Tango Shalom has just won Best Film for Peace and Tolerance at the AFI awards for peace and tolerance at the Cannes Film Festival. Earlier in July, we sat down with a star of a film, Judi Beecher. Here’s what we learned.
We met Judi Beecher at the rally for the Battery Park City Community which won the fight to prevent Governor Cuomo from building a large monument for essential workers on their beloved land. While standing on a common ground for the love of grass and trees, we discovered another common ground. Beecher is not only a lover of Downtown but a lover of the arts. She is a multi-award-winning international actress, singer-songwriter, and filmmaker. Talk about a triple threat.
Her most recent project is with the NYC-based-in “Tango Shalom”, a film about a Rabbi who gets a calling from God to become a tango dancer, but his religion prevents him from touching women he is not married to. To get some sage advice, he confides in several other religions. Beecher plays the role of the Rabbi’s wife and tells us all about it – all the way from Cannes Film Festival.
Downtown: How did you get into acting?
Judi Beecher: I studied business and international relations at Cornell University then interned for six months in a French Bank in Paris while modeling on my lunch breaks. I then briefly had a very successful import-export company at 512 7th Avenue in NY, repping upscale French and Italian clothing lines. When my best friend from college asked me where I saw myself in 5 years, I realized I wasn’t completely happy doing what I was doing. So I read the book “What Color is Your Parachute”. I realized that since I was a child I was always performing, everything pointed to acting, singing, and directing, so I closed my business and enrolled in Acting School.
DT: Who did you study under?
JB: I studied with acting masters and founders of the Actors Studio; Uta Hagen, Billy Hickey, Bobby Lewis, and Elaine Stritch at the Stella Adler Conservatory. I also did a two-year Meisner program at Gately Poole and Actors Movement Studio and Playwrights Horizons in NYC. In Los Angeles, I studied with Larry Moss and Gordon Hunt.
DT: Can you name some of your previous works?
JB: I was just on the French TV series, “La Garçonne” the same producers as “Call My Agent”. I was in “Taken 3” with Liam Neeson, Dany Boon’s, “Family is Family”, “Law and Order,” “The Shield”, “Jag” and much more. 😉 I won Best Actress for the Romantic Comedy, “Only in Paris” which I also produced, and I was the voice and motion capture of the lead character Madison Paige in the acclaimed video game “Heavy Rain” where I was voted 25 best VO performances of all time by the “Complex” magazine.
DT: What roles did you have in the making of Tango Shalom?
JB: I played the role of Raquel Yehuda, the Chassidic Jewish Mother of five and the wife of Rabbi Moishe Yehuda who is told by God that he must enter a televised dance competition to resolve his financial problems. I was also an executive producer on the film.
DT: Where did the inspiration for the film come from?
JB: The inspiration came from Jos Laniado who plays Moishe Yehuda and who also co-wrote the film with his brother Claudio Laniado and Joseph Bologna. Jos is an actor, teacher, and also a Tango Dancer, who went regularly to Chabad where he imagined what would happen if a Rabbi got a calling to dance the Tango, and Tango Shalom was born!
DT: What motivated you about this particular film?
JB: Tango Shalom is about bringing cultures and religions together in a sweet, loving, fun way. It exemplifies the power of family, love, support, and being open to others’ faiths. In the film, Moishe is forced to ask a Catholic priest, a Muslim imam, and a Sikh holy man for advice. Together, they hash out a plan to help Moshe dance in the Tango contest without sacrificing his sacred beliefs.
The film industry is a powerful medium, just before meeting Claudio Laniado at the Cannes Film Festival. I had recently had an epiphany that I needed to work on projects that would do something to change the consciousness of the planet, a few years later I auditioned for the lead role! The film is a feel-good film, with a message, fabulous music and dance! I can watch the film over and over again and never tire of it.
DT: Tango Shalom has garnered an 80% rotten tomatoes rating already. That’s quite the high score for rotten tomatoes! How does that make you feel?
JB: It makes me feel fantastic. The film isn’t out yet and already we have won 7 awards. I can’t wait for it to open in theatres worldwide so everyone can see it!
DT: For how long have you lived in downtown NYC?
JB: I’ve lived in Battery Park City/Tribeca for 11 years, it is the longest I’ve lived anywhere!
DT: What is your favorite spot in Downtown NYC?
JB: I love Rockefeller Park and Grand Banks when the weather is nice. I love to sit on the sailboat, have dinner and feel like I’m traveling in the Caribbean, in my own backyard.
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