Sarasota actress, producer spreads spiritual message

BRADENTON -- Last Christmas, Nicole Abisinio received a gift she'll never forget.

Sent to her by a filmmaker in Tampa, it was a movie script that told a true story of a man who loses his job as a police detective and becomes a high school baseball coach, which leads him to the most important investigation of his life.

"I just knew that was the story," said the 34-year-old producer, actress, casting director and Sarasota native. "It spoke to me so much."It was a gift Abisinio wanted to share with the world.

Abisinio decided to take on the film and created Gabriel's Messenger Films, her Sarasota-based production company that will focus on family-themed films, to produce it. The film, "The Investigator," is the company's first project, but will be Abisinio's seventh.

"It's my third company but first dedicated to family, friendly content and set up for the Lord for him to work through," she said. "That's the content we need today."

Filming for "The Investigator," which was written Richard Romano, upon whose life the main character's life is based, began in January and took place in parts of St. Petersburg, Tampa and Brandon. The film, which took four weeks to shoot, is in post production and is expected to be released this fall.

"It's so inspiring and its going to touch people," she said.

A portion of the film's profits will be given to charities.

Being a spiritual vehicle has become a part of Abisinio's personal life.

"Faith is a personal journey," she said. "Nobody can do that for you. It's very personal for everyone. I always knew the Lord but I didn't know how to live my life for him and to represent him properly."

"I've come so far in my life," she added. "Knowing God is like getting to know a person."

A Rollins University graduate, Abisinio majored in theater and economics. She is a eucharistic minister and faithfully attends two churches in the Tampa Bay Area, St. Mary's Our Lady of Grace in St.Petersburg and St. Martha

Catholic Church in Sarasota. Father Julio Rivero, who ministers at St. Mary's, has become one of her mentors.

"Learning from him has been a great blessing in my journey," she said. "He's the one who helped me to know and understand that God is love."

Other projects Abisinio's resumé includes producing movies "Kid's Cafe" (2011), "Prime of Your Life" (2010), which she also co-wrote, and "Gutter King" (2010).

As an actress, she's appeared in the film "Broken Flowers," which starred Bill Murray, and "She Hate Me," which was directed by Spike Lee.

She also was featured in the TV series "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit." She also appeared in stage productions, playing the lead roles in "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Romeo and Juliet."

The message of "The Investigator" is to show how trials and tribulations can strengthen one's character. On Thursday, Abisinio was the guest speaker at the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton Leadership Prayer Breakfast to celebrate National Day of Prayer. Before some of the top officials in Manatee County, Abisinio conveyed that message.

"The main point I was trying to get across is that people understand suffering is not necessarily a bad thing because it's for God's glory and good will come from it," she said.

Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter @_1NickWilliams