The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

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The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

Alumna Lorena Russi, who recently starred in a Women’s World Cup ad, discusses her career in comedy and pro-soccer

Alumna+Lorena+Russi%2C+who+recently+starred+in+a+Women%E2%80%99s+World+Cup+ad%2C+discusses+her+career+in+comedy+and+pro-soccer
Dylan Lopez
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Although both the performing arts and athletics are an important part of Townsend Harris’s culture, few students dare to dream of taking their passions to a professional level. However, alumna Lorena Russi, class of 2009 was a former professional soccer player and is currently an actress and comedian.

While at THHS, Russi left a lasting impression on the school community. “In addition to her ball handling skills and knowledge of the game she was quite the character,” said Girls Varsity Soccer Coach Vaselios Sioukas. “Back then the team used the van for away matches. Lorena always rode shotgun, constantly criticizing my music choices on the radio. It was very funny indeed.” In addition to always making the team laugh, Russi was also a trailblazing leader. “She was a great role model for her teammates and would always defend them,” said Coach Sioukas.

Even to her teachers, Russi’s potential for a career in comedy and acting was apparent. Ancient Greek and Latin teacher George Hagerty said, “She was always very funny in class, never disruptive or clowney, but witty and smart.”  

Reflecting back on her own Townsend Harris experience, Russi told The Classic that she appreciated the community that the school had to offer. “When you leave you realize you are surrounded by the nicest people you will ever meet,” she said. “I learned how to make people laugh there, and it really set the foundation for who I am today.”

However, for Russi, the THHS Election Simulation was the most influential part of her THHS experience and was able to kick start her journey as a comedian. Though she initially received a newspaper role in election simulation, Russi requested to be given a role in the Election Simulation TV Show. After creating and submitting a cameo video featuring her playing Sarah Palin, she was awarded the first diversity improv scholarship from UCB’s theater. “This moment paved the way for my career,” said Russi. “This was the first time I was like ‘I can do this and people think I’m funny.’”

After her time at THHS, Russi went on to play soccer for Queens College while majoring in media studies. She then went on to play professional soccer abroad in Italy. Russi’s soccer journey stemmed from many years of hard work. “I played competitively at a young age, as an 11 year old playing with 22 year olds,” said Russi. Unfortunately, while trying out for the world cup in Colombia, Russi got sick with pneumonia.

Kicking off her comedy career, Russi traveled the world teaching theater through her travels.  Although her career in soccer wasn’t long term, she was able to take lessons learned from playing professional soccer to the stage. Russi said, “Comedy has the same qualities of soccer, showing up and being consistent, being a team player, caring, and putting in the work.”

Currently, Russi finds success in her comedy career, and according to her mini bio, she recently “optioned her original pilot to SONY, was a writer/performer in the CBS 2023 Showcase, and currently travels the festival circuit with her film funded by McDonald’s Latino filmmaker grant.” She also was able to combine her interests of performing and athletics with a Women’s World Cup promotional video

To get a part in the advertisement, “it was an intense audition process,” said Russi. However, even after a rocky eight minute callback where her wifi dropped, and having to utilize a different script, she was able to show her talent and get the part. Russi was flown to London, where she spent two weeks filming the advertisement with Nike. “It gave me so much closure. After missing the world cup due to pneumonia, I still got to be part of the World Cup,” she said.

However, her successful career has not been without its hurdles. “I didn’t understand the machine of it: getting a lawyer, an agent, and a manager,” said Russi. “No one talks about having no days off, no one talks about their emotional well being in business. Comprehending that business and art are in flow instead of in contrast was a big struggle to understand.” Russi also needed to become acquainted with the dynamics of comedy. “It is not a meritocracy. Your sense of what is elite or good is subjective. As long as I was proud of my work, that is all that really matters,” she said. “The industry is garbage sometimes. You can be so perfect for something but so dependent on someone else deciding if you are worthy.”

Russi leaves Harrisites  with the reminder that, “Life is about being present and kind. Fighting to be your most authentic self is the most important thing. 401k is important too, but it is fun to be able to stand up for yourself. Go have fun.” 

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About the Contributor
Carina Fucich
Carina Fucich, Editor-in-Chief
Carina Fucich is a senior at Townsend Harris High School. She loves to play sports and solve puzzles in her free time. Her favorite memory of The Classic is going to Albany to talk to legislators.
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  • M

    María SernaSep 2, 2023 at 5:51 pm

    LORENA RUSSI is a great and a smart actress. Every time I see her on the stage, I feel I’m seeing some one incredible ,
    acting as natural as Nobody else. I wish her the best in her carreer and in her life. GOD bless yo u LORENA!

    Reply