In a recent interview with Chelsea Bernier we learned a little more about this musical theater star.
1) At what age did you start acting?
There's a two sided answer to this... I've been in classes since I could walk and talk, so you could say I've had quite a bit of training over the years. However I have to put in a little plug for my acting teacher, Gary Imhoff, who emphasizes however old you are.. that's how many years of acting experience you have. I believe that message is an important one for people starting out in the "acting world." It is vital to hone basic skills, but also important to remain true to your essence and discover what moves you as an artist.
2) What was your very first acting role?
Officially or unofficially? I was queen of dress-up as a child so that accounts for at least two dozen of my finest character roles. That being said, my first unofficial role was probably the production I put on for my neighbors one Sunday afternoon. I think I did a monologue and danced to Mmm bop! by Hanson (on cassette!) with one of my childhood friends. My parents and neighbors had to pay ten cents to come to the show AND they had to return the fake flower that I gave them with their invitation. It was kind of a big deal. HA! Officially though, in regard to acting roles.. I was the narrator in my first grade play. I was that geeky kid who could memorize the entire script and was pretty much always cast as the narrator for my elementary school productions. Once I branched out of elementary school theatre, I played Baby Louise in a community theatre production of Gypsy.
3) What is your favorite part about acting?
I believe that acting is a healing art form, both for the actor and the audience. There is so much beauty in what actors do; how they find connections to each character and ultimately illuminate the human condition.
4) What was your favorite project you worked on?
I worked on a little production a couple of years ago with the International Committee of Artists for Peace called iChoose. It was a 20 minute musical, that we toured to various middle schools and high schools throughout Southern California, about choosing victory over violence. The show itself was quite moving, but what was so special about this project was that at each show we got to sit down and have a talk-back session with the students after our performance. We shared stories from our personal lives and spent time teaching the youth about different kinds of violence, how to overcome bullying, and to choose peace in their lives. Throughout the run of this show, I was constantly reminded of why I love to act. I saw so many lives transformed with that show, including mine. I also volunteer regularly with The Art of Elysium, and the roles I've played with them have also been some of my favorites. We do improv shows and play games with children who are battling serious medical conditions in hospitals and other facilities. I don't think there is any other place I could play a dog, a pig, a little boy, a mean girl, and a witch all in one day! Whether performing on Broadway or in a movie that breaks the box office, changing lives what it's all about.
5) Do you prefer acting for film or for theater?
I started out in musical theatre, and my heart will forever love the stage. Throughout my six years in Los Angeles though, I've grown an immense appreciation for film. I've always been a fan of classic movies and the poignant actors that have kept history alive. Lately though, I've started watching movies differently, probably as a result of spending so much time on set and in front of the camera. I find being on a film or television set is magical.
6) Who are your inspirations?
I am inspired by life. I think you have to find the beauty in all types of people so that you can bring that into your work. I also have a long list of people who I admire for things they have done for me specifically in my life or for the world. In sticking to "acting" inspirations though, some careers I have been inspired by include the careers of Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Julia Roberts, Charlie Chaplin, Robert DeNiro, Marlon Brando, and many more. Oh, and don't even get me started on directors. This could be a very long-winded answer!
7) What is something that you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting out as an actress?
In all honesty, I think in my earlier acting years I rarely fully committed to big, bold choices or put it all on the line. Whether I was aware of it or not, I think it was my way of accepting rejection, because I could rest assured that I could have always tried harder. Looking back, I can see that the times I did fully commit paid off. I wish that I would never have let a single one of my characters be dismissed. Gary Imhoff, my acting teacher, recently shed light on this for me, and it opened up a world of possibility in my mind as far as how important being specific in my choices is. As simple as acting is, it is so much more powerful when you are precise with your intention. As a result of me just growing up, gaining maturity, and getting some work under my belt I now make sure that every character I work on, I commit to.
8) Do you have any advice to give to talent that is just starting out?
Don't take things too seriously. Acting is this incredible, wonderful form of art but don't stop your life for it. The more life experience you have, the more you will have to use in your work. Take risks. Big risks. And, if you don't love it... don't do it. The great thing about acting is that you can do it at ANY age... if you need to take a break and live your life, do it. You can always come back to it and you may be better for it. I may have started young, but some of my biggest inspirations right now are some of my friends who are older than me, just starting out in acting or coming back to it with new passion after years away, and they are on this beautiful journey to find their voice. I did not know her personally, but a relevant person to illuminate what I am talking about was Kathryn Joosten. I read somewhere that she didn't start acting until she was 42, didn't go to Hollywood until she was in her 50s, and took her first memorable role at 59, and when she recently passed away, she went out with TWO EMMYS! Those are the stories that inspire me. Find what inspires you, whether it is acting or not, and no matter what age you are-go out and do it. And I always say. Go big, or go home :)