This wasn’t the role that Samantha Futerman thought she’d be playing this spring.
Futerman moved from Verona to Los Angeles two years ago, the next step in an acting career that has already included stints at the Paper Mill Playhouse and the role of Satsu in Steven Spielberg’s 2005 movie Memoirs of a Geisha. In Hollywood, she’s gotten roles in TV shows like Up All Night, Harry’s Law and Kroll Show. As winter ended, she was looking forward to being in two episodes of The Big C and to the release of 21 & Over. But on the night of that movie’s premiere, she got a Facebook message that changed everything.
The sender was Anais Bordier, a young French woman living in London. One of her friends had seen some YouTube videos of Futerman, and insisted they looked alike. The young woman, who had been adopted from Korea at three months, discovered she and Futerman shared the same birthday. “So… I don’t want to be too Lindsay Lohan, well…” she wrote, “but…how to put it…I was wondering where you were born.”
Futerman, also adopted from Korea at three months, has now spent the last month contemplating the inconceivable. “I might have a twin sister,” she says. (Movie buffs will remember that Lohan starred in Disney’s 1998 remake of The Parent Trap, a flick about identical twins who were separated at birth.)
Working from different sides of the planet, Futerman and Bordier are now collaborating on a full-length documentary that will follow them as they go from social media messages and Skype chats to meeting in person and taking the DNA test that could confirm that they are twins. Late last week, they started a Kickstarter campaign online to raise the $30,000 needed for the film. If Futerman and Bordier don’t reach their goal, the money is refunded to pledgers. If they raise the money, they must finish the project. Backers have already pledged more than half of the money that the women seek to raise by April 24.
While adoption agencies generally try to keep siblings together, there have been instances in both domestic and international adoptions when they have been separated. Children may have been relinquished for adoption at different times, or placed in different orphanages and foster homes in their native country. Spence-Chapin Adoption Services, which handled Futerman’s adoption, has not responded to her request for information since she and Bordier discovered each other; the agency also has not responded to this reporter’s call and e-mail for comment.
The irony is that Futerman had already begun to look into her past. “I went to Korea this past summer with my mom,” she says. “We got to visit the adoption agency there. We looked at the files, but there was no mention of a sister,” she adds, though that was not the purpose of the trip. “It was a really fun trip to go back to the country. I discovered my heritage and got to eat some great food.”
As Futerman works on unraveling her past, she will be juggling a very full schedule in the present. This is pilot season in the TV business, when the shows are gearing up for their place on our screens. “Two weeks ago I had 15 auditions in 10 days,” Futerman says. It’s a process worthy of the comedy roles that Futerman seems to lean toward now: She’ll drive back and forth across LA, changing clothes in her car to look like the part called for in the script.
The H.B. Whitehorne students who just took the stage this weekend for the “Wizard of Oz” might find it interesting to know that Futerman started acting in Verona’s summer music shows when she was in the third grade. She acted all the way through middle school, and did three season’s in the Paper Mill’s conservatory. “Verona High School let me leave early so that I could work at the Paper Mill,” Futerman says. “Mr. Valente was the principal then at VHS, and he was very helpful and very supportive.” She ultimately left VHS to attend the Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan and graduated with a BFA in theater arts from Boston University.
Futerman doesn’t know where her adoption journey will lead, but she seems confident that it will add to her life. “As an actor, the more information you gather, the more people you can portray,” she says. “The greater the life experience you have to more it will contribute to your art.”
You can watch an initial video that Futerman and Bordier put together below. For more information on their Kickstarter campaign, or to fund their movie, click here.