Its 4:37 pm
It’s been a long time since I have posted a “8 Questions with….” interview here on the blog. The last person I chatted with was famed writer Peter Gethers and then I don’t know what happened. I had three interviews lined up,one artist suddenly got two jobs at once and the other just Caspered on me.
But life is really interesting at times…..a few years back,I became friends with actor and playwright Stephen Foster and I did a interview with him of which I need to repost on this blog. He in turn helped me interview theater director Brian Remo. What I really admire about Stephen is his relentless drive to maintain positive energy in a tough career. The man radiates a love for his life through his craft. So when,despite me NOT being a actor (the cheetah may have some chops however),I got a invite to Stephen’s new FB group that is designed to help new and struggling artists keep moving forward,I knew I had to join and in doing so,see if there was new actors whom I could chat with.
And this is how I met the bubbly and hardworking actress Reanna Madson. When I asked if anyone in the group would care to be interviewed,she was the first to respond and her response was in less then a minute….my kind of answer. What is really neat about this interview is I feel that both the writer and you,the reader,are both discovering Reanna at the same time!!
She was very patient with me as I had some family issues to work out and thus the reason why this interview is a tad late. But I am eager to have you all meet rising star Reanna Madson as she answers 8 Questions!!!
Please introduce yourself and tell a little bit about you.
My name is Reanna Madson. I’m a sophomore in college. I’m from Eau Claire, Wisconsin and still live there now. I go to college at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire getting my Theatre Arts Comprehensive and Dance Certificate. Acting is my main passion. I like performing with a mix of theatre, film, voice-over, sketch, comedy, drama, and improv. I hope to be doing different kinds of acting like film, theatre, and voice-over. I enjoy writing and directing as well. I love going on hikes and traveling. My family has always been big on traveling, so I’m lucky enough to get to travel with my family every year. My favorite places have been Badlands or New York City. They’re complete opposites, but I love being in nature and big cities; perks of growing up in Eau Claire. I create my own projects living in Eau Claire. I’ve learned about directing, writing, sound, editing, and cinematography, which has been a lot of gratifying. Currently, I have a part-time job as a props carpenter, which I’ve loved. I’ve learned a lot since you have to have a diverse set of skill as a props carpenter.
What is it like growing up in your home? Do your parents support your inner artist? If so, how and if not…..why not?
My hometown of Eau Claire has a small arts community there. It is a very supportive city. My parents have always supported my inner artist, which has been appreciative. I use to be really quiet when I was younger, so when I told my parents I wanted to act they were astonished. Still, my dad helped me right away in finding plays to audition for. I wanted to get acting lessons, but Eau Claire doesn’t have a lot of options. I started looking for classes in Minneapolis. My dad would drive me once a week to Minneapolis for acting classes! I couldn’t drive at the time, so my parents really helped make my dream come true. I wouldn’t be where I am without my parents. The majority of my extended family lives in Eau Claire; They are supportive of my acting career. They’ll try to watch the plays I’m in, which warms my heart. It’s nice when you have someone at the end of each performance to say hi to.
Why have you decided to become a performer? What is your main motivation to becoming an actress?
The first moment that made me realize I wanted to be an actor was watching Narnia. My friend and I were in my old bedroom watching Narnia for the 10th time. She had fallen asleep and I just remember wanting to be in the world of Narnia so bad. It made me a little sad for how much I wanted to be apart of that world, except it wasn’t just Narnia. Every movie I watched I wanted to be apart of it. Every time I watched a movie, it felt like apart of my heart went into it. At the end of the movie, that part of me was gone, but I could rewatch the movie and that part would come alive again. I know it sounds cheesy, but it was the first time I had a real passion for something. While watching Narnia, I realized I could be apart of these movies. I could act. So, I tried out for my first play. Lucky enough, one of the characters had to be an inexperienced actor, so my first part was Baby Louise from Gypsy in 7th grade. It was just as fun as I thought it would be. So, I continued to act. Most of Eau Claire’s plays are musicals. Unfortunately, I don’t sing well, so I wasn’t getting many roles. It forced me to create my own experience. I practiced SNL skits with some of my friends. Eventually, I wrote my own skit. At the same time, I was getting into films and am creating films as well. I love creating films that I get to act in. I get to act in fun or meaningful parts. Also, I want to continue acting to create change. Films can be so powerful and I want to make the world better. I’ve been working on some films with a core of feminism. I saw one of my acting teachers create a play called Trust, based on a true story of one of the actors, It is about a teenager who got molested by a priest. Trust really stunned me. I’ve wanted to create films and plays like that. Something that means something or impact people. Another motivation for acting is the thrill and nervousness after acting in a film or play. It’s beautiful and an exciting feeling that truly makes me happy.
Is there a thriving acting community where you live at? What do you find is the best part of working with other actors?
I have a small arts community in Eau Claire that’s growing. We have Eaux Claire’s festival because of Justin Vernon. We have the confluence project that’s creating two new theatres! The University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire has a 48-hour film festival and a 31-day film festival that’s open to the public. My high school, Memorial had a film club and we put on two plays a year. We have theatre company, Speck of Dust, and two community theatres that are great. I created a group called Sketch It and for a year we performed skits. We have Improv Festival in Eau Claire started from my teacher Amber Dernbach. They’ve had guests from New York City and Second City alongside lots of local improv groups. I was lucky enough to participate for one year. The best part of working with other actors is they’re so nice. You just hang out and have fun. On the opposite, they can be such hardworking people that it’s inspiring. Creating theatre and films is such hard work it really helps with motivation to surround yourself with these wonderful people. Acting is so broad too; there is comedy, drama, sketch, voice-overs, clown work, film, theatre, etc, so it interesting to see what other actors have done or what they like to do. I met a girl who made these fun short videos to songs. It inspired me to show myself more with acting and presenting myself as an actor.
I’m sure there was a moment where you woke upend said “I’m chasing my dream!!” What do you remember the most about that moment?
The moment I realized I was chasing my dreams was I book my first commercial. I went to an audition for Warheads candy. There was about 25 people at the audition. They needed a small group of teenagers for the commercial. I went to the audition and it was a lot of fun. We had to talk about ourselves and react to someone pretending they were doing a skateboard trick. It was goofy and then I went home. I was talking with some of the people there and they were waayyy more skilled and experienced then I was. So my hopes were high. I mean it is a warheads commercial, but a couple days later I got an email about getting offered a role. I couldn’t believe it. They picked me! I finally felt like I was doing it. I was doing something right. I was making my dreams come true. I got this audition on my own. I remember just not believing they picked me. It still surprises me. I wonder what I did that got me picked. I believe in myself, but I still wonder. I remember the happiness that came from finally doing something big. Big to me at least.
What was going through your mind during your first audition and then booking your first acting job?
My first audition was for the musical Gypsy. I had to prepare a song, I loved the song C’est La Vie at the time so I prepared that and a make-believe story, which I chose 3 little pigs. We got to go down and meet the director and everybody involved. They asked me about acting and I told them this was my first audition ever and I could tell the director was interested, which made me really excited cause I was super nervous. Then I performed my song and story, which I ended up switching to billy goats gruff cause I heard someone else practicing three little pigs. I wanted to be new. I forgot the details in the story so midway telling it I just kind of improved the story. The audition ended and the next evening I got a call from the theatre. I was in the kitchen and answered on my home landline. I remember the kitchen light on, but the living room and the rest of my house were dark. I was offered the role of baby Louise. I was so excited I was jumping up and down and whispering to my mom I got a part. I didn’t want to sound too over the top, but I honestly didn’t care. My excitement showed through the telephone. I could hear her laugh as I accepted the part. I had to call back because in all the excitement I forgot my rehearsal time. The play was just as magical and exciting as I thought it would be. It motivates me thinking about getting my first role. If I can do it then, I can do it now. It’s always a reminder of how happy acting truly makes me.
What has been the 3 biggest discoveries for you when it came time to hit the stage?
My first biggest discovery is to use rehearsal time to play around with the script. You think of different ideas you want to try during the performance, but sometimes you can’t. Second, I have found the nervous energy helps with my acting. I become more emotional and excited, which helps build my energy level. Having energy is an important aspect of acting. No matter what the scene is you need energy and engagement. Also, it forces me to take a deep breath and annunciate my words. It forces me to be focused. The third thing I learned was to enjoy the world you created and have fun with it. You and your scene partners have spent a lot of time creating these scenes, so this is your time to experience it yourself. It is magical.
Where do you see yourself professionally in five years and how do you see yourself getting there?
In three years I’ll end school and move out to Chicago to try out acting there for a while. Build some connections there, then go to Los Angeles. I don’t have exact time I want to stay in Chicago and Los Angeles because I want to move around. I’ve lived in Eau Claire, WI all my life, so I’m trying to live in different areas. I’m developing my acting demo reel right now, but in five years I want to have a professional one. I’m saving money now for Chicago and Los Angeles. During my next summer, I want to go to Los Angeles or Chicago for a feature film. If that doesn’t work out I have 5 film ideas that I want to make. I’d take time to create those ideas and hopefully submit to festivals. I travel to Minneapolis for films all year long to get more experience and build connections there. I know some people out in Los Angeles and have been asking what their plans are. I have the option to apply to a class at my university that takes a trip to New York to build connections there. One of my main goals is to write, direct, and act in my own feature film. I have been working on writing those ideas right now. I also create short films and have practice with writing, directing, and acting in films. My main inspiration is Zoe Lister-Jones who wrote, directed, and acted in Band-Aid. Also had the first all-female crew, which is amazing!!
What do you like to do when your not acting? Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy?
I love to write film ideas in hopes to create them. I’ve been trying to spend my time more efficiently, so I’ve been getting into more hobbies! I love dancing and I am aiming to get a dance certificate at my university. Modern dance is my personal favorite, but I do enjoy hip hop, jazz, and pointe ballet as well. I’m learning tap dance in the fall! I have been getting into painting and drawing recently. I’m working on a painting of the clouds right now. I’ve been doing photography with a 35mm film camera. That’s probably my favorite camera to take photos with. Hopefully, I’ll learn how to develop the photos myself soon. Well be able to develop them myself, but I don’t have a room for that. I hang out with my family a lot. Love playing board game! My favorite nights beside filming is playing board games. The new games I’ve been getting into is Boss Monster, Munchkins, and Secret Hitler. I’ve been watching Sam the cooking guy on YouTube and trying his receipts with my boyfriend. They’re so delicious and easy. I’m trying to develop more skills, so I’m trying to learn guitar, French, German, and getting better at archery. I use to read a lot until high school and college hit, but when I have time I love reading books. I really like being out in nature. Even if I can’t, I just try to be outside because it makes me so happy. I’m going on a five-day hiking trip this summer to Isle Royal. I’ve canoed on the Boundary Waters, sooooo pretty. I’ve hiked at the Porcupine Mountains as well. It was a rainy day, but still beautiful. There is just so much to do in the world and so much to learn.
What 3 pieces of advice would you tell anyone who is thinking of acting?
First of all, DO IT!! Even if it’s as a hobby, just dive into it. It’s so much fun and a great experience. And PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. It’s a lot of work. It’s great, but you have to put in a lot of time. More than you think. When I started off I thought I put a lot of work into it. I didn’t. Not nearly enough. Another thing I’ve learned is to create your own stuff! You can’t always get work, so why not make opportunities for yourself. Plus you create work that you want to make. With creating your own stuff you, also, create your own style. I have learned a lot from writing and directing films and plays. It has improved my acting. Thirdly, failure in inevitable and great. You learn the most from failures. I remember after some auditions disappointed in myself because I didn’t practice enough or I didn’t make a bold choice. If you get a gut feeling in an audition to do something, try it (as long as it’s appropriate). I auditioned for The Tempest and three times I have unplanned, gut feelings that I followed. I left the audition happy with the work I had done. I ended up getting the part Miranda too! But there have also been times where I tried things that just failed, but I learned from them. I auditioned for another play where I wanted to focus on listening and reacting to the other actors. I ended up missing most of my lines. Didn’t get a part. But I still felt good that I tried something and knew what I had to change for the next audition.
You can follow Reanna’s journey via social media!
Thank you so much Reanna for taking the time to do the best interview ever!!
Please leave a comment below and tell your friends to come support a very nice young talented artist!!