You have goose bumps on your legs; you want to go somewhere else?
“No. It’s ok. My sports bra is wet with sweat; it’s making me cold.”
Where are you coming from right now?
What else did you do today?
“I went hiking through the canyon.”
Is this your regiment everyday or just for your current role?
“I exercise five to six days a week. It is part of the job to stay emotionally sound and physically fit — that’s what we are paid for. Basically we are the product, our bodies are the tool.”
How is your character described in the screenplay of your current film project Blood Shot?
“She’s in a desert in the Middle East and she is sitting on a sofa in a traditional love tent. She is modeled after Princess Jasmine from the famous Disney movie Aladdin, except she shows more skin.”
Is it horror?
“It’s a Sci-Fi comedy.”
What’s the pitch?
“It’s about a vampire and a stressed out cop chasing a terrorist cell.”
Your character is very sexy isn’t she?
“She’s sexy. This genre is usually sexually overt; here, it’s more what you can’t have. This is why I like this script because this genre can be very campy or purely sexual, but in this case, there aren’t loads of sex scenes, it’s really about the action and the plot. It’s all about the visuals and the vampire.”
I have heard you have been turned away for being too sexy? Does it hurt?
“Stop it! I think it is hard for the animal that is the business to see women as both smart and sexy, or funny and sexy, or believable and a sexual being. Independent filmmakers and independent thinkers can see past that. They have friends in their real lives who are artsy and intelligent and vivaciously sexy. When they say things like you’re too short, or too pretty, or too sexy, they’re just arbitrary reasons to explain why you aren’t the right fit for the role.”
What are you doing specifically to prepare for this role?
“I have to work on dialect. Zahra speaks with a slight Arabian accent and I am learning a little Arabic. So I am working on language skills and dialect and breaking down the scenes line by line to understand what she is going through and where the humor is. I think when you look at any scene as an actor, you want to figure out what you want, what are you trying to achieve, so you understand completely what you’re doing.”
The character you mean?
“You have to become the character.”
What character have you most enjoyed becoming?
“I’m working on a collaborative film project with filmmaker April Shih. It’s a mockumentary about life coaches, it’s titled: You, Only Better. It’s completely unscripted. I’ve gotten to build my character Kali Parker from the ground up with April’s direction. Kali’s a riot — the uber LA life coach to celebutantes — she’s hot and she means business.” (laughs)
What role have you liked playing least?
“I began my career doing TV hosting which I liked the least because, ultimately, I prefer taking parts where I can expose my feelings through other characters. With hosting you have to be the bubbly effervescent you all the time. I prefer slipping into character as someone else. Hosting for me felt limiting to what I want to do right now.”
What line from a script was the hardest to deliver?
“’Huh?’ ‘Huh’ doesn’t sound truthful coming out of me. ‘Huh’ is not something natural for me to say. Something as little as that can be difficult.”
How about a fun line?
“One of the most graphic things — I was screen-testing for a film; I had to ask him to f*ck me and ask how he wanted to do it. It was fantastic. It wasn’t perverse or campy, it was an honest encounter between two people — one who wanted to take it to the next level.”
Tell me about a line that was difficult to remember?
“I don’t remember the line, but it was in an audition to play a famous Indian Queen, I had to speak in an ancient Hindi accent and command an army in a strong, vulnerable, militaristic, sensual, and powerful way. It was a lot to embody at once. A writer has to get in a certain place in their head to write and an actor has to do everything in order to speak those words truthfully.”
Do you like getting exotic roles like this or do you feel limited by being type-cast?
“Luckily, because I have such an interesting past, having been born out of the country and raised in an all-American community with an International perspective, it allows me to be both the all-American and still the exotic stranger from another country. I get to audition for both, but do I think it limits me? Yes. Is it exciting to be both? Absolutely.”
What is the best advice you can give a screenwriter that would most enhance your experience as an actor?
“Dialog the material with someone who resonates the character. If it is a female character and you are a male writer, have a woman read your dialog out loud. What we hear in our head when we write is very different than how people actually talk. By reading it out loud, you can catch a lot of dialog that ultimately won’t work. It needs to feel right. If it is a teenager speaking, have a teenager read the dialog. It needs to be real.”
That is excellent advice. Thank you.