Some may say that former South African Intelligence operative, Tony Schiena lives an exciting and double life. One minute he is a man engrossed in the defense sector, working with and alongside intelligence agencies such as the CIA, NSA, and NATO (the list goes on and on), and on the other hand, he is on a film set working with some of Hollywood’s top actors. Schiena is an enigma, running around the world all while heading his own successful security intelligence company, MOSAIC. What can’t this “Rambo-like James Bond” hero do?
So how did Mr. Schiena find his way into the movie industry? Well, he always considered movies a hobby and funnily said, “I called it “Tony-time.” Schiena didn’t necessarily have a ‘eureka’ moment that kick-started his movie career, but a mentor that tried to convince him to leave the defense sector to pursue a life in acting. Although Schiena couldn’t turn away from the defense sector, he did take his mentor’s advice and considered a new life path.
He says, “I created a goal to have a small role in an action film. A movie with one of the great action stars of that time, Van Damme or Seagal.” Tony’s first role was “Leonardo” in William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, starring alongside legendary actor Al Pacino. He considers his first role a great privilege that brought him to his original goal. “My second movie was co-starring with Van Damme in one of his best films to date, Wake of Death,” he explains.
Tony shows that if you have the ambition and drive to follow through with a goal, you can get there too, in other words “Hard work pays off”.
“Talent is definitely a requirement. The more talent an artist has, the less training is required. But as the great Michael Caine put it, acting on stage is like a surgeon performing surgery with a scalpel, whereas acting on film is more like a surgeon performing surgery with a laser. So training is required.” – Tony Schinea
Tony’s work has been compared to many iconic action movie heroes like: Ethan Hunt, Brian Mills, and of course, James Bond. His work is real life. Working in the paramilitary sector has been very rewarding for Tony. When he talks about his favorite part about working in the paramilitary, he says, “At times being able to “push the needle” or really making a measurable difference [is my favorite part].”
His company MOSAIC has a stacked team of experts from esteemed backgrounds, such as the CIA, NSA, and NYPD. Schiena says, “MOSAIC is in very capable hands. Besides my former senior intelligence staff, I have attorneys, analysts, and a board consisting of the former head of the British Special Forces as well as the former Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police force, etc.” His MOSAIC Foundation also dedicates its services to fighting the inhumane act of sex trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children online.
Schiena doesn’t stop there! Tony is also a retired undefeated World Heavyweight Karate Champion and martial artist. He incorporates these skills into his action films such as his latest film, The Weapon. Tony plays “Dallas,” a one-man killing machine seeking justice from the mob. He is currently working on The Weapon 2, the highly-anticipated prequel. His production company Backbone Pictures is also making an action feature film in Rome titled “Franco”. However, Tony has yet to play a character closely resembling his real life, but never say never.
Tony was quickly thrown into the movie industry, an industry where you will either sink or swim, and quickly learned to swim! He also learned to draw from the characters he has met worldwide in his auditions. Although he says he hasn’t tackled any very challenging characters yet, he set out to learn a proper Sicilian dialect for his role in the movie Sicilian Holiday. Tony is incredibly proud of his film DARC, available to stream on Netflix and Amazon Prime today. “I starred, wrote, and produced it. It’s a really good independent action movie, and making the movie you always wanted to make the way you wanted to make it, is really gratifying,” he says.
Tony has an insanely busy schedule, today he’s in Florida, yesterday he was in Cyprus, and tomorrow he’s in Nepal. But no matter how busy the days get, his passion and love for his work push him onward. Tony says his favorite thing about acting is, “It’s creative, it’s magical in a way. It gives hope and allows one to fantasize and dream, especially for children watching the characters and stories you create.”
As Tony continues to run his company, act, and speed around the world, he is humble in the work he does and is just thankful for each day he gets. Tony’s advice to other aspiring actors is as follows: “1. Try to think outside the box and not the conventional struggling-actor route. 2. Regarding struggling actors, try to make yourself as self-sufficient fiscally as possible. 3. Never compromise your belief system or integrity.”
Be sure to watch for Tony Schiena’s upcoming projects this year. You won’t want to miss out.