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Friday, July 27, 2012

*My interview with Memphis born actress Kelly Wolf

Kelly Wolf is a Memphis born actress who went off to New York and Los Angeles to work as a professional actress. We worked together on a stage production with the great American playwright Horton Foote at the Ensemble Studio Theater.

Kelly is also a Mom with a son who is a professional actor on the show Parenthood. His name is Max Burkholder. They live in Los Angeles. Kelly answered my questions regarding the reality of the profession as in Los Angeles as an actress and as a Mom of a professional working teen actor.


Kelly Wolf interview

1.   How long have you been an actress?

I had my first professional job as an actress in 1983, in the production of “Ah, Wilderness” at The Roundabout Theatre.

2.   What was your favorite production to be a part of?

I loved being a part of “Triumph of the Spirit” Directed by Robert Young. The film starred Wilem Dafoe, Robert loggia, Edward James Almos, and Wendy Gazelle. It was incredible to work on the film with these artists.

3.   What is the hardest challenge(s) you’ve had as an actress?(on or off screen.) 

      The hardest challenge off screen is remembering you are an artist even if you are not currently employed and that your worth does not decline when a job is finished.

4.   You recently made a guest appearance on Southland. How did you approach that experience? How did you feel about it afterward?

Southland was an amazing experience. Being a guest star on an established show has a unique set of challenges. You arrive on set, you don’t know anyone, and you want to do a good job. My approach is to be so prepared and have done as much homework as possible before arriving that I am able to take the scene wherever the director feels is appropriate. Knowing the story and the circumstances of the scene so well allows me to do this.

5)   Your son Max Burkholder is a professional actor at age 14, playing Max Braverman on Parenthood. There are many young people who want to act, but are not clear about what it means to be a professional actor. What do you think are the top most important ingredients to becoming professional?

To be a professional actor as a child is wonderful, but there are many things involved that are not readily apparent. There are sacrifices to be made. It’s difficult to be on sports teams, and it’s often difficult to make plans with friends as shooting schedules frequently change.
Some ingredients that serve a young actor well are: stamina and a good amount of natural energy, confidence, respect, ease around adults, authenticity, not trying too hard or trying to please. Being your authentic self and bringing that to the work, not what you think “they” want to see. It is also important for young actors to understand that everyone has a job to do and that you are just one part of a whole.

6)   Where is the show shot? Is it filmed or taped? Single camera or multiple camera? Does he prefer one over the other?

The show Parenthood is shot at Universal Studios. It is filmed and usually there are 2 or 3 cameras. Max as of yet has no preference on how a show is shot.

7)   How many days a week does he shoot? How many hours a day? How many episodes are in his season?

Max generally works about 3 days a week. It depends on how much he is in a particular episode. As a minor at age 14 he is allowed to be on set for 9 and a half hours.

8)   How much schooling does Max have to do when shooting?

When Max is on set, 3 hours must be devoted to school.

9)   You spend time on the set. What are you looking for or attending to when you are there?

When I am on set with max I try to keep a low profile.I am generally quietly making sure he has had something to eat and helping him to be ready when it’s time to shoot. It’s important especially early on to help them learn to protect their focus. It’s easy to be distracted by the candy at the craft service table.

10)               What is/are  the hardest thing(s) you see young actors must endure working on the set.

One of the harder things to learn to know when it’s ok to joke around and when it’s time to be serious. Also when adult actors have time to rest between set ups you must go to school. It’s a rigorous schedule which is why it’s important to conserve energy when you can.

11)               Watching actors on the set, you see actors who have good work habits and those who don’t. What do you feel are the good work habits that you see in some actors on the set?

A good work habit that I admire is being prepared! Coming to set with a deep knowledge of the scene and an openness to other people’s ideas. Demonstrating that you are part of the team and being respectful and appreciating everyone’s contribution.

12)               Are there red flags that you see in some young actors that maybe suggest they should not act professionally?

Red flags would be any behavior that suggests it is not the child who wants to be there, but the parent.

13)               What would you say to a young actor who thinks about going out to LA and becoming a famous actor? What is a realistic view of climbing that mountain?

I would say a goal of becoming a famous actor is unrealistic. A better goal might be to aspire to become the best actor you can be through studying. If deciding to come to L.A. realize it may happen quickly, or it may take a long time. This is not necessarily a reflection of your talent. You must maintain your own sense of worth!

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