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The Sultry Sumana Gomes

The Sri Lankan entertainment industry, although small in number, contains a tight knit community which has spread itself across the globe over the past few decades. However, there are instances when a Sri Lankan artist burrows a special place in the hearts of native fans. The story of Sumana Gomes is such an instance.

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Born and brought up in Dehiwala, Sumana gained her education in Buddhist Ladies College, which played a prominent role in cultivating her initial love for dancing, acting and theater. Beginning her acting career by performing as a background dancer, she gained popularity as a daring actress who rose to challenge normative portrayals of women in Sri Lankan theatre. Sumana has taken over 32 films, including female protagonist roles in films such as Ragya Unusuma, Unusum Ratriya, and Aege Vairaya. Recalling her work in the Sri Lankan cinema industry, she claims that female actresses of her time were not bold enough to take on sexually empowering roles due to the cultural stigma attached to it. However, brought up in an open-minded household and the socialization that took place in a school that was coeducational at the time, gave her the courage and determination to commit to her roles as an actress. When asked about her fans and the feedback she has received, she claims her fans have embraced her with positivity throughout her years as an actress.

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Growing up during Sri Lanka’s economic downfall, Sumana dreamt of a different life abroad and was able to pursue it in 2002, when she moved to New York. During her tour of New York for Cherio Sergeant in 2002, Sumana decided to settle down and leave her career behind temporarily. Shortly after, she met and married her Italian-American husband,  Gregory Tortoriello. Although Mr. Tortoriello is unacquainted with Sri Lanka cinema, the actress proudly declares the overwhelming love and support he provides for her passion. He describes his wife’s acting as graceful and mesmerizing and claims that he enjoys watching her films. When asked about her decision to pause her career and settle down abroad, Sumana spoke of the importance of a balanced life which involves a family life as well as a career.

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In terms of future endeavors, Sumana plans on furthering her homemade cosmetics line, which is sold online at www.lovesumana.com, and wishes to develop a clothing line in the future. In addition to her love for acting, Sumana speaks fondly of fashion which for her is a form of self-expression.

Although she has settled down in Staten Island, New York, Sumana hopes to visit Sri Lanka in 2015 to pursue a few acting jobs that have been offered to her, possibly including a film by Cecil Gunasekara.

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Sumana expressed gratitude and love to all her fans who have been supportive of her cinematic contributions and claimed that their constant encouragement to return to acting plays a huge part in why she has not fully abandoned her art. The actress stated that although she cannot confirm a time and place for her return into cinema, she is immensely grateful to her fans for maintaining her relevancy in the Sri Lankan cinema industry.

By: Nimesha Rathnayake

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