Luke Edward Smith: What inspires you?
Chelsea Ingram: I am inspired by life. I am an extremely sensitive person and embrace the crazy energies that are constantly surrounding us. I guess I am inspired by others stories, most people in this world underestimate their strength and tales and I have always wanted to express their stories and triumphs through my art.
What advice would you give to other young female actresses and writers?
Learn to hussle. Have your mum on speed dial. Be strong, humble and most importantly love and embrace yourself. Geoffrey Horne my teacher at Strasberg and a gifted actor once wrote “I’ve lived my life expecting things to take care of themselves. I told myself that all I had to do was be a good actor. Believe me, that’s not the way it works.” – I kind of live by this.
Do you have a method to prepare for your roles?
After studying at The Lee Strasberg theatre and film Institute for 2 years, I am a huge believer in the method. I personalize my characters emotions by using my personal experiences to embody and find the truth of the characters journey. To prepare I will study their lives, loves, woes and highs to understand and fully embrace their stories.
How was working in the big apple?
Incredible and unbelievable. Actors in New York are so giving and have immense respect for the art and its craft. I can’t really put into words how magnificent life is as a actor in NYC, but it’s like nothing I had ever experienced. I worked on the stage, feature and short films and web series – every project was amazing. New York is a hard city, most months it’s a struggle to even pay rent. I can’t help but respect every actor who throws themselves into the NYC world of arts and embraces that extreme and yet amazing life style.
Do you have any upcoming projects to watch out for?
Currently I am working on an upcoming film. My play Keep Calling plans to move over to NYC in later 2017. I am connected to an unbelievable theatre company in NYC, Primitive Grace, directed by Paul Calderon and David Zayaz, with shows coming out soon. I have a few other projects that I am unable to speak about but please keep an eye out on social media.
Chelsea Ingram: What made you come back from NYC to do Keep Calling as part of the Sydney Fringe?
Apart from the convenient excuse to visit friends and family? It was the punch in the guts the script gave me. I read it and was still thinking about it a few days later. Always a good sign. I’m always looking for that element of fear in bringing something to life in a performance and this role left me thinking, “can I pull this off?” I wasn’t sure, but I knew I’d like to give it a red hot go.
How did you approach working on the role?
It wasn’t too different an approach from any other. I always start with what about them is similar to me. It’s much easier to work from those similarities and then layer in those things that make us different. It helps me ground the performance and hopefully it makes it all the more believable when an audience comes to see it.
Did you find much that was similar between you and Sam?
I recognised that attraction to something you know isn’t good for you. I’ve never been in the same shoes exactly (thank God), but I saw the behaviour, the longing, the need to belong and that I think is universal. It’s something anyone can identify with, being attracted to or trying to please someone or something that can’t or won’t be pleased. That coupled with the huge regret and confusion and anger that comes with not being strong enough to give it up. I like to work very personally so I’ve gone back to moments in my life where I’ve felt the same way as Sam.
What do you do to come down from working on something that intense and personal?
I go home and do the complete opposite of what I’ve been doing in the rehearsal room that day! I listen to upbeat music, I watch TV, lots of comedies, or curl up with a trashy novel. And tea. Tea makes everything better. Anything that puts the balance back into life. Everything I put into that day’s work I try to leave in the room. It’ll be there tomorrow.
When you’re in New York, what do you miss most about Australia?
Tim Tams. I’ve eaten way too many packs since I got back. I always take two big jars of Vegemite with me when I go back, so I’ve got that covered. But Tim Tams? You can get them but they go for about $7 a pack in the States, and if any other Australian knows you’ve got them…
Chelsea Ingram and Luke Edward Smith can both be seen in Keep Calling in the Sydney Fringe Festival.
Dates: 13 – 17 September, 2016
Venue: PACT, Erskineville