Ever since its debut on Netflix in 2016, I’ve been nerding out over the supernatural series Stranger Things. One of my favorite scenes ever from the show’s three-season arc? In the Season 3 finale, when main character Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) jumps on his walkie-talkie with new girlfriend Suzie (Gabriella Pizzolo) and shares a hilarious, note-perfect duet of The NeverEnding Story’s theme song with her.
Capital Region Upside Downers might be surprised to learn that the 16-year-old Pizzolo is a Schenectady native, who made a name for herself, locally, long before she ever sang a single note on the hit streaming show. “Schenectady’s great, and I couldn’t think of a better place to grow up,” Pizzolo says. Like a lot of performers, she got her start in community theater, landing roles as part of the Schenectady Light Opera Company and Classic Theater Guild, also in the Electric City. She also credits a pair of local venues for helping spark her passion for theater. “I absolutely love Proctors and all its plays, and SPAC, too,” she says. Her breakout year came in 2013, when she debuted at SPAC with the New York City Ballet and then landed a major role on Broadway, starring as the titular character in the hit Broadway show Matilda The Musical. While in New York City, the Upstate New Yorker met another young, rising Broadway star: future Stranger Things co-star Matarazzo. “A lot of the kids on Broadway would meet up and hang out,” says Pizzolo. “So he and I are great friends.” Flash-forward just five years, and boom! She’s stealing the hearts of dorks, the world over, opposite her pal.
Though not even three minutes long, that too-cute duet—which, at least in Stranger Things’ universe, helped save the world—has proven to be a fan favorite. And for those searching for clues about Season 4, Pizzolo says she’s not even sure if Suzie will get a curtain-call, but that she’d love to reprise the role. Hey, after helping save the world, I think she definitely deserves more screen time.
Skidmore’s Streaming Superstars
Zazie Beetz A recent Skidmore grad, Zazie Beetz—who you might know from her Emmy-nominated role on FX series Atlanta or as Domino in 2018’s hit flick, Deadpool 2—has starred as Noelle in the Netflix series Easy since 2016.
Michael Zegen Founder of a sketch-comedy group on Skidmore’s campus, graduate Michael Zegen has been absolutely killing it opposite lead actress Rachel Brosnahan (Miriam “Midge” Maisel) as her now ex-husband, Joel Maisel, in Amazon Prime Video’s Golden Globe-/Emmy-winning series, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Jack Mulhern A 2017 Skidmore alum Jack Mulhern’s found a national audience starring as Grizz, a closeted high school student, on Netflix series The Society, which premiered this past May. He’s also appearing as Teddy in Hulu’s Wu-Tang: An American Saga.
Jon Bernthal After dropping out of Skidmore to focus on acting, Jon Bernthal—who you’ll recognize from AMC’s The Walking Dead—went on to snag the lead role in Netflix’s The Punisher (he reprised the role on crossover series Daredevil, too).
Lake Bell Longtime stage, film and television actress Lake Bell, who attended Skidmore, has starred in Netflix’s prequel and sequel to cult classic film Wet Hot American Summer, and been a series regular (voice) on animated dramedy Bojack Horseman.