Interview with Amy Wade

Amy Wade_indieactivity

Amy Wade was born and raised in a small town 20 minutes North of Boston called Reading Massachusetts. Amy Wade has an older brother and sister. Amy’s parents are amazing human beings and they have been married for over 50 years. Amy Wade and her siblings are fortunate to have an awesome childhood. Amy was very outgoing and active and she loved to perform in front of others whenever there was an opportunity. Amy Wade loved to make her siblings laugh. Amy would make silly faces and characters and put on plays and dance around like a little maniac. Amy Wade first stage performance was back in Elementary school, Amy was in the first grade. She played a “Mother Bunny” in an Easter production called “The Magic Egg.” Amy’s parents helped her make the egg with Papier-mâché and it was huge and we painted it. Amy was so proud of that egg! Amy rehearsed her lines but her favorite one was, “Look Children! It’s the MAGIC EGG!” When I said it, the audience cheered.

Amy was so excited she started waving to my family and dropped the egg. It rolled off the stage and hit the floor. Amy’s friend’s little brother was sitting in the front row and he grabbed the egg and threw it back on stage like he was pitching a baseball. It hit Amy on the head, and she started to cry. My father grabbed the little brat and started to choke him. (I’m kidding.) He punched him in the face instead. (Kidding again.) Lol.

Even though Amy cried and forgot the rest of her lines, “THE MAGIC EGG” is what triggered her desire to become an actress. I never looked back.

Did you study acting
When I graduated from High School I moved to Hollywood. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no connections or guidance in the business. I didn’t know how to get an agent or where to look for one. I didn’t know what a headshot was. I wasn’t even a good actress! I knew this, yet I still wanted to pursue it. I wanted to become an amazing actress. Like Meryl Streep or Vivien Leigh or Audrey Hepburn. I attended a bunch of different acting classes for many years but I knew I wasn’t getting any better. But I didn’t want to give up. I looked in the Hollywood Reporter and the classifieds to find auditions for plays and student films and low-budget movies.

I booked a few jobs here and there. But I was never happy with my performances. Then a friend took me to see a play called, “Welcome Home Soldier” at Playhouse West Repertory Theatre. I was mesmerized by the actor’s performances. They were real and natural and believable. I wanted to be as good as they were. After the show, I asked one of the cast members if I could attend classes at the school. He told me to audit a class the next day and talk to Robert Carnegie, one of the founders of the school. I did. I sat in the back row and watched the students doing an exercise called “Repetition.” Two actors were on stage. One of them looked at the other and blurted out a word. The other student would take a moment, then repeat the word. Both actors starred at each other the whole time. This would go on for several minutes. I thought it was weird. I’d never seen it before. I was skeptical.

After three hours I was bored but I couldn’t stop thinking about the actors in “Welcome Home Soldier.” If they learned how to act from Mr. Carnegie, then there must be a good reason behind the exercise. After all of the students left, I was still sitting in the back row. He was facing the stage. I was so nervous I couldn’t speak. I was sweating so much I didn’t want to shake his hand because he would be grossed out. He turned around and stared at me for a second. It was really awkward. He asked me who I was and what I was doing sitting there. I told him I wanted him to teach me to act like his students in “Welcome Home Soldier.” He told me to show up the following Monday for my first day of class.

The school teaches the Meisner technique. Robert (Bob) changed everything for me. He was hard on me. I was a wreck. I think I was the worst student in class. But it was good for me because I had to overcome my insecurities and low self-esteem and I had to find a way to forget about myself and focus on the other person. All of my classmates moved to the intermediate level except me. At first, I was crushed. But now I’m grateful because it made me work harder and become a better actress. I loved my classmates. We had so much camaraderie. In fact, we have all remained best friends since then. I’ve known them for over 20 years now.

When I wrote CONDO HELL, I gave each one of them a role. I still can’t believe after all of these years we ended up making a movie together. Bob Carnegie used to talk to the class about working with people you like and trust and surrounding yourself with people who are moving forward and doing things. Not people who are waiting for their “big break” or to be “discovered.” He also encouraged us to work behind the scenes to gain knowledge in all aspects of filmmaking. I learned more from Bob than any other acting teacher I ever had.

What acting technique do you use
I was trained using The Meisner technique at The Playhouse West Repertory Theatre.

Do you take courses to improve your craft
I’m working on developing a series of characters for my own comedy show. (SNL- style.) Many of the characters I’ve been performing for over 20 years, but recently I’ve created several new ones that I’m thrilled about. I absolutely love doing comedy. I write my own material and have a blast shooting sketches by myself. I post a lot of them on YouTube and Facebook to get feedback and a sense of what works and what doesn’t. The biggest challenge I have right now is balancing the video shoots with a full-time job that requires my undivided attention for most of the day. I usually work on-camera between 1 and 3 am, but sometimes the lack of sleep affects me in disastrous ways and I have to sacrifice shooting for a night or two. I would shoot 24/7 if I could.

What acting books do you read
Of course I’ve read many Meisner books- the first one was SANFORD MEISNER ON ACTING, by Dennis Longwell and Sanford Meisner. THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE, by Stephen Covey, is a must read for anyone! BRANDO, by F.X. Feeney is an awesome book. JAMES DEAN THE MUTANT KING, by David Dalton, HER AGAIN, BECOMING MERYL STREEP by Michael Shulman, and MY STORY BY MARILYN MONROE (by Marilyn) are some great reads.

I also love motivational and inspiring books and stories about people who overcome hardship and achieve success despite the odds. One of my favourite actors and inspirational stories are about Sylvester Stallone. When I read about “ROCKY” and the making of that movie and the challenges he faced, it made a huge impact on my life. In fact, it fuelled me and motivated me to persevere when I was at my lowest point making CONDO HELL. “SYLVESTER STALLONE- AN ILLUSTRATED LIFE” by Marsha Daly is excellent.

Oh – I also want to add that I love listening to autobiography CD’S in the car while I’m driving. My father and I drive long hours together and we’ve heard many autobiographies- Billy Crystal, Gene Wilder, Betty White, Steve Martin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and our favourite one, ROB LOWE- STORIES I ONLY TELL MY FRIENDS. I HIGHLY recommend that one. It’s fantastic.

Amy Wade_indieactivity

Amy Wade discussing a scene in The Dungeon

How do you keep fit as an actor
I write as often as I can for my mental well-being. It’s like therapy for my brain. It refreshes me, rejuvenates me, and excites me. I write all sorts of different things. I have a new screenplay I’m working on. I also have a blog-site that allows me to express myself in a way that might seem offensive to some people. But for me, it’s healthy and fun and it boosts my creativity. There’s a warning at the top of the page for narrow-minded judgemental people to refrain from going any further to save themselves from getting all worked up about nothing other than “Amy Rants.” It’s called BITCHIN ON MY BLOG

I stay physically fit from my job. I walk between 7-10 miles daily. I work as a cleaner, property manager, maintenance personnel and resident manager in an old mill. The building is a quarter-mile long from one end to the other. Therefore, I track a lot of miles. LOL I also box any chance I can get. I was a boxer for many years. (I have boxing videos on my website and also on YouTube.

How do you prepare for a role when you get it
At first, I read my lines to get an idea of what the script is about and how my character relates to it. Then I forget about my lines and make them into my own words. After I feel comfortable with my interpretation of the character, I read the script again. Then I memorize my lines incessantly. I want to know them in my sleep. I make arrangements with the other actors and rehearse as many times as we can. In between rehearsals, I go on walks in nature. I listen to music while driving in the car and visualize being in that role. I allow myself to get emotional. I’m a very emotional person and that helps me to prepare for a role.

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Amy Wade Discussing A Scene Setup with Cinematographer

How do you create a character from a script into a person
I try to identify with the character’s beliefs and their attitude and point of view. I bring as much of myself to the role as I can. I don’t try to be someone different; I try to find aspects of myself and my life to relate to the character. I always strive to “live truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” This is what Bob Carnegie taught me to do.

How do you stay fresh on a production set
It depends on the project. For CONDO HELL, I had to balance a bunch of different jobs at the same time. Jumping from being a director to an actress was challenging. And exhausting. There was no down time. I didn’t like it. I couldn’t give both of them 100%. I wouldn’t want to do that again. I always want to be the best I can be with whatever role I’m undertaking at that time. If I had the opportunity to “refresh” myself, I would’ve taken a 20 minute power nap.

Describe a memorable character you played
The most memorable character I’ve played is “AMY GUNS WADE.” In 2009, I wrote, directed, and starred in a short film titled, “GUNS VS ISSUES”. The character is based on myself, and my “issues.” (I have many issues.) I wrote it during a very difficult time in my life; it represented the evil and darkness that had consumed me and taken the joy out of living. It was a time when I felt helpless and lost and the only way I could find myself again was to battle the demons in my head. “AMY GUNS WADE” is a boxer with a mental illness. She challenges her “ISSUES” (the alter ego) in a boxing match to the death. It’s a ten minute short comedy. I play 11 characters in the movie. I had a blast making this film. I’m very proud of it.

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Amy Wade in between takes By The River

Explain one creative choice you took on set
While shooting the last few scenes of CONDO HELL, time was extremely limited and we realized we weren’t going to be able to finish all of the scenes before one of the actors had to catch a plane back to LA. Everything was a nightmare. We were exhausted and stressed out and we had to re-write the end of the movie in a matter of minutes. We came up with a few ideas but when the camera started rolling, myself and the other actor in the scene had to “wing it.” We had no other choice. I trusted my instincts, as did he, and I think it was our best work in the film.

Since I was the director of the film, I had one of my friends, (Gia Franzia- one of the producers and lead actress in the film) direct me during my scenes. I knew I wasn’t giving a good performance, but I couldn’t shake it. I was distracted and stressed out. My brain was thinking about a million other things instead of being in the moment. Gia knows how to handle me when I’m stressed out. She pulled me aside and told me to FOCUS ON THE OTHER PERSON.

That’s all I needed to hear. My interpretation of her direction was that she was telling me I sucked (lol) and I wasn’t in the moment and if I didn’t get my act together I would be a shitty actress in my own movie. Of course, that wasn’t what she was saying. I was saying it. She just snapped me out of my duress and helped me focus. I was very grateful for her honesty.

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Amy Wade directing a scene in front of the Mill

What do you want most from a director
What I want most from a director is trust. I want him/her to trust me, and I want to be able to trust them.

What actors do you long to work with
Meryl Streep

Why
She is not only brilliant and talented and beautiful, but she has so much fun being an actress ! I love listening to her during interviews.

What advice would you give to actors
My best advice would be to get busy- don’t wait for the “big break” to happen. Learn all aspects of film-making and make your own movie!

Briefly write about your career
During the 20 years I lived in Los Angeles, I worked on plays, short films, student films, music videos, low-budget movies, commercials, and of course, I did lots of extra work. I used to work regularly on THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL as a “bikini-bar extra.” (LOL) I had to wear a bikini all day with spiked heels and it was freezing in the studio and sometimes one of the camera guys would give me his jacket to wear in between scenes. I baked cookies for him and the rest of the crew and they were nice to me. When the cameras were rolling we had to dance (without music) in the background of the bar scenes.

Sometimes the production manager would throw a beach ball at one of us and we were supposed to toss it back and forth and pretend to laugh and have fun without making any noise. One time the beach ball they gave us was HUGE and I threw it to another extra but it hit the lead actress and she tripped and fell and it was a total nightmare. I didn’t get called to be a bikini extra after that. I was bummed because it paid $126 per day and I liked to drive on the studio lot to feel important. Then when I walked into the building through security with my day pass, I pretended I was working on The Young and The Restless. (I liked that show better than The Bold and The Beautiful.

Amy Wade as Nancy

I loved to eat in the cafeteria during lunch. I always hoped a casting director would sit next to me and tell me I should audition for one of the soaps. But, after the beach ball incident, my chances of being discovered were over. At this point, my career was really taking off. (I’m kidding.) I played a lot of character roles in student films. I learned a lot from those experiences. I love physical comedy and someone referred me to a director who was making a spec commercial for ADVIL. They called me to audition and asked me to come in character. Then they asked me to pretend to fall on a gymnastics mat. I’m very clumsy and accident-prone in real life so physical comedy comes naturally for me.

I got the job and we shot the commercial and it’s one of my all-time favourite projects I’ve ever done. You can see it on my website or YouTube, it’s 30 seconds. I play a conceited girl in a gym who wipes out on a treadmill. Some of my other favourite projects; I played a femme-fatale in a short film titled, “SUSPECT DEVICE.” Another great role I had was a closet- lesbian in the short film, “NOBODY KNOWS I’M A LESBIAN.” I played zombies in several horror films and an alien in a made for TV special that never got aired. I did hundreds of projects over the years but I can honestly say that my career never really went anywhere. It certainly never paid my bills. Then, in 2009, I decided to move back to New England to work with my father.

My plan was to work with him until he retired. Then I would move back to LA and return to the acting world. Well, it’s 2016 and I’m still in New England. My dad hasn’t completely retired yet and even when he does, I can’t imagine saying goodbye to him and my mother. I did it once when I was 17. And I don’t want to do it again. I love being near my family. Of course I miss my best friends. I miss acting classes. I miss the thrill and challenge of auditioning. But the best part of the story is that I don’t have to be in Hollywood to pursue my craft. I never imagined my life’s path would lead me back to New England. I never imagined I would leave Hollywood and make a film on the opposite side of the country! Leaving Tinseltown did the opposite of what I thought it would do.

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A photo from from Amy’s short film Guns vs. issues

It allowed me to make my dreams come true instead of leave them behind! How ironic is that?!!!! .CONDO HELL is my greatest accomplishment. I wrote it, directed it, produced it, and starred in it. The location is where I live and work with my father. It’s an old, historic mill in Rhode Island built in 1904. It’s a MASSIVE structure set back from the rest of the world… surrounded by forests and river that runs along the bank behind it. When I first walked in I was blown away by its awesome-ness. It’s the most magnificent place you can imagine. I told my father I wanted to make a horror movie there one day. He believed me. Three years later, the time was right. CONDO HELL was born. My father is in the movie. He’s a great actor and plays a major role in the film. It took me four years to complete CONDO HELL.

I made a million mistakes, I got screwed by more than one person and lost almost $10,000. I faced one roadblock after another and there were times when I sat on my kitchen floor and balled my eyes out. Other times I stood on the roof of the building and yelled obscenities at the sky. (LOL) It was a journey that changed my life. It’s just the beginning for me. Now I can’t wait to save up enough money to make another movie! (This might take a while…) In the meantime I’m developing my own comedy sketch show and I’m having a ball creating different characters and writing my own material. I’m enjoying every aspect of my life, at last. It took me a long time to get where I am today. I might not be making blockbuster films right now, but I plan to in the future. Nothing is impossible as long as you believe you can do it. I believe I can do it. And I owe it all to my amazing mother and father. They gave me the freedom, encouragement, and confidence to follow my dreams…

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