Article by: Maria Shamkalian
What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it? My most recent success is landing one of the lead roles in a feature film called Benita. I became friends with the director, Prinze Wayee, on a previous project and stayed in touch with him throughout the years. We started collaborating and I am currently the production manager as well on the project. It is going to be a great film when it gets shot which will be after this Corona Virus epidemic is over.
How did you get started in the film industry?Believe it or not, growing up I was a shy child who hated being in the spotlight. I went to a Christian School that believed that the students should all participate in a concert each year either through singing, or playing an instrument. It was in 6th grade when my nerves got the best of me and during one of those concerts, I threw up all over myself in the middle row of the choir. This in turn set off a ripple effect and three other people threw up as well. It was on that day that I swore that I would never be on a stage again. However, God had other plans and decided to lead me onto a much bigger stage with over 400 people watching. I was chosen by my music teacher to be one of the students who got to sing with a Christian Singer, Steve Green, in that same year of school. Many people objected over this decision, but I knew that I had to prove them wrong and face my fears. It was one of the hardest things I had to do but when it was over, I knew I would never leave the stage again. I later went off to college and started my acting career which included theatre and film.
What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania? Some of my favorite shooting locations in PA are the steps of the Art Museum, 30th street station, and of course Fairmount Park.
What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
One of my most memorable/funny set stories was when I was a principal on a “Coach” commercial. I got to be the mascot which was a huge blow up dinosaur. When the crew fitted me into the outfit and blew it up, they realized really fast how hard it was going to be to get me down two flights of stairs. Needless to say, I was very experienced with mascot uniforms and navigated the stairs without knocking over any expensive furniture. I had one crew member walking me down while another crew member holding my tail. It was such an interesting experience.
What is your advice for other women in film?My advice to other women in this film industry is keep pursing your dreams and never compromise your beliefs while doing so. It is a hard career to be in, but very rewarding as well.
PAFIA has been working hard on increasing the film tax credit in Pennsylvania and bringing more film work to our local crew and talent, but we must all unite to really make a difference. What can you tell our elected officials about the importance of PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?
I can tell our elected officials that without the PA film industry I wouldn’t be a working actor today. Many of my projects that I have been cast in are from Philadelphia. Without the abundance of opportunities that are starting to trickle into the PA area, I would have to start thinking about moving my brand elsewhere in order to stay a working actor.
What are some good strategies to find more gigs?There are many ways to find gigs. The sites that I use are Actors Access, Casting Networks, Backstage, IMDB Postings, Facebook, and many times I get offered roles through directors whom I have already worked with. Sometimes I will look on CastingAbout.com for TV shows that are currently being cast and I will reach out to the casting directors directly. Many times, you have to think outside the box in order to get yourself into the audition room.
What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
My favorite film shot in Pennsylvania has to be Six Sense.
What is your favorite project that you worked on?This question is very hard for me because I have over 75 films that I have worked on throughout my career so far. I am going to say that one of my favorite projects that I worked on was The Impact Factor by Ken McArthur. It’s about a diverse group of people within a 5-mile radius of Philadelphia City Hall who discovered they made a difference whether they wanted to or not. I was privileged to play Tracy Hartman who was a young enthusiastic TV Reporter who just wanted to get that next great story. The sets were amazing, the crew was so talented, and I enjoyed the chemistry between the actors.
What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?Currently, I am not creating any film projects but I am always looking for more challenging roles to be casted in. My IMDB page is imdb.me/victoriastevens
Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)461 Cochran Road, Box 246Pittsburgh, PA 15228(717) 833-4561 firstname.lastname@example.org