Before Cromwell resident Blaise Serra heads out the door, he makes sure he has everything he’ll need: keys, wallet, phone, deck of cards. Yes, deck of cards.
A magician never leaves home without this important tool of his trade. One never knows when the opportunity to amaze will arise.
“Cards are really special because I can put them in someone else’s hands,” Serra says. “I feel people connect with magic a lot more when it’s out of the magician’s hands; when it’s inside theirs. I think that’s the craziest kind of magic that there is.”
Serra, who graduated from Cromwell High School in June, has been involved in magic half his life. The television show “Mindfreak,” starring Criss Angel, was the spark that ignited his passion for one of the world’s oldest performing arts.
“I saw him do all these really big illusions on TV, but what really interested me the most was the close-up things he did,” Serra says. “And any other time I saw a magician doing card tricks on TV, that’s what interested me the most; the close-up magic.”
Unlike many magicians that are starting out, Serra didn’t seek out a magic kit or books on magic tricks. He carved his own path. “I started from scratch,” the teenager says. “I would sit in front of my mirror for hours trying to figure out how I could make different effects happen with cards.”
By the time he was a high school sophomore, Serra was comfortable enough with his skills that he’d stroll up to strangers and offer to show them tricks. Soon after, he was being paid to perform his magic. And these days, the young magician is in high demand.
Serra has had many memorable performances, like performing for military families. But the ones he has done for Make-A-Wish children are particularly special.
“It feels really good to help these kids and put a smile on their face,” Serra says.
“If I can give kids that kind of moment where it takes their mind off everything, and they’re just amazed and feel that sense of wonder; it’s an amazing feeling to give someone that smile, and also that feeling of bewilderment and amazement.”
“One of my favorite parts of magic, and performing it, is that you get to make people smile.”
Having dealt with his own health issues, Serra feels a kinship with Make-A-Wish kids. Throughout middle school, Serra was chronically ill. Eventually, it was determined the youngster had Crohn’s disease.
Thankfully, he now has the affliction under control. Looking back on his darker days with Crohn’s disease, Serra says, “Regardless of how I was feeling during the day, I could be feeling terrible, but when I get to a show and start performing, I just feel like a superhero. There is nothing that can hold me back.”
Aside from card tricks, another aspect of Serra’s stage show includes mentalism -- mind-reading – and this part of his performance invariably leaves some spectators wondering whether the young magician is in league with supernatural forces.
“I always am very clear that I consider myself a magician, not a psychic,” Serra says. “If I tell someone that I have actual powers, then I’m just lying to them. I don’t want people to think that what I’m doing isn’t just a lot of moves and practice that I’ve taken a lot of time to work on.
“People know that when I’m performing I’m going to try to deceive them, and that’s the fun of it. Whereas, if someone asked me for Powerball numbers and I started telling them I had some powers that would be wrong.”
Serra, who turns 18 in April, graduated from Cromwell High last spring, a year ahead of schedule. But he points out -- “I never intended to do that.”
Originally, Serra had his sights set on graduating at the top of his class, in 2017, and attending a prestigious college. So he hit the books, hard. So hard, in fact, that as a junior he had accumulated enough credits to get his diploma. “I was able to change up my schedule and get it done,” he says.
With high school in the rear-view mirror, and no plans for college just yet, Serra now has time to pursue his varied interests. Aside from magic, he plays guitar, and has since early childhood. He enjoys acting as well. Along with working in theater, this versatile performer has appeared in several films, most of them shot in Connecticut.
Fittingly, Serra’s trusty deck of cards helped him get his foot in the door in the movie business. A couple years back, a scene from the locally-filmed movie “Blue Line” was being shot at Cromwell High. Serra, then a student there, offered to show members of the cast and crew some card tricks. “I said, ‘hey, do you want to see some magic,’” Serra recalled.
David Gere, the producer of "Blue Line," was on hand for that impromptu performance, as was seasoned film actor Tom Sizemore, and several others. “We were blown away by his incredible talent and charisma,” says Gere, who struck up a friendship with Serra. “I’ve cast Blaise in multiple feature films since and I believe that he will become a big star and have a longstanding career in the entertainment industry.”
Sizemore, best known for his work in blockbuster films "Heat," "Saving Private Ryan," and "Black Hawk Down," also sees a bright future ahead for Serra. “Blaise truly impressed me the several times I’ve met him on various sets in Cromwell. Having such talent at such a young age is a fantastic thing,” Sizemore says. “I would encourage him to continue on his already special journey.”
Looking down the road, Serra, who credits his family for pushing him to excel in all his endeavors, says he has no plans to step away from magic or acting. Working a 9-to-5 job just doesn’t appear to be in the cards. To learn more about Blaise, please visit his website, www.blaiseserra.com, or follow him on Facebook.