(Mercedes Papalia and Holly Bowman of Ophelia Blooms Flower Co. prepare floral arrangements for the set of “Sorella” on first shoot day in Toronto on March 12, 2022. Photo: Devon Slack, Sorella Director)
As writer, performer, co-director, and producer, Stittsville native Mercedes Papalia is excited to make her latest project, debut album Sorella, a reality, calling it her most vulnerable creation to date. Stittsville Central had the opportunity to catch up with Mercedes to hear about her new endeavour.
A visual album, Sorella is a combination of music and music videos in the format of short films. The result is five short stories told through dance, visuals, and song. Sorella began with Mercedes sitting down one day to play the piano she and her husband were gifted. Despite not knowing how to play the piano, Mercedes played a song, saying “the chords just kind of came through” and the floodgates opened. That song inspired the album as a whole, and thus Sorella was born.
Mercedes says the idea of making Sorella a visual album came when she “kept visualizing so many beautiful stories that can’t be absorbed just through hearing, they needed to be visual as well.” While she jokes that it “feels like an artist cliché to say,” Mercedes credits Beyoncé’s Lemonade, another visual album, with influencing Sorella.
The production of Sorella, the Italian word for “sister” – a testament to Mercedes’ Italian roots – has begun, with one successful production day completed in Toronto. To raise the remaining funds needed to truly bring her vision to life, Mercedes and her team are turning to the popular crowdfunding site, Indiegogo. Perks are available at each level of donation, including intuitive readings with Papalia herself, her custom art, and even being credited in the film. The money raised will go towards bringing in the best of the best in music production, cinematography, lighting, acting, hair and makeup, stylists, and production design, and to help cover costs of locations, equipment rentals, wardrobe, and props. Donations can be made via Indiegogo until midnight on May 9th.
“I’m beyond excited and grateful to be bringing this vision to life alongside some of the most talented creatives out there,” says Mercedes. “My entire life as an artist, including my most formative years growing up in Stittsville, have all led me up to this moment and to this project. Sorella truly is my most vulnerable creative undertaking to date, and I’m thrilled about this journey we have embarked on.”
Mercedes has been singing since she was 11 years old, performing anywhere she could across the City of Ottawa, including as a singer and dancer at the Ottawa SuperEx from ages 10-18 and singing carols annually at the Stittsville Village Square Holiday Celebration. She stopped singing after choosing to pursue acting, only singing here and there. Mercedes trained as an actor in New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto, playing recurring roles on Amazon Prime’s Dystopia and No Days, and appearing in notable shows such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Taken, The L.A. Complex, and Being Erica. However, Mercedes is excited to have returned to singing, “the thing I love the most and am most passionate about.”
Now living on the west coast with her husband and daughter, Mercedes has explored various areas of her creativity. At 18 years old, she started a cake decorating business with her sister, “before the craze of cake sculpting and being able to find YouTube tutorials,” she laughs. This evolved into dessert tables, wedding planning, then interior design. Additionally, Mercedes is an award-winning production designer, working on films, online web series, and commercials. She also added painting to her creative resume when pregnant with her daughter and unable to move around.
Through her “Priestess Collective” program, Mercedes offers intuitive guidance for people – mostly women and artists – to honour and understand the value of their creativity while helping to merge their creative and spiritual sides. Mercedes credits being an intuitive guide as a huge part of why Sorella happened, as speaking to these women showed that “the more we connect creativity with spirit, the better we are as artists.” Mercedes sees art as “creating beauty and admiring beauty,” forming her purpose to live a beautiful life.
When looking back on her time in Stittsville, Mercedes states her favourite thing about the community is “my family, of course,” including her grandma’s property, which has a big influence on her creative projects. Mercedes also fondly recalls singing around Stittsville, especially singing Christmas carols at the village square. Overall, she states “Stittsville is a huge part of who I am. That’s where my childhood happened. It’s deeply ingrained.”
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