Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Breakthrough Jew – Daniella Kertesz

This young Israeli woman is responsible for protecting Brad Pitt in ‘World War Z’. Not bad for her first Hollywood film.

By: Sarah Bauder

Published: July 11th, 2013 in Culture » Film » News

Breakthrough Jew - Daniella Kertesz

Hot, hip, and heady, the next wave of Jewish artists and influencers has already arrived. This is Breakthrough Jew, your weekly showcase of those on the verge of discovery and ready to be a regular figure in pop culture; setting trends, redefining genres, and simply getting it done-whatever ‘it’ is. These days, it’s not enough to know what’s hot now; you need to catch someone when they’re just starting to simmer.

Featuring those in film, fashion, food, and beyond, we’ll find the story before substance is obscured by style, before hype meets backlash, and before talent and purpose gets lost in a maze of Internet chatter. See an artist in the cozy bar before they hit the amphitheater, dine at a chef’s new restaurant before the line begins, and catch a young writer’s work before the demands of ratings and longevity encroach.

Follow our lead and we’ll follow yours – send us tips or suggestions via email, comment below or tweet us @ShalomLife, as we explore the Jewish landscape for pop culture pioneers.


Name: Daniella Kertesz

Age: 24

Hometown: Jerusalem, Israel

Breakthrough Cred: Protects Brad Pitt from the zombie horde in World War Z

Daniella Kertesz is a very lucky young woman indeed. Born and bred in Jerusalem, the actress has gone from essentially playing roles on Israeli television shows, to enduring a zombie apocalypse opposite Brad Pitt in the blockbuster, World War Z. Talk about exposure, to say the least.

Born on March 11, 1989, Kertesz made her first appearance in the Israeli series, Adumot in 2003 at the tender age of fourteen. She played Noa Sperling, a teenage soccer player who after being kicked unceremoniously off the boys’ soccer team, proceeds to create an all-girls one. The young thespian then followed that with small roles in two series in 2007, in Screenz and Mishmoret, respectively.

In 2008, Kertesz gained further exposure playing Avia in Israel Channel 10’s, Loving Anna. That same year, she appeared in thirteen episodes of the show, Ha-Emet Ha’Eroma, as the missing teenager Hagar Ben David. Then, Hollywood and more pointedly, Mr. Brad Pitt came calling.

Kertesz and Brad Pitt in ‘World War Z’

Over the past few years, there has been a myriad of tales regarding the beleaguered production that was World War Z, based on the best-selling zombie apocalypse novel by Max Brooks, son of none-other-than iconic comedian Mel. Internal quarreling betwixt producers, a bloated $190 million budget, negative reviews from test audiences resulting in a complete rewrite of the film’s third act, subsequent reshoots – the list goes on and on. Problems notwithstanding, upon its final release, World War Z generally received positive reviews and to date, has raked in nearly $300 million worldwide. All parties involved seem happy enough that a sequel has been planned. Oh yes, and Kertesz has now been thrust onto the world stage.

“I felt very pressured at first, but the more I worked with him, the more normal it became. He’s very focused… He fought for what he wanted in the scenes,” she said of Brad Pitt in a Times of Israel interview.

In World War Z, Kertesz plays Segen, a lieutenant in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) who is assigned to protect Pitt’s character, UN employee Gerry Lane, as they embark on a white-knuckle quest to understand the international zombie pandemic that plagued the planet. Although she plays a small but integral role, the general consensus is that Kertesz essentially stole the film from megastar Pitt. Not too shabby for an actress with only three feature films to her credit, all of which come out at some point this year.


With a star-turn in World War Z, Hollywood and audiences have definitely taken notice of Kertesz. The 24-year-old can next been seen in the upcoming horror film AfterDeath, slated for release on November 1, 2013. Of course, expect to see much more of Kertesz saving Brad Pitt from the marauding zombie horde.

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