The C&E INTERVIEW: Kiera Anderson (Jo/Josephine)
Today we're screening the Short Film Version of THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF CUPID AND EROS at the 2011 Valley Film Festival. Andy and I have already shared stories about how C&E morphed from its original short film concept into the web series we all know and love, but we also thought it'd be a fun excuse to catch up with some of the people behind the show and our fellow festival-mates.
First up, the lovely and talented Kiera Anderson who plays Cupid's object of desire in our first story arc.
One of the great things about being an independent creator is that I get to cast and write for the ridiculously talented people I'm fortunate enough to call friends. In a lot of cases I write with a specific actor in mind, but the role of Josephine was the rare exception where I really wasn't sure who I was going to ask. It was actually our very own Eros, Jo Bozarth, who suggested our good friend Kiera. As soon as she did I knew the role had been written for her all along. I was just lucky she said yes.
Kiera took time out from her most important role, mother to an awesome little lady name Juna Meredith Anderson to answer some questions via email.
See what she's been up to and what her experience on C&E was like after the jump.
Avi: What was your training as an actor like? Where did you study and what was your primary focus?
Kiera: I had some wonderful teachers growing up in Sacramento who encouraged me to apply for New York University, where I graduated in 2002 with a BFA in Theatre and a minor in Irish Studies. My focus and passion has always been musical theatre, and at CAP21 we studied dance, acting and voice equally. My teachers at CAP were incredible, and have continued to mentor me over the years.
A: What are some of the favorite shows that you've done or roles that you've played?
K: Hedy LaRue in How To Succeed, which I did in college, Olive in Spelling Bee at PCPA Theatrefest, and Heidi in [title of show] with New Helvetia Theatre.
A: I think a lot of people have the preconception that actors who come from a theater background, let alone a musical theater background, don't translate well to working in Film… but you bring such a natural presence to your episodes. Did you find yourself thinking about the role and your performance very differently because it was for the screen? What kinds of tweaks did you make to your approach/performance to make that switch?
K: Well, obviously I had a brilliant director.... [editor's note: I promise she actually said that. It wasn't me.] plus I have an extremely talented husband who gave me a few pointers. I tried to keep it simple and be truthful, which wasn't hard as I really liked the script, and the character was easy for me to relate to. The hardest adjustment for me to make was projection. In theatre, it's important to "play to the back of the house" as we say with your body and voice, even if you're wearing a mic. On film or tape, the camera is catching every glance, the sound people are catching every word and your scene partner is close. You really have to scale back, but all the essentials of playing a scene are the same: what do I want, and how do I get what I want.
A: In addition to your work on stage, you've also been involved behind the scenes with your brother Connor's theater company, The New Helvetia Theater in Sacramento. What's that been like and do you see yourself continuing to be involved in creating theater or film from behind the scenes as well?
K: My brother and I have a very unique and special working relationship. He's the creative genius, and I serve more as his editor. We have been collaborating since we were kids, and I know we will continue to work together. We have similar values in terms of what we appreciate in a piece. Live theatre is incredibly important to my whole family. My brother and I are the front men, so to speak, but my parents have been his producing partners from the beginning, and my other brother volunteers his time and expertise with set building and marketing.
A: And of course you're not only an actor but you're a Yoga instructor as well. I'm curious how one thing may have informed the other and vice versa? (for example did you find yourself calling upon your practice to deal with and stay focused on your work amidst the chaos of the set and/or the slightly scattered nut ball who was directing you?)
K: Yoga has absolutely influenced how I work as an actor. Physically, it helped me heal from years of dance injuries and is also my warm up of choice before a show. The breath work we practice in yoga is so helpful in expanding my range as a singer but also in keeping me grounded when I get nervous. I was definitely a little apprehensive working on set with you and our awesome crew, as it was an entirely new medium for me, but a few deep breaths helped me to relax and enjoy my time learning something new.
A: OK, this is totally a cliche question, but I'm always a sucker for it. You're the mom of a beautiful little girl and I wonder what you'd say to Juna if she started to express an interest in acting? Not just would you encourage her (because knowing you and Brad I'm sure you'd encourage her to follow any dream or passion, you're awesome like that) but I'm curious if you'd have more specifics thoughts on it. Would you encourage her to study at a program like NYU? Train elsewhere? Have a fall back skill?
K: She is beautiful and already incredibly expressive and vocal at just four months! Bradford and I have talked about this very issue, and while of course we would be supportive, I think we also will encourage her to explore all her talents and strengths. I was so lucky to have parents who backed me in this choice, but none of us knew just how hard it would be. My dad is a dentist and my mom is a teacher, so they were unaware how difficult it is to have a career in the arts. That being said, I can't imagine my life without the joy of the theatre and I really hope Juna at least grows up with an appreciation of the arts. We would love her to study back east so she can experience culture outside of Los Angeles, but it'll be up to her! Right now, we're really focused on getting her to sleep through the night and maybe roll over, so it's hard to imagine that she'll ever be old enough to move out!
A: One of things I think is really neat about C&E is that there are a number of real life romance stories amongst our cast and crew. And of course you and Bradford are one of those. Would you share how you guys had your real life "Meet Cute?
K: Bradord and I knew each other peripherally in college, and have tons of mutual friends, but we never had a real conversation until my best friend's wedding in 2008. My grama was certain I was going to meet someone at this wedding, but I was adamant I wouldn't since I knew everyone on the guest list. We were seated next to each other, and bonded over our love of wine. He was living in LA and I was still in New York at the time, but we were able to date during that summer while I was on the central coast working at PCPA. We decided I should move to LA in July of that year, and a year almost to the day of our first meeting we were engaged. A year after that, exactly, we were married, and a year after that we had our baby!
A: Lastly, what's up next for you?
K: I'm really focused right now on getting through the first six months of being a new mom. It has been more challenging than I expected, and also more rewarding. We are lucky that I can stay home with Juna during these precious early months. I love being a mom, but will return to the theatre sometime next year. I have a couple projects in the works, but nothing's set in stone yet so I'll have to wait and see! Luckily, I have a captive audience at home in Juna. She loves listening to me sing and watching me dance around the house, so I'm constantly 'working' in that regard! And obviously, I'd love to collaborate with you sometime soon. Or perhaps Juna needs to make a cameo in C&E next season??
You can also learn about the great theater her brother Connor is bringing to Sacramento, CA at www.newhelvetia.org