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Tonight's Feature Presentation


interviews with the cast of revelation

The Green Room

Seattle filmmaker Wonder Russell’s transmedia project, Revelation, centers on six short vignettes, each featuring a different actress exploring the theme of personal revelation.  But these actresses weren’t working from a script; instead, they actively collaborated with their director as co-creators.  Here, each of the six actresses – Lisa Coronado, Jillian Boshart, Jessica Martin, Lisa LeVan, Kay LaVergne Jaz, and Bridget O’Neill – discusses the process that led to her own deeply personal Revelation, as well as how that experience has already translated into her other work. 

The Interviews

Lisa Coronado

Ziggy:  In Revelation, you’re not only an actress; you helped to create your own content and developed your own story.  Describe your “a-ha” moment when your story came together for you, and the process that took you there.

Lisa Coronado:  Wow.  What a question.  I'll start by saying I was terrified at this idea.  I was still trying to process my own definition of a revelation when we jumped into rehearsals.  Wonder had so many fantastic exercises for us to explore and it was a really safe and nurturing environment for us, so playing was fun.  I had no idea what I was going to do.  In fact, I came in thinking of something completely different than I ended up doing.  

As far as an “a-ha” moment – she took us through this exercise where we started in what we felt was an “anti-revelation,” or a physical block of letting the revelation come, and then from there we slowly let the revelation seep in and take over our body, our heart.  And that was the first time I really, deep in my being, felt the beginnings of a revelation.  I think I decided after that night that I wanted it to be based on being a child.  And blocking, fighting against growing up.  And then slowly letting it creep in.  And the wonderment and complete terror it brought.  It was fascinating.  

Ziggy:  As an artist, what is it that you hope the audience takes away from experiencing your vignette in Revelation?

Lisa Coronado:  Above all else, I really hope they see it as truth.  Because there was no dialogue, it was just living and reacting; it was a completely honest and authentic moment.  And if they can relate in some small way to the feeling of both not wanting to grow up and being desperately compelled to, then I'll feel like I shared something with them.

Ziggy:  As a whole person, what did you take away from your experience working on Revelation? 

Lisa Coronado:  Oh lord.  So much.  So much!  First and foremost, I gained from the experience one of my dearest friends, Wonder.  She became my anchor throughout the process.  Her approach to directing was one of the best I had ever experienced.  I also gained the confidence to communicate through my body and not my words.  That was intimidating to me.  But it ended up so freeing!  And it really launched me into the next project that I shot this summer.

Ziggy:  You recently finished filming Ghostlight.  Tell us about the experience, and what audiences can look forward to when it’s released.

Lisa Coronado:  How big is this article?  Ha!  Ghostlight was the most profound experience I've had on set ever.  Revelation was the starter for me.  It really lit all my fuses, so to speak, and I was so ready to go by the time I got on the Ghostlight set.  

Ghostlight is a feature film written and directed by Jeff Ferrell about a married couple who have been through a horrific tragedy.  The husband enters a contest and wins.  He has to stay in a haunted theater overnight, and stay alive, to win a sizable chunk of money.  My character, Mira, does not want him to go.  She has horrible premonitions about it.  The ongoing joke on set was to see if we could not cry during a scene.  Again, I was incredibly blessed with a phenomenal director in Jeff.  His script was one of – if not the – best scripts I've read, and he encouraged us to play and explore.  My scene partner in crime, Brian Sutherland, was so open and so encouraging to try everything, that I would forget there was a camera. Lisa didn't exist anymore.  Not between takes, or at lunch.  There was only Mira and this shattering feeling of emptiness.  A lot of it is a blur.  It took a full week to recover after shooting.  I didn't recognize my real life.  I don't know if I didn't want to let Mira go, scared I'd never find her again, or if I was just so immersed in the character that I couldn't find my way out.  Luckily, I did.  She's still there, somewhere deep down in my heart, but more of a memory than a living being.  

Ghostlight is set to be finished by Christmas.  I'm actually a little terrified to see it.  Scared if it doesn't translate right, even though I gave my very best, my all, to the film.  And I'm scared that it will translate and I'll have to relive it all over again.  I'm such a tortured artist!  Not really, though.  I think I'm the most normal actor you'll meet.

Ziggy:  Tell us about Corwood Productions.  Why did you decide to found a production company?  What are some projects it’s involved with?

Lisa Coronado:  Corwood Productions came about after a friend of mine, Alder Sherwood, and I were having dinner and discussing the lack of good female roles available.  Neither of us wanted to move to LA.  We both were determined to garner success from filmmaking here in Washington.  So we started brainstorming script ideas.  

We came up with a pilot idea about an Irish-American family living in West Seattle.  All of the adult children have moved back home due to the economy.  We worked on the project for the next two years.  I wrote up the pilot, and we shot it November 2010.  We will finally be releasing it publicly on our Facebook page on October 1.  

We also produced – and Alder wrote – a short film called All My Presidents with Sarah Mackay that premiered at SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival) this year, and is making the festival circuit. Right now we are developing a feature film I wrote called Orpheum.

Ziggy:  You’re also part of the awesome phenomenon known as “Hose and Shows.”  For those who are not yet acquainted with the fun, describe what it is and how it started.  What’s been your favorite moment from those shows thus far?

Lisa Coronado:  Actually scratch what I said before.  “Hose and Shows” is by far my best work.  It's so honest.  It's so open.  It's intoxicating.

In all seriousness, “Hose and Shows” just started as a kind of joke.  We had seen that our friend, again Brian Sutherland (who owes me for all this press), was co-starring on an episode of “Grimm.”  Wonder and I watched it together and decided to do a little review of it, after a few libations.  We had so much silly fun doing it that we decided to review a movie next, which was Drive.  We did it on my kitchen floor with an iPhone, and the rest is tipsy history!  By far my favorite episode is number 5, The Avengers.  We had an alcohol sponsor, Tim Watkins, with his hard cider, and we were ridiculous.  

Shooting “Hose and Shows” is like an ice cold beer on a hot day: refreshing, enjoyable, and exactly what I need.  Lately I've done a lot of dark roles, and getting to be silly and just laughing at Wonder and her gut busting sense of humor is so ridiculously fun.  We joke that “Hose and Shows” will be our rise to fame, and then we'll be stuck doing it!  And my mom can never, ever see it.  Sorry, mom!

Ziggy:  What kind of cheese and recreational beverage would you say that you pair well with?

Lisa Coronado:  Oooh, this is tough.  I love so many cheeses.  I pair well with a good Parmigiano Reggiano. Complex, a lot of flavor, and slightly nutty.  

As far as beverage, that's easy.  Irish Whiskey.  One ice cube.  Smooth, hint of sweet, and if you're not careful, sneaks up on you and before you know it you're doing push up contests with the bartender.

Jillian Boshart

Ziggy:  In Revelation, you’re not only an actress; you helped to create your own content and developed your own story.  Describe your “a-ha” moment when your story came together for you, and the process that took you there.

Jillian Boshart:  Describe my revelation to get to Revelation?  Ha!  Sure!  From the beginning of the process, it became clear to me that I needed to reach into my own experiences and create something that was close to my heart.  I thought back to my own experiences of personal revelation and realized they had all been spiritual.  Specifically, I was dwelling on a moment I had about 18 months prior regarding the existence of God and the loss of faith.  I felt like in a sudden moment I had lost a constant companion and friend, and I further felt that I'd only explored this idea with my left brain.  Creating a closely felt movement piece would activate my creativity in working through the issue, and give me a more holistic understanding as to how I felt about it.  The process started with finding music that had the tone (both musically and lyrically) of the emotions I was feeling and trying to harness.  The movement came from the Muses right as I was falling asleep one night.  I immediately hopped out of bed and worked it.  Revelation x2!

Ziggy:  As an artist, what is it that you hope the audience takes away from experiencing your vignette in Revelation?

Jillian Boshart:  More than anything, I hope they can relate to it.  I feel that Seattle is not a city where it is easy to find spiritual fulfillment.  There is fervent belief and disbelief – I've been preached to/at by both militant Christians and militant Atheists.  (Not that all people who identify with either group are militant; please don't misunderstand!)  But for someone who considers herself on a spiritual journey, it can be tough.  I hope the audience can relate to the humanness of seeking, mourning, and accepting a spiritual identity.  

Ziggy:  As a whole person, what did you take away from your experience working on Revelation?

Jillian Boshart:  Like I said above, it was really great to explore this feeling I'd been having with the more creative side of myself.  It was also amazing to work with Wonder as closely as we all got to.  She brought a performance and experience out of me that I didn't think possible. 

Ziggy:  Along with acting, you’ve had some incredible experiences as a lifelong singer.  Singing with Johnny Cash at 8, at the Vatican at 14… Describe those moments.

Jillian Boshart:  Oh, man. They're nuts, right?  I remember being 8 with the Johnny Cash thing, but I just did some internet fact checking that indicates that happened in May of 1997.  So I was 12, and apparently need to do some bio-updating.  I honestly don't remember much.  I did that gig as a part of the Spokane Area Children's Chorus (SACC), and there were about 12-16 of us singing.  The reason I don't remember much is because this was a really normal thing for us.  At the time I didn't know who either of them (Johnny and June) were, and in fact I didn't realize that it was kind of a big deal until I was about 22.  I remember thinking that June was very pretty.  I remember thinking the song we were singing was silly.  I know that's a really disappointing story.  Pretty much anyone who hears it (not that I tell it – my dad and boyfriend are the ones who bring it up the most!) are like, "You did WHAT?! You didn't know who they WERE?!"  It's a neat thing to have done. 

As for the Vatican, that was part of a larger tour of Italy that same children's chorus did.  Though I'm not a Catholic, I understood the gravity of that a bit better.  First of all, we saw some amazing things in Italy, but the scope of the Vatican is crazy – It's just so huge.  We sang an “Ave Maria,” and there was a communion that I did not partake in.  I felt underdressed to be in such a grand place (we were in uniforms that consisted of shorts and t-shirts).  There is some awful video that exists of my horribly awkward teen aged self trying to describe how amazing everything was.  Honestly, the most notable performance of the trip for me was quite more subdued.  We were in a very small Duomo touring the church, and our director was really impressed with the acoustics of the space.  They circled us (20 or so; maybe more) around a fount that was directly under the dome structure and had us sing the hymn “Thou My Everlasting Portion.”  It rang so beautifully in that space, and it still sticks in my memory.  As a direct result of that moment, it's one of my favorite hymns.

But, man!  Now I'm just on Memory Lane about SACC.  They're still around, and in my opinion a great organization.  They provided us wonderful experiences and opportunities, and an education in singing that has shaped my career.  It was through them that I was able to be in my very first musical, and musical theatre is ultimately what I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in.  

Ziggy:  What singers inspire you now?

Jillian Boshart:  I'm really drawn to singers with excellent lyrics and driving melodies.  For Revelation, I almost exclusively used Sufjan Stevens' album “Seven Swans.”  In addition to Sufjan, I get a lot of inspiration from Ben Folds (with and without the Five), The Decemberists, The Civil Wars, and The Weepies.  

Ziggy:  You also do burlesque performances.  What drew you to burlesque?  What is it about that form of performance art that speaks to you?

Jillian Boshart:  I felt like I needed to explore my relationship with my body, and I think burlesque is a really great way to do that.  Being a performer of size, I sometimes feel like I'm relegated to lesser roles, and being a woman of size, I have a bunch of body hang ups.  In burlesque, I control everything – my role, my music, my costume, my story – and can't feel lesser if I control it.  And if you have body hang ups, nothing is better than having people cheer for you to get naked. 

Ziggy:  What kind of cheese and recreational beverage would you say that you pair well with?

Jillian Boshart:  Oh, man. Cheese is the best.  To be completely un-clever about it: triple cream brie.  And no recreational beverage – because then I have more tummy room for TRIPLE CREAM BRIE!!

Jessica Martin

Ziggy:  In Revelation, you’re not only an actress; you helped to create your own content and developed your own story.  Describe your “a-ha” moment when your story came together for you, and the process that took you there. 

Jessica Martin:  There were several over the course of the project.  The first was when Wonder had us listen to "Shake it Out" by Florence and the Machine.  I immediately started to see images, and wanted to explore them further.  It's hard to remember the exact evolution of the piece because it feels like so long ago that we were working on it.  

The next big moment for me, the one in which I started to really see and feel what this story was, was when Wonder had me do the bit I had prepared completely wrong.  And to talk through it (it is dialogue-less), and describe what was happening.  I did silly voices and got to describe the transitions (the hardest parts of the piece).  Being able to describe what was happening as I was doing it really solidified the journey of the character(s).  So through the work we did in rehearsals, the images I collected that inspired me, and bringing in my love of silent films, my little skitlet came into being.

Going into the shooting day, I didn't really know what to expect.  Oddly enough, I was completely relaxed, although I had no idea what was going to happen.  Wonder guided me through the whole thing, shot to shot.  Her direction was remarkable.  I felt so safe with her.  The makeup and costumes were transformative and did a lot of the work for me.  When I was wrapped, I didn't want to leave.  This project and that shooting day have been one of the most rewarding of my career.

Ziggy:  As an artist, what is it that you hope the audience takes away from experiencing your vignette in Revelation?

Jessica Martin:  I want them to be gasping for air; literally being inspired.  This is a remarkable project, the likes of which I have never seen, and I doubt many others have either.  I want them to see more beauty in their lives and their world.  To embrace the simplicity of the stories around them, and to tell their own.  And, frankly, to support us and encourage us to make more art.  We can't do this alone.

Ziggy:  As a whole person, what did you take away from your experience working on Revelation?

Jessica Martin:  This project in a way changed how I think about my work.  Especially how I approach it, and how I want to go forward as a producer and creator.  That, and how inspired I have been by the power of sisterhood.  The women in this project are extraordinary.  We all have gone through so much from January until now, and we have all been supportive of each other.  It especially hit me in our "Reveal All" photo shoot just how damn beautiful they all are.  I continually feel blessed and grateful to be a part of this. 

Ziggy:  You recently released your own first directorial effort, For Patrick.  What inspired you to make that film?  What was it like for you to work both sides of the camera?

Jessica Martin:  Well, it wasn't my first directorial effort; it was the first one that was completed.  Ha. 

I am infinitely curious, and want to experience as much of what life has to offer as I can.  I'm not happy sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, especially when I know so many talented people.  You can work for years and never work with the people you have been dying to work with.  I believe in making your own opportunities. 

I'm never cast in leading dramatic roles as a person of my own age, and that's fine.  That's how I make my money for the most part, but I wanted to push myself.  It's interesting, “actor Jessica” hated “writer Jessica” for writing that film.  It was the hardest acting experience, emotionally, I have ever had. 

All of my "roles" somehow can remain separate in my brain.  There is the writer mind.  The director mind.  The producer and actor minds.  And they can talk to each other.  Crazy, I know.  Please don't commit me!  I have no problems as a writer changing the script on the fly, or cutting the hell out of the footage.  Or telling the producer that we need to spend more money.

I learned so much on that film, and have been blown away by the response.  I was terrified – literally in tears – over people liking it or accepting it.  I call it my horcrux, because it really took a bit of my soul. But from the lessons I learned on For Patrick, I can now dig even deeper and go even bigger on my next project. Yes, For Patrick is just the beginning of my oeuvre!  

Ziggy:  You also did an episode of NBC's “Grimm” this year.  Describe that experience.

Jessica Martin:  My experience on “Grimm” was fantastic.  The truth is that there aren't very many opportunities to work in a highly professional environment as an actor in Seattle.  Unless you are working at one of the big theater houses, there isn't really anything else that has the infrastructure.  Everyone on “Grimm” are Pros. These people are very good at what they do, and they have to be, because everything moves so fast.  I got to do some scenes, one of which was basically stunt work, and one of them was with the stars.  God bless them; they were so nice to me.  It was pretty obvious I had never been on a TV set before, and they helped me out a lot and gave me tips.  I am forever grateful to them.  It was also acting gymnastics, because all of a sudden you have to run to positions, hear "action", and be hysterical.  I was very thankful for all of my training and my technique.  TV is a very technical profession.  And I can't wait to do more! 

Ziggy:  Tell us about ‘Bridging the Gap.’

Jessica Martin:  Per my addiction to learning, Bridging the Gap was born from myself, Morgan Rowe, Margaret Layne, and Marianne Owen.  These ladies are formidable talents in Seattle, and we all wanted to fill a gap, as it were, in the local community.  We are an educational program that works in partnership with ACT Theatre to offer educational studios to professional actors and foster mentorships between young artists and older artists.  We are still a fledgling program, but we are very excited about what is in store for us, and are constantly inspired by the talent in our community.

Ziggy:  What kind of cheese and recreational beverage would you say that you pair well with?

Jessica Martin:  Oh, I'm going to be so boring!  I don't drink, so I'll offer several answers just to be entertaining...  Producer Jessica is a glass of ice water and chilled mozzarella.  Writer Jessica is Riesling and goat cheese.  Director Jessica is Jameson on the rocks and some manchego.  And actor Jessica is a Manhattan, keep the cheese.

Lisa LeVan

Ziggy:  In Revelation, you’re not only an actress; you helped to create your own content and developed your own story.  Describe your “a-ha” moment when your story came together for you, and the process that took you there.

Lisa LeVan:  My “a-ha” moment literally came to me in pieces.  The first moment happened in one of our rehearsals.  I was contorting and expanding my body to find a physical expression for "the opposite of Revelation," then moving again to find a physical expression for "Revelation", when all of the sudden this character began to emerge.  She was raw, wounded, and covered with armor (both physically and emotionally). 

That "a-ha" built and built during the months that followed.  It emerged in moments of "imagination play time" where I would let myself drift into a place where worlds are built and destroyed in the space of a breath.  I saw this woman who'd had everything taken away from her, banned from her society, had her child ripped from her arms, her husband murdered in front of her, and was now trapped in the wilderness to survive.  She was forced to become a warrior, forced into solitude.  At the point where we see her, in Revelation, she has reached the end of her will, she is ready to die, and she's given up hope. 

I believe my process included an invitation for the character to come play; then I said “yes” to everything that followed, even when my ego told me it was dumb.  On set, I experienced the mother of all “A-HAAA” moments when my director, Wonder Russell, whispered something in my ear which put everything together.  I won't say what those words were, but they were the key... my missing link.  To this day, those words still bring me to tears.  She helped me find the essence.  When I found that, I experienced the delicious paradigm shift of a really good revelation, and the joy of working with a phenomenal director. 

Ziggy:  As an artist, what is it that you hope the audience takes away from experiencing your vignette in Revelation?

Lisa LeVan:  As an artist, I hope the audience takes away a sense of hope.  Life can be cruel and it can kick our asses at times, and many of us are going through our own personal hell right now, but it's sadly part of the human experience.  It sucks when it's happening, but within that hell there is joy and beauty waiting for us on the other side.  As with my character in Revelation, Aoife, who has no choice but to suffer in hell; she had to go through it because she didn't have a choice.  And, OH!, it's emotionally painful and spiritually challenging at times.  I had suffocating moments during this process where my character desperately searched for a way out.  And then came the moment of letting go, which is kind of like touching the face of hopelessness and accepting it.  For me, this piece was a direct reflection of what I was experiencing in my own life.  Not the specific circumstances, but the tendency I have to cover myself in emotional armor.  At the slightest "wrong word," "confused text," or "unfulfilled expectation," I reinforce my armor, pick up arms and head into battle.  I wanted to explore going as deep as I could into shedding that armor.  What came from my exploration was a huge "letting go" for me, and from there hope emerged again.  That I, as a human on this earth, having this awesome human experience, am worthy.  As are you, as are all of us. 

Ziggy:  As a whole person, what did you take away from your experience working on Revelation?

Lisa LeVan:  As a whole person, what I took away from my experience on Revelation was this:  The artists involved are bad-ass.  

I was tickled, actually, to be invited into the project.  To work with my friends, these gorgeous women: Kay Jaz (one of the most gifted female improvisers I've seen), Bridget O'Neill (a long time friend and insanely gifted actor and character actor), Jessica Martin (a sensation on stage and film), Lisa Coronado (an actor with such a light she could create a firestorm), Jillian Boshart (on and off the stage, she draws you in with her beauty and talent), and Wonder Russell (a visionary).  For years, I was secretly sending out wishes that I could work with them.  So in a sense, it was a dream come true for me.  

And who can deny the tour de force that is Wonder Russell?  I'd worked with her before, on Connect To, and had an amazing experience.  So it was a no brainer when she asked me.  I'm so proud she chose to create Revelation on the foundation of process and exploration.  She gave us freedom to play within our imagination while at the same time built a safe framework.  It's incredible for an actor to have the opportunity to be part of a project like this.  And the joy of working with individuals like Erin Weathers, who built my costume, or Ty Migota, who spent an evening in Discovery Park chasing my son around with a camera (capturing footage for my piece).  It's the joyful experience of working with my old friends, my new friends, and my son that I take away from Revelation.         

Ziggy:  What drew you to become an actress, and what keeps you there?

Lisa LeVan:  What drew me into acting is something that's difficult to pinpoint.  I had this deep drive to do it.  I'd say I spend most of my life playing in my imagination, so I wanted to find a way for my whole being to experience or fully realize what was happening inside me.  One day, I just said to myself, "I don't want to be on my death bed filled with regret because I was too afraid," so I just did it.  It was the scariest thing I've ever done, it's been the most challenging thing I've ever pursued, but it's been the most rewarding career choice of my life.  

What keeps me here are two things.  The amazing individuals I've had the honor of working with over the last ten years, and my acting coach, Steven Anderson.  I've worked with him for eight years, and he's helped shape me into the human being I am today.  I'm still here because I don't approach acting in terms of wanting to be a big star and having my name in lights.  I approach it in terms of exploring my life as artful expression, and allowing my growth as a human being to translate to my art, whether that be acting, poetry, photography, washing dishes, making the bed.  Art seeps into everything we do.  Art is life and life is art.  There is no separation.  

Ziggy:  If you could pick any role in any film or any stage production as your ideal dream part, who would you want to play, and why?

Lisa LeVan:  LOL!  This is like asking a child, surrounded by a million toys, to pick her favorite one.  My answer changes with the breeze.  One moment, I want to play Queen Elizabeth.  The next moment, I want to be on stage playing a dog.  Many different roles, both in film or on stage, speak to me.  The most surprising ones, though, are the roles I get cast for where I don't have that sense of, "Oooo, I want explore this character."  These characters... they fulfill me the most.  

Ziggy:  Along with your work as an actress, you are also a poet.  Who and/or what inspires your poetry?

Lisa LeVan:  Everything inspires my poetry, though I don't truly feel as if it's my poetry.  I think most poets would agree that poetry emerges; it comes crashing in sometimes, or it can just float by on a breeze.  And if a writer isn't there to catch it... sometimes it'll just float on by.  But what I've experienced with my poetry is that love, heartache, joy, and something simple like New York City will trigger it, and the next thing I know I'm searching for something to write on.  I'm a bit of a romantic poet, I believe.  So when I've experienced great heartache, or intense romance/wanting/lust... poems seem to find me more often than not.  

The other night, as I was walking home with my frozen yogurt, a poem bubbled up.  I'd been wanting to write something for Revelation.  What followed was a crazy juggling dance to balance my yogurt cup while digging in my purse to find a pen and paper.  There is no thought when I'm processing a poem.  I believe my only purpose is to help give birth to it.  To help put the words in the correct order, to help find that magical flow that a good poem possesses, and then to help send it off into the world.  Anything else would just be my ego talking.

Ziggy:  What kind of cheese and recreational beverage would you say that you pair well with?

Lisa LeVan:  Cheese: Boursault  (Pronunciation: boor-SOH) – a soft-ripened, triple crème French cheese that is very rich and mild.  Recreational Beverage:  1995 Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon.

Kay Jaz

Ziggy:  In Revelation, you’re not only an actress; you helped to create your own content and developed your own story.  Describe your “a-ha” moment when your story came together for you, and the process that took you there. 

Kay Jaz:  When Wonder talked about the concept of creating our own narrative to work with for the film, I was both panicked and overjoyed.  Another “uh-oh” and “a-ha” moment collide.  The man who knows me best used to say my tombstone would read “Last Minute Panic.”  Not anymore.  Since 2008, my license plate has been AHA.  I see it every day and smile.  I see people see it, smile, and I smile.  Sometimes I laugh out loud as they ponder what it means to them. 

In my Revelation story I allowed images that came to mind help me zero in on the narrative.  I love props and costume… what they evoke.  One day early on in the rehearsal process, I find a huge plastic diamond ring that calls to me.  Other things come and go.  The ring sticks.  A group rehearsal with masks inspires me.  A half mask with a few jewels and crackle painted cheeks soon joins my ring.  I haul a huge antique trunk down from the attic, put it in the middle of my living room and crawl in wearing wig, ring, mask, and black.  I shut the lid and let go.  A playlist ranging from piano to rock and strings are my muses.  It's one thing to hear “risk, explore, create… there are no limits” (I love you, Wonder), and another to give myself that full-out permission and do it (I love you, Kay).  I'd been rehearsing for days when I am compelled to move a yellow scarf from my make-shift window to my lamp stand spotlight right in front of me.  I start again.  My body moves to the music, and this time as I walk into the sun-colored silk and light, everything comes together.  It is in this final physicality I find the truth of my story. 

Ziggy:   As an artist, what is it that you hope the audience takes away from experiencing your vignette in Revelation?

Kay Jaz:  It is my hope that some part of the piece will strike a chord in others the same way the whole process affected me as I worked through it so we, right then, can have a shared experience. 

Ziggy:   As a whole person, what did you take away from your experience working on Revelation?

Kay Jaz:  I delved into acting later in life (I'm 30 years older than the youngest in our group). Improvisational scene work with Gary Austin introduced me to the novel concept (in my world) to live in the present, moment to moment, trusting that I am enough.  When performing, I try to bring all I am to the relationships at hand and explore from that perspective.  Hopefully it will ring true for the audience, and a more vulnerable character emerges.  That is what I want in my life.  To be present, to truly listen, and be in response.  

Of course, life always brings challenging circumstances.  2007 was quite a year.  Breast cancer came knocking.  One of the ways I embraced my diagnosis was to go “au natural.”  Lots of things changed, like I stopped dyeing my hair.  Some good ego death.  I got comfortable with being uncomfortable.  This project made me squirm.  Some days I was in confusion and/or my ego complained so loud I froze.  I chose to keep exploring.  Not give up.  Work on Revelation was a huge in-my-face opportunity to continue to trust that expressions of me in my art, scary as it can be, are worth committing to if it makes me more compassionate to myself and others.

Ziggy:  Revelation essentially erases the line between theatre and film.  Which did this project feel more like to you, and why?  As an actress, do you approach theatre and film differently? 

Kay Jaz:  The time afforded us to create and work felt more like theatre.  Being able to bring the wealth of hours of exploration in private time, group time, and one on one with Wonder gave a solid base for me to fly from on the day of the shoot.  This was a journey that was process-oriented.  There was no get-to-this-place and do-it-that-way.  That would have been death for me.  Would that all film experiences flowed out from a process like that. 

It doesn't matter whether it's film or theatre.  I want to unzip in whatever the given circumstances are and then surprise myself.  Go with my impulses.  Both mediums have their different “forms,” but the approach stays the same.

Ziggy:  What is the most difficult challenge you’ve had to face as a performer in any role, and what made it so? 

Kay Jaz:  I auditioned and got a supporting role of an older hippie who has her own cleaning business.  No problem.  No previous rehearsal, loose script, three hour shoot time.  Then he asks if I am comfortable with doing anything on camera… (Hmmm, I'm thinking, nude?)  No, not naked, just to light up a bowl of weed and share it with my scene partner while conversing.  

In seventh grade, I tried smoking a couple joints and it didn't do much for me, so I never pursued this recreational activity.  Eating was my addiction of choice, but that's another story.  They substitute tobacco for the real stuff.  I am shown how to hold the bowl with finger over the choke hole, light, inhale, hold, remove fire, release finger hole.  I rehearse it three times.  I can do this.  What's a little smoke sensitivity?  This is a new adventure.  The rub is doing it in a small car behind the wheel, talking, with the camera and DP squished in the backseat.  Suddenly I smell burnt flesh but I keep going.  Always keep going.  They use that take in the film.  I nurse a blister.

Ziggy:  As a member of the audience, who is your favorite actress or actor to watch, and why? 

Kay Jaz:  Helen Mirren first captured my attention when she was in the “Prime Suspect” series on BBC.  I love her presence, her intelligence, and her ability of being hard and soft.  She inspires me.  That she so easily goes from stage to screen.  I'd love to see her next year in London playing Queen Elizabeth II in The Audience.  Anything is possible.

Ziggy:  What kind of cheese and recreational beverage would you say that you pair well with?

Kay Jaz:  Goat cheese, not too bitey.  I love roasted beets, candied walnuts, fresh greens, and goat cheese with sherry-walnut vinaigrette.  Yum.  I've never quite liked the taste of alcohol, so when I found the St. Germain liqueur, I was pleasantly surprised.  There was a Thomas at Little Water Cantina that created The Jaz just for me.  A tall narrow glass, St. Germain, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, some crushed ice, splash of soda water, and a lime.  Mmmmm.

Bridget O'Neill

Ziggy:  In Revelation, you’re not only an actress; you helped to create your own content and developed your own story.  Describe your “a-ha” moment when your story came together for you, and the process that took you there.

Bridget O’Neill:  Discovering Revelation was a bit like the pulling off of a band-aid.  You know you are wounded, and you hope to reveal new skin underneath, but even the healing hurts and itches.  And the bandage tears at your delicate little hairs… but to know what's underneath, you have to start pulling.

My pulling started in Seattle, with the rest of the girls, but I moved to LA during the beginning of rehearsals, and this separation from the ensemble had a deep effect on me.  I remember speaking with Wonder about this, and how I felt alone and cut off from the process.  She encouraged me to go with that very feeling.  I knew immediately that everything I was going through belonged to my piece, and that it was just a matter of layering on the circumstances to allow for this experience to live as a vignette.  Wonder pointed out that this was nearly opposite to how the Seattle girls were discovering their pieces, and that this was something to be embraced.

I can honestly say I'm still pulling at that bandage.  The Revelation journey is still in process for me, and I think that will show in my vignette.

Ziggy:  As an artist, what is it that you hope the audience takes away from experiencing your vignette in Revelation?  

Bridget O’Neill:  I'm a portraying a woman in the process of shedding the "idea" she has of herself, and discovering her true nature.  My hope is that the audience will have a very personalized experience that goes beyond a story about me, or this character, and one that stirs something within them.  I marinate a lot on the words, "I am a spiritual being having a human experience."

Ziggy:  As a whole person, what did you take away from your experience working on Revelation? 

Bridget O’Neill:  I discovered that art is living, breathing creation that goes far beyond the moment of expression, especially with a project like Revelation.  And I discovered that meaningful art is my favorite kind, that there's a stirring in me that feels like, "YES!" when I work on projects that are made with such loving intention.

Ziggy:  The public at large has many illusions about what it must be like to be an actress.  In your experience, what are the two or three biggest misconceptions you find that people have about what you do, and what's the reality?

Bridget O’Neill:  It saddens me when people look at acting as some kind of trickery.  I once had a person tell me that there was nothing truthful about acting, and that it was nothing but a lie we all agree to believe for a little while.  This broke my heart a little.  I believe that acting is living truthfully in imaginary circumstances, and I'm fortunate enough to work with an amazing coach, Steven Anderson, and other talented Actorswork artists who pour themselves – all of themselves – into their work; truthfully.

This next one is very simple, and may have less to do with being an actress and more to do with being an actress in this digital age.  A smile is not the only indication of a pleasant state of being.  I swear every time I post a photo where I'm not smiling, someone accuses me of being pissed.  I'm a complex human being, we all are, and there's more to us than the limited trickle of info you've been exposed to through social media. 

Oh here's one: I accept that there will be an ongoing commentary about my body, but I do not believe that as actors we "ask for it."  People seem to think that our bodies are not ours, but rather an expression of our devotion to our career, and a piece of property they have a stake in.  If you lose weight, you're only doing so because of the pressures put upon you, and it's just a matter of time before you waste away into nothingness... and/or If you gain weight, you've let yourself go, and it's the job of everyone who sees you to remind you that you looked better thinner, but that your boobs look better now.

Compliments can be nice, criticism can hurt, and at the end of the day we're still only human.  

Ziggy:  Many artists are on Facebook, and many artists blog.  You take it a step further by doing a weekly video blog on top of that.  Why did you decide to take that extra step for your fans?

Bridget O’Neill:  When I started vlogging on YouTube in 2006, the idea of your viewers being "fans" was rather foreign.  These people were your friends, you just hadn't met them IRL yet.  So video became a very natural way to express myself, and get creative with a group of people I felt connected to.  Once my subscriber base started creeping into the several thousands, there was a shift.  It became very difficult to "know" my viewers and respond to every comment, as I had for years.  When I got my job at Xbox, a new fan base developed very separate from the YouTube audience, and I suppose you could say my Facebook fanpage is my best attempt at bringing us all together.  I decided to start vlogging, again, because I want to get back to my roots, and these vlogs are an invitation to my fans to get to know me on a more personal level.  I talk about things relevant to my day to day life as an actress, writer, and story teller, but it's also a challenge to myself to be transparent.  When you vlog, you risk being rejected for who you are, and what you believe in.  You also open yourself up to an amazing group of supportive people that you might not otherwise be able to connect with. 

Ziggy:  What can you tell us about the webseries you’re developing?

Bridget O’Neill:  I was inspired by a scene I wrote for fellow Actorswork student, Jonathan Fredrick.  He wanted to explore a man teetering on the edge of insanity.  What developed was a very complex relationship between two characters that went far beyond the one scene we performed in class, so I began writing it into a feature.

Now, where I do believe I have it in me to write this film, I came to realize that now is not the time.  If I take an honest look at what it is that flows most readily from me, it is comedy.  I like it, my fans like it, and so I put the thriller on the back burner to make way for this webseries.  I'm rekindling my YouTube channel after a two year hiatus, I have an audience kindly requesting more content from me, and YouTube itself desires episodic content from its partners.  The universal hints are all pretty clear: I already have an audience and a way to distribute a webseries; why not start there?  And the theme of working with what you've got has continued into the writing process.  I know so many talented actors; why not write roles for them?  And I just moved here from two states away; why not work that in, too?

I don't want to say too much about the story, other than that this project will be unlike anything my fans have seen from me!

Ziggy:  What kind of cheese and recreational beverage would you say that you pair well with?

Bridget O’Neill:  Pepper Jack Cheese - it has a kick.  And a  shot of tequila with a pineapple back.

- Interviews conducted by Ziggy Berkeley, September, 2012

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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