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Thursday
Sep282017

Call Answered: Sam Greisman: "Dinner with Jeffrey" at NewFest LGBT Film Festival

Sam GreismanSometimes a tweet by Sally Field, one of your idols, about her son's film, leads to your next interview. "October 21st. My son's (@SAMGREIS) funny, touching short is playing at @NewFestNYC. Go see it if you can!" After I took a look at the film's description, I called & Sam Greisman answered.

Sam Greisman is a rising film writer/director. As excited as he was I asked for an interview, I'm even more delighted to provide a platform to promote his film Dinner with Jeffrey, which he wrote & directed about a teen who's struggling after coming out when his gay uncle tries to teach him about the "gay lifestyle."

It was great talking with Sam about this film, learning about his creative process, coming out struggles, and so much more!

Dinner with Jeffrey will be playing in NewFest, NYC's premiere LGBT film festival on Saturday, October 21 at 11am in their Shorts Program: Boy Shorts at Cinépolis Chelsea (260 West 23rd Street, between 7th & 8th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Sam follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a writer/producer/director? Well, my whole family is in the business in some form or other. So I'm not sure if one individual person inspired me to be in film. It's really just all I know. What I grew up with. The only way I know how to live, basically.

2. This October, your short film, Dinner with Jeffrey, is part of NewFest, New York's LBGT Film festival. What made you want to write Dinner with Jeffrey as a short as opposed to a feature film? I wrote and directed Dinner with Jeffrey as part of my coursework at Columbia Film School - I graduate in May. So it wasn't really an option to make this as anything other than a short, that was really just how the concept came about.

3. Why did you want it to be part of NewFest? What do you feel this film festival will offer your short that another one might not? I know NewFest has a really great reputation among the LGBT community. They show a lot of great stuff and I'm really just glad to be included with all the other work. I'm pretty new to getting my stuff out there, so any opportunity, especially in New York is huge.

Owen Campbell in "Dinner with Jeffrey"4. Dinner with Jeffrey is about a young teen who is struggling to fit in after just coming out when his uncle tries to teach him about the "gay lifestyle." What was the most challenging part of the short to write and was was the easiest? Well, the short is based on something that happened to me shortly after I came out at 19, so I guess most of the dinner stuff was the easiest, but taking reality and turning it into something that felt like a story was definitely the challenge.

5. What did you learn about your own coming out experience from writing this short that you didn't know while you were going through it? I'm not sure that I learned this while making it, but I definitely think it's the message of the film and I learned it as I was coming out, which is that coming out doesn't necessarily mean one's own work is done. There's still a lot of figuring out and messiness happening. That's kind of what the short is about.

Reed Birney and Javier Spivey in "Dinner with Jeffrey"6. Looking back, I think, one of the funniest things my dad said to me, though at the time, this was him processing what I just told him, my dad said, "So you would rather look at a picture of a naked man instead of a naked woman?" and I said, "Yes." He said, "Ok." What was something, that looking back, you felt was the funniest thing one of your parents said to you after you came out, but at the time it was their way of processing that you were gay? I think my parents processed the fact that I was gay by the time I was five years old, so I kinda wish I could hear what they were saying to each other and my brothers about it then, because by the time I came out, they were more like "Ok, great, good job, lets go eat." Although when I was twenty, my grandmother did ask me if I had "taken a lover yet" and when I told her "Eww, please don't use that word," she said "why that's what all my friends called it when were in our 20s" (which was sometime in the 40s), which I thought was pretty cool.

7. How do you feel this short will help teens with their own coming out? Ha. I'm not sure that this film will help teens with their coming out, honestly. I think it's something someone should watch after they come out. Maybe future films of mine will deal with the actual coming out process and all that entails.

Javier Spivey and Owen Campbell in "Dinner with Jeffrey"8. Like the main character, "Oliver," who feels he must change who he is to fit in with the gays, was there a time in your life when you felt you had to change who you were to fit in? When did you realize you are perfect just the way you are? I definitely remember feeling VERY conflicted when I was in my teens. Realizing I was gay and really the only kids I knew that were out, didn't share my interests and I felt like I had to fit into some kind of stereotype because I was gay and I couldn't just be myself. I also think the early 2000s were such a different time than now, which is saying something since it hasn't been that long at all. I'm not sure if I ever felt perfect just the way I am, but only cuz I am naturally a very anxious person.

Owen Campbell and Javier Spivey in "Dinner with Jeffrey"9. If you had to describe Dinner with Jeffrey with a Madonna, Cher, Lady Gaga, Dolly Parton, & Cyndi Lauper song, what songs of theirs would you use? Wow. I don't think any of them have songs that basically just mean, everyone is the worst and life sucks. But if they did I would choose that one, cuz that's the best way to describe the film ha. I'm sure Gaga will get around to a song like that eventually. If she gets to like, a Joni Mitchell phase or something.

10. Since the short is called Dinner with Jeffrey, if could you have dinner with 5 of your favorite gay icons/influencers, who would you invite? What would you serve? And some would say, most importantly, what would you wear? Tough. Truman Capote, Laura Dern, Jane Fonda, Reese Witherspoon (she's on her way to being a gay icon) and Troye Sivan (cuz I have a crush on him). I wouldn't serve food. All booze and weed.

Sam GreismanMore on Sam:

29-year-old Sam Greisman grew up in West Los Angeles and has lived in New York City for the last nine years, since he moved there to attend undergrad at NYU. After years of running from the pressure of the family business, every member of his immediate family is in someway involved with television or filmmaking in some capacity, he discovered that storytelling is inescapably in his DNA.

He is currently in his thesis years as a Screenwriting/Directing concentrate at Columbia University. So far his scripts and films have dealt with his experiences as a young gay man, a very cynical young gay man and his feelings of not fitting in with the gay community.

Wednesday
Sep272017

Call Redialed: Andy Halliday: "Up The Rabbit Hole" at Theater for the New City

Andy Halliday, Photo Credit: Kevin CristaldiIt has been almost a decade since I first saw Andy Halliday Charles Busch's Times Square Angel at Theater for the New City. Over the years I've gotten to know Andy through the interviews we've done together. But this interview, about Andy's new play Up The Rabbit Hole, is the most raw & vulnerable I've seen Andy. With love, hope, and bravery, Andy really pulls back the curtain giving us a rare view into his life, both past and present, including the struggles and successes he has gone through.

Up The Rabbit Hole, directed by G.R. Johnson, is the story of a young gay man who, desperate to find answers to questions that consume his life as an adopted child, becomes obsessed with tracking down and connecting with his birth mother. His lack of identity in these formative years has led to a life of careless sexual exploits and reckless drug use. When he finally finds his mother, the answers he has been searching for his entire life finally give him the courage to combat his drug addiction and climb out of the darkness and Up The Rabbit Hole.

Up The Rabbit Hole is playing at Theater for the New City through October 15 only! Click here for tickets!

1. It's so great to catch up with you Andy on your new show Up The Rabbit Hole, a story of a young man who, desperate to find answers to questions that consume his life as an adopted child, becomes obsessed with tracking down and connecting with his birth mother. This production draws from your own life experience. What made now the right time to write such a personal piece of theatre? I love plays about dysfunction. If they’re well written, and they’re written from the heart, I identify with them. I learn something about myself. This play, Up The Rabbit Hole, has been in me for a long time. And after Nothing But Trash, I felt more confident as a playwright, and I also wanted to write something more naturalistic. This idea gave me the opportunity to do that.

2. What did you learn about yourself from writing this show? I learned that I get upset over the little things in life, the little things that in the long run aren’t worth getting upset about. I learned that I created a lot of stress for myself trying to be perfect. Always assuming that being imperfect kept me from fitting in, when in all reality, I just didn’t want to fit in. I wanted to isolate and protect myself from everyone and everything. I had a million excuses as to why I wasn’t successful as an actor. I blamed my failure on everyone else, rather than looking within, and seeing how I had sabotaged myself because of my lack of self-esteem. I was creating the failure, and to escape those feelings of inadequacy, I took to artificial substances to make myself feel better. But coming down from those "highs" only made my depression and self-hatred worse. I learned from writing this play, that I’m a completely different person than the one I was twenty-six years ago, and that I’m very grateful.

The cast of Andy Halliday's "Up The Rabbit Hole," Quinn Coughlin, Andrew Glaszek, Tyler Jones, Laralu Smith and Peter Gregus, , Photo Credit: Kevin CristaldiQuinn Couglin in Andy Halliday's "Up The Rabbit Hole", Photo Credit: Kevin Cristaldi3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Up The Rabbit Hole? To be more gentle with themselves. More forgiving of people who have substance abuse issues. But also an understanding of how to deal with the addict. Understanding the meaning of "tough love" and how it can help the person you care about get themselves into some sort of program. To love one’s self, warts and all. And there’s no such thing as a perfect person.

4. What has it been like to watch this cast bring your story to life? G.R. Johnson and I have been blessed with an amazing group of actors who are helping to bring a story of my past to life again. This play is pushing a lot of buttons in me watching rehearsals every night. I think sometimes if I got to do my life all over again, if I had known better, would I have gone down this path? Well, if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be the person I am now. And I like who I am, and I love the people that are in my life. I had to go through this awful time, the lowest point in my whole life, to begin developing self-esteem. It is so good to see how much my friends care about me. I really cherish them and my new sober life. But as I said, this play has been a very emotional experience, and no matter how much I tell myself "it’s in the past," and it’s just a play about a young man searching through life to find the answers to who he is and how he got here, it’s still tough.  The lead actor Tyler Jones, who’s so wonderful, said to me after a run through, "How did you live this life!  I’m exhausted!"

Quinn Couglin in Andy Halliday's "Up The Rabbit Hole", Photo Credit: Kevin CristaldiPeter Gregus and Tyler Jons in Andy Halliday's "Up The Rabbit Hole", Photo Credit: Kevin Cristaldi5. When were you at your loneliest? I’ve always been lonely. It’s just something so ingrained in me. But you deal with it, by of course reaching out to friends and family. It’s easier said than done, for me at least. I’m a loner and I’m very protective of myself. I’ve built up walls that have taken years to break down. I take a long time to trust others, due in part to my chaotic upbringing. But a day at a time I’m able to open up and let people in a little bit at a time. I’m surrounded by such loving friends and family. I’m extremely lucky and grateful for the people in my life. And perhaps one day, a door will open in that wall, to let in "Mr. Right." Who knows.

6. When did you first decide you wanted to find your birth mother? How long did it take to find her? Was the meeting everything you wanted? Did you stay in touch with your birth mother after finding her? I’ve always known I was adopted. My adoptive parents believed that it shouldn’t be a secret. So it was an obsession of mine. I felt that because I was adopted I was always an outsider. My parents loved me more than life itself and did anything and everything for me but I felt like I was bought. My mother registered me with a free search agency in CT. I was working Off-Broadway at the time, and was in the beginnings of my habit, so I forgot about it. But I don’t want to give away what’s in the play.

And yes meeting my birth mother was everything I hoped for. It was surreal, quite unbelievable. She was a lovely, gentle woman and we stayed in touch till she passed away. She gave me a beautiful china rose, which I still have. It’s funny that it was a rose, because my adopted mother’s name was Rose.

Tyler Jones, Laralu Smith, and Andrew Glaszek in Andy Halliday's "Up The Rabbit Hole", Photo Credit: Kevin CristaldiQuinn Couglin and Tyler Jones in Andy Halliday's "Up The Rabbit Hole", Photo Credit: Kevin Cristaldi7. As a result of you finding your birth mother, you were able to combat your drug addiction and climb out of the darkness. What was the hardest part about kicking your drug addiction? What has been the best part about being clean? The hardest part was giving up a drug that gave me a false sense of security, happiness, self-esteem, courage and one that made me feel sexy. All of this could have been done with just a couple of bumps, but by the time I went into rehab, I was really broken, and it took months to get everything out of my system. It messes up your endorphins - the thing in your brain that makes you feel better - and putting artificial stuff in your system screws with these endorphins, and now they need that substance to work.

The best thing about getting clean was that I got my life back. I have my artistic career again, but it’s different now. I own it. My life and the way I deal with things is my way, and that attitude attracts positive, artistic people. Like my dear friend and collaborator G.R. Johnson. None of my new success as a writer would have happened without him. He’s my rock, and so talented, and he makes me laugh, and laugh. He’s one of the funniest people I know.

8. Since you felt a lack of identity, during your formative years, when would you say you found who you were? I began to find myself after I began to get sober. I had to face my demons head on. It gave me strength, and my new friends loved me and enabled me to love myself. But it took years, and I’m still not completely there. Maybe I never will be, but my life is much better than it ever was.

9. What would Andy of today tell Andy of yesterday? Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. See who your real friends are. Everything works out the way it’s supposed to. Don’t try to control everything. Life is as wonderful as you make it. You only got one honey….

Andy HallidayMore on Andy:

Andy Halliday was part of Charles Busch’s and Kenneth Elliott’s Theatre-In-Limbo Company from 1984 to 1991. He originated roles in the Off-Broadway productions of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Psycho Beach Party, Times Square Angel, Red Scare On Sunset and The Lady In Question, for which he won the "Scene Stealer of the Month Award" from Playbill, and Hirschfeld created a caricature of him in the role as "Lotte" for the New York Times. He wrote and acted in I Can’t Stop Screaming in 1991. In 2004, he formed Pocketwatch Films, Inc. and has written, directed, and produced six films. It is his mission to make films about gay men and women, and explore the realities of what happens beyond "coming out." Dealing candidly with sex, drug addiction, and aging, he endeavors to make films with heart, humor, and honesty that are also incredibly sexy. In 2011, he was featured in the Off-Broadway comedy Devil Boys From Beyond, directed by Kenneth Elliott. And in 2014, he wrote and starred in Nothing But Trash, which was produced at Theater For The New City and directed by G.R. Johnson. He hopes to continue to create theatre that explores important issues within the queer community.

Tuesday
Sep192017

Call Answered: Kathleen Turner: "Finding My Voice," cabaret debut at PTC, "Serial Mom" & "The Graduate"

Kathleen Turner, Photo Credit: Deborah LopezI feel eternally grateful for being given the opportunity to interview the one and only Kathleen Turner, Academy Award nominee, Golden Globe winner & two-time Tony nominee, about her upcoming cabaret debut, entitled Finding My Voice, at Philadelphia Theatre Company. I grew up watching Kathleen Turner light up the big screen and as an adult, I got to see her on the Broadway stage. Peggy Sue Got MarriedSerial Mom, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Jewel of the Nile, and The Graduate on Broadway are just a few of my favorite Kathleen Turner projects.

Getting to talk with Kathleen about this special project was a true honor! She is so passionate about making her cabaret debut. The road to getting here was an interesting one. I loved hearing how one lunch meeting and a play lead to Kathleen fully embracing her desire to sing and the real reason why she waited so long to do it. It also fascinated me to learn why she is making her cabaret debut at the Philadelphia Theatre Company. But, my favorite part of this interview was learning who she would "Serial Mom" and who she would like to seduce, just like her character "Mrs. Robinson" did in The Graduate on Broadway.

Finding My Voice brings Kathleen's trademark husky voice to the American songbook, performing classic songs, interwoven with personal anecdotes, with her band, led by Mark Janas. Finding My Voice will play on Monday, September 25, for one night only, at Philadelphia Theatre Company at 7pm & 9pm! (480 S. Broad Street, Broad & Lombard Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146). Click here for tickets!

1. This September you are making your cabaret debut at Philadelphia Theatre Company with your show Finding My Voice. What made you want to venture into the cabaret world? How long has this been in the works for...from your first thought of, "I want to do a cabaret show" to inception? Molly Smith, who is the artistic director at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, asked me to do Mother Courage and Her Children in 2014, which is a play with songs as opposed to a full fledged musical. The character "Mother Courage" sings five songs, so I thought, I’d like to give it a try. The reason I never sang professionally, prior to Mother Courage, was because when I started in the business 40 years ago, any woman my age was a Soprano, which clearly, was not going to be me. So at the beginning of my career, I told people, "No I don’t sing, I just act" and that became true.

So I worked on my singing to get those songs to a place where I would be confident performing them before I started rehearsals. If you know Mother Courage and Her Children, they called it Lear2 because it’s a huge text, so I felt, if I got the songs out of the way before I get down there, it’d be of good for everyone. The production was thrilling, absolutely amazing. I loved doing it, I loved my singing, so, when I got back to New York, in between jobs, I contacted Andy Gale and Mark Janas, and said, I want to keep working with you guys and just see what I can do. Then I went away to do Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and upon my return, I called Andy & Mark and said I want to get serious about signing, set a real schedule, and see what happens. So all three of us started bringing in songs that we loved or thought would fit my vocal range and we discussed some stories that reflected parts of my life and from there things started to fall into place. Then one of us said, "Let’s make this a cabaret" and I said, "Ok!" So, I sat down and really started to write the body/patter of the night, linked them up to the songs and it turned into Finding My Voice.

Kathleen Turner2. What made you want to make your cabaret debut at Philadelphia Theatre Company? I'm making my debut at PTC because I created the play Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins there. They’ve always been very supportive and good to work with. The new artistic director Paige Price is just terrific. Paige & I were throwing our heads together to find a way to generate more income ourselves because you know whatever budget comes out of Washington, G-d help us, it will cut the arts. So we thought of a template to allow us to have cabaret shows on the theatre’s stage. We are sort of going to close the curtains to the house and put tables on the stage. We have a great designer who is going to hang practical chandeliers to create a ceiling and room atmosphere and we have the best sound guy in the business, Nevin Steinberg, who happens to be married to Paige (thank you very much), to figure out how to work the sound in the cinderblock world.

If we can really make this template work, why wouldn’t it work for other regional houses around the country who have dark nights during the run of a show and like PTC, have a subscription based audience.

3. What excites you most about making your cabaret debut? I’m really very proud of myself because this is something that I created and I’m getting better and better as a singer and I love it!

Some of the show is about my career and the excitement of it and being away and what that costs you and some it is about how your life changes and how you have to adjust to those unexpected moments. It’s kind of like an arc of my life, but with songs that make sense to me about it.

4. What has it been like to prepare for this evening? How is it similar to your preparation of an acting role? As you can imagine after all these years in the business, I have pretty good control of my voice, period. It wasn’t that big of a leap to use it in another way, but it is different. There’s a lot you can do with the rhythm and melody line that creates emotion or thought in cabaret that you don’t have in scripts. It’s almost like floating a boat. I’m not real sure how to describe it. I think it takes me more out of myself.

5. What was the first song you knew, hands down, you just had to sing? I was down in Washington DC doing my usual marching or testifying & Molly Smith asked me if I wanted to have lunch with her. I said, "Yeah, great." As we are driving around in her Volkswagen, and I tell this story in the show, she asks me if I can sing. I said, "Yeah, I can sing." So she asks me to sing something. I said, "What? Now? Right here in the car?" She said, "Why not?" I thought to myself, you know the song I always loved to sing is "Since I Fell For You," and so I sang that and afterwards, Molly says, "You can sing" and that is when she offered me the part in Mother Courage. But I’ll tell you, the song sounds a lot better with a band though [laughs].

6. I love the title of your show, Finding My Voice. What do you feel you found with cabaret that you were not finding in acting/directing? There's many ways to use your voice. I don’t think there is only one avenue, one method. But cabaret is a new way to use my voice. At least new to me. One of the things that was most pleasing to me was I had an invited dress about a week ago at Don’t Tell Mama’s in NYC and somebody said to me, "I really liked this. It’s not just like going to a cabaret and hearing somebody sing songs. It’s more like coming to a night of theatre." That was very exciting for me to hear because this is a show I put together.

Kathleen Turner, Photo Credit: REX/SHUTTERSTOCK7. Are there plans already to bring this show to NYC or will you wait until after the show to figure out next steps? I already agreed to book Michael Feinstein’s club in San Francisco, Feinstein's at the Nikko, and at first, I said, "Wait a minute, I haven’t even done this yet," and Michael said, "Well, if you’re doing it, it's going to be great" and I was like "Well, thank you for the vote of confidence." So, yeah, I’m booked there in October and then I’m getting all kinds of calls from different venues around NYC, so I think we’ll be bringing it to the city. I don’t want this to run away with me, but it’s kind of ideal because, now that I know I love doing it, if I do a film or a play, I can book this show around it. It gives me a freedom within a longer-term project which is really kind of cool.

8. I have a new segment to my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now" where I like to clear up any misconceptions out there. What do you feel is the biggest misconception out there about yourself that you'd like to clear the air about? Oh honey, I’m not going to criticize myself in public. Give me a break! I mean there are plenty of people to find fault with me, let them do it.

Kathleen Turner as "Mrs. Robinson" in "The Graduate" on Broadway9. I also have a section called 1% better, where through my own fitness regime, I try to inspire people to improve their lives by 1% better everyday. What is something in your life you'd like to improve by 1% better everyday? Doing service in the organizations I volunteer for: City Meals, Planned Parenthood, and People for the American Way. I give as much as I can, given the availability of my time. It’s so rewarding & enriches my life. I tell people all the time that you don’t know how much this gives you until you start doing it. I’m always trying to do a little more of that. 

10. Two of my favorite projects of yours are Serial Mom & The Graduate on Broadway. So my two questions are, if you could Serial Mom anybody, who would you run down (my favorite way you offed someone in the movie.)? [Huge Laugh] Oh, well, why not be honest, I usually am, Mike Pence. I don’t worry about Trump as much as I worry about him.

11. In The Graduate on Broadway, you played "Mrs. Robinson," who seduced Jason Biggs' character "Benjamin Braddock," Kathleen Turner interjects, "At age 48 might I add." If you could seduce anyone today, who would you choose? That’s a good one. It’s not my style usually to seduce, but I just met Nathan Fillion, from Castle, in Toronto. He was a sweetheart! I’ll take him.

Kathleen TurnerMore on Kathleen:

American film, television and stage actress, Kathleen Turner is known for her trademark husky voice. She starred on Broadway in High, Indiscretions; The Graduate; and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, for which she received Tony nominations for Best Actress. On screen, she garnered critical acclaim for her performances in Body Heat, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe; Romancing The Stone and Prizzi's Honor, each of which earned her a Golden Globe Award; Peggy Sue Got Married, which brought both Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations; and War of the Roses, for another Golden Globe nomination.

On television, Kathleen guest starred on the hit NBC sitcom Friends as "Chandler Bing’s" cross dressing father and as a sex crazed owner of a talent agency on Showtime’s Californication. As a voice actress, Kathleen performed the role of "Jessica Rabbit" in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and on the television series The Simpsons and King of the Hill.

Recently, Kathleen has turned her attention to directing with such productions as Would You Still Love Me If… at New World Stages, The Killing of Sister George at Long Wharf Theatre, and Crimes of the Heart at both Roundabout Theatre and Williamstown Theatre Festival. In addition, Kathleen released her 2008 autobiography Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on my Life, Love, and Leading Roles, which secured a position on the New York Times Best-Seller List.

Wednesday
Sep132017

Call Answered: Allison King: "Midnight Special," "Baby Driver," and "Thank You For Your Service"

Allison King, Photo Credit: Birdie Thompson, Hair: Matilde Campos, Makeup: Anton KhachaturianWhen you meet an actress like Allison King who loves dogs, goes hiking, and has worked with some of your favorite actors, there's nothing you can do, but get excited to interview her!

If you look at Allison King's resume, it's like a who's who of Hollywood, of whom she has already worked with: Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Amy Schumer, Kirsten Dunst, & Adam Driver. In this interview, we find out about all the projects she's worked on plus the one trip that changed her life!

Most recently, Allison was seen in Baby Driver, alongside Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey. This October she can be seen with Amy Schumer in Thank You For Your Service, based on the book of the same name, which follows the story of men who have come back after tours in Afghanistan with PTSD. The film concentrates on how the disease can affect the individuals and their families.

For more on Allison check out her IMDB page and follow her on Twitter and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I had wanted to be an actor from a really early age. I wanted to be "Joan Wilder" in Romancing the Stone or "Mikey" in Goonies. When I was a kid though, my parents insisted I have a normal childhood so they quietly discouraged it. It wasn’t until much later, when I saw Bill Irwin do Fool Moon in San Francisco that that desire came back…and it came back strong. Right away I signed up for a part time conservatory at ACT in San Francisco and it started me on this path anew. Since then, I’m constantly inspired by the work of other actors. Frances McDormand and Nicole Kidman are my current obsessions.

Allison King2. As a kid you often put on plays and dance recitals for your parents. Now that you are professionally working, what does the kid in you think about where you are now? I kind of can’t believe it. The road upward in this business gets very daunting. There was a day about eight years ago where I had to release any expectation of success. I had been auditioning pretty regularly and I just could not book a job. I had to say to myself: "Even if I never have any outward success I’ll be happy just doing free theater in my community." And that was the truth. The process and the joy of the work is really the best part. Funny enough, that hasn’t changed since being a kid and putting on silly recitals in my front room.

3. Seeing whom you've starred alongside thus far, is like a who's who of Hollywood, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Amy Schumer, Kirsten Dunst, & Adam Driver, just to name a few. What do you think is one lesson you learned from each of these heavy hitters? Yeah, meeting your idols is always a strange experience. You realize quickly that they’re just another creative artist trying to do their best work, and you hope they’re just another actor. Meaning: We actors have similar ways of working, of taking care of each other during a scene, whether it’s on stage or on set: we show up for each other in a way that is intimate and vulnerable and really magical. I think the thing to learn is they’re doing the same work we’re doing. Yes, they have higher salaries and other fun perks, but ultimately the work is the same. That scene you did in class feels the same as the scene you do on set with Big Name Star. You may get a lot more juice from them, but it’s still the same work. 

Allison King, Photo Credit: Dana Patrick4. What can you tell us about your experience filming the recently released Baby Driver starring Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey? I had been talking to anyone who would listen about Shaun of the Dead for years. So when I got the audition for Baby Driver, I already knew the Edgar Wright canon and just wanted to work with him so badly. Then in the call back he was just about as nice as a sweet peach. Talk about meeting your idols! So yeah, it was really fun! I mean, Edgar is a genius and I knew I was in good hands. Then meeting Bill Pope was like a cherry on top and again, so nice and generous and down to earth. Then the actors. I mean, I almost have nothing to say because it was all like a dream…a beautiful dream that I’m still afraid I’ll wake up from.

5. This October you star along with Amy Schumer, in Thank You For Your Service, a film which follows the story of men who have come back after tours in Afghanistan with PTSD. How did you prepare for your role of "Linda Sanders," an overworked Veterans Affair Counselor? How do you feeling working on film with such a serious subject matter changed you? The movie is based on a book (of the same name) by David Finkel and is a follow up to his other book, The Good Soldiers. So, to prepare I read the books and I spoke to some vets I knew in my own personal life specifically about their experience at the VA and with their own counselors. Jason Hall’s script is so beautiful and stays close to what David Finkel wrote so I felt I had so much source material to get lost in. It was really lovely to have those touchstones. As for how it changed me, it’s hard to say, because I’ve always been concerned about the welfare of our veterans. It’s a shame on our country how we treat our vets. The sheer will and bravery these soldiers have shown deserves a lot more than they get. Especially with this administration and it’s unhinged tweets isolating an entire sector of that group. I mean, it’s a deep shame we all carry. We can pretend it’s not there but we need to face it and do something about it.

Allison King in "Midnight Special"6. In the sci-fi drama Midnight Special, you played "Hannah," a cult survivor who lived each day to the fullest. What I want to know is in this post-election world where it looks like doomsday could be any day, how do you, Allison, live each day to the fullest? Wow good question! I definitely have had to limit my exposure to media since November. I get my news from only a few trusted sources so that I can stay informed and the rest I kind of block out. I also take action when it’s necessary so that I feel a part of this great democracy. Then there are two things that keep me happy. The first is paying attention to my body. I think as a woman we’re taught from an early age to be polite and be nice even in situations where we feel we’re in danger. This creates a disconnect of self to body so we begin to not trust our instincts and ourselves. I believe our body always knows the truth and so I try to stay connected. That means drinking water, exercise and rest. It also means taking time out and re-reading my favorite books, or listening to music that pleases me.

Secondly, I try to cultivate joy. This goes back to the body and listening to what she needs. But it’s also checking my mindset and making sure I don’t focus only on the negative. As someone who’s dealt with depression, this is really important. My mind can get dark and I need to make sure to keep the blinds up and the windows open, you know? I have a quote on my refrigerator that I stole from my friend (fellow actress) Annie Cavalero: "Relax and Breathe: There are too many possible positive outcomes to be a pessimist." I love this and it’s a perfect reminder as I refill my water bottle.

Allison King7. How do you feel studying abroad in Paris shaped you as an actress? What is one thing you miss most about Paris? Paris was actually a huge turning point in my life, not just in acting. It was seismic and profound and hard and lonely and sad and romantic and wonderful. I had been a very young 19 going in and had a profound growing up experience there. I think the biggest lesson I walked away with was how limitless life could be. We grow up in our little kid lives, and our parents are like gods, and you play by the rules and do what you’re told, and we’re completely shaped by our limited experiences.

It was this amazing gift that I gave myself, to jump out of my mold and see what it was to be American, Woman, Student, Nanny from a completely different perspective. My family was just amazed that I had done this thing…I mean I had never even left California! I came home bigger and more fluid and compared to that, things weren’t as scary as they used to be. As for what I miss, I mean, I miss the night walks through the city, I miss the history, the trees in spring, sitting beside the Seine in the summer. And the metro: if only all cities had such an impressive transportation system!

8. Like you, I am a dog lover as well. If you could be any kind of dog, which one would you be? I mean, any dog would do! But I think a mutt. I feel like a mutt most days, the long shot, the scrappy one no one ever expected much of, the one you’re not sure about at first but who wins you over in the long run. That seems about right.

Allison King and her dog9. When you take your dog for walks on the beach, do you ever just sit and stare out into the ocean? If so, what do you think about when you are looking out over the great body of water? Honestly, I go very literal when I look at the ocean. I imagine all the life down there that you can’t see. I think of the forms of life we haven’t discovered yet. I think of how all those forms of life are interconnected and interdependent. I also like to think that this water may have touched the shores of Japan or China and India and Dubai and France. The water is all connected and it connects us all. I also like to think about how it’s always moving and never at rest. I love being near the water. It is wonderfully uplifting and grounding all at once.

10. I also love how you enjoy hiking with your dog. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? What a nice question. I think…hmmm…I’d like to think I work on my own self-love every day. I hate that word: self-love, but there is no word for it that I’ve found. It comprises self acceptance, self understanding, self knowledge and self growth. I think when you’re not in the mainstream (ie, white, cis, straight male), there is this voice inside of you that is separate from your Self and you examine your Self from that external vantage and necessarily that Self is found wanting because it isn’t in line with the mainstream. I think recognizing that separation, healing it, and then discovering, without judgment, who you are and what you love is a radical act. I’m really jazzed about the new voices emerging from the "fringes" on shows like Transparent, Insecure, Masters of None. It feels so fresh and exciting and whole and creative. And I want to continue to find that voice in myself: what is the feminine without the whore/mother division. But it’s a constant journey of acceptance and love and striving for growth and then acceptance and love again. Sometimes all I want to do is take over the world and sometimes I want to eat Cheetos and watch Hulu. So there you have it.

Allison King, Photo Credit: Dana PatrickMore on Allison:

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Allison's passion for acting began at the young age of five. A natural performer, she would often put on plays and dance recitals for her mother and father. After noticing her talents, her mother put her into dance classes to further develop her skills. Allison went on to attend San Francisco State University, where she studied International Relations and French, as well as taking her first acting classes. After studying abroad in Paris for a year, Allison landed in New York City where she studied at The Esper Studio. After her stint on the East Coast, Allison returned to Los Angeles where she resides with her husband and their beloved dog Cassius. In her spare time, she loves to go on hikes with Cassius at parks and dog beaches.

Monday
Sep112017

Call Answered: Jamie Aderski: "Cry Baby: My (Reluctant) Journey Into Motherhood" at The PIT

Jamie Aderski, Photo Credit: Eric Micheal PearsonIf you are a parent, particularly a mother or mother-figure, this interview is for you! Life is one big adventure and how we react to it varies from person to person. Motherhood is one journey, and while I don't have personal experience with it, I know a lot of woman who handle it with varying degrees. Some are super excited by it and all that has to go with it. Others can barely keep their head above water. And some glide through it, taking it all in stride. How ever you walk through it, one thing is for sure, you are not alone. And that's what Jamie Aderski has discovered in her show Cry Baby: My (Reluctant) Journey Into Motherhood, which will be coming back to The PIT this fall.

Cry Baby: My (Reluctant) Journey Into Motherhood came about because Jamie had a baby. People ask her "How’s it going?" and she’s tired of saying "Great!" Everyone lied to her about birth and beyond, so here’s the raw truth. After this show, people may now ask "Is she ok?" Whether you have a kid, are thinking about having one, or can’t even keep a plant alive, it’s vital you attend.

Cry Baby: My (Reluctant) Journey Into Motherhood will play from September 15-November 10 at The PIT's The Striker Theatre (123 East 24th Street). Click here for tickets!

For more on Jamie be sure to visit http://jamieaderski.com and follow her on Facebook, TwitterYouTube and Instagram!

Jamie Aderski1. Who or what inspired you to become an actress/comedian? I wanted to be an actress since I was a kid. I loved musicals, that was what I wanted to do; acting, dancing and singing. I knew early on that in order to stand out, you needed to create your own material, so I produced a show in my backyard when I was seven. Nobody showed up. Hoping this show goes better.

I got into comedy because I was tired of trying to fit into a box as an actress. I was always drawn to comedy, but didn't think it could really be a thing for me. I grew up watching SNL, SCTV, The State, Upright Citizens Brigade, Mr. Show, and the women seemed like an afterthought. They didn't get to play the meaty bits like the men did. More often than not they were there for the men to play off of, the "straight (wo)man," mom, wife. Looking back, there are many female comedians to look to as inspiration for a career in comedy, but that's not how it felt at the time. I think the late 90's was a turning point, when I started to see females really kicking ass. I'll never forget when I first saw Waiting For Guffman. I was so in awe. These were real (comedic) characters with depth! And the women! Parker Posey, and of course, the brilliant Catherine O'Hara whom I have always admired. Then, Tina Fey, Cheri Oteri, Molly Shannon, Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, these are the woman that I wanted (and still aspire) to be. They were all funny as hell and fearless. They commanded respect.

Designed by Cayla Merrill2. This fall you are returning to The PIT with your show Cry Baby: My (Reluctant) Journey Into Motherhood. What made now the right to bring this show back? It gets me out of the house, ha! But also, I miss it. There is an endless cycle of people thinking about having kids, having kids, deciding not to have kids. It's a pretty universal topic. Lately, a lot of people I know are recently married or pregnant couples, which I think fired me up to do this show again because I've been talking about it so much. It's a public service, really.

3. Let's go back to the beginning for a moment. When did you decide to write this show? I really didn't decide to. I actively made the decision that I wasn't going to write anything for a while. I was in such a deep hole after having my son. Two-ish months in, I woke up, not because he was crying, but because the title popped into my head. I grabbed pen and paper (I always keep next to my bed, I find I get my best ideas in the middle of the night) and ended up writing a few pages. I woke up and was like, "Well crap, I have to write this show now." And from there, honestly, it was the easiest thing I've ever written, which made me question if this show was just the incoherent ramblings of a sleep deprived, hormonal, postpartum mom. Happy to say I was pleasantly surprised that people dug it so much.

Jamie Aderski in "Cry Baby: My (Reluctant) Journey Into Motherhood", Photo Credit: No Future Photography4. How did writing/performing this show help you reconcile your feelings of frustration with what others told you or didn't tell you about motherhood? It was/is cathartic. I think that's why I love to perform it so much. I have a real goal and a message I want to get across, well, several. It's an active, living, breathing show. The things I talk about are graphic, raw, and (what I thought was) my experience alone. I didn't expect that so many people would be able to relate to it. Parents and non-parents have thanked me after the show for being so honest. I'm a pretty private person, but it's worth the risk of being so vulnerable if I can put on a show that is healing for me, and empowers other people. (And also if I can make people laugh at this crazy shit. Then it's worth it).

5. Since the show is called Cry Baby, what is one thing you just cried like a baby over about birth or motherhood? My body being destroyed from pushing a human out of it. It was a shock. I read every book, every blog, but nothing was thorough enough, specific enough. I felt like I would never heal. Everything hurt, everything was was bleeding, everything was out of order. And I thought I would pee my pants forever. But it gets better.

Jamie Aderski, Photo Credit: Eric Micheal Pearson6. I feel the description of your show is like that episode of Sex and The City where "Berger" tells "Miranda," "He's just not that into you" and she has that revelation of truth and then in turn tries to impart that knowledge on others. What one piece of advice you learned from birth or motherhood that you must let people know before they themselves experience it? That you can't really prepare for it. That it's okay to be depressed after what is "supposed" to be the most incredible experience of your life. It doesn't mean you love your child less than someone who isn't. Let go of expectations.

You can't prepare for how you will feel physically or mentally after birth (or in life, like, ever, right?) And ask for help. I don't like to ask for help, I never have, but now, I am humbled. I need to sometimes. Look for the helpers, like "Mister Rogers" said, they are there. Don't be too proud to stand by the subway stairs with your stroller and make eye contact until someone offers to help. I make a point to pay it forward, so that I don't feel bad about needing help from a stranger. Now I look for people who need help, and it feels good. I never saw them before.

7. What has been the worst part of motherhood? What has been the best part? The worst part is having to give up time for yourself. I can't just grab a drink with a friend or wander around Union Square or take a nap. It sounds selfish, but I'm selfish. Aren't we all? Shouldn't we be? The best part is that it's not just you anymore. There is someone more important, and that's oddly freeing. I've realized how most of the shit I worried about doesn't matter. And I'll nap when I'm dead. So there's that to look forward to.

Jamie Aderksi and family, Photo Credit: Jamie Grill photography8. What has been some of your favorite audience reactions to this show? A 20-something said to me: "I thought it was just gonna be about having a baby (eye roll). But it wasn't! I loved it!" - my favorite quote.

A woman who recently had a baby thanked me with tears in her eyes. She felt like she was alone. It's 2017 and the mental health and well-being of new moms is a taboo subject? All the more reason I want to do this show to normalize it and create awareness. Also to make people laugh. I said that already, right?

9. Has your mom seen this show? If so, what did she think of it? She did! She thought it was "so relatable" because she "went through all those things, too!" Naturally, I was pissed, and of course, I asked why she didn't warn me. Her answer: "It (having a baby) is so difficult, but if I told you, I wouldn't have a grandchild." Clearly my Mom is part of the problem, oy!

10. If you could do it all again with the knowledge you gained, would you still become a mother? A thousand times, yes. (But I would go easier on myself).

Jamie Aderski, Photo Credit: Eric Micheal PearsonMore on Jamie:

Jamie is an actress, comedian, and writer, originally from South Jersey. She studied at The Peoples Improv Theater, Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and Annoyance Theatre (NYC). She is a graduate of the Maggie Flanigan Studio conservatory program for acting (NYC), and graduated summa cum laude with a BS in psychology from Fordham University. Jamie has been featured in sketches for Comedy Central, UCB Digital, Elite Daily, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. She has appeared in several national commercials, and in print ads with babies and stuff. Inspired by real things and imaginary things in her head, Jamie is the writer and performer of character pieces. Also, her solo show, I Just Disappear, was showcased in the 2016 Boston Comedy Arts Festival and her newest one-woman show, Cry Baby: My (Reluctant) Journey Into Motherhood was a part of the 2016 SOLOCOM Festival in NYC. The comedic sitcom pilot she wrote, The F-Factor, most recently won 4th place in FilmMakers.com's TV script writing competition. She performs in repertory at The Peoples Improv Theater (where she also teaches improv,) Wednesdays at 8pm on the Mainstage with improv house team, "Desperado."