TAEM- The Arts and Entertainment Magazine is constantly on the hunt for acting talent to display for our readership. We recently discovered actress Vida Ghaffari, who has a strong background in indie films. Vida, how did you originally get started in films ?
VG-When I first moved to LA to pursue more opportunities in journalism, I was cast as a wacky, over the top tabloid-type reporter in a short film and realized that I enjoyed playing a reporter more than being one. I actually got my start in journalism writing for the school paper in college (University of Maryland, College Park) as well as being a DJ on my campus radio station, WMUC. I loved interacting with guests and being on the air. In retrospect, I think that really helped me with my voiceover career as I’ve always been really comfortable with a mic. A lot of actors have problems going from on-camera to voiceover work as their bodies are their instrument, but it was a really seamless transition for me and I go back and forth between the two mediums quite easily. As for acting, I got my start in the theatre where I had acted in some plays. I did tons of sketch comedy and was in a couple of troupes. That lead to work in many short films and indie features. I’ve even acted in a lot of student films, so I’ve really paid my dues.
TAEM- You started out in projects like Pirate Scurvy Dog’s Pieces of Eight and the TV series Mind of Mencia. Tell us about the producers for these projects and some of the other actors that you worked with.
VG-Working on Mind of Mencia was great, because the two actors I read with also booked the show with me, and we all have become good friends. Also, comic Max Amini, the guy who played my husband is from my hometown back East and we went to U of Maryland, College Park, so it was one of those cool, random LA, “what a small world” instances. It was a comedic sketch and my background is in sketch comedy, so it was great. Pirate Scurvy was a surreal experience as the filmmaker who cast me is named Captain Mango (aka Michael J. Elwell), and he’s also an actor who plays a lot of pirates, so I knew I was in for a wild ride. I played the role of the free-spirited gypsy girl, and we shot it in his studio, which looked like the inside of a pirate’s ship!
TAEM- Two years later you had roles in Green Manor and It Casting. Please describe both of these television series and the film genre they represent.
VG-Green Manor was a great experience via an acting collective I’m part of called www.thecastingdirector.com, which was started by my hard-working and talented friend, Mike Valentino. I got to work with some really great actors, especially Tony Moran, who played the original Michael Myers in Halloween, who ironically is great at comedy and has outstanding comedic timing. I’ve usually worked with some great actors in the horror genre, so it was nice to work with one in a comedy. Working on It casting was great. I had the pleasure of working with talented writer-director-actress Adrienne Zi, and it was a fun ensemble cast. Adrienne also cast me in her short dramatic film, “Cross My Heart,” so I was flattered to be cast by her again, especially in a dramatic piece given my comedic background.
TAEM- You recently played in four productions that are now in post-production. Can you give us a sneak preview of them and what characters that you portrayed ?
VG-In Cross My Heart that I mentioned earlier in the interview, I play the overbearing, but sympathetic sister of the lead, who is has a terrible alcohol addiction. She is a very strong and opinionated woman, so it was fun to that kind of role as opposed to being the veiled, meek woman typical of a patriarchal culture. In Shirin in Love, I have a very small cameo role as a sassy waitress, but I had a blast as my scene was with comedic genius Maz Jobrani. The whole ensemble cast was full of accomplished Iranian-American actors in addition to well-known comic George Wallace and Oscar nominated actress Amy Madigan. I had the pleasure of being cast by legendary indie Aussie filmmaker Mark Savage in two projects that I’m really excited about, Pond Scum and Circus of Dread. Pond Scum is a horror/crime hybrid where I play the role of a pious woman who was betrayed by her unstable and abusive husband, and there’s an unusual twist in the storyline. In Circus of Dread, I have a major supporting role, and I get to act alongside some amazing actors like Bill Oberst Jr., Domiziano Arcangeli, and the lovely Dawna Lee Heising. I wish I could reveal more, but I just can’t! Mark is an amazing filmmaker. He got his recognition as an underground cult filmmaker who created these extremely brutal and gory psychological thrillers. I’m a big fan of his work, especially Sensitive New Age Killer, so I’m really excited to be working with him twice on such compelling projects!
I’m also branching out into voiceover animation as well as the sci-fi genre. I just voiced two comedic roles in Emmy-nominated filmmaker Dominic Polcino’s film Lovesick Fool starring Fred Willard, Lisa Kudrow, and Janeane Garofalo. I’ve also just been cast in Fred Copeland’s sci-fi ensemble series The Journeys, and I’m super excited about all these new developments.
TAEM- Is there a particular type of film that you would hope to participate in, and where do you see your career going in the next five years ?
VG-I actually see myself acting in TV on a sitcom as part of the ensemble cast. As much as I love drama, I think comedy is definitely my strong suit. Since I have old school parents, I really like classic comedy. I grew up watching reruns of I Love Lucy, the Carol Burnett show, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, The Mary Tyler Moore show and Rhoda, so I’ve always loved comedy, especially broad comedy. Flip Wilson and Marlo Thomas in That Girl have always been my favorites as well.
I also see myself acting in a lot of indie and horror films in fun supporting character roles. I’m happy to play those roles, especially as I have longevity in that genre. Every ingenue I’ve worked with in the horror genre stops working soon after. It’s quite sad and ageist for leading ladies in horror. Luckily in comedy that’s not the case. Look at Betty White!
TAEM- Vida, I want to thank you for taking your time for this interview with us, and we wish you much luck in all that you do. Your versatility of roles is amazing and I am sure that we will hear more about you in the near future.
VG-Thank you so much. It was my pleasure to be interviewed by you.