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Interview: Brooke Lewis (2018) – Part 1

DAVID GAMMON: I’d like to wish my very special guest at this time, a scream queen that summons an introduction that can truly do no justice, actress, writer, producer, board certified life coach, philanthropist. You may know her as the iconic alter ego, Ms. Vampy, welcome Brooke Lewis.

BROOKE LEWIS: Thank you Dave and happy ‘interviewarsary’ as we were calling it. This is just so special as we’ve just had such a great connection over many years now. You’ve such a supporter of my career, Horrornews.net. You’ve been following my career since I’d been broken out as a scream queen in 2007. It just always makes me smile, so thank you for having me back.

DG: Absolutely, it’s a pleasure and a thrill to have you back. Brooke, our last interview was just over a year ago. Let’s fill in the readers on a brief recap on what the last half of 2017 delivered and what you’ve been up to in 2018 so far.

BL: Oh my gosh. Well 2017 was extraordinary. First and foremost, on a personal note, on my birthday, September 1 of last year, my fiancé proposed.

DG: Wow!

BL: So that’s just an incredible, personal share. He proposed in such a Hollywood style up in the Griffth Observatory, where they shot Rebel Without a Cause. Perfect for me as the ultimate in cheese, Ms. Elizabeth Taylor Jr.

(combined laughs)

And so, it was such a special, special treat. So that was the highlight of the fall of 2017. The other highlight of 2017, since we’d last spoke, just a couple of incredible film projects, and film festivals. And I have to rewind to, one of your favorites I believe, in which you’d shared with the public, Psycho Therapy. You’d done an incredible review for, thank you so much.

Staci Layne Wilson wrote, directed and produced for me to star in. It was such an incredible gift to be intended as a follow up to the film Sprinkles that was shot prior with Roger Scheck had gifted me. It had begun to circulate in the mainstream and genre festivals. From Las Vegas to San Diego, from Atlanta to Women in Horror, it was just incredible. And we won, I think it was over 28 awards in total. And we’re still hitting some of the festivals with Psycho Therapy this year. What an incredible blessing!

A huge shout out to the Actors Awards, which is a very prestigious awards event here in Los Angeles, Hollywood annually. And I won 2018, at their award show, I won Best Actress in an Indie film for Psycho Therapy.

DG: Amazing!

BL: So, it’s been just like another short film blessing. That’s what I call it. And again, it makes me affirm the testament to the choices I’ve been making as an artist, as an actress, I don’t fancy myself as a filmmaker because everything I do, intention is to just act and to play incredible roles with depth, especially to empower women. And, I was fortunate to act opposite Ricky Dean Logan from Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. So, I just feel very blessed and grateful that I’ve had that opportunity or manifested that opportunity. We’re still rolling with that short film. Super proud.

Also, last summer/fall we can talk more about it, in which you’d covered as well. It was so amazing and we’re so grateful. Allen + Millie: A Short Romance. I’d gotten to work with the wonderful Markus Redmond, Doogie Hawser M.D., Fight Club, wonderful actor turned director. Great writer. He created a feature film that we’d broken down into a short piece. We really wanted to work together.

And then I’d gotten the incredible veteran Courtney Gains, Children of the Corn, Can’t Buy Me Love, one of my dearest friends in the world to star in that film. So that had to easily have been one my major highlights. It started on the award circuit as well in the beginning of 2018.

Now we’ve just hit the ground running. We’ll actually have the world premiere at Action on Film International Film Festival and Hollywood Dreamz Film Festival, people in Las Vegas at the end of August, so we’re checking out additional festivals we’re especially grateful.

Also, a very big shout out to Action On Film putting out Megafest. I was so graciously invited to speak on a panel engaging in film for Powerful Women in film this year at Action on Film Festival. Thank you so much to Del and Theresa, to extend that invitation to me out of all the incredible filmmakers there. I am ten-time alumni now and blessed to have the opportunity to work and speak with such incredible women in film. So that’s another major highlight. All kinds of recognition and achievement for Allen + Millie: A Short Romance.

So many things, so many things. A film that was asleep for a year and now is going to be released as Zombie Dave, Dave Reda, has launched our Rotting Love. I get to star as the female lead and he, acted, wrote, produced and directed it.

That hit the ground running just a month ago at the prestigious Dances With Films Film Festival here in Hollywood at the famous TCL Chinese Theatres so we premiered there as well for Rotting Love. It’s a short, short like Zombie Rom-Com, it’s a very sweet piece.

A shout out as well for more incredible opportunities to act in fantastic feature films. I could not be more excited for the release of the heartfelt dramedy, ½ New Year, in 2019. Although, not horror, it is my passion project to share. A true labor of love Indie piece, in which I play one of the ensemble lead roles, Pam DeLuca. This was written for me by lead actor, Drew McAnany, who plays my younger brother, Reed DeLuca, from Philly. Also, written and produced by Georgia Menides and directed by the talented Tom Morash. The list of young stars is amazing, from Shanley Caswell to Rome Flynn to Jeff Dye and on. This is one of those special projects that I feel will surprise the viewers at the fancy festivals.

Amazing director Neil Johnson who directed Starship: Rising and Starship: Apocalypse. Evolution War. Another great Sci-Fi piece. It stars the talented Tracey Birdsall and Marilyn Ghigliotti, and I got to act as SC-4, a clone. We just wrapped this one, so I am not permitted to reveal much more just yet.

Another upcoming one watch out for, To Avenge, that will be directed by Nick Belial. It’s filming in 2019. It’s another one of those Indie film passion projects that I’m so honored to be a part of. It’s been in development. I was just offered the role of Jenny Price a Rape Victim Advocate. It’s a thriller/drama about a sexual assault on a young woman.

I mean there are just so many things, I don’t even know where to begin.

Then of course there is my favorite role in Philanthropy which there is Breaking the Chains Foundation which I am a celebrity ambassador for. Eating disorders. Global Genes for RARE Disease and all the breast cancer charities that I’ve been a part of. I don’t even know where to begin.

(combined laughs)

DG: That sounds like some pretty exciting times no question. What has been your most challenging role in 2018 thus far? Are there any special provisions undertaken for specific roles?

BL: That’s a great question. So, I would say that, I think one of the more challenging roles which I haven’t gotten to act in yet, is going to be in the film To Avenge playing Jenny. She’s a rape victim, advocate. She calls herself in the project a rape survivor. You know when you read a script and just when it touches on a subject like date rape and all about sexual assault. So, I’d been reading the script and when Nick came to me, and this has been in talks for a year before I was offered the role as well. And when they were about to release the script, which is a big thing now, for a lot of readers, filmmakers are no longer releasing scripts up front because of the internet. Because of how things are spread and shared and not in a good way all over the web.

DG: Yes, of course.

BL: So, every project now is undertaken with extreme caution. Of course, non-disclosure agreements have to be signed and they’re not released until then. I was given a pitch first. I had to make sure I was ready. A story about a woman who is sexually assaulted by a group of young men. And it is a topic that I think all women, especially currently with all the sexual assaults being reported within the film industry and also throughout the world.

So I think it’s a topic that is very current and of course very relevant because it is something that is so dark and so challenging to get through so when I’d read the script it was something that I would, as an actress, want to do my due diligence, I want to do my process of research, I want to find out what its like to be on the opposite end.

So, I want to make certain to go to a rape crisis center and ask in some way, since I might be able to sit in on one of their classes to see how to be able to deal with it and as you know, for all my roles I just really like to do my homework. I am definitely nervous, but Nick said, “… you know Brooke, you’re a life coach and a natural support life coach. So, you’ve got this, you’ve got this.” And that made me feel so much better, you know? So, I would say this is something that will challenge me on a personal and professional level.

Just like I did years ago with iMurders. I interviewed some detectives when I starred along-side Tony Todd. It was a thriller directed by Robbie Bryan and I played Agent Lori Romano. I’d watched a lot of crime dramas on TV. So, I was obsessed with this piece as well. It’s something that you can’t mess up. It’s something that you have to consciously take a risk as an actor and sometimes we fail, while other times, we succeed.

And there’s also all kinds of personal things that I’m dealing with in the industry right now. But of course, we can get into that later.

DG: If I can just interject a little too, if any past performances kind of dictate the direction towards where this may take, I’m sure it will be a very, very powerful performance.

BL: Thank you so much, thank you. And again, kudos to you as a writer. You know how much I praise my writers. It’s all in the writing, it’s all in the script, it’s all in the story. I wish if more people realized that then more we’d stop worrying about fluff and take all the other externals that go into art. Start with a really great written piece.

DG: Couldn’t agree more. I wanted to circle back to Allen + Millie, Rotting Love and Nightmare. Tell the readers a little about each and the contrast from character to character.

BL: Great. So Allen + Millie: A Short Romance as you know is such a special piece for me because I’m one of the executive producers. I’m one of the producers and it’s a Philly Chick Pictures project so again its always going to be regarded as one of my babies just like one of your own books or your own projects. It’ll always be considered one of my babies. So, I’m such a perfectionist and I’ve always wanted to be out there in the public eye with projects I am proud of, a product that is professional and know that everything is presented professionally. That’s so important to me.

I’ve known Markus Redmond for awhile and we’ve been wanting to work together. I’ve always been wanting to work with Courtney Gains, one of my best friends in the world. I mean we’ve worked on so many personal projects together we’d wanted to work on something professionally for a long time. When he’d said yes to this piece I was out of my brains!

(combined laughs)

You know really, I was so excited. To get to work with another horror icon and veteran actor, so talented beyond belief that I have so much mad respect for. It was a blessing, I believe. I’ll stress it again. If you look into his history and what he’s worked on you’ll see what I mean.

Another thing that is super important to me too and I have worked with great directors that have no acting experience too. But I just love when a director has acting experience because they really know how to delve into the layers of the character. The other nice part too is you get to work with a director who has written the piece like in Staci’s Psycho Therapy or Roger Scheck’s Sprinkles these people come as writers. They’re great directors because they know the exact moment in which envisoned something on paper that needs to transcend onto the screen. So just amazing experiences!

And again, I keep saying it but when you work with great actors, like I was blessed to do with Ricky Dean Logan in Psycho Therapy and Courtney Gains in Allen + Millie: A Short Romance both their performances were so amazing. And when you work with wonderful actors, you focus better. It helped me focus more on my performances. I just wanted to acknowledge that. Just incredible cast and crew. I have to say I felt blessed to work with such true artists.

Kaity and Kally Williams, these twin sisters are blowing up films and they are like girl power. They’re young, they’re on fire. They were the cinematographer and sound, for the entire film. So, to work with true artists, such talent that is so young and has their finger on the pulse of the industry, it teaches us what to do. Even as filmmakers. It was such a great experience.

Like having them suggest a purchase of flicker lights for the old movie theatre scene. The flicker lights that you see really enhances the shots and makes the film look really great, the entire experience.

DG: Right.

BL: …and something like that just proves to me, considering all the extra money, its just going to add to the film and give it so much more production value.

Just a big shout out to the entire cast and crew. Everyone came with their A game. It is for the right reasons. They had heart. Everybody had heart and I think that’s so special.

And then to hit the ground running in 2018 we hit all the award shows and festivals in competition. So again, to accomplish something so incredible in my humble opinion, like Sprinkles, Psycho Therapy, Allen + Millie: A Short Romance, these short films are ten minute films, yet I think they’re done and have such a special hook that they can compete with these $30 000-$50 000 pictures.

The financing is unbelievable, where they’re able to get investors and to get to do a ten minute film on $50 000 its so rare to get that opportunity. I’m not able to do that or have that opportunity. We want to make a quality, professional piece. If I can make a quality, professional short film with a talented cast and crew surrounding me, then I’ve accomplished my goals.

So I share that because it’s a bonus intention for me sometimes. Where I don’t think a lot of short filmmakers of today have that intention of quality. They may very well just want to make anything and get their name out there. Their pieces are out there and good on them but to make a short film with a lower budget, we’ve made ours for like $9000-$10 000 a piece and that’s a lot I know, that’s a lot. But at least I feel as though we have quality out there. And we are making quality. If I can see quality, If I can put my name on paper that at least looks like something professionally done then I’m happy.

I think that it shows and reflects through the awards. I think they speak for themselves.

DG: Truly does, there’s no denying the calibre of product that is put out there is high quality because of strictly because of the festival circuit and accolades that are being picked up and all the praise too, so it is quite a feather in the cap.

BL: Thank you so much and again. We’re very well organized and realistic. The people I work with are realistic. We do it for the love of the game. And we don’t have any disillusions about being in the Sundance Film Festival or Cannes. Because again, those types of films are invested with so much money and have young directors out of NYU and their ambition is to be the, whether its horror, the next John Carpenter or Martin Scorcese and I respect that completely. But that’s not our end game.

We just want to make good product and share, especially in the genre. Especially being a known Scream Queen and Staci Layne Wilson having written so much for horror and Courtney Gains, from such an incredible veteran, iconic original Children of The Corn and Ricky Dean Logan icon from The Final Nightmare, Freddy’s Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, you know we get it.

So once served the fan base, that’s yet another intention. People say to me, when you make short films Brooke, what’s your intention? Are you trying to stay in horror always? I love horror. I’m so incredibly grateful to have the fan base that I have within horror. I’m so blessed the fan base has made a name for me within horror and I’ll never forget that.

However, as I’ve often stated if you look at our pieces, Sprinkles, a lot of people have stated just like in the Actors Awards last year, I won, I mean competing with feature film actresses. I won Best Actress in a Drama, in the Actors Awards 2017. That’s extraordinary.

DG: It is!

BL: I’m so incredibly blessed. I’ll cherish that forever and ever and thing is you can make a good horror/thriller and make it a quality drama. You can have a piece like Psycho Therapy which is even more of a horror thriller and Staci and I ambitiously wanted to tail-line Brian DePalma. Our favorites like Dressed To Kill and Blow Out and the things he’d done with the incredible cinematography, just a huge shout out to the directors, cinematographers that made something again, not really exactly horror but enough to satiate a horror fan base, they went fanatical for it.

Allen + Millie: A Short Romance, a total comedy/romance/horror, this one is just such a fun, fun piece. The horror fans are going crazy for it already. They haven’t even seen it yet because it hasn’t had a world premiere. But everyone who has seen it on the festival scene has so blown away with the quality.

So, you’d asked also about Rotting Love?

DG: Yes!

BL: A totally different experience for me. Zombie Dave is an old friend, a horror fanatic and has been asking me to work with him for years. I’m so grateful and flattered to be thought of for this. So, I’d said yes, two years ago. We’d been in talks about it for a long time.

So, it is a short, short, which I don’t ordinarily do. But, between Zombie Dave’s persuasive enthusiasm and the Battle Of The Sexes theme I love so much, I had to accept.

(To be continued….)

Brooke Lewis IMDB

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