Netflix’s ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ follows the story of Marie-Laure LeBlanc, whose life is upturned when the Nazis storm Paris. While being visually impaired, Marie’s presence of mind and her father’s resolve to make her an independent person leads her to develop a perspective of the world that is rarely, if ever, shared by other people. The character is brought to life on the screen by Aria Mia Loberti in her debut as an actress. Loberti shines as the compassionate and brave Marie, but that’s not where the similarities between them stop. A look at Loberti’s personal and professional life reveals that the actress has much more in common with her role.
Aria Mia Loberti, Like Marie-Laure Leblanc, is Legally Blind
Born with achromatopsia (a genetic condition that renders people unable to perceive colors), Loberti has minimal to no vision, based on the environment she’s in. She has a guide dog, Ingrid, who is also academically decorated. Reportedly, the dog, who received a two-year intense training to work as a guide dog, graduated from URI (The University of Rhode Island) with Loberti, who revealed that Ingrid “also has learned several words in Ancient Greek, knows over 100 words and phrases in English, and can find sixteen URI buildings on command.”
Loberti is a native of Johnston and has quite an illustrious academic career. She is a US-UK Fulbright Scholar at the Royal Halloway University of London and has triple-majored in philosophy, political science, and communication studies. She has a minor in rhetoric (she started URI Rhetoric Society) and Ancient Greek. She graduated from URI, which she attended on “Centennial Scholarship and other endowments,” and remained quite a busy bee, finishing about 150 credits while working as a research assistant in the Harrington School, a teaching assistant in various courses, and tutoring at the AEC.
She’s also worked as a yoga teacher at the Fascitelli Fitness and Wellness Center. Speaking about how she took on so much at the same time, she said: “It was difficult, and sometimes felt impossible, to balance everything. I think a lot of students like me who don’t come from a more fortuitous financial background might feel super overwhelmed in college.”
Apart from shining academically, Loberti has also been vocal about advocating the cause of people with disabilities and women’s rights. She was the first legally blind youth delegate at the United Nations. She worked at URI “to improve accessibility in research poster symposia” and “increase awareness of working dogs on campus.” She has taken to the stage and been a TEDxURI speaker. She represented her country and women with disabilities at the UN International Human Rights Summit and was a featured speaker at New York Climate in support of UNICEF. While all of this might seem a lot, Loberti’s list of accomplishments extends much further.
Talking about her drive to continue her work, the actress said: “I’ve learned that I can meet challenges. I cannot live and thrive without all of this activity. There are so many voices that do not get heard, and I am remiss if I don’t use my voice to help others.” Not surprisingly, she excelled at her role in ‘All the Light We Cannot See,’ even though this was her first time ever auditioning for any role. “Looking back, I realize storytelling and performing were always a part of me. I think having to advocate for myself from a very, very young age instilled in me that storytellers have a lot of power,” she added, explaining how she might have had a flair for acting since childhood.
Loberti welcomed the idea of casting blind or low-vision actors for roles like Marie’s, calling it an opportunity to immerse the audience “into a culture and a mindset” in which she lives. “I feel the weight of every single blind girl, especially every member of the blind community, but also the millions of people who probably have never met a blind person. And this will be the first time they’ve ever met someone like me. And to be the introduction, it’s scary, but it’s wonderful,” Loberti said.
Shedding more light on how she sees Marie in ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ and the true message of the story, the actress said: “This story isn’t about being blind — it’s about humanity coming together in a time of hardship. Blindness is the last thing on Marie-Laure’s mind, and it’s probably the least relevant part of her identity, but it is the way she explores and feels the world around her.” She added that marginalized communities like hers “deserve to not only have a say in telling our own story but [to] be the hero of that story too.”
Considering Loberti’s story, one can see the similarities between her and Marie, who is also not bound by anything and doesn’t let anyone or anything dampen her curiosity of mind and strength of character. She is brave and boundless, and ready to do whatever it takes to do the right thing, turning herself into an admirable heroine that viewers can look up to.