by Sherif Awad
-I am from the east coast, Maryland and studied acting first there in college and then in New York. My father was a lawyer who went to work in a law firm and then later for the Government. He helped to write and implement what we call here Medicaid and Medicare when it first began. My mom also worked for the government and her job was to catch fraudulent activity, which she loved. They instilled in me from a young age a sense of right and wrong. They also taught me to be accepting of all people and to help others.
-I was a very shy little girl growing up. I am not sure if it was the films my mom took me to or plays, but at some point I decided even with my mountain of insecurities that I wanted to act.
-I liked a lot of actresses growing up, in movies and on TV as well. I loved Barbara Streisand in FUNNY GIRL and all the sisters in THE BRADY BUNCH TV show. I wanted to be blonde like them so badly. However, as I grew a little older I fell in love with Holly Hunter in BROADCAST NEWS "Miss Firecracker Contest" and was so impressed with her being at the moment and her range. I also love Debra Winger and Sissy Spacek's work. They seem like they are not acting at all.
-It took me a long time it seems, to become as comfortable as I am today. I studied acting at college and graduated. When I look back I was so hell-bent on proving myself there I never considered it might not be the best school for me. While others did well. I did not at time and the struggle was heartbreaking. When I read The Meisner Technique book that my mom bought for me from The Drama Bookshop in New York, along with other books on acting, that was the one book that made immediate sense to me. It reached me on a gut level in a way no other acting book had. So I just had to study at The Neighborhood Playhouse for the summer and I did. Then I came back to study with Phil Gushee at his studio in NYC too. I also studied here in LA with Killian McHugh.
-I am not a star and am happy being a working actor. It is still a struggle in many ways. I have been lucky to almost always have good agents and managers, but I began later in life after a long difficult marriage.
-Yes, there are still challenges to mature women for roles in movies and TV. And even more if one is a character actress as I am. However, more and more when I get on a set or are in a theater rehearsing and shooting this feeling of being completely at one with where I am and what I am doing comes over me. I have found that with relaxation comes the ability to experience feelings and have creative ideas that I was never able to have when younger.
-Right now with the COVID-19 virus everything or almost everything is on hold and being reconfigured. Meaning, we are becoming masters of self taping in our homes. Now that was a huge thing in the last few years anyway for auditions, and I am very lucky I have a husband who is a graphic artist for a media company, Golden Hippo Media. Bob uses our iPad, or his cell and really great lights he got me for Christmas to do many self taped auditions. I have been lucky to book industrial films, commercials and films this way through the self taping. Now we not only will be doing more of this, but maybe shooting some projects remotely in our homes much like the late night talk shows are doing in America right now. It is a horrible scary time for everyone in the world and at least most of us have ways to still connect to one another.
-I approach every audition in person or self taped with an open mind. I no longer judge the medium or the character. If I play a woman who has Alzheimer or a drinking problem or just an ordinary woman, I can always find the emotional life she is living by first being relaxed and open to direction and feelings.
-I don't always do that as well as I would like to. I was my mom's caregiver for a while when she got cancer and took time off, except to do a play or two. After my mom passed away I found myself by accident, rescuing a disabled woman and her dog that I found on the street. That became a job I did and do at times and there were times when my emotional state from this type of work did affect my relationships. This work or the people I help seem to find me and I find them as well. Right now, I work with a person who is a Native American, disabled man and his dog. They have had a decent place to live now for over a year and the relationship has a life of its own at times. Acting is my passion, where I feel most at home and when working I am the happiest person. When not enough work, like now I struggle some. The advocacy and care giving work I do part-time fills another need in me. It always seems to involve people who love and have pets like I do.
-I am waiting for a comedic commercial I shot last year for Ryan Reynold's company Aviation Gin to be used on his Twitter page. Now may not be the time so it may be delayed. I also did a web series with two wonderfully talented men from Finland who wrote, produced, directed and one of them acted in it called. "Tech News Network". Here I am a woman is a motel manager who has seen and heard it all. Our director relied on us the actors being able to improvise with his lines and then using our improved skills to add to this. I also did a short film, "Want to Pick Me Up" also due out this year and Festival bound as is "Tech News Network" in time when the virus COVID-19 has lessened for the world, and we all hope that is soon for so many reasons. In that film I am a middle-aged wife and mom who swings with her hubby. This is partially based on a true story of an experience the director had. I have 2 self taped auditions to do soon that I look forward to doing with my husband.