March 29, 2019 Interview – Jamie Bernadette
Throughout the past decade, the multi-talented Jamie Bernadette has dabbled in both film and television. An actress, writer, and producer, she has worked on such high-profile TV series as NCIS: New Orleans and Midnight, Texas, as well as writing and starring in the recent Horror offering The 6th Friend. In addition to her extensive resume of performances, in April fans can see Bernadette in the highly-anticipated I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu.
In celebration of everything going on in 2019, Bernadette recently sat down to discuss everything from her dreams of Hollywood to working with directors Tony Wharmby and Neema Barnette, to writing and starring in a female-centric Horror offering, Bernadette allowed us to pick her brain on a wide variety of topics.
Cryptic Rock – You’ve been involved in acting for over a decade now. What initially inspired you to pursue a career in entertainment and, thus far, what have been some highs of your journey?
Jamie Bernadette – I dreamed of acting since I was a very young child. Growing up in a small town, the “normal” thing to do was to get a 9-5 job, get married, and have a family. I was interviewing at different companies in my hometown and I felt completely disheartened. I realized that I actually didn’t want any of the jobs for which I was interviewing. I was also about to get engaged and I told my boyfriend at the last minute not to buy the ring. There was an unsettling feeling of utter emptiness that had crept into my stomach as we drove home in silence from the jewelry store. I realized that I couldn’t live this kind of life; it wasn’t for me.
So, I confided in a good friend for help because I was very confused and he asked me the question, “If you could have the perfect life and there were no barriers to achieving this ideal life, what would that life be?” What this question did was wipe out all of the stops, the obstacles that we tend to put in our way when we have a dream, or that others will often put there, which often results in us not pursuing that dream. I answered him, “I would be an actress.” He replied, “Then that’s what you should do.” It was mind-blowing. I left four days later with $600 in my pocket and drove across the country by myself in my old car that I’m surprised didn’t break down.
Some highs of my journey are the amazing relationships with so many incredible souls that I’ve made along the way. I finally found a home with like-minded creative artists, whereas, back home, I often didn’t fit in or I fit in with only a few.
Cryptic Rock – That’s wonderful that you took that leap of faith and it has definitely paid off. To go back to your childhood, in an online bio, it says that you’ve been dreaming of acting since age five. How does the reality stack up against your childhood dreams?
Jamie Bernadette – It’s the same as I imagined it would be. I watched movies and acted the scenes out, so I was focused on the craft of acting as a child rather than the glamour or the fame of it. If I had focused on the glamour of it, I would have been incredibly disappointed because it’s not glamorous.
Cryptic Rock – So, you went into it with the right mindset then. That has helped to pave the way for an impressive career, and you’ve been involved with some top notch series such as Midnight, Texas and NCIS: New Orleans. What have you taken away from your involvement in series acting and brought with you to your roles on the big screen?
Jamie Bernadette – I worked with seasoned Director Tony Wharmby on NCIS: New Orleans. He began his career in 1968 and worked on popular shows such as Bones, The X Files, Gossip Girl, and The O.C., to name a few. Tony really honed in on my performance and the character became something I hadn’t totally planned ahead of time. He knew what he wanted this character to be and directed me as such. Working with a director of this caliber and him being happy with my performance taught me to trust myself and gave me more confidence as an actor.
I worked with Director Neema Barnette on Midnight, Texas and she is a whole lot of fun. We were okay to improv a lot on that show whereas, on NCIS: New Orleans, they wanted us to stick to the script. So it was a completely different experience, although both were Prime-time Network TV shows — so it was interesting. Neema also gave me confidence in my ability. She is a very honest, upfront person and she isn’t going to give a compliment if she doesn’t mean it, which is admirable. She said some very kind things to me including, “You’re going to go far.”
This is so appreciated in an industry where rejection is so common, which can make a dent into your self-esteem. So, in times like this when you have prestigious directors encouraging you, that finds its way into your heart and when you have more confidence, I believe that carries into your work in a good way.
Cryptic Rock – That’s absolutely true: confidence is always key in any career. To delve deeper into your career, you’ve been involved in a lot of Horror productions. Would it be fair to say that you love the Horror genre?
Jamie Bernadette – Yes, absolutely. The genre excites me so much. I’ve always thought it was so fun to watch Horror films. Horror is such a creative genre — perhaps that is what I love about it.
Cryptic Rock – Horror is a great genre! Which makes a perfect segue, because you wrote and starred in the Horror offering The 6th Friend. This is a female-centric take on Horror that is fun, and seems inspired by such classics as 1996’s Scream and 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer. What brought about the initial inspiration for the script, and did you always know that you would star in the film?
Jamie Bernadette – I watched The Descent (2005) and I was so blown away by the film that I wanted to write a script with an all-female cast of strong, intelligent women that weren’t female stereotypes of any kind — which is what The Descent did. Yes, I always planned to lead the cast as the character “Joey.” I wrote her for me.
Cryptic Rock – Let’s face it, many times writers cast themselves in a lead at the detriment to their own movie, but this is not the case with The 6th Friend at all. Clearly, as writers, we so often put much of ourselves into our characters. Are there parts of Joey’s personality and experience that overlap with your own? How much of Jamie is embedded in Joey?
Jamie Bernadette – Yes, absolutely. Joey has a shy, introverted side and she often likes to be alone. She doesn’t like to be the center of attention. She prefers to listen rather than talk. I am all of these things, but Joey’s experiences aren’t similar to my own. When the director, Letia Clouston, came on to write the second draft, she added that Joey had a drug problem. I have never had this problem and I don’t do any drugs at all — I almost never take a Tylenol even. So, there are differences between myself and the character.
Cryptic Rock – The drug problem is an interesting twist to Joey’s character, actually. Now, despite their varying roles and personalities, when they’re not running for their lives, all of the ladies in the film appear to be having a good time together. What was the vibe like on set and how important was it for you to create a supportive “girl power” feel throughout the film?
Jamie Bernadette – The vibe on set was fantastic. The six of us girls all stayed in a cabin together during the filming and had many laughs. We hung out as a group before we started filming as well, which helped with the chemistry too I think. It was important that we really feel like friends onscreen to the audience.
Cryptic Rock – It worked beautifully: the chemistry between the cast onscreen is a highlight of the film. Actually, in the film itself, there’s a mention that women can accomplish anything in this world if we can just stick together. What would you like to see women accomplish in 2019?
Jamie Bernadette – I would like to see more women directing — this has been seriously lacking in the film and television industries. I would also like to see the discriminatory wage gap between female and male actors closed.
Cryptic Rock – Thankfully there are an increasing number of women directing, writing, producing, and being noticed for it, which is very refreshing. Hopefully that trend will continue! So, speaking of fierce Girl Power, you star in the upcoming I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu, which links back to the original 1978 film that was highly controversial. Was there ever any hesitation with getting involved in a franchise that is known to ruffle feathers?
Jamie Bernadette – There was no hesitation at all. I wanted that role so badly and cried tears for twenty minutes after receiving the call from the producer that they decided to give it to me.
Cryptic Rock – Congratulations on landing it! Obviously, you can’t give away too much, but what should fans expect from this upcoming installment?
Jamie Bernadette – They should expect it to have the look, feel, and pacing much like the 1978 original film, and this was done on purpose. They washed out the color to make it look old like the original and the pacing takes its time, as movies did back then. Some people in today’s modern society are so used to instant gratification.
I read some reviews for The 6th Friend that complained that no one is killed for 30 minutes or that nothing happens for 30 minutes, because we spent that time to develop the characters so that the audience cares about them. Thirty minutes isn’t that long, but today, when we have information at our fingertips through our cell phones, and communications from others come in immediately, we just aren’t used to waiting for things anymore. The I Spit sequel takes its time as well, and proudly so. Meir Zarchi told the sequel the way he wanted to, without listening to the demands of modern culture, which is admirable and brave.
Cryptic Rock – That is admirable. Unfortunately, while technology can be a godsend, it can also be a damnation. That is a whole other conversation. Obviously, you can say a lot of things about the I Spit On Your Grave franchise, but bottom line is that there’s a definite element of female empowerment therein. This reflects back to your own film, which is big on boosting women. Is it important to you to become involved with projects that continue to push women to the forefront?
Jamie Bernadette – It is important to me because women have not been treated equally in Hollywood, but it is definitely getting better and I am so happy about this. I also personally love playing the strong female lead or the underdog. It’s so much fun.
Cryptic Rock – What do you see as the future for women in Horror?
Jamie Bernadette – I see more minorities taking the limelight which is a beautiful thing, as we see in the newly released Horror film Us. I am so thrilled that we are getting closer and closer to equality.
Cryptic Rock – It’s long, long overdue, but the rise of women in Hollywood is wonderful to see. Okay, so most importantly, what’s next for you in 2019?
Jamie Bernadette – I’m really hoping to book a TV series regular role this year. I have a lot of attention on that and am putting a lot of energy towards that.