Waking Up Dead follows actor Danny Maldonado, who was once about to conquer Hollywood. but now, just a few years later, his career has flatlined. When he receives a call in to audition for the lead role in the most talked-about new series in Hollywood, Danny vows to clean up his act, but is it too late?

A very uncomfortable comedy about regret, remorse and wishing you could live your life all over again, “Waking Up Dead” focuses on Gabriel Sousa as 35-year-old hard-partying, self-absorbed Danny Maldonado, a once-promising Hollywood actor (his claim to fame was his guest arc as a narcoleptic rapist on “SVU”) whose life and career have hit rock bottom. But when he’s called in to audition for the lead role in the hottest new pilot in Hollywood, Danny sees it as his shot at redemption. Judy Geeson, in her first major screen role in years, co-stars as Lila, the former actress turned real estate agent who senses that Danny is spinning out of control and tries to intervene. Finally, Traci Lords plays Phyllis, Danny’s caustic grade-B agent who drops by to explain to Danny just why there are so many assholes in the world.

Caio Ara plays Eddy, Danny’s long-suffering ex-boyfriend. Angelic Zambrana (“Gossip Girl,” “Precious”) appears as Danny’s sister, Sabrina, desperate to get Danny to reconnect with their dying mother before it’s too late. Patricia McKenzie  (“Cosmopolis”) plays Raven, former nightlife party girl turned Instagram self-help guru.

Starring Gabriel Sousa (“As We See It”, “Westworld”), Judy Geeson (“To Sir, With Love,” “Mad About You”), and Traci Lords (“Cry-Baby,” “Melrose Place,” “The Eastsiders”),  Rounding out the cast is fashion model Nelson Arrieta, Jr. making his feature film debut as Antonio, Danny’s best friend, while newcomers Antonio Ardolino and Bryce Morton appear as Anthony, a former conquest whom Danny can’t quite remember, and Carlos, an internet hookup whom Danny thoughtlessly tosses out the door before he can even put his clothes back on.

The film is available on DVD and VOD, digital platforms including iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Vudu, Vimeo, and local cable & satellite providers.

Distributed by Breaking Glass Pictures, and cast by Barden/Schnee (“The Help,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Dallas Buyers Club”). 

“Waking Up Dead” is written and directed by Terracino, whose prior feature “Elliot Loves” played Outfest and over 75 other festivals worldwide and was picked by HBO and HBO Latino for exclusive cable and streaming. His short, “My Polish Waiter,” played Sundance and New Directors/New Films.

WAKING UP DEAD: Director’s Statement – Terracino

After receiving a small settlement from a premium cable TV series that was canceled due to its treatment of writers of color, myself included, I soured on Hollywood and poured that experience into the writing of WAKING UP DEAD, the story of a 35-year-old Latino actor with a once-promising career desperate to turn his life around (if only he can keep his demons at bay).

I further developed the project in the 2019 PREPPING YOUR FEATURE Sundance COLLAB course led by Eric Eason and Liz Nord. When the pandemic hit, I decided to push forward with WAKING–our cast and crew are majority women and artists of color and I felt a responsibility to make this tiny $75,000 project happen, even asthe bigger ones ground to a halt. We were the ONLY SAG-approved micro-budget project to shoot in LA at the height of the pandemic (September 2020). No one got COVID and our 12-day shoot went off flawlessly. I was proud that this tiny, Latino-centric project showed others the way.

We were profiled in The Hollywood Reporter and on the BBC. Our nimble little project showed that those on the margins can join together and create something beautiful even in the toughest of times.


About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.