-Interview by Nic Brown-
Nic- Anna, how did you get your start in film?
Anna- In early 2004 I was 19 and I had just left the University I had been attending for a semester. I was taking time off to apply to theatre schools and do a little auditioning in the DC area where I'm from. One of the first auditions I went on was for an indie horror film called THE WICKEDS that was shooting in Manassas and Great Falls, VA, very close to where I lived. I guess it's what they call beginners luck that I was cast as the lead on my first film audition. Once we started shooting I was totally hooked on film and the process of making films, there was no looking back.
Nic- So your first role was actually one in Virginia. What made you decide to head for New York?
Anna- The theatre is where I grew up. When I was seven years old I was in a community theater rendition of "The King and I" and I became totally addicted. It was pretty hardcore for a seven year old; rehearsals till 2am on a school night, doing the show with the flu and having to walk off stage to throw up and then walk right back on. I just remember loving it. I went on to do a lot of theater in high school. By the time I graduated I had done well over 20 or so shows. After I got the film bug I thought I was done with theater, at least for a while, but then I started doing it again in NYC a couple of years ago. The last show I did ran off-off Broadway for a month and it was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.
Nic- Which do you find more challenging, working in theater or film?
Anna- They are both challenging in very different ways. In theater, you typically spend a longer time preparing. There are weeks of rehearsals, in which a lot of little details need to be worked out. This also gives me time to work on my character and choices with the other actors and director; it's great training. The challenge in theater is being able to perform the same show, the same scenes over and over again, night after night and be able to breath new life into it every time. I find film to be a lot more spontaneous. I'm able to react more naturally because for one, I'm not playing to the back of the house, and two, I haven't done this scene or said this line with this intensity before, so you never know what could happen and end up being magically caught on film. Theatre is better for instant gratification because you get the audience response right away. Something magical happens on stage and only the people in that room get to experience it, because after that it's gone forever. Film takes longer to feel satisfied by, because it takes months or years to finish, but film lasts forever.
Anna- I just finished the run of my last show, which was called "We Call Her Benny" here in NYC. I've very recently started working with a new agency and am in the process of getting all sorts of new things rolling. Interestingly enough I've started singing again to pursue more musical theatre. I sang for years growing up but gave it up when I moved to New York because I was more interested in film and didn't think I could compete with all the Broadway babies. But my agent thinks I should give it a try again so I'll let you know what happens! Maybe I'll just end up wanting to start a band ;) Other than that there are a few things here and there that may or may not happen anytime soon. Anyone who works in independent film knows projects don't always go as anticipated, so I've learned to never hold my breath. Keep your eyes peeled for a possible new film by Shawn Hunt of THE SHRIEKING to start filming next year.
Nic- It sounds like you have a lot of different directions you can take your talent in. With your new agency, are you planning to focus on one creative medium such as theatre or film or do you plan to continue working in both?
Anna- I absolutely plan to work in both. I've gone through periods in my life and career when I thought I was only ever going to do one or the other. When I was a young girl, I thought all I wanted to do was be on Broadway. After I started working in film I thought that was the only thing I was ever going to do. Now that I've worked in both, I see the value in both and I love doing both. I imagine film as being where I'll eventually spend a lot of my time, but as long as good theatre keeps being produced, I'll keep doing it.
Nic- I understand that you’ve just recently finished another film project is that right?
Anna- Yes, you can check me out in the very soon to be released trailer for film maker Tom Holland's new web series "5 or Die", hopefully coming out around the fourth of July.
Nic- You mentioned that you might like to try your hand at musical theatre. Thinking of that, is there one production in particular that you'd like to work on?
Anna- Not particularly. Musical theatre is such a full and visceral experience for an audience member. I'm not a huge fan of really fluffy musicals, I prefer pieces that are deeper and actually bother to tell an amazing story through all the lights and costumes and music. Don't expect to see me clamoring to be the next Elle Woods in Legally Blonde The Musical. Although I don't imagine I would turn it down if someone offered it to me....
Nic- Do you have any interest in branching out within the film industry to do things like writing or directing?
Anna- I enjoy writing, I like to occasionally write poetry or little short stories, but I'm not sure writing screenplays is something I would ever be very good at. I have a lot of ideas, but I think I would rather collaborate my ideas with someone who is frankly a better writer than I am to produce a screenplay. As for directing, I think a while down the road that would be something I would really love to do, after I've really mastered this whole acting thing.
Nic- You've been in a number of films and so far they have mostly been in the horror genre. Are you a fan of horror films?
Anna- I love horror films. I've always been a fan of the genre, since i was little. I used to read Goosebumps books and choose your own adventure horror stories in elementary school. I must enjoy the feeling of being scared, it's so real. Do you remember a show on Nickelodeon in the 90's called "Are You Afraid of the Dark"? I loved it. As an actor, horror films are fabulously fun to be in. Completely exhausting, but very fun. As an audience member, horror films are still my favorite to see in the theater.
Nic- So what are some of your favorite horror films?
Anna- I'm terrible at answering "what's your favorite" kind of questions. The first that comes to mind is THE DESCENT. I loved that one; it scared me more than any other horror movie in a long time. EVENT HORIZON terrorized me when I was 13 (random I know). ZOMBIE HONEYMOON is up there as one of my favorite Indies, and SLITHER wins as my favorite campy film. One can't leave out the EVIL DEAD or NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET films... I could sit here for hours racking my brain and coming up with more, but you get the idea.
Nic- If you had the chance to go back and play one character from any horror film, who would you like to play?
Anna- Ripley in ALIEN? Juno or Sara in THE DESCENT? Ginger in GINGERSNAPS? I like reluctant but strong and compelling female characters that have a little bit of an edge.
Nic- Anna, as someone working in the industry, what do you think about films like HOSTEL or the more recent FRONTIERS, which some critics have called "torture porn"?
Anna- I don't disagree with the filmmakers’ right to make them, but I'm personally kind of over it. I enjoyed HOSTEL to a certain extent, but enough is enough in my opinion. People can go right on ahead making those movies, and I'm sure lots of people will watch them, but I'd rather not participate myself.
Nic- Can you tell us something about yourself that most people don't know or realize?
Anna- I wish I had a black belt in kung fu. My little cousin does but I'm not as cool as him. I could make up something really cool to say here but honestly, I'm pretty boring. With all the chopping off zombie heads and driving four-wheelers off cliffs that I do in movies, I'm happy to just come home and play with my puppy at the end of the day. I like to leave all the exciting stuff to the characters in my head ;)