New Zealander Chelsea Grant, the new and improved Lena Dunham! Not only an actress but a writer, director and new producer on the scene. I catch up with Chelsea on her exciting new projects, her recent trip to the OSCARS and her love for acting.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: You worked on the set of The Rake , how was that?
CHELSEA: It was great, being around such creative people was a dream come true. The share scope of the project was huge, so I was really happy to be a part of it.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Tell us about the Oscars? You were invited to the Oscars 2015?
CHELSEA: Yes I was. It was great. I was invited as a guest of Film House Germany, who are a great bunch of producers. I had an amazing time and met a lot of very well-known and respected people.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Best moment?
CHELSEA: I loved Elton Johns Oscars Party, it was just fabulous!
BREAKAWAY DAILY: You looked amazing. Who did you wear?
CHELSEA:I wore Valentino and it was absolutely perfect.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Tell us about the new TV series you created?
CHELSEA: Model Citizen. Yes. I created it, wrote it and am now in talks with a major network to look at producing the pilot this year. It’s very exciting.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: And you will be acting in it? Doing a Lena Dunham?
CHELSEA: Yes I will be. There are 6 lead roles, and one of them I wrote for myself. Although I love her I believe I am doing a Chelsea Grant lol.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: That’s very bold. Why did you chose to do that?
CHELSEA: Well I believe there are so many amazingly talented actors out there that never get a chance, 80% of agents are incredibly pretentious when in actual fact they don’t do anything. A good actor goes out there and networks and creates relationships with producers, like I have with Film House Germany.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: They just did that new film with Samuel L Jackson?
CHELSEA: Yes Big Game, I am looking forward to the premiere. They also did Hector & The Search For Happiness with Rosamund Pike last year, shes a lovely woman. I really enjoyed their premiere.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: And what will you be working on with them.
CHELSEA: At the moment am not allowed to say, but I have a support role in one of their upcoming features
BREAKAWAY DAILY: So getting back to you doing a Lena Dunham, sorry Chelsea Grant, you’ve been getting that comparison a lot lately, does it bother you?
CHELSEA: No of course not, she’s great. I have a lot of respect for her and what she’s doing. Like I said she created a platform for herself and other unknown talented actors. It’s not fair the way the industry treats new artists. As she will tell you.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Is your show similar to hers?
CHELSEA: It’s a similar target audience but not a similar show no. It’s a mix of Sex and the City, Gossip Girl, with a bit of Girls. But anyone who has read it has said they haven’t seen anything like it before. So it’s going to be good. You will have to watch.[Chelsea Grant with Gossip Girls Chase Crawford]
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Well I look forward to it airing. Are you going to discover new talent?
CHELSEA: Yes. Exactly. That’s one of my main goals with Kiwi Film House, to discover unknown artists. To give those who have been trying to break into the industry for years a chance. I won’t be using agencies to cast my projects.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: So does that mean any talent with an agent will automatically be cut out?
CHELSEA: No not at all. It just means I won’t be approaching agents. I have pretty much always cast my own talent. I’ve held auditions for previous works I’ve done, and though it’s exhausting I absolutely loved it.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Are you currently working with an agent?
CHELSEA: Yes, I am lucky enough to have agents in the 20% lol. Really humble and professional who are perfect for me. Central Artists based in Los Angeles look after me so well. I love and respect Laura Walsh greatly. We really click. And I also work with an agent in London, when I am in town.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: So where are you based?
CHELSEA: Tricky questions! I am based between LA and London. For this business LA is where I need to be. All the networks for my show are out there. Also most of the films etc get cast there.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: So this will be an American production?
CHELSEA: Yes, it will be aired on an American network.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Any funny casting stories you can tell us?
CHELSEA: Actually yes. I cast a test feature last year, which I created. It was pretty funny when the actors would come in, they automatically went to shake the hand of a lovely gentleman who was helping me for the day. Thinking that I was just the assistant. I think that’s funny, but also sad to women in film. Women have a lot to prove and I for one won’t stop until I’ve shown the world just what a woman can do!
BREAKAWAY DAILY: What made you want to be an actor?
CHELSEA: You know, I don’t think anything really influenced me like that. A lot of actors say oh this person, or that person, but for me I was performing when I was old enough to walk and talk. I was born this way!
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Who would you most like to work with?
CHELSEA: As an actor I would love to work with Clint Eastwood, I think hes an amazing Director. Actually as a producer I would also love to work with him. Clint. Actually now you say that I am going to email him today! Thanks!
BREAKAWAY DAILY: You’re welcome! How do your family feel about your chosen career path?
CHELSEA: That’s a huge question! I am lucky enough to have the most incredible sister, she supports me, helps me, and has always told me I would succeed. I also have a lot of close friends. One of my best friends Jamie is always telling me how proud she is of me. Shes always telling me the most positive things. I truly am blessed to have her in my life. My Grandma is always worried about me, but she also loves to see what I’m up to, her and my grandfather are very supportive. My mother always knew I would make it.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Has anyone every told you you couldn’t do something?
CHELSEA: Well yes, actually someone in my family did something horrific when I was 21. I was all set to move out to LA and she called someone she knew there and together they talked me out of it. It was actually quite evil. They were both much much older than me, the same age as my parents, and they bullied me out of it. They told me I would never make it, I’m not pretty enough, there are more talented people there. No one will pick me up, no one will want to work with me.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: How terrible! And how did that make you feel?
CHELSEA: It made me feel like I was sure to fail if I did it. They took away my positive determination and replaced it with fear.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: What did you do? Did you go?
CHELSEA: I didn’t go. I felt terrible. These are people who were adults. And the woman in question I looked up to. She was someone I admired because to me she had everything I wanted.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: What did she have? Was she an actor? Was she successful in her career?
CHELSEA: Well, no. She wasn’t successful at anything. It is going to sound so silly but she had a huge house, security, beautiful things. It wasn’t until I was a little bit older that I realized she didn’t do anything for the things around her. She married a rich man and thought that gave her the power to tell others how to live their lives.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: And this was someone in your family? How do you feel about it now?
CHELSEA: Yes she is part of my family. You know after they blind-sided me like that, her and her friend, I went to my Mom and I told her what had happened, and she turned to me and told me that they are bullies who have nothing in their lives so they want to hold you down, they don’t want you to have what they could never have. After hearing that I knew she was right, but it took a little while for me to get over that set back. I was lost for a couple of years. And having had that happen to me, it only made me stronger. And when I got to LA, well I proved them both wrong. That to me was the best feeling.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Do you wish you went to LA earlier? What happened in LA?
CHELSEA: Well no I don’t. Having those two barriers do that to me only gave me the strength and wisdom to recognize the same people again throughout my life. I’ve dealt with people like that again since, and knowing I proved them wrong only means I can prove anyone else like them wrong.
When I went to LA everyone I auditioned for in an acting capacity wanted to sign me. When I pitched my show everyone I pitched to wanted to read it, meet with me and then discuss how to package it. When I met with investors about my company, production needs and vision they wanted to meet to discuss investment needs. So I guess they were wrong to not believe in me, and as Edward Norton said “I have nothing to prove to anyone, and that’s a nice place to be.” I feel him. It definitely is a nice place to be.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: What’s in the works right now? What new idea are you working on?
CHELSEA: I am currently developing a script to show to Peter Jackson. I just love him, and I really want to work with him on this. It’s about the ancient Maori. The indigenous people of New Zealand. Much like the Aztecs. It’s going to be very powerful.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Do you have any advice for actors who are dying to break out?
CHELSEA: Yes, keep at it. It can take years to get an agent, get a job, or find your niche. Don’t be disheartened by the rejection. If someone rejects you look at it like a blessing. Thank god you’re not with someone who can’t handle you and all your brilliance. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. They talk from their own insecurities. Don’t let stupid, pretentious or insecure people who have failed in their own lives burn your beautiful dream. Work on your dream and make it a reality. You can and you will.
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