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Film Festival’s Cinema Vanguard Award Fetes Rooney Mara

Academy Award-nominated actress recognized for her supporting role in film 'Carol'

Actress Rooney Mara on the red carpet Friday night at the Arlington Theatre. She received the Cinema Vanguard Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
Actress Rooney Mara on the red carpet Friday night at the Arlington Theatre. She received the Cinema Vanguard Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. (Fritz Olenberger photo)

Joining the company of some very esteemed past awardees, the Cinema Vanguard Award was bestowed on New York native Rooney Mara by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Friday night at the Arlington Theatre.

She has also been nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her role in Carol (2015).

The coveted Cinema Vanguard was created with the intention of honoring actors with the tenacity to forge new ground in their craft.

Past Vanguard recipients were Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones (2015), Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio (2014), Amy Adams (2013), Jean Dujardin and Berenice Nejo (2012), Nicole Kidman (2011), Vera Farmiga (2010), Peter Sarsgaard (2010), Stanley Tucci (2010), Christoph Waltz (2010), Kristin Scott Thomas (2009), and Ryan Gosling (2008).

The evening’s Q&A was moderated by Entertainment Weekly correspondent Joe McGovern who flew out from New York for the occasion.

Actress Rooney Mara answers questions on stage Friday night at the Arlington Theatre. Click to view larger
Actress Rooney Mara answers questions on stage Friday night at the Arlington Theatre. (Fritz Olenberger photo)

McGovern said, “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award.”

Mara actually arrived early to the event and walked the red carpet lined with photographers and paparazzi 20 minutes ahead of schedule. She looked stunning in a white lace top and mid-calf skirt ensemble that featured cut outs at the hip and a high-necked tuxedo-pleated front piece.

The look was completed with high black stiletto heels with an ankle strap.

“My mother took me to the movies when I was young. The actress Gena Rawlings had a big impact on me."

McGovern noted that Mara got her first major leading role in the $35 million remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, one of the movies in the Elm Street franchise.

Rooney was born Patricia Rooney Mara in Bedford, New York. Her father was NFL football team New York Giants executive Timothy Christopher Mara. Her grandfathers were Wellington Mara, co-owner of the Giants, and Timothy Rooney, owner of Yonkers Raceway, and her grand-uncle is Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney, a former ambassador to Ireland.

Actress Rooney Mara accepts the Cinema Vanguard Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Friday night at the Arlington Theatre. Click to view larger
Actress Rooney Mara accepts the Cinema Vanguard Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Friday night at the Arlington Theatre. (Fritz Olenberger photo)

She is the great-granddaughter of Art Rooney, Sr., the founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers football franchise. 

She studied international social policy and psychology at New York University and graduated with a degree in 2010. Her area of study focused on nonprofit organizations, as her family has a tradition of involvement in philanthropic causes.

While at NYU, she also started acting and appearing in student films. Inspired by her older sister, actress Kate Mara, she started to audition for acting jobs at the age of 19.

She landed her first lead in the independent film Tanner Hall (2009), which was shot in 2007. Her director, Tatiana von Furstenberg, was delighted with her nuanced performance, saying, "Still waters run deep."

It was during the making of Tanner Hall that she changed her professional name to Rooney Mara. In 2010, she was noticed by critics in the small but memorable role of the Boston University undergrad Erica who dumps Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network.

Director David Fincher subsequently cast her as the lead in his The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) trilogy.

Actress Cate Blanchett sent along a short video message that complimented and congratulated her Carol co-star for her award and for the pleasure of working with her.

She stated, “Rooney is the type of person who doesn’t fill in a silence with a lot of words. Her emotions run deep.”

Following the video clip. Carol director Todd Haynes came to the stage to present the Cinema Vanguard.

Mara said, “This award means so much to me. But I really need to thank my director. Directors are so important to me. They create my role as an actor, and they have the vision.”
 

Actress Rooney Mara is interviewed by Entertainment Weekly correspondent Joe McGovern Friday night at the Arlington Theatre. Click to view larger
Actress Rooney Mara is interviewed by Entertainment Weekly correspondent Joe McGovern Friday night at the Arlington Theatre. (Fritz Olenberger photo)

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