ED- The Eerie Digest is proud to introduce Actress and Producer, Carmen Perez to all of our readers. Carmen, you have appeared in many of the most popular shows today. What influenced you in your career in acting, and tell us about the first roles that you played?
CP-Thank you for having me ED! Lately my focus has been on making music (as a singer/songwriter) & painting and I’ve been lucky enough to still book acting jobs here and there. All of what I have done in my life has opened up my eyes about creating in every way, and to me it’s sort of an “addiction.” I was in the U.S. Army, stationed in Washington, D.C. and pursuing a degree in International Politics because I thought I wanted to work for the Department of State one day. I was always curious about the Arts, but was always scared to look at it closely. One day I saw an ad in the newspaper that said “Do you want to be in movies?” It was an acting workshop that came to D.C. for the weekend & I decided to take it. I knew that weekend I had to at least try to pursue acting or else I wouldn’t be happy. I graduated and moved to LA a few months later. Then about 3 years ago, and after about 30 acting credits, I started writing and recording music. I got a deal with a Dance label (under Universal Music) and had two songs in the Billboard Top 50 Dance & Top 10 UK Pop Charts. My father, uncle and grandfather were musicians so Music has always been in my heart. I’m also a painter and after 4 art shows, I sold my first painting exactly a year after I started painting. I love painting the most out of all of my artistic Passions. About the first roles I played… I got lucky and auditioned for an indie low-budget film called “Bad Placas” which I booked right after I moved out to LA. It was a great experience and they asked me to play another role in their next film.
ED- Some of your earliest roles were in ‘Port Charles’ and ‘Nip/Tuck’. Please tell our readers about these.
CP- One of the acting workshops in Washington DC I took was with casting director Gwen Hillier, who was casting the smaller roles on General Hospital & Port Charles. I kept in touch with her when I moved to Hollywood. About a year later, she had me audition for a small nurse role and I got it. I would be called in from time to time to play a nurse on both shows and I loved working with them. They are some of the nicest and most talented people in this business. Nip/Tuck was my first Primetime TV show I booked and I was playing a stripper wearing a thong opposite Julian McMahon. I was extremely nervous, especially ‘cause I had to give him a lap dance. It was such an amazing crew to work with and I don’t think I showed my nervousness as much, but I think Julian could tell. He was great, we did our scenes and it was the 2nd episode ever on the show. I look at the episode now & see how much I’ve grown as an actress and as critical as I am with myself, I see how differently I would’ve played the role if I knew then what I know now. But it’s okay, it was still a great, learning experience and I’m grateful for that role.
ED- What effect did these have on your acting ambitions?
CP- Oh, these made me hungry for more! They also made me realize I had to learn and grow a lot more as an actress and I continued to study and audition. I really started loving acting more then.
ED- You also appeared in ‘Lost Girl Society’, ‘Soldiers Don’t Cry’, and ‘Red Eye’. Please describe these productions and the roles you portrayed in them.
CP- Lost Girl & Soldiers were both by a talented playwright/director Layon Gray. Soldiers was first a play, which I won Best Supporting Actress in a Drama by the Valley Theatre League Artistic Director Achievement (ADA) Awards. He won another ADA Award and 2 NAACP Awards for the same play. We shot a whole feature film in one week and it was great and a little crazy. Layon ended up editing a short version of the film which ended up in “Short Film Corner” of the Cannes Film Festival (I don’t know the exact details). Currently Layon has several successful plays in New York getting rave reviews.
ED- The next big step in your career had seen you in four episodes of ‘General Hospital’. Was this a turning point in your acting, and what impact did it have on you?
CP- It was a turning point. The first time I ever worked on General Hospital (I always played a nurse), I had the wrong script by accident, so I studied a completely different scene. When the director was giving us direction, I said “This doesn’t sound like the scene I have.” I had a few minutes to study my new scene and we shot it in two takes. The director was happy but I only felt okay about it ‘cause I know I was still thinking about the lines a little. But they did call me back so I guess it wasn’t that terrible. This experience made me realize more how much it’s NOT about the lines and all about your interaction and listening to the other actor.
ED- Tell us about the cast of this show and your relationship with them.
CP- Everyone was wonderful, so nice and very professional. Actors had so much material to learn in little time and they were all ALWAYS so well prepared and professional. Everyone in the crew were great too!
ED- In 2008 your next move in your career found you behind the camera producing your project, ‘Delusion’. Please tell our readers all about your venture with this.
CP- “Delusion” was a great learning experience. It was my very first short film that I wrote, produced and starred in. I spent very little money and we shot at my old apartment. I got too passionate about producing & worrying about where the food was (pizza guy had the wrong street name) that it took me out of character most of the time. My biggest lesson was to get help next time, at least on shooting day. I still did love the experience of putting a film together and getting something made. The actors and the crew were great & fun to work with and I did have some good moments where I was able to focus more on my acting. The film is about a woman with a prescription drug addiction on the edge because she can’t get a refill and while driving distracted, she causes a “hit & run.” She gets lost in her own head…
ED- You also played roles in ‘The Shield’, ‘Hacket’, and ‘Everybody Hates Chris’. These called on your versatility as an actress due to their various themes. How were you able to adjust with the different roles that you were called on to perform?
CP- Each role is a different journey, has its own unique story, yet there is so much of me in each one. On “The Shield”, I played a stuck-up maid who is one of the suspects of this man’s murder. 3 of us maids were suspects because we had just gotten fired from our jobs and our boss ended up dead. It was fun playing a maid who is all about her looks because it’s not something most people would expect. The whole storyline was cut in the editing room (all 4 of us characters) so we never got to see the final product, but it was an amazing experience, working on such a great show and I LOVED working with actor David Marciano and the director Gwyneth Horder-Payton… they were amazing. “Hackett” was a pilot for Sony that didn’t get picked up but it was AMAZING working with director Barry Sonnenfeld and actor Donal Logue. Both some of the most smartest, talented people I’ve ever met. I got to play a bartender Donal is flirting with and I was flirting with his friend. “Everybody Hates Chris” was so much fun! Tichina Arnold is just absolutely and brilliantly talented and funny. Debbie Allen (famous choreographer) who was directing our episode, is very talented as well. I got to play a sexy woman who uses her looks to get out of her extreme traffic violations and Tichina is disgusted by this.
ED-You also have been seen in ‘Dark Blue’, ‘Bobby Fisher Live’, and ‘Bad Cop’ which called upon your ability to vary your acting styles. How was your relationship with the cast members of these productions and can you describe the interaction between the characters, and the roles that you portrayed?
CP- I got my first real “stunt job” on Dark Blue where I was featured as one of the groupies of this drug dealer that gets busted. Dylan McDermott kicks open the door as I’m opening it and I land on the floor with a gun in my face. Very fun! I loved working on that show. Both “Bad Cop” and “Bobby Fisher Live” were directed by the talented filmmaker Damian Chapa who I have always enjoyed working with. I went in to play a completely different character on “Bad Cop” and when I got to set, Damian gave me even a better role. Although I only just got my material that same night, we had a blast shooting these scenes and I am very grateful Damian believed in me enough to pull off the role so last minute. It was a great feeling playing a powerful, sarcastic Colombian Drug Lord lady in a room full of men with weapons. It was also one of David Carradine’s last films so I feel honored to be a part of it. Damian and I have a great working relationship, so he called me back to play a role on “Bobby Fisher Live” as the girlfriend of one of the lead characters.
ED- Once again you stepped behind the camera and co-produced a project called ‘That’s Awesome’. Describe your work here and the production itself.
CP- This was complete fun. I always wanted to play a stoner, slightly crazy, unattractive character and this was sort if in that direction. I think I want to embellish on this character even more some other time. “That’s Awesome” we did with no money and we used natural day light. It’s not my best project but it was another great learning experience.
ED- Lately you have been found in a bounty of projects such as ‘The Rig’, ‘Cornered’, ‘Queen of the Lot’, and ‘Dead Season’. These have not been release yet and I was wondering if you can tell us something about them?
CP- Playing Rodriguez on “The Rig” was one of my favorite characters, especially because I didn’t have to be cute or “attractive” for it. We shot in Louisiana for a month and I got to play an oil rig “roughneck.” Roughnecks are the people that work and live in oil rigs for months and years at a time. Most of them have no “families” back home and most of them are men. There are a few women in this field and I got to play one. I felt honored playing a role like this and it did remind me a little of when I was in the Army. “The Rig” just got released on Netflix on October 5th and it should be in other video stores soon. “Cornered”, is the 2nd film I got to work with talented actor/filmmaker Hunter Williams. I love working with him. We relate to each other so well because we are both extremely passionate about our work and our careers. A homicide detective (played by Hunter) is trying to stop a serial killer from his next murder. Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister plays his Captain and I play the Captain’s secretary. “Queen Of The Lot” was a wonderful experience because I got to work for the second time with legendary director Henry Jaglom and actress Tanna Frederick, who was the lead in the movie. Tanna and I were roommates when we were both struggling actresses and it’s so beautiful to see her growing as an actress and working as much as she does. She is so talented. This was fun part because I got to play a quirky paparazzi on roller skates that can barely roller skate. I fell about a hundred times and it was so worth it! I think Henry liked it when I fell too. J “Queen” is premiering mid November & released in selected theaters after that. “Dead Season” was absolute fun and I will work with those guys again in a heartbeat. I got killed in the beginning of the movie by zombies and it was a fun death J It should be released in the next few months.
ED- Your recent projects also include ‘Blossom’, ‘Theft By Deception’, and ‘Michael’s Chance’, which is still in filming. Can you give us a look behind the scenes on these upcoming productions and when they will possibly be released?
CP- I’m not sure when these films will be released. “Blossom” is a moving story about a homeless girl that becomes a child prostitute to support her mother’s drug addiction. I played a chola in a gang that bullies the girl and she did such a great job. It was also great working with my friend, producer Danny Del Toro. I worked with Writer/Director David Dietrich on a short film titled “Diagonal” and he asked me to work with him again on feature “Theft By Deception.” It was a cool role because I played a famous singer, I got to sing a little in it, and one of my paintings was featured in the film. I also met actor/filmmaker Hunter Williams in those films because they work together all the time. “Michael’s Chance” is another film Hunter is making and I it’s currently on hold.
ED- The newest project on the horizon for you will be ‘Risk For Honor’. Can you let us have a sneak-preview of this and what the story line will be about?
CP- “Risk For Honor” is about a man investigating his father’s death while working undercover to take down a coalition of organized crime and corrupt politicians. I will be playing the secretary of one of the main Senators involved. I’m looking forward to this one.
ED- Carmen, We want to thank you for the time that you have spent with us on this interview and we know that our readers will be thrilled to see you in all your upcoming projects. We wish you much luck with your career in the future, and ask that you promise to come back and keep us updated on everything that you do.
CP-Thank you for having me Eerie Digest, it was my pleasure. By the way, I will be releasing my next song very soon (late October or early November) titled “Velas” (Candles) along with the music video. It’s my first song in “Spanglish.” You can check out more on www.carmenperez.net or www.facebook.com/CarmenPerezMusic.