Actor Writer Director Producer


Sara Oliva is an award winning actress born in Milwaukee, and is currently residing in the southeast where her focus is on TV and Film.


She recently, she garnered critical acclaim for her performance in the world premiere of "The People Downstairs" at the acclaimed American Stage.


Her Chicago credits include Northlight Theater, Bailiwick Repertory, Mary-Arrchie Theater, Lifeline Theater, The Artistic Home, Walkabout, Chicago Dramatists,  Lyric Opera of Chicago, and many others. 


In New York she performed the role of Sicinius in Shakespeare in the Parking Lot's "Coriolanus", ( NY Times Critics Pick. ) She also performed at The Drilling Company, Dixon Place, Hybrid Theatreworks, FringeNYC and others.

Regionally, she has performed at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, GableStage, American Stage, Mad Cow Theatre, The Berkshire Theater Group, Double Edge Theater, Orlando Shakespeare Theater (Playfest), Orlando International Fringe Festival,  and The Alhambra Theater.

​She received her MFA in Acting from Brandeis University, where the foundation was in Suzuki, a Japanese Martial-Arts Actor Training. She also studied at The National Theater Institute, and you can currently find her on many online zoom classes.




  • WON "Best Actress" A View From the Bridge Critics' Pick Orlando Sentinel

  • WON "Best Supporting Actress" Top Girls Critics' Pick Orlando Sentinel

  • WON "Best Ensemble" Between Riverside and Crazy Theater Tampa Bay Awards

  • NOMINATED "Best Supporting Actress" Between Riverside and Crazy Theater Tampa Bay Awards

  • FINALIST "CD Erica Arvold 2 Take Challenge"

  • WON  Director "Best Production" Qualia  Be Original Theater Festival


Marvelously demented  Creative Loafing  

 Dominates the stage Arthur Miller Society

Ingenious The Weekly Challenger

Hilarious  Splash Magazine

scene-stealer  Palm Beach Magazine

Heart-wrenching Orlando Weekly

Rips your heart out Orlando Sentinel

 Fun to watch  New City Chicago

Touching and memorable Broadwayworld

Powerful  Talkin' Broadway

You are not likely to forget Sara Oliva

Nails one of the wildest onstage transformations imaginable The Miami Herald  

 Tour de force,  a bravura performance 

Riveting, breathtaking Broadwayworld

Makes it worthwhile Windy City Times

Remarkable  Tampa Bay Times

It's Oliva who rivets the attention, in all her awkward, exuberant and deeply affecting glory Tampa Bay Registry

 A portrayal so nasty it has to have been based on a real life experience  Chicago Tribune

 Intensely strong performance Freeline Media







Re LIONESS Movie Poster.jpg

director... molly smith

writer/producer... sara oliva

mother... sara oliva

child... lily Jane

                      writer's statement

This film was inspired during my time volunteering at a domestic violence safehouse. (A shelter whose location is only known by those who work or volunteer there.) One Thanksgiving, my job was to play with the kids so their mothers could focus on preparing the food for the feast later that evening. While playing the card game "War" with the children, one of the mothers entering the kitchen caught my eye. On her arm was a massive bruise, swallowing half of her arm, completely disguising the color of her skin. I watched her as she pulled ingredients out of the kitchen cabinets; if she was in any pain, inside or out, it didn't show.

The children paid no attention. Bruises like these were an imprint on their everyday life, as much as coloring books or legos. They paid no attention to the purples swirling into the blues and greens- a palette of crayola violence. The mother continued to cook, and all around me children were laughing, screaming in joy, chiding each other. She paid attention to nothing but preparing the food. There was a meal to prepare, a feast to be had, joy to be spread as far these walls would allow.

They say that once you are a mother, your heart lives outside of you. As I was putting this story to paper, it came to me in images rather than with a lot of dialogue. My hope is that the unspoken strength of the bond between the mother and child is palatable in every frame.

I do not know what happened to that woman from that morning, but I like to imagine that she is free and safe from the fear which brought her there in the first place. This film was inspired by her bravery, fragility, sacrifice, resilience, and above all, unyielding love for her child. It is for her. It is for all the lionesses who roam through the jungles battered, but brave.



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behind the scenes



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500 Terry Francois Street

San Francisco, CA  94158

Tel: 123-456-7890

Fax: 123-456-7890

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 "Oliva gives one of the finest performances... Watching her in this star turn will tug at your heartstrings and also give you so much hope...part Lisa Loopner nerd, part Eunice from The Carol Burnett Show, and part Joy/Hulga from Flannery O'Connor's "Good Country People"... Ms. Oliva's "Mad" Mabel is played to perfection..the Patron Saint of Loners and Shut-Ins. She will break your heart more than once, but she will also give hope to all of those lonely people, those on the cusp of existence, the forgotten lot, the invisible, the downtrodden, the Eleanor Rigby's of the world. " Broadwayworld