Monday, October 18, 2010


Marilinda Rivera, the winning model of Project Runway, Season Three, landed the coveted female lead role of Vera Clemente today in Richard Rossi's long-awaited baseball pic on the life of Clemente. In addition to her acting and modelling career, she travels from Hollywood to her native Puerto Rico performing charity work with disadvantaged children like the real Roberto and Vera Clemente.

"The casting process was reminiscent of the search for Scarlett O'Hara in 1939," casting director Cathy Becker said. "Richard Rossi has written the best role for a Latina actress I've ever seen. Thousands applied and tens of thousands called and wrote anyone involved with the project or who had some connection to Mr. Rossi. We had a team of casting directors reviewing tapes. In keeping with Mr. Rossi's spiritual principles, we polled the group conscience. There were a handful who were so good that the decision was agonizing because we knew we had to say no to actresses who gave Oscar-worthy audition performances."

Upon hearing the news, Marilinda Rivera was "absolutely ecstactic" according to her manager, Uri Eiger. Rivera first gained international notoriety when she beat out fourteen other finalist models from around the world in Bravo's successful model competition, hosted by Heidi Klum. Klum also was a judge in the competition, along with Ivanka Trump. After winning, Marilinda was featured and photographed in a fashion spread in Elle magazine.

She joins an impressive cast consisting of 2004 Olympic athlete and actor Jamie Nieto in the role of Roberto Clemente, and Isaac Bar-jonah as Manny Sanguillen. Like the real life Sanguillen, Barjonah is a student of the bible. In addition to his acting, he specializes in urban ministry to youth and has been on staff as a youth pastor at Hollywood Presbyterian Church and Burbank Presbyterian Church.

E-mails and letters are pouring in from around the world, expressing gratitude a feature film on Roberto Clemente is finally getting made. 2004 Olympic high-jumper Jamie Nieto has been practicing baseball in preparation for playing Roberto. The film is written and directed by Richard Rossi, who is an Academy Award-considered biographical filmmaker. Rossi's last biographical film "Sister Aimee: The Aimee Semple McPherson Story" was voted the greatest guerrilla film ever made on the list of the top 100 films shot for under $75,000.00

Rossi grew up in Pittsburgh watching Roberto play as he sat in the right field bleachers of Forbes Field and Three Rivers Stadium. As a nine year old boy, he cried his eyes out for days when he heard the news Clemente perished in a devastating plane crash on a mission of mercy to take food and medical supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He started writing his version of the Clemente story at nine years-old and is finally bringing his vision to the big screen.

"I've been pregnant with this vision nearly forty years," Rossi said. "I see this beautiful movie in my head that captures the magical feeling I experienced watching Roberto play in Pittsburgh."

The film will show Clemente's grace and fury as the greatest right fielder of all time and the theme of the movie is a verse from the Good Book "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Following Clemente's example of sacrifice, cast and crew are sacrificing their time and talent, volunteering to work for free. Shooting started this past July in Pittsburgh.

Donations are desperately needed and are tax deductible. So far, $10,000 has come in through Facebook and Rossi is attempting to raise an additional $15,000 over the next six weeks. All tax deductible donations in the next six weeks are matched by an anonymous big baseball donor. Send check to "Eternal Grace", 5030 Whitsett Avenue #1, Valley Village, CA 91607 or donate online by visiting and send to the email: Let's hit a home run together!

To see photos and credits of the leads and the director, click links below:
For Marilinda Rivera (Vera Clemente Click:
For Jamie Nieto (Roberto Clemente) Click:
For Director Richard Rossi Click: