aside class=”gnt_em gnt_em__fp gnt_em_vp__tp gnt_em__el” aria-label=”Video – Donations pouring in for Ukraine”>
Since being discovered as a preteen at Broadway Bound in Lyndhurst, Sofia Black-D’Elia has played a wide range of characters, from deadly serious — a mysterious cab-rider-turned-corpse on HBO’s “The Night Of” — to broadly hilarious (the tough, spoiled niece in Fox’s “The Mick”).
In her most recent role as newly-sober Samantha Fink in “Single Drunk Female,” the actress says she’s discovered something about herself.
“On a personal level, I am definitely finding myself more drawn to things that lean funny,” she says. “I think I just prefer being around funny women to self-serious men.”
In the case of “Single Drunk Female,” which airs at 10:30 pm Thursdays on Disney’s Freeform channel (new episodes stream the next day on Hulu), the funny women are director and executive producer Leslye Headland (“Russian Doll”), executive producer Jenni Connor (“Girls”) and Simone Finch, the show’s creator and writer on multiple episodes. The cast features a great ensemble of mostly women, including Ally Sheedy as Sam’s self-absorbed mother. Black-D’Elia says Sheedy has become a friend and mentor.
“Jenni and Leslye are both incredibly funny, intelligent, quick and thoughtful creators,” says Black-D’Elia, 30. “Often, it’s the people I work with and relationships I build that are mostful on me as a performer. feel very lucky to count them as collaborators and friends, and their guidance definitely helped shape the tone of the series, and also the character of Sam, and how I play her.”
Black-D’Elia’s rendering of Sam’s journey— which begins with her as a workplace drunk, assaulting her digital media boss with a phone receiver — has helped Season 1 of the series win a 100% Critics’ Rating on Rottentomatoes.com. In a recent review of the show in The New Yorker, the critic calls her “wonderful,” and praises her portrayal of an alcoholic as “neither a maverick nor a demon but simply a regular person.”
“Sam is finding she doesn’t know herself as well as she thought she did, and that despite being closer to 30 than 20, she has a great deal of growing up left to do,” says Black-D’Elia. “I think that discovery is incredibly universal, whether you are an addict or not.”
North Jersey roots
Maybe growing up in Clifton as a “regular person” herself has helped Black-D’Elia portray down-to-earth, relatable characters. Her parents still live in Clifton, and her father, Anthony D’Elia, is a state superior court judge in Hudson County.
Acting wasn’t something Black-D’Elia thought of as a career, “or even as a worthwhile hobby,” when she took a commercial acting workshop at Broadway Bound, which she describes as her “dance school.”
“The instructor was a children’s agent, and was the first person to tell me — and more importantly, my mother — that I might be able to do this for a living,” she says.
She was a senior at Clifton High School when she was cast as Bailey Wells in the soap opera “All My Children.” Soon after, she won the role of Tea Marvelli, a conflicted lesbian cheerleader, in MTV’s “Skins,” forcing her to choose between attending Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers or accepting the job. She chose to play Tea.
Roles in the last season of “Gossip Girl,” the CW series “The Messengers,” and the Michael Bay-produced science fiction film “Project Almanac” followed. When that movie premiered in 2015, Black-D’Elia’s grandparents told Kelly-Jane Cotter of the Asbury Park Press that they were traveling from Lakewood to North Jersey to see the movie for the first time.
Grandmother Joan D’Elia described a living room production of “Grease” that hinted at future success. “She was maybe 6 years old,” D’Elia told Cotter. “But she wanted to do it right. She was always serious about it, always had perseverance. She had it in her as early as that.”
“I gotta give her mother a lot of credit, because she took her to New York and sat with her through I don’t know how many auditions,” her grandfather Tony added. “Sofia’s been through a lot of experiences and has handled all of it well — She went to London and to Africa, all by herself, to work on movies.”
Black-D’Elia’s portrayal of murder victim Andrea Cornish the following year in “The Night Of” led to more prominent roles, including Frannie Latimer, the high school teacher who has an affair with her student in the limited Showtime series “Your Honor” starring Bryan Cranston. She has also performed on Off-Broadway in the play “Usual Girls,” and starred in the film “Viral,” directed by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost.
Black-D’Elia married Joost, perhaps best known as the director, with Schulman, of the documentary and cautionary tale “Catfish,” last October. The two live in Brooklyn, where she is an avowed cat person.
“I’ve really enjoyed falling in love with (acting) as an adult because I’ve gotten to establish myself as a person outside of this,” she told W Magazine in January. “It is not my identity, it’s my job, and I love it and feel really grateful to do it.”
But it is Clifton that she says she calls “home.” “That should give you an idea of how often I come back,” she says. “Family dinner at my parents’ house, a trip to Applegate’s with my girlfriends, a drive around town by myself… Whatever it is, it’s just ‘home.’ And it always will be.”
More:Check out these TV stars in ‘Viral Vignettes’ — and maybe star with them, too
More:Is bingeing ‘The Sopranos,’ ‘Ted Lasso,’ ‘The Morning Show’ a bad thing? | Ervolino
More:Ukrainian-American and DWTS star Maksim Chmerkovskiy out of Ukraine, safe in LA
Cindy Schweich Handler is the editor of Montclair and Wayne Magazines, and a writer for The Record and Northjersey.com who frequently covers health issues. Email: [email protected]; Twitter: @CindyHandler