Name: Claudia Sulewski
Notable past credits: The 26-year-old makes her film debut at SXSW. She got her start on YouTube, where she has nearly 2.5 million subscribers.
SXSW project: “I Love My Dad,” which took home the Feature Film Grand Jury Award at SXSW on Tuesday.
First impressions of Austin: “It was definitely chillier than I’d imagined. This was my second time going and my first time was more for fun. It’s such an energetic city and you just wanted to ride around on scooters the whole time.”
The comedy is led by Patton Oswalt and tells the story of a father looking to bond with his son, leading him to accidentally catfish his son by pretending to be a waitress his son ends up falling for.
“It was so rewarding to hear laughs,” says Sulewski, who plays the waitress Becca. “There is so much about ‘I Love My Dad’ that is undeniably uncomfortable and cringey, and hearing the squeals and feeling that tension in the room, it heightened all of the emotions that are in the film.”
Sulewski says she identified with Becca’s role in helping the father and son characters reconnect. “My character was really a vehicle to help tell the story and bring the father and son together again, and I think the relationship between parents and children is so complicated and dynamic, and that is really what I resonated with the most, having parents that are very close in my life,” she says.
With her first acting credit under her belt, she’s now focused on how to bring together all of her passions, from YouTube to film.
“The goal is finding the juggle of the many different hats that I’m wearing, from creating content online and other projects that are in the works right now, and I want to continue to hopefully book more projects through acting,” she says. “That is truly the thing that is so, so exciting, and I can’t wait to see where this movie goes. Finding a way to make it all work together, which I think is so possible in these times now. They all really do feed into each other, when you’re doing it from an authentic and vulnerable angle.”