How is the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) strike affecting your current projects and overall workflow?
The SAG strike has greatly impacted myself as an individual, my film family and the entire industry as a whole. All projects I was set to begin have been on hold for months. I have not had a day of work since the Strike began. This affects not only my daily life but my future too. A person really must be wise, one of the hardest parts of this industry for me is navigating that my income and schedule are never a sure thing and fluctuate all the time! You can have multiple shows in one month and zero the next. However, it is all part of the process.
Can you share your perspective on the ongoing strike and how it might bring changes in the industry?
I think no matter what industry you work in, there is always a time when things need to be reassessed, changed and people need to be heard. Evolution is something we can’t fight, nor should we! It appears in every aspect of life and the end result is growth. Change is always uncomfortable at first, completely necessary and rewarding at the end. I think the industry as a whole is going to rise from this and be in a much stronger, happier place. I know for myself and many of my colleagues – we have devoted a lifetime to this career. We care about it a lot and deserve to have a voice and say in our futures. I stand with my fellow performers and industry family; I send so much love to everyone. I feel grateful for a community as a whole coming together and fighting for what is right. That in itself is so powerful, beautiful, and meaningful! I look forward to returning and creating amazing content for our audiences.
You’ve taken on a vast array of roles from motion capture to voice acting; which do you find the most challenging and why?
Each role and project I work on is so unique and different. It is one of the things I love about my work. I wouldn’t say one is more challenging then the next because it really is dependent on the project as a whole. However, I will say some of my more demanding roles have been motion capture. Mainly because there is so much to it! Physicality, voice, acting, and imagination play equal parts and you must be strong in all to bring the character to life. Weeks of rehearsal happen before we even go to camera to make this happen. Then on top of that you have the technical side of things which adds another layer. They go hand in hand, and both need to be seamless for ultimate success. It is such a magical world really and although it is a challenge it is so rewarding. Motion Capture roles are my favorite type of work and play.
Can you share your experiences while working on projects like “The Electric State” and “Brothers”, and how did these diverse roles help in shaping your acting skills?
Both projects were nothing short of amazing to be a part of !!I absolutely loved them. For starters I adore the roles I was cast to play. In Brothers I play an Orangutan named Samuel. Motion capture and animal work are my favorite. I was acting alongside a star-studded cast. My favorite scene was one on one with Josh Brolin. I mean, need I say more? When you work with the best, it brings out the best in you. I was soaking up every minute. It is the ultimate masterclass of acting when you get to work with the greats.Peter Dinklage, Brendan Fraser, and Marissa Tomie were other cast mates I was acting with. It was so fun. The film is hilarious and the environment on set was wonderful. Max, our director was so kind, and I really don’t have a bad thing to say about the experience. I can’t wait to share this project with the world.The Electric State means so much to me. I play the lead motion capture role of Cosmo. The film is based on a great graphic Novel, The Electric State by Simon Stalenhag. I spent so much time working on this character and Cosmo is a part of me forever now. Another opportunity that really impacted my life. Being directed by the Russo Brothers was a dream. Acting with Millie Bobby Brown, Chris Pratt, Ken Hu Quan, Stanley Tucci, and Jason Alexander was fantastic. Not to mention thevoice actors attached to the project like Billy Bob Thorton, Anthony Mackie and many more. I learned so much and cherish every moment of it. Our environment on set was so wonderful as well. Such a family atmosphere. I have great respect for the production, all cast and crew. Everyone came together to make it happen. My motion Capture family led by the great Terry Notary himself. I have worked with Terry a lot and he is the best. He has been a huge inspiration in my career, and I value every project I do with him.This film is so heartfelt, adorable, impactful and something new to the eye! I really think audiences are going to love it and I am so proud to be Cosmo. Stay tuned!!
How have your experiences in stunt performance and dancing enriched your acting?
They go hand in hand and have made me a very versatile performer.I began as a dancer. That was my gateway into acting, first in theatre and then on screen. Dance is incredible in all ways. I highly recommend it. You learn how to use your body and express through movement; you learn to tell a story and perform. It also creates great work ethic and commitment; it has been a passion of mine from a very young age. It translates directly to acting. Whether you are expressing with words, or physical movement, one doesn’t work without the other. The body is the voice, the voice is the body!! Also, dance is a wonderful base for stunt work. Dancing has made me physically strong and conditioned to handle hard physical work. It also translates so well when film fighting, picking up choreography and selling all the hits in a safe controlled manner.
How do you continually evolve and learn in such a multifaceted industry, and what advice would you give to aspiring actors looking to diversify their skills?
Living life to the fullest, is a great acting lesson! The human experience itself has expanded my range as an actor. Travelling and connecting with all different types of people around the world. Embracing the ups and downs in daily life, allows me to understand myself and others on a greater level. Therefore, my acting becomes more authentic. Lots of play also! As actors we must not take ourselves too seriously, I like to keep my child like myself alive. I also never stop training. Taking new classes from various different teachers. My advice is to always keep evolving and growing as a person and your acting will grow with you. This can be anything from acting, singing, dance, martial arts, to even cooking, archery, painting class. All examples of course- the point is keep investing in yourself and your own knowledge. Train in both industry related subjects and also things outside of the industry that you enjoy. Keeping a balance in life of work/life is important. It will actually make you more successful I believe. My biggest advice is TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, mentally and physically. Being healthy and happy keeps you afloat in a very cutthroat and tough industry.
Can you elaborate on some of the challenges you have faced in Hollywood and how you have overcome them?
The constant grind, hustle and rejection can be daunting at times. Every time I finish a project it’s gone amazingly well. I think “oh gosh, what if I never work again!” A silly thought but the nature of this career is that it is not a stable one. You can have a very busy year and the next year can be very slow. So, learning how to manage your funds for “rainy days” is something I had to learn. That is a piece of advice I have for all performers. We essentially work on contracted gigs and being smart will help you feel secure if you have a slow period of work. Right now, with the strike for example.
I think things have changed a lot from the old Hollywood days. Back then if you had one big project that was your “Big break” so to speak. Now, it is much harder. You can land awesome huge roles but once that job ends your back to the hustle for your next. Of course, each job will bring new opportunities and connections and lead to other things. Also, just reminding yourself that you are enough, and you can just be you! Don’t try to be someone else. It’s easy to get caught up in the image but the superficial stuff can be stressful. So, I have always made sure my soul is satisfied. I also surround myself with supportive, loving people I can trust. Another great tool is to have some hobbies and interests outside of the industry. So, if you have a slow time, you have other things to fall back on. The challenge in itself is sticking it out for the long hall. Success in Hollywood really doesn’t happen overnight for most! You will audition a trillion times before you book. It is all a part of it, so I never get discouraged, I also like to do my audition and then throw it away. Meaning, I don’t hold my breath for that role. It is easier said than done but it helps you move through all the auditions you’ll do without being hurt every time you don’t land it! Never giving up. It 100% has to be your passion. If you’re doing it for fame or money or anything like that- you won’t last. It is a hard path but if you love it truly, you will be able to stick with it over many years. For me personally being a very petite woman. I struggled sometimes with the good ol’ type casting. I never understood why I was put in a box. I didn’t match the leading lady description that Hollywood required. Not being able to audition for some of those roles confused me. I always thought yes, I am very short but if I exist in the real world, why can’t I exist on screen? People come in all shapes and sizes, and I am excited to see things changing. Anyone should be able to play the “leading” character. Being short in stature shouldn’t limit me to only playing roles about short people. It sounds hilarious when you say it out loud. I think now those norms are being opened and that’s awesome.
Have you encountered any specific challenges while transitioning between acting, stunt performance, voice acting, and motion capture?
Yes! They are all very different and require different set etiquette and training.The toughest one for me is that motion capture has still not received the recognition I feel and know it deserves. It is acting in its highest form. It should have a category at all awards just like stunts should. It requires a huge amount of imagination and is really the most challenging. When I did apes, I was not only acting like an ape, but one with human emotions. So, my physicality and acting chops had to be so strong. I was also making ape vocal sounds.Some of my best performances were acting in Rise and War for the planet of the apes.However, because people aren’t seeing your exact face, they think it is all computer animated.This is false. The trackers are on all your muscles, and you have face and body cameras on. They pick up every little detail and then the amazing animators just transform your expressions into the apes. It has been a hard and difficult path to fight for this recognition. Motion Capture is the ultimate test of your ability as a performer. It was very hard for me to have leading roles be seen as a cartoon. Luckily, more and more behind the scenes are being shown and people are seeing how it works and understanding it now. When I started there wasn’t any of this, so it has always been a struggle. All my mocap actors out there can relate, I am sure!
Can you share some insights into your upcoming projects and what audiences can look forward to?
I am beyond proud of my last three projects that are set to come out. They mean so much to me and I worked very hard to give a stellar performance for you all you enjoy! Each project is so different, and it showcases the variety I can bring as an actor, mover, and stunt woman. I am so excited to share the end result and cannot wait for the release dates.Brothers is going to offer a hilarious, star-studded comedy. Grand Death Lotto is non-stop action, fun and comedy. Electric State is so refreshing, simply magical, heartfelt and a wonderful family adventure.I think within these 3 projects there is something for everyone! Stay tuned. Some good popcorn hours coming your way.
What preparation and research are you undertaking for your role as Samuel in “Brothers” and for your motion capture role in “The Electric State”?
I love the rehearsal and preparation stage of a project. It really is where all the creative juices get flowing and you grow so much as a performer.Transforming yourself into the character, breaking them down piece by piece and creating the life behind the lines and scenes. It is so crucial to the success of the role when it comes time to film. This is the play zone and a lot of hard work but so worth it. I like to deep dive and create their backstory, their inner dialogue, habits, favorite food, color, music- you name it.Then when you get into the scene you are not trying to be something, you just are.I do a lot of research, I read the script over a million times, improve as the character, there are so many techniques I love to play with. It really helps me feel prepared as an actor and after all it is my duty to do the character justice.For my role as Samuel, I was brought on board due to the fact that I specialize in animal movement.I have studied apes for a long time. I started in 2009 when I worked on the Planet of the Apes reboot franchise. I played a lot with the human feelings that Samuel has all while being authentic to an Orangutan. Orangutans are so unique in the ape kingdom. They are truly amazing and move in such a different way than a chimp or gorilla. I watched a lot of Orangutan videos, mimicking and breaking down how they move. I practice the vocal sounds too! My neighbors, living in an apartment complex., must have wondered what I was up to. Taking care of my body is also a part of it as ape work is extremely physical and you need to be in great shape to do this kind of work.For my role as Cosmo in Electric State. I started rehearsals about a month and a half before filming began. Our movement choreographer Terry Notary, had us in an awesome mocap bootcamp to get ready for our robot roles. Not only were we rehearsing our main roles but also creating the background robots and basically the entire robot world. I played with regression, which is when you go back to how you would act as a child. Being childlike but also very intelligent were key for Cosmo. The physical part was basically about undoing anything I knew as my adult self. Imagine waking up and you’re in this new old, beat-up robot body. You have to start from scratch and learn how to walk again! It was very exploratory and so much fun.Cosmo is absolutely adorable; I don’t want to give away too much. Very thrilled to share this sweet guy with the world.
Who has been your greatest inspiration in the industry, and how have they influenced your career path?Honestly, my family and friends. Although they are not directly in the industry, they have been my support and cheerleaders from day one. My family always supported my dreams to become a professional dancer, actor and now stunt woman. Not everyone has that. They came to all my recitals and literally relocated to a new province for me to pursue my dream at a young age. Much of my success comes from this solid base. I never really had a favorite actor. Of course, there are many actors I can name that I would love to work with and learn from. Who’s on screen performance has captivated me time and time again. I love telling stories and connecting people from all walks of life through this art. It’s a beautiful and sacred thing really. We’ve been using storytelling for generations all over the world. It’s powerful.
How do you stay motivated and inspired to bring forth your best performance in every role you undertake?
It’s my passion! I never have to convince myself to put the effort in because I love my job.
This makes it easy to always keep learning and expanding my skills. Each character means a lot to me. Also, my team! I’ve been blessed to work with the best in the business, everyone brings their A game to set day after day and it really makes you bring yours too!I’ve always been very dedicated, hardworking and have set high standards for myself. I give it my all every time. I don’t even think the public knows how many moving pieces there are to make a movie happen.It truly is a miracle every time. Being around other like-minded individuals who are so talented really pushed me to excel.
With your extensive experience in various aspects of the entertainment industry, what advice would you give to newcomers?
It is going to be a long, hard journey. I say this not to discourage you but to prepare you. Make sure you are getting into this industry for the right reasons. If it is simply fame, you seek. I fear you will not last past 5 years. You have to have a love for it. When you have that love, it is what gets you through the tough times. Never give up if it’s your passion. Trust that there will be many no’s before a yes. It’s okay, your time will come! Always keep learning and evolving.Also, support and lift your fellow industry mates, jealousy is a waste of time, and it will get you nowhere. Be versatile, harvest many skills, this will give you more options and longevity in the industry.
How do you foresee the future of the entertainment industry, especially with the advent of new technologies and mediums?
I think like everything, technology can be used in good ways and bad ways.We are living in the age of Tech! It’s everywhere. It is what our civilization has focused on, and I don’t think we can avoid it. My hope is that we will work with it and not be replaced by it.I truly don’t feel we can replace actors and stunt performers with AI, I think the performance would suffer greatly. I also feel the audiences would be disappointed.The nuance of a human cannot be mimicked, the soul of a person cannot be learned by a computer. It’s a scary thought for sure. That is why people are standing up for our rights in the industry now.So, we can prevent this from being the future. I do find it a little creepy when they use AI for actors who have passed away. It seems somehow morally wrong because they aren’t here to approve it and I wonder how their families feel about this.We can however use technology to make CGI look even better and have more and more motion capture. Which is wonderful! We need tech to do motion capture, so I understand the balance of needing technology but not relying solely on or replacing humans with it. It’s a fine line. Let’s not cross it!
What trends do you think will dominate the entertainment sector in the coming years, and how are you preparing for them?
I think we will see more and more motion capture. Which is rad! I love it and can’t wait to do more!I believe motion capture along with stunts will find their place at the award ceremonies as well. I really look forward to celebrating these categories on a large scale. It’s time to give credit where credit is due! With so much diversity being brought on screen, I am excited to see many new faces and stories from around the world. It’s refreshing.