Your new movie Viral
Beauty - in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell
us about your character in it?
I like to call Viral
a tech-rom-com. Something for us, social
media and online dating users. In it my character, Marsha Day, becomes an
overnight viral sensation when Perez Hilton re-posts her over the top
dating ad to his legion of followers.
How did you get involved
with Viral Beauty
in the first place? And how did you end up on the production side of
things as well?
I lived with the writer, Liz Lam, for a
short amount of time and the story started developing because of her
living with me. Actually that first script was a short film. I was much
heavier at the time and Marsha Day became an overweight girl trying to
find love but instead is thrown into the public eye. The story was big and
fabulous and was begging to be made into a feature film. There were just
so many things to discover. So Liz went away and came back with a whole
feature written. Sheís brilliant. Marsha was still an overweight
character but by this time I had lost 50+ pounds and they still wanted me
to play Marsha. I tried to cast her but it was clear to me that David, the
director, and Liz wanted me to gain weight to play the role of Marsha Day.
They were very polite about it so I agreed to gain 15 pounds. However,
when I came onto the set after gaining the weight it became clear to me it
wasnít enough. So I was asked to keep gaining weight until it could be
noticed in my face. I ended up existing on Oreos and marked down
Valentine's Day candy and gained 30+ pounds in total.
I became involved in the production since I had created my own work before
with a very similar team.
It was only natural to want to do a feature film. It was something I
never saw myself doing but in the landscape of filmmaking, the role of an
actor has changed so much. I think it is important for me to tell my
own stories as an actress and as a producer. They both fulfill the
artistic side of me.
Beauty can be seen as a commentary on today's social media stardom
and such - so what are your personal thoughts about this?
internet itself is a place where you can learn about anything if you
search for it and that makes it a wonderful tool. It's a place where
people can share their personal thoughts and views and that is something I
think, in the long run, has great value. But then you have the shadier
things like fake news, product placement, cloaked endorsement deals and
people selling a false reality as truth. I think these threats have made
the internet a place of deceit and lies for the average consumer.
Sometimes those lies can be damaging. As for social media stars, most of
them have a platform that they have built. In some cases, it is a very
thought out platform in which they have spent a lot of time cultivating.
I donít think the audience that consumes content on social media
platforms are always aware of this since a lot of them are young and take
things at face value.
were the challenges of making Viral
Beauty on the production side of things?
was very large! Managing all the those people's schedules to arrive at the
correct places and the right times was a massive task. We also had many
locations--the world of viral is large! I think capturing the fast-pace,
lavish lifestyle of online stardom is also a challenge with a truly indie
movie. It forced us to think creatively and with the magic of
movies you can really make something special with a collaborative team.
can you tell us about your director David Tyson Lam, and what was your
David and I have worked together many
times in the past. I like that he trusts my thoughts and ideas and that he
encourages me to bring them to the table. It seems we work well together
and we balance each other in the director/actor capacity. Often we get the
same hits and inspirations about characters. It may be because we
have produced and acted with each other multiple times.
Do talk about the shoot as such, and
the on-set atmosphere?
It was fast-paced. As most indie
filmmakers will know, you are usually wearing several different hats and
trying to think about the past, present and future all at the same time. I
made it a rule for myself and my crew beforehand that on the days I was
Marsha I was not a producer on set. That made things clearer for me to
stay in character. But I remember it was non-stop and fast-paced but a lot
of fun and if you come out the other side of it wanting to do it again
then this business is probably meant for you. Itís tough but I love it!
Any future projects you'd like to
I just finished a new short starring myself and Marc
Menchaca. Itís called Parenthesis and if youíd like to know more
about it the Instagram is @parenthesisfilm. I did this short with Edna Luise
Biesold, the DP from Viral
Beauty. It follows a young mother who is
regretting motherhood and the consequences that unfold. It has a much
different vibe than Viral
What got you into acting in the first place, and
did you receive any formal training on the subject?
was 4 years old I went to go see a community theater production of a very
sad Christmas story about a young boy who had to say goodbye to his
grandfather. At one point the boy sang a song that made the whole audience
start weeping, including my 4 year old self. I remember tapping my Nana
and telling her "I want to be up there one day". Little did my
family know how serious I was. I believe very strongly that the training
never stops when you choose acting for a career. I received my MFA from
the NYU Graduate Acting Program and I study currently at The Studio with
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Viral
I had started working with a few of my
peers on smaller projects such as short films and scene work. I slowly
started to build a community around myself who would support and inspire
me. I continued to work along with people that I trusted and with
whom I could grow. Iím an actress first but filmmaking came from my
desire to act in different roles. I work the same way today but the scale
How would you describe yourself as an
actress, and some of your techniques to bring your characrters to life?
am a very organic actress. I know that probably sounds "a little far
out there", but I approach roles differently depending on the
character. Some parts require huge amounts of character work because they
are so different from me and others are so close to myself that I work on
staying open and vulnerable so the performance can come through. But I do
like going to music, people, and animals for inspiration. Marsha Day was
interesting because the world of social media fame was extremely different
from me but the experiences of rejection, body image, trying to Ďmake
ití in the entertainment industry are extremely personal. I hoped I
could show those squishy sides of myself and Marsha Day.
(and indeed actors) who inspire you?
Soooo many! It would
be unfair to name a few because Iíve learned from so many different
actors. But thatís not the question so Iíll name a few! Emma Thompson,
Bette Davis, Tom Hanks, Whoopi Goldberg, Meryl Streep, the list goes on
and on and on. I grab things and I am
inspired by different people all the time! Actually some of the biggest
acting lessons I have learned are from my peers and watching them work.
Again, this answer always changes, but a strong
contender is Ghost. It's kinda funny now that I think of it
because that movie melts two genres together, romance and suspense, much
Beauty melts romance and comedy together.
... and of course, films you really deplore?
Thatís a harder questions than the last one. Hmm... Iím not a big fan
of films that use females as a ploy devise for the male protagonist. And,
unfortunately, there are a lot of them.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
If you visit Viral
Beauty website, viralbeautymovie.com, you can learn all about the
film and check out the links to our social media pages (Facebook, Twitter,
Instagram: Viral Beauty Movie).
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
whole experience of doing Viral
Beauty was like a crash course
in acting and producing. This was our first feature film and we
learned a lot along the way. It was very difficult but I am so proud
of the work we all accomplished and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I was lucky there were a lot of people that I met that wanted to help me
and wanted to see me succeed. It was a wonderful experience and one
I will never forget. So if there is anyone out there thinking about
doing their first feature or even their first short just go for it!
for the interview!
Thank you for the opportunity to do this
interview. The questions were great!