WEPG in Tennessee. Since then, Mr. Wagoner has served as Executive Producer on four Sole Productions films; D.I.N.K.s (Double Income No Kids) (2011), You Don’t Say! (2013), Mind Over Mindy (2016) and Heavens to Betsy (2017). He presently resides in Whitwell, Tennessee.
Max Nayden’s first encounter with Robert Alaniz was in a Caribou coffee shop. Max had just purchased movie magazines and wanted to…
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…learn more about filmmaking. He had noticed a newspaper clipping posted in the window about a local man who premiered a full-length feature film in 2004 called Timeserver. As fate would have it, the man in the article came in to the same coffee house and sat down. Max recognized him from the newspaper article.
He nodded to the window and asked “Is that you?” Robert answered “Yeah. We just had a premiere.” Robert then noticed the film magazines Max was reading. “You interested in filmmaking?” he asked. Max replied “Yes. I’d like to get out of what I’m doing now and into my real passion.” Robert grinned and said “Well, I’m making another one and if you’re interested, then come to the next pre-production meeting.” Max attended and it was the start of over a decade of films and a longstanding friendship. “It is one of those things that simply bolsters the notion of faith.” says Max.
Max Nayden has been Executive Producer on four of Sole Productions’ previous films. Heavens to Betsy is his fifth.
Kristen Anchor – Casting Director
Kristen’s passion for TV and film is lifelong. Early on, she found opportunities in the industry as an extra and prior to Heavens to Betsy worked as a Production Assistant on films including…
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…Public Enemies and Transformers. Kristen also worked as a PA on Sole Productions’ Mind Over Mindy music video shoot for the song “Oh Mindy” by the Aaron Williams Band, where she first met Robert. Kristen grew up the south suburbs of Chicago and received her BS in Biology from Iowa State University. She is employed full-time as a Regional Director of Operations for an assisted living company.
Kristen lives in Kankakee, Illinois with her husband Ted and their Chocolate Lab, Sophie.
Peter Spero – Music Composer
Peter Spero is a music composer/producer/keyboardist and performing artist from Chicago IL. Signed to three major labels, MCA, RCA, and Chrysalis Records, Spero has composed and…
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…recorded for noted producers Mike Chapman (Blondie), Don Dixon (REM, Smithereens), Frank Filipetti (James Taylor), Frankie Sullivan (Survivor), and others. In 2015 Spero was selected for the Grammy Ballot in the categories “Best Music Video” and “Best Instrumental Soundtrack” for scoring the film “Special Olympics Summer Games and Torch Run”. Spero is also a licensed drone pilot.
SHARON DALLA COSTA
JOSHUA MARIE BROWN
ENRIQUE LUIS VEGUILLA
VERONICA (RONNIE LOVE)
PARTY GUEST #1
PARTY GUEST #2
JERRY (CHURCH PATRON)
PRODUCTION STAFF MEMBER
PRODUCER / WRITER / DIRECTOR
RONALD P. SMITH
ENRIQUE LUIS VEGUILLA
FIRST ASISTANT CAMERA
MUSIC COMPOSER & MUSIC SUPERVISOR
ASSISTANT TO ROBERT ALANIZ
POST PRODUCTION AUDIO ENGINEER / SOUND EDITOR
ENRIQUE LUIS VEGUILLA
LOUIS R. STEPHENS
ST. JOHN’S LUTHERAN CHURCH (Country Club Hills, IL)
GATTO’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT AND BAR (Tinley Park, IL)
THE EDGE COFFEE HOUSE (Crete, IL)
ILLINOIS MEDIA SCHOOL (Lombard, IL)
ST. PAUL COMMUNITY CHURCH (Homewood, IL)
McGONIGLE DENTAL ASSOCIATES (Tinley Park, IL)
GEORGE ALLEN SHOES (Blue Island, IL)
DENTAL SPECIALISTS OF NILES (Niles, IL)
WINGATE HOTEL (Tinley Park, IL)
THE FRANKFORT PUBLIC LIBRARY (Frankfort, IL)
The Galvan home (New Lenox, IL)
John Barancyk’s Condo (Crown Point, IN)