Marie-Laure LeBlanc—a blind teenager in Nazi-occupied France during World War II—is at the center of Anthony Doerr’s novel “All the Light We Cannot See.” Bright and curious, Marie captivates the reader with her resilience and strength in this Pulitzer Prize-winning story.
For Aria Mia Loberti ’20, who brings Marie-Laure to life in the new Netflix limited series “All the Light We Cannot See,” it is not only the role of a lifetime, it is her first role ever.
It is also a role she was born to play.
Loberti was born with a severe form of the rare genetic eye condition achromatopsia. She is completely blind in some environments and has minimal, variable residual vision in others. Loberti is color-blind and particularly sensitive to light.
An honors student, Loberti attended URI on a Centennial Scholarship and other endowments. She triple-majored in philosophy, political science, and communication studies while minoring in rhetoric and Ancient Greek. She won a Fulbright to earn a master’s degree in ancient rhetoric at Royal Halloway University of London.
A fan of the 2014 novel, Loberti learned of the global search to fill the role of Marie-Laure in October 2021. A former childhood teacher contacted her unexpectedly, saying Loberti was the only person she could imagine in the role.
Loberti won the part over thousands of hopefuls after a worldwide search for blind and low-vision actresses. In the casting announcement released by Netflix, Shawn Levy, executive producer and director of the four-episode series, said, “We searched the world and reviewed thousands of auditions. We never thought our path would lead to someone who has not only never acted professionally, but never auditioned before.
“It was a jaw-drop moment when we first saw Aria Mia Loberti, who is both a natural performer and an advocate for disability equity and representation. I can’t wait to tell this beautiful story with her at the center.”
At URI, Loberti’s advocacy for people with disabilities and women’s rights extended to the United Nations as the first legally blind youth delegate. She continues her advocacy work today and was honored at URI on October 21 as a Next Generation Distinguished Achievement Award recipient.
Editor’s note: In accordance with SAG/AFTRA member requirements, Loberti is not permitted to comment on or promote the Netflix series at this time.