Carmel is well known as an under-the-radar place where movie stars can come to relax. It’s a place where the civilians are inured to their luminous presence and are more likely to respect their privacy. Some established Hollywood celebrities even take the step of turning their backs on Southern California and choosing this as their primary place of residence.
Think Doris Day, Kim Novak, Joan Fontaine, Clint Eastwood, among others. Less common is the phenomenon of a Carmel native leaving this little piece of paradise to take a shot at stardom in Tinseltown. One such up-and-coming actress is Eva Augustina Sinotte.
While it would take a while for her to decide that acting was a profession she would choose as her livelihood, Sinotte dabbled in the art as a young girl. “I have two older sisters,” she says. “When our parents would go out on weekend dates, we would make home movies.” It was while attending Carmel High School that the bug truly bit. “My first play was ‘Stage Door’.
I realized that this is what I loved to do. It’s an adrenaline rush like surfing, skydiving or playing music. It doesn’t need to make sense. It just is.”
Though she didn’t study acting there, she attended Monterey Peninsula College and acted in a few productions. Then she took the giant leap, heading south to Hollywood to pursue acting full time. Like countless others before her, she thought she would get an agent and be cast in a television show and feature films immediately.
“It didn’t exactly work out like that,” she laughs. “I discovered that all these dreams took more steps than I anticipated, and it was only up to me to make them a reality. I knew that if I worked hard, I could make a professional acting career a reality.”
One contributing factor to Sinotte’s success so far is the support she has received from her family. “My parents (Robert and Roberta Sinotte) are super encouraging,” she says. I have so many friends who did not have that. I realize what a blessing that is. They do have a bit of an old school mentality though, like ‘Maybe you should get a part time job.’ But right now, I feel like I could always go back to school or create a business.”
One of her sisters, Britta Francisco, was by then a photographer living in Los Angeles. Her husband is involved in film production and they encouraged Sinotte to pursue extra roles. Armed with headshots shot by her sister, Sinotte started shopping around for work and immediately booked a film. Now this was more like it. Though she had no lines, she was ecstatic.
“I remembered the words of my Carmel High drama teacher, Michael Jacobs, ‘There are no small roles, only small actors,'” she says. “I carry that advice with me to this day.” Eventually though, she decided to come home to Carmel, to take a job in retail and re-enroll at MPC to further her general education.
Hollywood had other plans. Within three days of her return Sinotte was offered a role in the CBS series “Criminal Minds.” This led to her big break: a recurring role on ABCs hit show “Ugly Betty.”
“I was a regular extra on “Ugly Betty” for two years,” she says. “It was a joy, and the best acting class I could have asked for.” During her tenure on that show, she worked with and observed Vanessa Williams, Judith Light, America Ferrera and Becki Newton (for whom she performed stand-in work). She left the cast when the production moved to New York and chose to study classical acting techniques, first at Santa Monica College and then California Institute of the Arts, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2014.
Now in possession of a coveted Screen Actors Guild (now SAG-AFTRA) card, Sinotte continued working throughout her time at school, including playing a Marilyn Monroe lookalike in “Desert Noir,” a picture that was featured in the Carmel Film Festival. “It was a dream come true to be in my hometown festival,” she says.
A project the actress is particularly excited about is her role as The Sorceress in seasons two and four in a recent YouTube Premium production, “Escape the Night.” She considers it her breakout role, and an opportunity to work in a groundbreaking medium. “I’m in every episode of season four,” she says. “It’s a new genre, created by YouTube stars Joey Graceffa and Adam Lawson, who also directed. The show is half scripted, half reality. A lot of it is improvised, loosely based on a script. It’s almost like a play—performed live, it feels like anything can and does happen.”
“Escape the Night” is fast paced; a mix of fantasy, horror and adventure shot through with an undercurrent of dark, campy humor. Production values are high. It’s obviously well-funded. The show has exploded on social media, garnering more than a billion views all told.
“The fans are amazing, and incredibly dedicated to the show” Sinnotte says. “They tag me on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and other platforms. The post edited pictures and paintings of my character, role play games and act monologues from the show.”
In addition to acting, Sinotte has been working on her writing chops, contributing blogs on the HuffPost. “I met Ariana Huffington at a workshop,” she recalls. She gave everyone here contact information and I messaged her, telling her I’d like to become involved in that world. I’ll be doing more of that this year.” She’s branched out into commercial and voice-over work and at one point created, acted in and produced a 212-episode art project, “A Monologue a Day,” which she uploaded to YouTube and Instagram. At this point in her life, she doesn’t have much time to indulge her life-long passion for surfing, but still manages to get in the water, especially when she comes home for visits.
In an interview late in her career and toward the end of her life, mega-star Marilyn Monroe explained the determination that led her to the top tier of her profession.
“Someone said to me, ‘If 50 percent of the experts in Hollywood said you had no talent and should give up, what would you do?’ My answer was then and still is, ‘If 100 percent told me that, all 100 percent would be wrong.'”
Though not driven by the same types of demons as Monroe was, Sinotte certainly displays a similar level of resolve. She’s been able to attain a dream of many, to make a living as a full-time actress.
“It’s not my goal to be famous,” she says. But given her strong presence, interesting, engaging, bright personality, rare determination and obvious movie-star looks, the chances are she most likely will be.
Will Smith summed up her mindset when he quipped, “In my mind, I’ve always been an A-list Hollywood superstar. Y’all just didn’t know yet.”