Exclusive Interview with Laura Stetman
Star of The Connection
Samera Entertainment and Chloe's Chronicles catch up with Actress, Laura Stetman, to talk about her new upcoming film, The Connection, her passion for acting, and what’s next for her career-wise.
Q: Hi Laura! It’s so great to get to speak with you, as many know you are an actress who acts both onstage and on film, can you tell our audience a little bit about how you discovered your interest and passion for acting, and what moment or experience was really a catalyst for you in your career?
A: Hey Chloe! It’s great to speak with you as well. Yes, I am an actress, and I did start onstage in plays, but my main passion is in film acting! The way I discovered my interest and passion for acting is because as a kid I would always be pretending. I’d be in my room playing with my Barbie dolls and acting out scenes from family scenarios with Barbie and Ken. I always was fascinated by the idea of relationships and I would play out these ideas in my head from arguments to fun times, to falling in love. I would dress up in anything and everything and just be somebody else. My mom even tells me that when I was four, and in trouble that I would purposely go to the oven where I could see my reflection and work myself up to the point of crying and screaming. So I suppose it was never really a choice, just natural.
The moment that was the catalyst for me in my career I would have to say is when I called Gary Spatz the Playground Acting School in Los Angeles. I was eighteen at the time and had just graduated high school and was sitting on the couch watching the show The Sweet Life of Zack and Cody and got the idea, “I could do this.”
I had researched a few acting schools when Gary Spatz’s The Playground popped up and I felt a pull to it. I clicked on it and was immediately amazed at what I saw. I saw Elijah Wood had been there, Hilary Duff, Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, a lot of Nickelodeon and Disney stars and then I saw a picture pop up of Dylan and Cole Sprouse with Gary Spatz (the owner) in the lobby of the school. I knew that was a sign that I had to go there. So, I called the school and a man answered and all I said was: “Hi, my name is Laura Stetman and I want to audition for your school.” There was complete silence on the other end of the phone. And the man said: “I’m sorry, who are you?” I just repeated the same thing, and then he said “Did your agent or a casting director recommend you?” I had no agent at the time. And I said “No actually but I Googled you guys. “ He asked me if I had a monologue, and I didn’t, but naturally I just said yes. He told me “Okay Laura you’ve got my attention, be here tomorrow at 2 p.m. sharp with a monologue.”
It was then at that audition that I proved to myself, my parents, and the people there that I had a right to be there. I earned my place and started my film acting career.
Q: You spent your childhood acting in local theatre and school productions such as Beauty and the Beast, as well as going to theatre-based summer camps how do you think those formative childhood experiences shaped you as a performer today?
A: Yes, I did start in theatre. I would say, it’s really good to start in theatre! Because in theatre, you have lots of different things to try within performing! Music, singing, dancing, working with other people, learning how to work with a crew, taking direction, and not to mention, learning how to memorize lines. A lot of that shaped my performing because it was the building blocks of seeing what I was capable of, and how to work with others and off of others.
Q: Laura, you grew up in the small town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado how do you think growing up in that environment affected your introduction to acting and how you studied it, and is there a part of that place you attribute to or utilize in your acting technique or style now?
A: Oh I love this question! I haven’t gotten this one before! Growing up in Steamboat Springs has had a HUGE effect on my acting journey. When you live in a small town, you experience things very differently than when you live in the city. It’s normal to say “hi” to someone you don’t know walking down the street, or outwardly compliment someone on their clothes without knowing their name. Everyone is on the same “level.” I learned to be open to all sorts of personalities, to be kind to everyone, and to just enjoy the simple things. When I wanted to pursue film acting in California, I begged my parents to let me move in with my aunt and uncle in San Diego but my parents insisted on saying no because they wanted me to grow up normal in a public school, small-town environment. Honestly, I couldn’t be more thankful they pushed me to stay in school, because normality is something you can’t fake if you have a role. It is a gift to have those “normal” social skills to be able to work with many different people, and that made me a more well-rounded and versatile person in what I could achieve. On the same note, with a small town, comes big drama. Everyone knows everyone, so sometimes that was difficult. I suffered from depression and had an eating disorder quietly all throughout high school when my parents were separated. Lots of things happened behind closed doors which have shaped the kinds of roles I can play now and the kind of actress and person I am and want to be.
Q: Upon moving to Los Angeles to pursue acting professionally, you attended Gary Spatz’s Playground Acting School under the direction of Gary Spatz, Gayla Goehl, and Farah Fonte. Can you describe that experience for you, and what the biggest lesson learned or challenge faced during your time there was?
A: Yes! I loved Gary Spatz! Gayla Goehl, Faran Fonte, and Gary are the best teachers I could have ever had in terms of film acting and acting in general. The biggest lesson I learned is what I still say to myself to this day when taking on a role. Gayla always taught us “Acting is limitless, not limited.”
That one quote transformed how I think about roles. What set Gary and Gayla apart from any other acting instructor I’ve worked with, was that they drilled “Relationship” and “Choices” being EVERYTHING. The lines are always second. And it’s so true. The biggest lesson I learned is to give your energy to the OTHER actor. It is not about you. When you equally give to each other it also means you are listening. When you actively listen and take in what the other person is feeling, naturally your body, voice and mind make natural choices which then heightens that scene into complete reality, and then you get that feeling from the audience where they can understand and related because the realness becomes what they feel not just what they’re watching.
My biggest challenge being at Gary Spatz was learning to remove walls. It’s normal to have walls, to protect ourselves from feeling hurt, upset, or too vulnerable but when you’re in a scene the camera sees everything, and therefore the audience does too, and instantly you go from an audience being invested in you to not believing and that is the WORST thing that can happen. I had to work to allow myself to feel and show anger, not block myself from sadness, and to allow myself to use swear words too. I had been raised to avoid that at all costs and so when I said it because the scene had it in the script, I felt awkward saying it. So funny to think of that now and the progress made.
Q: Laura, your new film The Connection is an exciting Sci-FI experience, what initially drew you to this script and the character of ‘Vera’ and what are you most excited for the audience to see?
A: The Connection was SUCH an experience! Vera is complex and yet relatable at times. That’s what makes her so interesting to watch. I had worked with Nick Naylor before on a couple of films and already knew his directing style. When he brought up it was about two characters who are emotionally connected even when they’re far apart but they don’t know why I was already hooked. Vera and Foster are connected for some reason and can feel each other’s emotions and thoughts even on a physical level. Yet, Vera and Foster are not just another love story. Their connection grows dark and can go from 0 to 100 in 10 seconds. I’m most excited for people to meet Vera and go through these emotions with her.
Q: The Connection though possesses many surreal and Sci-Fi elements also heavily relies and focuses on the titular idea of the connection between the main characters of ‘Vera’ and ‘Foster’ (Nick Naylor), so how did Nick and you build that character dynamic and relationship authentically for the film?
A: The connection between Vera and Foster is very complex. What’s interesting is that we didn’t spend time rehearsing lines a bunch. I actually don’t like rehearsing, to be honest. I work best when I don’t rehearse and let the scene be the scene. It adds an element of surprise because nothing is planned and I allow myself to react off of my other. Especially in this movie where these characters are feeling each other’s emotions, that was necessary to just flow with each other. I am quite method, so depending on what we were shooting, I was ready for that day with those emotions, and then whatever Nick did in that scene, I would just react off of that.
Q: What did you find was the most challenging scene or part to film for The Connection, and any stories you want to share with the audience?
A: The most challenging scene in The Connection would have to be the very last night we filmed in the motel. So many things were going wrong that day with filming, and we were on hour eighteen. My body was hurting, I had a huge headache, we had been filming non-stop because we only had this last night and so many scenes were shot just on that day. The crew was tired, the cast was tired. We had to call the police during the intimacy scenes because there was loud music from a car show going on outside. It caused frustration in all of us. We all had to decide whether to keep pushing through and we did. It was the scene where Vera gets drugged by Foster and she slowly fades and eventually faints. That worked amazing for how tired I was!
Q: You are currently filming American Bigfoot, playing the female lead ‘Ashley Page’, the film is slated to come out in October 2021, what can you tell our audience about this project and your character?
A: American Bigfoot is such an adventure! I actually always had a thing for Yetis and Bigfoot so when the director Lance Polland called me up and told me what the story was about and Bigfoot was involved I was sold! Think of Scooby-Doo mixed with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It’s the story of this film crew randomly getting thrown together to find the infamous BigFoot in a show called Creature Expedition. I play Ashley Page, a fiery redhead, Miami T.V. show host. Her ratings are plummeting because of her latest drug problem in the media, she is on her last leg of her career, and as a last resort her producer Matt Scott, played by Hans Hernke and her hire a crew to get the story as to where BigFoot is. It was mostly Improv. That’s how Lance likes to direct, which is always so fun because everyone on this cast is so open and hilarious.
Q: Laura, you also starred in the 2020 Mystery Thriller, TODD, that came out this year, what was that experience like for you, and as an actor and performer what did you take away or learn from that set and the character ‘Amy Westcott’?
A: Todd was such an experience as well! This is the first role where I can say she is very much me in a lot of ways. Amy Westcott is this small-town girl who dreams of being a big-time actress. She visualizes what she’ll wear to the red carpet, and the kinds of movies she’ll do. Currently, she waitresses at a small diner to make ends meet, living on her own in a small studio apartment. That was very much me when I grew up in Steamboat. A dreamer and feeling stuck, needing to just get out. When a hot-shot director, played by Jason Menz, walks into the diner it is apparent that her dream may come true when he offers her an audition at his place which doesn’t go as expected. While I’ve never experienced things like that in this industry, I do know people who have, especially in LA when you have someone with so much power and “knowledge” and connections that can make your dream come true and open doors if you just do this one thing, and keep it quiet. I may not have that exact experience, but I could relate to the fact of what it’s like to be used in that way. Waking up the next day feeling dirty, worthless, stupid, and used, which you don’t soon forget. That scene was the most powerful in the entire movie for me. I lost it in that scene. I forgot that I was even playing Amy and in a rage threw a chair as well as makeup and anything I could get my hands on. That shame was incredibly real. And I did that for everyone who has been used by anyone in that way to show they’re not alone.
Q: Besides, film and stage acting you have also appeared in comedy and sketch web series such as Skitz and various projects on Three60TV, as well as some short film voiceover work, what is it about comedy and these other elements of performing you enjoy? Would you say Comedy is your preferred genre or something you would like to explore more in future roles?
A: Yes, I love comedy! My comedy style is very quirky, awkward, and over-the-top, I would love to do more comedy! On Skitz I had the pleasure of working with amazing Christian-based actors. And, in my other comedic role, I’m ‘Kayla’ from the audiobook Daydreamer by author Chrissy Moon. She’s so fun because she’s a kid in high school, who’s awkward, outgoing, and confused by boys, so I can definitely relate back to that age!
Q: You recently appeared in an episode of the Disney Plus show, The Right Stuff, how surreal was that as a kid who grew up imitating Disney characters and whose first musical role was in Beauty and the Beast?
A: This one was crazy! I remember when the auditions went out for this show. Everyone was posting about having auditions or working on this new Disney + show The Right Stuff and how it was produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. When it comes to things like that, I try not to put too much pressure on myself. I auditioned for two roles at first for the first episode and wasn’t cast, and then the second auditions came around and I did something drastically different. It was set in the 1940s and the role was a secretary, so I designed my wardrobe and overall look to fit that style as much as I could. And a few weeks later I got a call from my agent. I booked the role! I could not believe it. When the call sheet was sent out with the names of Colin D’Onoghue, Patrick Fischler, and Eloise Mumford, THAT was when I had to pinch myself. The day of shooting when I got my own trailer with the name “Secretary” on it, it became real to me. I just took in that moment as a huge milestone and was so psyched! Acting alongside Patrick and Danny Strong was a treat for me! The whole time I just couldn’t believe I was actually on that set.
Q: Finally Laura, what can you tease to our Samera audience on what to expect from you next, project-wise or in the future, and where can people find you online?
A: I have lots of projects coming up actually! I have a romantic drama film called "And Then Came You" where I will be acting opposite Netflix actor Austin Chunn. It’s a film directed by Preston Walden inspired by how he fell in love with his current girlfriend during the Covid-19 Pandemic. I’m really excited to film that! I also have a sequel to Daydreamer coming out. "I'm also working on a new dramatic feature film "Truth About Monsters" directed by Preston Walden hi-lighting the subject of sex trafficking, specifically within the Tampa Bay area. I've been casted in a new sci fi feature film "Footsteps" written by Lee Feathers set to be in New York and two tv series, but can't share much about those at this time per production rules. Awesome things to look forward to!" Also, the found footage feature film The Zand Order is releasing this year as well!
Awesome Answers... It's been great talking to you, Laura. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us. We wish you great success for a long time to come.
THE CONNECTION is now Available from Midnight Releasing.
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