It’s 10:00 pm
Welcome to 8 Questions with……
Whew,it’s been a while since I have since I done a written interview here on my blog.
When I approached actress/acting coach Kari Nissena about doing this interview,I was pleasantly surprised that she requested it be done via print and I had no problem with that.
Of course it has taken 5 days for me to finish this interview and post it but trust me,when you meet Kari,it will be worth the read to see how she approaches her craft and uses her skills to help other actors beome better performers. So on that note,allow me to step aside and let Kari answer her 8 Questions!!
Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your newest/current project
I’m an Actress, Producer, Business Coach for Actors and founder of Actor Transformation. As a coach that helps actors with the business side of their careers, I am always working on new ways to help my actors with their marketing, press, and online presence. Lately, that includes working on our YouTube channel for actors and building my next online training program for actors.
When did you decide to become an actress, was there a singular moment when you knew this was your journey. What steps did you take towards becoming an actress?
I always knew that being an actress is what I wanted to do with my life. In fact, I don’t remember life before acting. An actor from a young age, there have been a million steps in building a career. Like most actors, I started in the theatre. I loved the stage and a large portion of my childhood was spent performing in plays and training as an actor. I would audition for everything I could get my hands on and took every class available.
Once I graduated from high school I was off to New York and then Hollywood. I have worked professionally in film, theatre, tv, voiceover, commercials, radio, and more.
Which are you more at home at…..live theater, TV or films and why?
Film and Theatre are the two places that I love most. Theatre is where most actors start and there is nothing like performing in front of a live audience. I also love film because film often allows an actor to dig deep into their character. I love that acting in film is a way for our work to reach so many. Film acting is also a very honest form of the art because the camera captures everything.
Name a time where you had to overcome fear in performing a role and how did you do it?
Overcoming fear when performing is expected. The butterflies are a part of the adventure. One story that stands out in my memory:
I was one of the leads in a one act play that was performing 7 times in a row for 7 different audiences in one day. As luck would have it, the day of the show came and I woke up with no voice. No matter what I did, very little sound would come out of my mouth when speaking.
It was crazy. I went on and performed all seven performances with no voice because there was no understudy and there was no other choice, but I’m sure most of the audience could barely hear me. But, alas … the show must go on.
What has been your three favorite performances you have given and what makes them special?
Choosing a favorite performance can be challenging because each job comes with its own memories, challenges, cast & crew, and more. But here are a couple that I loved.
~ #1 – Callous
Callous was a film and a role that was near and dear to my heart. The film was based on a true story and my role was a dream role for any actor. I was the main villain of the film and I got to age 30 years throughout the film, gain 30 pounds, use an accent, and it had many challenging scenes.
~ #2 – Group Therapy
Group Therapy was an amazing project. It was a series that was way ahead of its time because it helped people that were going through treatment online for their addictions. My cast mates and I were playing real-life people and telling their struggles and their stories. We filmed on location for around a month and a half and were given a lot of complex heavy new dialogue every day. I loved it.
~ #3 – I shot a small role in a lovely film called Dear Lemon Lima. We filmed on location in Seattle and had an amazing cast including phenomenal character actors Beth Grant and Melissa Leo. I was grateful be a part of such a delightful filming experience.
What style of director will draw your best work?
A director that loves actors and allows them to explore and try things. I love the rehearsal process but film and especially tv often only have time to do blocking rehearsal. So in those cases, it’s nice to have a director that is good at communicating their vision and if necessary, the technical aspects of the shot like the angles or framing.
Do you like to improv or are you a script first actor?
I think a mixture of both. I find that I do my best work when I know the script and lines backwards and forwards and then am able to improv the feelings and moments.
Is there such a thing as “too much improv”?
In certain circumstances, yes. In Shakespeare, for example. Outside of rehearsal you definitely don’t improv any of the lines because the written words are perfection.
In film and tv, you shouldn’t change things when there is tricky blocking or details like choreography, stunts, firearms, or fight scenes. In certain situations, improv can possibly mess up the lighting, sound, and camera angles if the crew aren’t prepared for the changes. Improv is best used for keeping each take or each performance fresh and new. It’s also a great tool to use in comedy and in rehearsal and when exploring your character and relationships to the other characters.
What are your favorite genres to work in?
I love both drama and comedy so I’d say my favorite is probably dramedy because it’s a mixture of both and is the best of both worlds. Humans are complex and so are their stories. I think it’s more realistic and more interesting when you get to laugh when watching a serious film or when you cry from a touching moment in a comedy.
One of my favorite casting directors told me that she loved my work because she saw me do a funeral scene and in the scene I had my character start laughing through the tears. She said she remembered that performance years later because it was an interesting choice. I just think it’s a very human thing. Sometimes we laugh in life when we aren’t supposed to and sometimes we cry when we’re supposed to be happy.
Which three do you like the least?
Can’t say I have any “least favorite” genres, but one thing that I think is pretty amusing is that when I’m watching a film or tv show where the characters are dirty for a long time, like in a Western or in a Horror film where they’ve been running and sweaty, etc… I really really want them to take a shower. *laughs*
What are your thoughts and impressions on short films?
I’ve starred in and produced many short films and have also watched countless short films. I think they can be a fantastic way to get your work seen, to get exposure, and to hone your craft. There are also a lot of possibilities when it comes to marketing.
Do actors benefit from this medium as much as directors/screenwriters do?
It depends on the artist and depends on the project. It’s a great way to be cast as the lead in something that maybe Hollywood wouldn’t normally cast you as in a feature.
Talk about the series you created in “Actors Transformation”, where did you get the idea and how have you enjoyed bringing it to the public’s eye?
As a business coach for actors, I am always searching for new ways to get my message and training out to actors. My company is www.ActorTransformation.com. And a collection of some of my training videos on our Youtube channel go by the same name. I love helping actors with the parts of their careers that most artists find challenging like marketing and press etc. I also plan on starting an industry podcast for actors called “Casting Calls with Kari Nissena”, and I’m currently designing a new training program for actors.
Has doing this series empowered you creatively, if so, can you give us a few examples?
Coaching and teaching and producing videos is always a creative process. I always have so many ideas that I want to share with my actors. It’s also a creative challenge when it comes to designing graphics, and presentation, and the different methods of teaching.
In your opinion, is the shift in movies and TV shows moving away from Hollywood?
Hollywood will always be Hollywood. That said, the entertainment industry has changed so much in just the last two years it’s crazy. There are now more opportunities than ever for actors that are in smaller markets because of the shift to self tapes.
Are more actors moving away out of California more so than moving in?
Everything goes in waves. Many friends and colleagues have moved away from Hollywood to be with family. But at the end of the day…it is Hollywood, and there will always be thousands of actors and creatives still coming here with stars in their eyes.
What three roles do you want to play in your career more than anything and why?
~ #1 – I would love to play a role like Annie Wilkes in Misery. The book and the screenplay were so well written. She has so many layers. She is so complex, sweet one moment and terrifying the next. And totally kept the audience guessing. Truly an actor’s dream.
~ #2 – Another dream role would be to be on a show where I get to play different roles within the same series. Like the classic “Quantum Leap” where every week he would leap into a new body. Or “American Horror Story” where many of the actors get to play completely new characters in different seasons. Fascinating work.
~ #3 – And I know this is usually reserved for the boys, but … “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster”.
The cheetah and I are flying out to see your latest film but we are a day early and now you’re our tour guide. What and where are we going for the day?
Cheetah might enjoy visiting some kitties at a “Cat Cafe” like Crumbs and Whiskers. As for non-feline tourists… Everyone should go to Disneyland (or Disney World) at least once in their life. It’s always wonderful to see grown adults happy and dreaming and acting like kids again. And when visiting Hollywood, it’s always a good idea to see what industry parties, events, premiers, and screenings are happening. There are thousands of great places to eat. And so much variety. So much to do. It has it all. Whether it’s the mythical “Hollywood” or the town itself, Hollywood is truly an amazing place.
Kari has several different social media platforms to follow her on.
YOUTUBE: (Free Videos for Actors)
Follow Kari on Instagram