Check our interview with talented veteran television actress Chantelle Albers who can be seen in the horror film “The 6th Friend” that she also produced, and also on Sci-fi film “The Desert” where she plays the wealthy house wife Martha.
Hi Chantelle, please tell us a little about you?
Hi there! I’m an actress and a producer for my career and job title, as I love creating films and collaborating with fellow artists. I produced and starred in the female horror film The 6th Friend that went to theaters earlier this year and is now available on iTunes and Amazon. If I were to describe myself in terms of who I am as a person I would say I am an emotionally artistic person with deep compassion for human and animal rights. I also have a sense of being eclectic because I don’t like to stick to just one genre, whether it be music or film. I’m an actress that loves horror, drama, musicals, comedy, improv etc. I do have a specialty for adding a certain quirk to my characters though, especially in comedy.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Quirky, Passionate, Eclectic
Name one your strengths?
I am an excellent horse back rider. I grew up on a ranch and so we had horses to ride when I was growing up and my first horse was named Rider and my second one was named Midnight. Since I was about 4 years old I have been riding horse. Some of my favorite times are when my dad and I can go riding our horses together in the open fields.
How’s a typical day in your life?
My time varies so much from day to day, which is part of what I like about it, but also it can add stress and pressure. When I am on set, I’m there for long periods of time usually and it is constant attention to detail when I am doing the work. Other days when I’m not on set I spent a lot of my time on my computer answering emails, reading scripts, researching characters or scripts, or practicing for auditions. Auditioning take up a large portion of my day because I put a lot of work into them. There have been times where I’ve had last minute auditions that I need to film immediately, and for those I only get a few minutes to memorize, break down the scene, and tape it. That’s when your mind goes into overdrive and you kick into high gear to live in the role. I also ride my bike regularly and I have two dogs that require daily attention. Our walks get to be long sometimes as my one dog, Marley, like to take his time outside.
Who is your biggest supporter?
I would have to say my family and loved ones. My family and extended family are really supportive and are always there for me. They’re definitely my biggest supporters and the biggest blessing I have.
How did you get started in the industry?
I started off in this industry from the theatrical side of things. Coming from the Midwest, there wasn’t a lot of film opportunity, and Hollywood is a long way away, so I was very active in live theatre and it’s something I did throughout my childhood all the way up to my early 20’s. I went to college at NDSU and received my BFA in Theatre and then I moved to Los Angeles to make movies. Before I moved to LA, I was very active in summer stock and had a deep love for theatre. Something inside me though was always driving me toward LA for film. I still am active in theatre around LA but my main focus is filmmaking. I do have an equal love for theatre and film however.
What was your first acting role?
My first acting role was called Kids On Broadway, and we were a singing and dancing group that performed live on regional radio, news, and events. I remember loving the costumes that we performed in, they were these elaborate gowns for some of the numbers. It was then that I felt at home and met other people that were interested in what I wanted to do so badly.
Do you take or have you taken acting classes?
Yes, I’ve taken lots of acting classes throughout my life and the place that I have been hanging out at the most is The Actor’s Studio- West. It was very sad to have lost Martin Landau 2 years ago. I recently lost someone who was very dear to me and was a close mentor, fellow actor, teacher, and Actor’s Studio member, Carmen Argenziano. He was someone who really taught me a lot about acting and introduced me to The Studio. He was a wonderful teacher, artist, and partner that always made you feel creatively safe and worth while.
What is the best and worst part of being an actress and producer?
What I love about being on board as producer is having a creative say in how the story is told, and how it comes together in the end. It also is a blessing when you can choose the team of filmmakers you want to work with and put trust into those people. It is really rewarding to create a project from the ground up and finish it in a way that you can be proud of. Producing also involves a lot of learning, and it’s learning things that you can’t necessarily plan for. It’s constant problem solving and meeting deadlines while juggling your character work. In that comes a lot of reward, but the added pressure is something that you have to deal with. Being patient with people and compromising is also a huge part of producing which can be good or bad. On set acting and producing was a lot of pressure. Even though we had a great crew running everything, at the end of the day, it’s your project and the final responsibility falls on you the producer to make it happen. All of this goes on while you’re in between takes on your scenes.
How do balance your personal life with your acting life?
I meet a lot of people in my career and LA is a very big city, but a small one when it comes to connecting the dots with people. There always seems to be someone that knows someone in this industry. My acting life can sometimes bleed into my personal life and that is because having this be a career choice can be kind of consuming. It’s a career that requires a lot of attention to detail, and it’s also one that requires a lot of “hustle”, which is essentially unpaid work, until you book the job and start all over again once you wrap. Having a personal life is really important for balancing out the crazy life we as actors have. It’s important to maintain that balance, and having supportive people in your life can help with that.
Best advice ever given?
“Go for broke kid” – I had two teachers tell me that. It sort of stuck in my mind as saying don’t hold back, go for broke and put all your cards in. That’s what you have to do every time when you’re acting. You have to commit fully. I think that is something that is universal and it could be used in any career field or personal goal. Whatever you’re doing go for broke and fully commit to it in order to succeed.
How do you prepare for a role?
I start with reading the script more than once so that I can get a feel for the rhythm of the character and the script as a whole. It’s important to understand your character’s given circumstances so that you can be as detailed as possible when playing the role. I like to do a lot of research on characters and people, and add some of that into my characters that I play. That’s how we create complex personalities and characters, by adding little bits of different personalities to make up one new personality. I also study the relationships between my characters, the other characters, and the relationship my characters have with the world they live in. Relationships shape so much of who we are, and they literally can change a person’s mood, motive, and drive. Having a clear and strong relationship between characters adds to the details and the depth of the story. For me, rehearsing the scenes in repetition with your scene partner, coach, etc. is something I like to do in the very early stages of development for a character. This not only helps me know the lines for being off book, but it also allows me to find the tempo of my character and really explore. There is a bit of a jazz element when doing this, because every time it can be different and experimental. The line can be said differently, the rhythm, emphasis, relationship can all be played with, but still be in the same realm and stay organic. It’s a very freeing exploration to do in the early stages.
Now tell us about your work in the horror film “The 6th Friend?”
Yes! The 6th Friend is the first horror feature that I produced, funded, and starred in. It was a long journey, but I’m so thankful to have it be completed and distributed in theaters, and now on available on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Fandango, etc. My work with this started right at the beginning in getting the crew and finances in order, to delving in on my work as an actor playing Melissa White. I don’t want to give any spoilers away about my character, but she is diverse and a mastermind. Playing the role of producer and a character like that definitely required compartmentalizing my mind in order to remain professional while playing this type of character. It’s like a dual world you live in. You have to be fully engulfed in your character and the world they live in, but then snap out of it and be the boss when the scene is over. It was a challenge, but one that I felt fulfilled with what I was doing.
How was acting and producing this film?
The 6th Friend was definitely a passion project for me as this movie was made up of a lot of passionate people. It was my first time producing a full length feature and I was very excited to jump on board as a creative partner and actor. It was the first time I was simultaneously able to sit in front of and behind the camera. In the end I really loved being able to create this movie from the beginning and be able to learn and grow as an artist. It opened up my eyes to filmmaking and expanding my skills and desires outside of acting, while still being able to hold onto the acting element. I also really loved the character I got to play, Melissa White. What I love about this character, is that I get to play from A-Z because she is all over the place. You think she’s one way and then she shows her true colors, and then you realize she was like that the whole time. It’s a bit of a layered character that is complex and full of surprises. She’s also very funny too, and I have a deep love for comedy, it’s always been one of my favorites.
And about “The Desert”?
This film is a really cool take on Sci-Fi and Melo-Dramas of the 1950’s. It’s produced by the creators of NBC’s Grimm, and directed by Ben Bigalow. It’s a really cool story a wealthy house wife, Martha (whom I play), and her son who is in an imagination chamber as a form of psycho-therapy. The relationship between my husband James (played by Ty Mayberry) are tense rather unhealthy, and this pushes Martha to escape by breaking into her son’s imagination chamber. In the end it ends with destruction and a complete melt down of the family dynamic and what it stands for, but Martha has escaped and is now free from the trap of her former life. So it has a sense of female heroism to it. I like this character and story because it shows strength through symbolization and features a woman free of material confinement in the end.
What other projects you have been part of?
I have a huge theatre background from my child hood starring in such shows as The Wizard of Oz where I was the Wicked Witch, The Children’s Hour where I played Karen Wright and won an Irene Ryan Award, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof where I played Maggie, Floyd Collins where I played Miss Jane to name a few. Some other movies and TV shows that I have been in are Axeman, Moo Moo and the Three Witches, The 6th Friend, Reawakened, Mob City, Suspense, Modern Family.
What kind of roles do you like or would like to play and why?
I really love doing comedy and it honestly is one of my favorite genres. Well written comedies like 30 Rock, Arrested Development, Happy Endings are some of my favorites. I love the tempo of comedy and how there is that spontaneity element to it that makes it fresh and different every time. Comedy not only requires high intelligence and knowledge of current events, but also an astute awareness for what will work in that moment and what will not. I think of comedy as being a little bit like jazz music in a way, because there is that improvisational element to it that can be fresh and organic every time. I also love horror, and there is a lot of comedic elements in horror as well. Drama has also been a love of mine. It’s hard for me to choose which ones because I don’t want to stick to just one genre or style, I want to explore all aspects.
Which role has been the most challenging and which one your favorite?
One of my most challenging roles was a live show I understudied for in the West Coast Premiere of Niagara Falls at Theatre of Note in Hollywood. I played Linda Imelda and I really fell in love with this character. The show is a bit of a dark comedy, but Linda was definitely the comedic relief of the show. She also is one of the only characters that makes the audience question whether or not she is real. She has a very heightened sense to her, and in the script I found so many places where I could play with the line and work against the text. It was a challenge though because as I said I agreed to understudy it and they needed me to go up last minute with only one show run through, and we had a sold out house that night. The show was taped so I was able to watch it and it went so well and everything was spot on. That is an important thing to know about being in the zone of your craft: when you know the words and are focused the intentions of those words, and connected to the relationship of the other characters in the scene, it is then that you can let it flow and soar. It really is one of the most freeing experiences. I felt so ready to go on that night even though I had only done the show once the night before.
What is next for Chantelle Albers in 2019?
I have another horror feature coming out later this year called Reawakened where I play a detective, and I have 3 other festival films coming out this year that will be making the circuit. I’m actually really excited to produce again this year! I have a love for horses and I have been riding horse since I was a kid, and I think it would be amazing to make a western. A really deep heartfelt westerner like Lonesome Dove. My dad actually has a bunk house that is Lonesome Dove themed, my dad is a huge movie buff and one of his classic favorites is that movie. I also have a singing background from my theatre days, so making a movie with singing it would be really cool too. Maybe a full on musical would be a bit much to produce right now, but a movie with music where I sing would be amazing.
Who is your favorite Actor/Actress? And why?
I always say Meryl Streep because she is so vulnerable and so detailed in her character work. It is a complete transformation where she leaves no stone unturned when it comes to fleshing out a character. Details are the most important thing when creating a character, brand, or movie. To me her details are endless. I also really like Julia Garner from The Ozark and Manic. I think her work is very detailed and transformational, I’m really excited to see what she does next. I think it will be something really incredible.
3 things you can’t leave your house without?
For work purposes my computer and my cell phone, but personal reasons my 2 dogs.
What music do you like?
I have a really wide range of musical taste. Music is art to me and just like with film, theatre, TV, or visual art it’s hard to settle on just one category. I like everything including 90’ hip hop, show tunes, jazz, pop (like Beyonce and Lady Gaga), current hip hop, mo-town, The Beatles (who I grew up listening to from my parents), classic country like Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, and I also like some Alabama music.
Your idea of a perfect Sunday is?
Getting together with friends for afternoon brunch. There really is something special to me about getting together with friends on a Sunday to catchup and commune over some creative dishes. I also enjoy going to church in the morning before hand and then meeting up for brunch. There is always a lot of music at Mosaic in Hollywood and that always brings people together, even afterwards.
Something people don’t know about you?
I have a huge fear of surgery. I’m going through this right now because I need to have my wisdom teeth taken out but I have been procrastinating on it for quite some time now. I had 2 major surgeries by the time I was 4, and a minor surgery when I was 6, so maybe that has something to do with it.
What is your own definition of happiness?
I think happiness is having satisfaction with your goals, current life circumstances, and having a sense of inner well being and spiritual well being. I think that happiness is subjective to different people.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would love to meet Queen Latifah. I think she is such a seasoned and talented artist in so many ways. She’s an amazing rapper, singer, actor, poet, and women’s rights advocate. She is someone who I would be proud to have represent the female empowerment movement of today. She has a grounded humbleness to her that I find really attractive, but it’s also paired with a keen sense awareness and intelligence. I would love to work with her on a movie or a charitable cause.
What do you like to watch on Tv?
Right now, I am really enjoying Maniac on Netflix. I am so captivated by mind bending realities, and I’m really in love with the cinematic approach to it.
What is your favorite healthy food?
Being a vegetarian I normally eat pretty heathy, but some of my favorites are arugula salad, avocado toast, lentil soup, and dipping almost anything in hummus. I’m a huge fan of Mediterranean food.
And your favorite cheat food?
I am a huge fan of pizza. I really think I could eat it everyday. For a while at least!
Do you support any charities?
This year I was so honored to be asked to participate in Read Across America, where actors, comedians, and public figures come and read to elementary kids and do a meet and greet. This was so special to me because my mom is an elementary school teacher, who just retired this year, and I always used to go and visit her 6th grade class and read to them. It truly is special to see kids grow and interact with one another, and to bring a smile to their day is what it’s all about. I also have worked with Dogs Without Boarders that rescues and finds forever homes for abandoned or abused dogs. There is also The Little Red Dog and Vanderpump Dogs that I have attended charity events for. One of my dogs, Eddie, I rescued off the street. He was abused and neglected, but he is in a happy forever home with me now.
Where we can follow you?
Quote: “Life beats you down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one.” —Stella Adler
Holiday Destination: Georgia (the country)
Drink: Dirty Martini or sparking water. I even got a machine from Bed Bath and Beyond that sparkles water at home!
Song: “Walking on Broken Glass” by Annie Lennox
Sports Team: LA Dodgers
Photo Credit: Paul Smith Photography