Playing Sam (2023) – Review and Summary

Playing Sam

Ramon Felipe Pesante and Jenni Ruiza’s “Playing Sam” is a strong showcase for Ruiza’s talents and a love letter to any struggling artist.

“Playing Sam” General Information

Director(s) Ramon Felipe Pesante
Screenplay By Ramon Felipe Pesante and Jenni Ruiza
Based On N/A
Date Released (Film Festival – New York Latino Film Festival) September 22, 2023
Genre(s) Comedy
Film Length 1 Hour, 30  Minutes
Content Rating Not Rated
Noted Characters and Cast
Samantha Jenni Ruiza
Alex William DeMeritt
Anthony Marc Reign
Ana Alana Johnson

Content Rating Explanation

“Playing Sam” is currently Not Rated but includes strong profanity, moderate sexual content, mild drug use, and brief violence.

Film Summary

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“Playing Sam” is a film so joyous and intimate that you’ll feel like you’re watching someone’s diary entries unfold on screen. Created by Ramon Felipe Pesante and writer/actor Jenni Ruiza, “Playing Sam” is a character study depicting one actor’s personal and professional crises. While the film may be considered small, the characters in “Playing Sam” are created with so much delicate care and love that their presence jumps through the screen.

Samantha (Jenni Ruiza) is a struggling actor who constantly lands auditions but rarely books the gig. As a non-Spanish-speaking Latina, Sam never quite fits the stereotypes or assumptions people have about Latinas. The rejection and lack of cultural connection only add to Sam’s identity crisis after her non-committal boyfriend (William DeMritt) lands a role that essentially breaks up the couple. Sam is left alone in her apartment, taking care of her dog and smoking a jay.

Samantha’s best friend Ana (Alana Johnson) comes to support her and get her out of the house. They take an acting class together, where Samantha meets Anthony (Marc Reign), a social media influencer who wants to explore film and television acting. Samantha and Anthony immediately have chemistry and find themselves connecting over their interests and passions. As Samantha explores new auditions and a potential new romance, she questions if her life is entering a new chapter or if she’s running around in circles.

Playing Sam 2
Ana (Alana Johnson) helping Samantha (Jenni Ruiza) through a difficult time in “Playing Sam” (Directed by Ramon Felipe Pesante, 2023)

“Playing Sam” is a comedy for the brokenhearted, the rejected, and those questioning their path in life. The film doesn’t have an absolute answer to all of our frustrations or questions, but it celebrates the growth we make in the most painful times. Due to great performances and a strong direction, “Playing Sam” lets viewers know that it’s okay to laugh and cry as long as we get back up again.

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.


Samantha is an actor reflecting on and recovering from a recent breakup. It seems everywhere Sam goes, she faces some rejection, whether it be romantically or professionally. She questions how much stagnation in her life and career she can take.


Alex is Samantha’s narcissistic ex-boyfriend who breaks up with her the moment he lands a significant acting role. Alex’s time with Samantha is mostly shown through flashbacks.


As Samantha’s best friend, Ana knows just what to say and do to help her friend feel loved and leave the house. They take acting classes together and fully support each other’s endeavors.


Playing Sam 4
Marc Reign as Anthony in “Playing Sam” (Directed by Ramon Felipe Pesante, 2023)

Anthony is an actor and a potential romantic interest for Samantha. While the two have chemistry, their acting methods are vastly different, and Samantha is uncomfortable with Anthony’s social media presence.


Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Notable Performances or Moments

Jenni Ruiza as Sam

Playing Sam 1

Playing Sam in “Playing Sam” requires physical and emotional vulnerability, as the camera documents Samantha’s heartbreak and rejections through unflinching close-ups. Jenni Ruiza finds a natural rhythm to the comedy in Samantha’s most awkward encounters, lights up a room with her smile, and becomes an intimidating force in her anger. Most importantly, Ruiza guides the audience into her own heart as well as conveying what the audience is most likely feeling too. She makes a connection with the viewer through the screen.


A Love Letter to Struggling Artists

“Playing Sam” may show the modern struggle of many actors, but anyone who has wanted to pursue a career in the arts will be able to relate. Sam is denied for every reason imaginable. “Playing Sam” isn’t cynical in its depiction or tries to romanticize the struggle; instead, the movie allows people to laugh at the common problems while reminding artists why they love their art. Despite Samantha’s seeming endless rejection, she persists. “Playing Sam” reminds artists they are not alone.

Pesante’s Documentarian Flourish 

Plenty of moments within “Playing Sam” are filmed like a documentary. Handheld cameras and zoom-ins provide mini-details as if Samantha allowed a film crew into her life, but it’s these choices that bring us closer to her. Director Ramon Felipe Pesante does whatever is possible to put us in Samantha’s shoes. But Pesante also allows us to soak in her joys too. Whether it be her acting class, connecting with a stranger, or washing her dog, Pesante understands that quiet moments are just as significant as plot-driven ones.

Who Is This For?

People who wish to become actors or want to see more Latina representation on film will enjoy “Playing Sam.” Those looking for a comedy or a comfort movie after a breakup should also give “Playing Sam” a watch.


If you like this movie, we recommend:

  1. The Horror of Dolores Roach
  2. Insecure
  3. Story Ave

Check out our movies page for our latest movie reviews and recommendations.


Answers to some questions you may have regarding this movie:

The Reason The Movie Is Named “Playing Sam”

“Playing Sam” is named after the main character, Samantha, and her belief in channeling one’s authentic self in any role she inhabits.

Does “Playing Sam” Have A Mid-Credit or End Credit Scene?

“Playing Sam” has a blooper reel playing through the credits.

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