Interview: Jamie BernadetteJanuary 22, 2019
Recently we had the chance to talk with Jamie Bernadette about life as an actress and her new film ‘The 6th Friend’, in which she not only had a leading role but produced and co-wrote as well.
Did you always want to be an actor or did you discover that interest later on?
Jamie: You know, I think I did ever since I was a child, even if I wasn’t aware of it. I would be watching films and acting them out, especially Nightmare on Elm Street which I was really obsessed with. So yeah, I think I did know I wanted to act but it was more of an unconscious thing originally, something I figured out when I got older.
Acting is not an easy profession in terms of a career. How have you found the journey so far?
Jamie: Yeah, it’s really been up and down and it stayed that way until about 2015, that’s when I started to work consistently. There were times where it was really tough, I almost found myself living in my car a few times because I had no one supporting me. I don’t have parents supporting me, never had boyfriends supporting me so making it in Los Angeles, which is a very expensive city, it’s hard, especially trying to hold down any other job besides acting. If you had to go on an audition during the day that wouldn’t work for a regular job and because of all of the actors out here, any night jobs are extremely competitive so yeah, it was really hard for a long, long time. Then in 2015, it was like one acting job after another and it’s been consistent ever since and as I’ve done more and more the pay has gotten better as well
So was 2015 when you realized that yes, I can actually make a career out of acting?
Jamie: (Laughs) Yeah, I really think so. They were good projects too, they were all year long and I’ve been able to be very selective now. In the beginning, I did everything I could get my hands on and now I’m really selective. I check out the director’s work, past projects, the script, their production company and if it’s my cup of tea I do and if not I don’t. It’s nice to get to this point, where you don’t have to take everything, you can pick and choose the projects you want to work on, the people you want to work with but it took a while to get to this point.
You’ve done acting, producing and writing. Do you enjoy juggling these different disciplines or would you like to commit to just one thing?
Jamie: Well, I’ve produced two featured films from the ground up and I’ve written one film, that being The 6th Friend. I am writing The 6th Friend 2, it has always been planned to do a sequel. I don’t think my partner and I will produce it, we’re hoping to get an offer from a production company wanting to make it. We’ll see how well The 6th Friend does, sometimes you will get an offer to make a sequel, that’s what we’re hoping will happen. As far as me producing, I may produce again. I’m in talks with someone from South Africa actually, about producing a film in South Africa so we’ll see.
Is there any interest on your part in getting behind the camera and directing one day?
Jamie: Yes, I was just talking to a director about that today (laughs), Darrell Roodt, he’s an Oscar-nominated director I worked with, March and April of 2018 leading a film, then I was just in Africa again doing pre-production on another film I’m going to lead for him, and I was like, you need to teach me how to direct. I would love to be with him while he’s directing a film, watch and learn, kind of be his shadow, because he’s just absolutely brilliant so yeah, it’s funny you asked that because I was just talking to him today about it.
Do you think actors make good directors simply because they know what the actors want?
Jamie: Yes I do, I absolutely do. In fact, Letia, the director of The 6th Friend, one of the reasons we hired her was she had her Bachelors in acting, her Masters in directing, and she was so good with actors. I trusted her in that respect and also, she was a great director, she made wonderful films. The acting part of it was a huge factor for me in deciding to go with her, I think she works with actors so well because of her experience in acting. She understands what we go through, she knows how to talk to us, she knows how to get what and she knows how to make adjustments. She pays attention to the acting and surprisingly, not all directors I’ve worked with do. Some have poor direction or direct you to overact and you go back and watch it and you’re like yikes, what I did the first few takes was way better, this is too much
Ok, so let’s talk about The 6th Friend. Where did you get the idea for the movie?
Jamie: I watched The Descent and I wanted to make a smart horror film with women who weren’t fitting into the typical stereotypes of women. You know, I didn’t want to write the dumb one, the promiscuous one, the alcoholic, all of these stereotypes you see so often. I wanted to write about real women who have real conversations and deal with real problems. I think the idea of an all-women cast horror film would be interesting to watch so I decided to go that route.
You don’t see an all-female cast very often. How much fun did you have working with these women during the shoot?
Jamie: Oh, it was a blast. We all stayed in the cabin that we shot in and the crew stayed in a huge cabin that was nearby. Yeah, staying with everyone in the cabin during the shoot was awesome, it was like a slumber party every night.
Do you think women, in general, are getting more respect these days, not just in horror movies, but in the entertainment business overall?
Jamie: I do, I mean we have a lot of really big celebrities coming out and saying things, like about the discrepancy in pay between men and women in Hollywood and you can’t deny that it’s pretty bad. It’s definitely changing, people are speaking out against it, I mean I know female directors and they have a much harder time than men, they struggle to get jobs. People are becoming more aware and I think it’s slowly getting better over time. I think Kathryn Bigelow was the first to win an Oscar for The Hurt Locker and that wasn’t that long ago, so it’s moving slow but things are changing.
What were your biggest challenges in making The 6th Friend, as an actor, writer or producer?
Jamie: There really weren’t any challenges in acting and writing, it was more the producing aspect that was the biggest challenge. It was trying to act, produce, lead the film and deal with issues that come up and when you produce all kinds of issues come up. Our sound guy changed three times, then the post-production, the music wasn’t right the first go around so we had to get a different composer and Holly, she just killed it. I keep hearing over and over that the music was so good and she is so talented, I mean stuff like that you and handling all the time and at the same time you are trying to act and pull off this role. What was really wonderful was Letia, the director, she didn’t let anyone bother us when we were focusing on the acting, getting ready to do a scene. It was rough at night, I think I slept two hours a night through the entire shoot, so that was definitely a challenge as well.
As an actor/writer/producer, what is it about the horror genre that piques your interest?
Jamie: I’m not really sure. (Laughs) As a child I always loved it, I watched Psycho so many times with my mom, The Birds as well. I watched A Nightmare on Elm Street forty to fifty times, no joke, I knew all the words, knew all the scenes and I’d act them out. I loved the original Halloween, I mean I just always loved the genre and I think it’s like that with people, you either love it or you don’t and when people love it they really love it.
What kind of advice would you give to anyone interested in pursuing a career in the acting profession?
Jamie: Be persistent, it takes a lot of persistence. If you really want to do it don’t put a time limit on it, I mean, if you really want it what else will you do with your life? There has never been a plan B for me, there was never a backup plan so to speak. I would also say stay away from drugs, seriously. I’ve seen people ruin their careers and get really lazy, look really terrible, all because of drugs.
So what other projects do you have coming up?
Jamie: As far as filming them, I’m attached to seventeen projects right now, it’s pretty wild. There are no shooting days yet so I’m just waiting to hear when they are ready to go into production. As far as what’s coming out I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà vu is coming out this year, I’m not sure about a date, but the filming, trailers, and posters are done so it’s ready to go. I also have a film that Sean Cain directed called Cerberus and I’m playing one of the villains in that so that’s fun, that was different. Then I have The Furnace, it’s actually a faith-based drama, a survival film that I filmed in Africa for Darrell Roodt, the director. It’s also done and Darrell is trying to get that film into a bunch of big film festivals.
I want to thank Jamie for taking the time to talk with us