Actress Shondra Marie -- Is Life the Ultimate Acting Career?
Shondra with Us...
An actress from Texas, who was very polite when we requested an interview from her. Shondra was and is, without a doubt, a charismatic actress that can go the extra mile in every project she could ever bump into. Just imagine Sally Field meets Ashley Judd.
Shondra Marie has been working in the entertainment industry professionally since 1993. We don't want to guess about numbers, but she has worked extensively in theatre. Nonetheless, she has also booked jobs in films, commercials, voice-overs, anime, audio-books and cast albums. She is a consummate actress/singer that thoroughly loves her career. Was a pleasure to have an informal interview with her.
Is acting a gift for you? Or a career that requires a good dose of innate skills?
For me, it is both. God gave me a talent and a desire to act. When I am in the midst of creating, I feel closest to my Creator. However, I need to continually learn and grow in my art. The longer I'm in this business, the more I realize I have to learn – to delve deeper, to ask more questions, to live more intimately within the character I have been entrusted with. I've also learned how much more important the story is. We are there to serve the story, to bring it to life, to work together.
So, real life can test our acting skills as I see it now...
I think we all are actors to some degree. We adjust our demeanor to the situation that we are in. This can be a small as lowering our voice in the library or as large as telling a story to children. Are politicians exactly who they appear to be onstage? I doubt it. I'm sure there are many areas of their lives that we are not (and should not) be privy to.
I heard you have two pets. I lost my beloved Hanna a while ago. In your case, what would you do or feel without them?
I'm so sorry you lost Hanna, Joseph. Pets become part of our families. They love us unconditionally. I've always had cats. The first one I remember is Patches. She was my friend and confidante from kindergarten to graduation day of college. When she pulled herself up the stairs to say "Good-bye" to me (although I didn't know at the time that was what she was doing), I was so touched.
I can imagine all that...
I wasn't supposed to come home that day, but I just wanted to be in my old room before graduation. Truthfully, I immediately got another kitty within a month. I couldn't stand the silence – the not having that purring contentedness beside me.
We all go through all those experiences...
I have lost four more kitties since then, and each was like the death of a family member. We do not have children yet, and these are our children. I am grateful for our two boys. They provide much joy and frustration and love.
Talking about Kittens... Shondra singing, "From Now On" from the Musical, "You Go, Girl!"
Any memories from your involvement in Children's Theatre?
Since I was involved with Chldren's Theatre from 1993-2012, there are a lot of memories. One that sticks out is a production of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. I was playing a tree who voiced the puppets of Mr. & Mrs. Beaver. I was a little irked at being a tree at this point in my professional career and decided to do something fun with my hair.
No, you didn't...!
I was trying to figure out how to make it look like branches. I finally settled on some pipe cleaners and braided sections of my hair with them. I proceeded then to bend them into branch-like shapes. My director loved it so much that he asked me to do my entire head instead of the four braids that I had done. It took me 30-45 minutes to do my hair every day for six weeks.
Things that we don't know or see because they are done behind the scenes. But you have more of this...
Yes, the difficulty of what I had created became worth it during a Q&A session when an elementary-school girl asked me how I made my hair do that. When I told her, she responded, "That's tight!" (And, yes, it literally was) Another memory I have is of a very small theatre where the director was the writer and the main actor.
He rarely could remember his lines exactly the way he wrote them. Since I came from a theatre background, where the story is the most important thing and you learn the lines word-perfect, it drove me a little insane. However, once I figured out that what we would be doing was basically scripted improve, I was fine. As long as I knew where the story was going, I could get us back on track.
You did narrate The Fluted Girl. How did you get involved in that project? A good agent perhaps?
Actually, I learned about the first project I did with AudioText, Inc., from a fellow actor in a children's show. We did two joint projects together, Antibodies and Lobsters. Then I was hired to do the narration for both The Fluted Girl and The Wind Over the World. I believe all of them are available on Amazon, as well as on AudioText's website.
Are they in this together..? -- Courtesy of Regina Ohashi
I always ask this question in order to learn more about actors and actresses. Who is your favorite actress or actor?
My favorite current-day actresses are Meryl Streep and Parker Posey. I love the diversity both bring to the plate. Parker Posey is inspiring because she can go between independent and big-budget films so easily. Meryl Streep is inspiration because she is … Meryl. Her ability with accents, her ability to disappear into a role, her ability to do amazing work at any age. I look up to both of them.
As for my favorite actors, they tend to be more everyday-man actors – Jimmy Steward, Paul Rudd – amazing character actors like that. I love the realness, the approachability, the feeling that you could walk up to them and strike up a conversation and be friends.
What can you tell us about your latest feature films, My Time to Die and The Toy Box?
Truthfully, I filmed both of those awhile ago and was only onset for a few hours. I do know The Toy Box is about a serial killer and My Time to Die seems to be about, "What is reality?" I do remember some things that happened on each set. On My Time to Die, Ejai Aitch was enthralled with my accents and wanted me to do a British one.
I hadn't brushed up on it, and ever since I learned an Irish accent, it tends to infiltrate whatever accent I'm trying to do unless I go over that particular accent again. We did 2-3 takes and then Russ let Ejai have me do a take with my Irish accent. They loved it, but it didn't fit with the film. It definitely changed the tenor of the the scene.
As for The Toy Box, I remember the challenge of talking to the side of the camera when the cameraman/director sat down in the chair where the actor was before. Just trying to keep my eyeline at the appropriate placement was an intriguing challenge.
My next project is a film called Sacrifice – which is finally up on IMDb. I shot my scene on May 8th. It's very interesting to have a sweater on when it's a hot and humid 80+ degrees out, but I the director indicated that he was very pleased with how the scene went.
Three movies that made you cry with no alarming warning? Mine were "Titanic," "Lincoln" and perhaps, "The Boy in the Pajamas."
Hmm, that's a good question. I teared up at the end of "Les Miserables", as well as when Anne Hathaway sang, "I Dreamed a Dream."
"The Passion of The Christ" makes me cry whenever I allow myself to watch it (it's difficult to see). And I always tear up at the beginning montage of "Up."
Yeah, up! I love that old timer! Now to the million dollar question: is life the ultimate acting career?
I was hired by my parents with no permission at all…!
Now that was good news! Matter of fact, I can see how perspective of things do change as we age...
Absolutely! An argument could be made for your question. I have found that immersing myself in my acting career and learning to live more authentically there has enabled me to translate that into my own journey. The clarity and truth that I must bring to characters challenges me to do the same in my own persona.
So, yes, life is the ultimate acting career because we discover the path along the way just as our characters do.
And, no, life is not the ultimate acting career because we do not know the entire journey from the beginning of the piece to the end. Therein lies the challenge and trepidation and anticipation that is life.
That was an epic finale from a great person, who mentioned God from the very beginning. Whew! I want to thank you for your valuable time and your sincere answers, Shondra!
Thank you, Joseph! Sorry it took so long. Like I said, I was hoping to get my reel recut. It really needs it! :) Have a wonderful week!
You too, Shondra!
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