Thursday, May 16, 2013

Interview with Industry Insider: Actress/Director Celine Wallace

New Zealand born actress Celine Wallace is taking Hollywood by storm - how many actresses in Hollywood are acting AND directing?! 

She began to develop her craft at the young age of 7, and not too soon after she was discovered and asked to join Outloud Theater Company by age 14. 

We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview Tinseltown's newest rising star: 

I'd like to start with talking a bit on how you knew at a young age that you wanted to pursue acting. How did you get your start?

Ever since I can remember I have been acting, even before I knew that’s what it was called. I would play-dress ups, act out scenes and put on shows for my parents. My first validation was when I was seven; I auditioned for my school musical and was cast as the lead. From that day I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and since then have never stopped training and auditioning to improve my craft.

You've definitely come to Hollywood prepared with some incredible training. Where did you go?

I have been training for over a decade; so have experienced some amazing tutors and techniques. One of the best training grounds was The Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater in New York, which was founded by Sanford Meisner who started an Acting method called the Meisner Technique. While I was there, we trained everyday in Acting Technique, Scene Study, Voice Lessons, Dance and Movement. 

You began you're career in theater and now you've transitioned into acting in film. Congratulations are in order because you actually just wrapped your first film role in the movie Helen Keller had a Pitbull as the lead female Kayley. How was it for you to make that transition?

Thank you! Yes I’m so grateful because pursuing a career in film was the main reason I moved to Los Angeles so it was great being given the opportunity to be apart of the production. The transition for me was relatively smooth but I had a few habits that I had to kick. I had the skills from training to perform and create these great characters, but my movements were often big, because I was used to being on stage. I would tend to do hand gestures or move my head, which on camera even a blink of your eye is exaggerated so I had to really tone it down. When I was shooting, I read over old notes from previous acting workshop and one teacher said ‘’if your working on a film transfer all your external movements into a story in your eyes’’. Something resonated for me when I read that, it centered me and everything from then seemed to fall in place.

How did it feel when you found out you booked your first film role? What was the first thing you did?

I was so happy and in shock a bit, so I just poured a glass of wine and reread the script haha. It’s funny because you train all your life to try perfect something, but eventually you get to a point were you become at ease with the work and you just think ‘I’m ready’ and then that’s (for me anyway) when I find the opportunities usually come along (hopefully saying that didn’t jinx it haha).

              On set of Helen Keller had a Pitbull

 Filming the movie, Helen Keller had a Pitbull - What was the experience like for you? What attracted you to this project? How did you relate to Kayley?

Shooting was amazing, I learned so much about myself as a performer and I learned a lot from the production crew about the technical sides of creating a film. It was great because at lunch the crew, actors, director, producers would all get together, talk and hang out. Nobody was off in a  trailer; we were just a 
group of collaborative artists working together to make a project happen. By the end everyone was like family, so it was a great first film production to be involved in. 

What first attracted me to the project was my character Kayley, how beautiful, courageous and multi-faceted she is. She begins the story as an aspiring actress and then gets diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. Through the film she remains a gorgeous, confident and inspiring woman, she inspired me and I would aspire to be like her in those circumstances.

Where can we see the film?

The film is currently in post-production and we are hoping to take this film to festivals around the world, while distribution is currently being negotiated with the producers. On my social media sites, (linked at the bottom of the interview), I will have news on the film as it develops. Please do, we would love your support!

When the film premieres we'd love for you to come back and talk to us!

Absolutely, if you’ll have me J

Now one of the themes of The Crew Scene is to always find a way to support each other in this industry. A lot of aspiring actors don't have a full idea of the hard work it takes before they finally get their "big break". To provide some insight on what it really takes, could you tell us about your experiences as an actress.

As artist I’m all about collaborating and helping each and that includes learning from each others mistakes, so if sharing my mistakes can help someone from the same situation I’m all for it!

The biggest thing I would have to say, is know what you are marketing, what is the market and where do you fit in. When I first moved to LA I tried to go out for every role; girl next door, biker chick, sweetheart, bitchy girl, young mom, na├»ve bookworm - you name it. Until one day I tried my hand at casting and this came from a big Hollywood Casting Directors mouth – that whenever I went to see casting directors I would confuse them, because they knew I was a great Actress they would bring me in, but they would see me in roles that I wasn’t suitable before and then that would deter them from the roles I was suitable for. Now, that doesn’t mean don’t have diversity, but in the beginning of your career be your best, establish that and then build on that until you gain the trust and reputation to try new and exciting roles that you might not originally be cast for. Once you gain the trust of those you work with and know the market you are suitable for and where you fit in, you’ll be set.

What difficulties did you face trying to come along in this industry, especially for you, coming from another country?

The most difficult obstacle was definitely my visa to work as an actress in the States. You have to prove to the American government why you are the best at what you do and deserve to be given a shot in America. I had to get four film contracts, agency contracts, 20 pieces of press and 20 references from industry heavy weights.
What are the positives?

Waking up everyday and not knowing where you are going to be or who you are going to meet. I’ve been so grateful to meet so many amazing creative’s who are out in LA working in the industry and collaborating with them to make-work and tell stories. The opportunities are endless and everyday is a new, exciting chapter.

What should aspiring actors prepare themselves for?

Prepare yourself to work, set goals and make a plan. If there are areas you want to improve as an actor - make the moves to improve. You can enroll in classes or practice scenes with fellow actors and get your work critiqued, you can constantly be improving. Most of all, make your own work – 80% of an actors spend time waiting for that phone call or the knock on the door. So don’t wait for it, start making your own work and putting it out there. Just look at HBO’s current show Girls, that was created by Lena Dunham who is the star and was an Actress sick of waiting for the phone to ring so created her own show.

What's next for Celine Wallace? More film roles? Directing? Broadway?

All of the above I hope.

Thank you so much Celine, for taking the time to talk with us. Keep an eye Celine in Helen Keller had a Pitbull and you can follow her social media sites for more information on the movie and her upcoming projects.

For more on Actor/Director Celine Wallace:

Follow her on Twitter:

All photos are courtesy of Celine Wallace's FB page

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