I was born in Philadelphia on August 12th. My family moved to Huntingdon Valley, PA when I was 7 years old and lived there most of my life. I attended Bishop McDevitt High school and was involved in the plays as a dancer, not an actor. I spent a few years at Arcadia University. My major was Graphic Art, minor was music, with the ambition of designing album covers and playing the drums, but I couldn't get the urge to act out of my system. Although I pursued and studied acting since the age of 14, I didn't get really serious about until college. (Being an actor isn't one of those careers they come back with in grade school or high school after you take those career interest tests.) I started studying with Donald McKenna and became a part of his "Off the Page" improv troop. Donald's guidance and skill as a teacher was what really kicked me into gear and changed my professional life dramatically. In 1997, I found my agent, Mary Anne Claro, and have been with her ever since. In June 2001, I tied the knot with a wonderful man I met on the set of one of Mick McCleery's projects, "Coming to Save America." We now live in South Jersey. When I'm not acting, I keep busy producing medical education CD ROMs at a multimedia company. I've just recently decided to enroll in school, studying Esthiology, with the intent of learning special effects makeup for film.
Q: How did the acting bug bite you:
The acting bug bite me when I was very young and I could never imagine being happy doing anything else. It started with the Mickey Mouse Club. I wanted so badly to be a Mouseketeer. I would stay up in my bedroom for hours practicing. My father gave me a 4x4 piece of masonite, my mother made me an orange jumpsuit like the Mouseketeers wore and I would tap dance for hours. I kept my suitcase packed under my bed so that when the time came, I could move to Florida to join. I came home one day and found out that my dad used my masonite board for something he was working on around the house. That's when I moved on to Annie.
Q: First acting experience:
My first acting experience was given to me by Kathy Wickline Casting. I got a call to be an extra on an indie film shooting in Philly called "Life at the End of Time." There was a group of us that taking a class together at her casting facility and we all were offered the extra work for the same night. This was the first time that any of us worked on a set and I vividly recall us walking in there and being scared to death. We all sat nervously in this school auditorium and the director came in and pointed to me and another girl in my class. He called us over and told us that we were going to be the "South Philly big haired dates." We were so excited, we thought that this IT, the beginning of our careers. They took both of us to the makeup women who proceed to tease our hair to heights we never thought possible and shellacked us with something equivalent to Aqua Net hairspray. I can remember thinking to myself, "this is the life and it's soo easy." Little did I know!
Q: Weirdest acting experience:
My weirdest acting experience was on the set of an industrial called "Toxic Tale." It was to warn people of the dangers of faulty heater systems. Again I was cast with a classmate, this time from my "Off the Page" improv troop. She played my younger sister, who comes to my house to find me in bed, dead, from carbon monoxide poisoning. The video actually showed her finding me and the coroner coming to take me away. Tara, who played my sister, gave a powerful performance. They did extensive makeup on me to make me look like I had passed away a couple of hours before she got there. I had to hold my breath for long periods of time while she shot her scenes and then again while the coroner shot his. The closing of the video was the coroner putting me into a body bag, zipping it up, placing it on a gurney and wheeling me out to the ambulance. It was an awkward experience. I had a very hard time watching the finished piece because it all looked a little too real.
Q: Worst acting experience on a movie:
Aaaahhhh. My worst acting experience. I have quite a few. On an indie I was playing someone's date, sitting next to him at a table at a Christening. In the scene he and his best friend get into an argument. As the argument started getting loud, I reached over and gently touched his hand... The actor flipped out. He stopped the scene and told the director that I didn't know my place, I was only an extra. I felt like I could have dropped dead right there. When you don't have much experience, something like this can seem like the end of the world. I was only trying to make things seem real, what did he mean "only an extra!" The director asked me to not touch him at all anymore. Years later I bumped into someone else on that shoot and I asked them if they remembered that and of course they didn't. They told me that there was so much stress between the lead actors and the actors and crew on that set they weren't surprised at all that that happened. Apparently the only person that was really affected by it was me. It took me a long time to want to be on a set again after that.
Best acting experience: My best acting experiences have been on the set of Mick McCleery's films, particularly "Coming to Save America." It was what brought us all together, laying the foundation for our friendships. I can remember days where it took us forever to get a scene down because we were all laughing so hard, and those jokes still get told when we all get together. The other reason is that Mick really gives his actors an amazing amount of creative freedom. It was the first time I've ever felt like I had real control in developing my character, making my own choices. It's rare that you have a director who cares about an actor's opinion about script, wardrobe or independent activity on screen. It's really a blessing to be able to work with someone like that.
Q: What do I think of genre films:
I love all film. Yes, I think genre films are great. In my experience, they open the doors for a lot of different actors who aren't necessarily what you'd traditionally consider "leading men or ladies." They tend to focus less on appearance and more on storytelling. As an actor, you also get the opportunity to stretch in a sense that the range of characters in a genre film can be from one end of the spectrum to the other. They are also fun, giving you the opportunity at times to suspend your disbelief.
I love working. I love creating a character, no matter what type of film it is. A strong storyline and a well developed character is a strong storyline and a well developed character no matter what type of film it is. As an actor and an audience that's what you go for.
Q: Tell us about your character in Track 16:
I really admired Fallon Russo. I wish I had more time in her skin, getting to know her better. I had come into Track 16 as Mia at first. Once we started shooting, it didn't work out with the actress originally cast as Fallon and I stepped in. I think she had a lot of spunk. She was a loyal friend, so open minded about who she befriended. Her friend Mia was so opposite of her and so was Paul, but she saw them for who they were and would lay her life on the line for them. Fallon seemed inexperienced to me, she hadn't been on the job that long, but she never even stopped for one second to think about that. She had sort of this blind ambition. Match that up with street smarts, loyalty and the ability to fall in love with your suspect and you've got a really interesting character. I hope I was able to portray at least some of what I was thinking.
Q: How was it working with Mick on the production:
Mick's always great to work with. Like I mentioned earlier, he empowers his actors and makes them feel at ease and confident by really involving them in his process. My experience in working with him on Track 16 was even better than the first time because at this point we all knew what was expected of each other and what each of us was going to bring to the table. I look forward to the opportunity to be around his creativity and professionalism on future productions.
Q: Anything you want to add:
I am currently working on another indie that was written by a very close friend and colleague, Cesario Tio. He came into our workshop with a script that he had written and we performed it a few sessions later. Our acting coach, Donald McKenna, was taken back by the script, the beautiful love story and our performances. He took a copy of our performance tape home and showed his wife, Maureen McKenna, who was equally impressed. Our coach is also director and his wife is a producer, both of which stay very busy in the Philly area. They decided to team up to film the piece professionally. It will be shot sometime at the end of September in the Philadelphia area. We are all very excited about this piece.
Mick McCleery has also started pre production on another film, scheduled to shoot in June 2003. He has offered me a very juicy part and I can't wait to get rolling with it. He has created an unbelievable story with a very strong script.
There are also rumors that Track 16 was nominated and won a few awards at the Rewind Film Fest. We haven't received any formal confirmation, but that's what we have heard through the grapevine. I'm really proud of all the cast and crew. I'm especially happy for Mick who worked so hard, taking on all of the different aspects of the production.