October 16, 2015 Interview – Olivia Alexander
Everyone has their calling in life, and for some, that calling is entertainment. A profession many desire, but seldom attain, there are some who are born with the drive to make it, and do so. For American Actress/Singer/Dancer Olivia Alexander, that journey began while still a child, modeling, dancing, and appearing in commercials. Now a grown woman, Alexander has seen her acting career continue to grow with roles in such known Horror films as 2012’s Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader, along with most recently, 2015’s Old 37 where she starred alongside Horror icons Bill Moseley and Kane Hodder. A triple threat talent, Alexander also possesses an entrepreneurial passion with her own business on top of her entertainment career, and shows no signs of slowing down. Recently we sat down Alexander for a deeper look at her career in entertainment, her role as Brooke in Old 37, her plans for the future, and more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been working in entertainment since a very young age. In that time, you have built quite a resume as an actress as well as in music. First, tell us, what inspired you to get involved in entertainment and remain involved all these years later?
Olivia Alexander – Well my mom was a Dance teacher, so ever since I was in the womb, my mom was singing music and dancing around. I think that had something to do with it because I came out of the womb and was a performer. I loved people, I was not afraid of much, and I really just loved being on stage. My mom put me on stage for the first time when I was eight months old; we did a dance together. She just had an instinct. I am from a small town in Louisiana with only around 3000 people that most people do not ever get out of. I am not sure if my mom sort of had that drive to get out herself and that is why she put me in it, but it is all thanks to my mom who recognized my talent and passion at a young age. She did every literal single thing in her power from the moment I got in front of the camera; the first time when I did a commercial when I was 2. From that moment on, she did whatever she could to help me.
I think that is sort of key; that I had her always supporting me and helping me be the best and always be a hard worker. I had a support system because this industry is really hard. Over time, it can really take you down a dark place. Even though I have been really blessed over the years, it is still work. You are still auditioning, you are still on the grind no matter what, trying to get work and being a participant in all ends of the industry whether it is being trained, or working out, or going to an audition. It is definitely a journey, but it is all thanks to my family. They are really supportive and, honestly, I really love it. I wake up everyday, especially being on the set of Old 37 (2015), I was like, “Holy crap, is this real life?” I love movies, I love film, I love television, I love all of it. It is such a huge part of my life and what inspires me.
CrypticRock.com – That is great and you have stuck with it all these years, which is dedication right there. Like you said, it can be difficult and it can take you down dark places if you are not level headed, because it is a tough industry.
Olivia Alexander – Yes, there is something really weird and trippy about being a performer, especially as an actress, because what you are getting paid to do is part of who you are. I have always found that to be really weird when people are giving you direction, or you are on set in these crazy situations and you are being killed or running for your life, or in an audition crying or screaming or whatever. It is part of who you are, so it effects you in a weird way. I don’t know how to describe it, for me its like an out of body experience because I go all the way, balls to the wall, and try and soak it all in. I am very dramatic in that sense.
CrypticRock.com – Right, it certainly shows in your work and you have been in quite a few films. You were in Attack of the 50ft Cheerleader (2012) and you mentioned Old 37, how did the part of Brooke come about for you?
Olivia Alexander – Well, I had just been off this promotional train for Attack of the 50ft Cheerleader, which was made by Roger Corman who was an idol and sort of a God in the industry, particularly for Independent film and talent. He gave a lot of people their start, and he gave me that role in that film. That not only gave me a different experience, but I had done some lower budget Horror films and was starting to realize that, in this genre especially, there is a path. There are people you work with and experiences you have, and I came off of that. We did Comic Con and they are the absolute greatest people to work for. Then I got an audition from my agent in New York and I put it on tape. The best part of Old 37 is that I feel like the character in Attack of the 50ft Cheerleader was also a raging bitch; sort of a bit of a psychopath, which I seem to have a talent at playing I think.
It sort of prepared me for it, but Old 37 is much more set into reality. It is not a B movie. I think I had a little practice at it and then I morphed into something else. It is interesting because Dayna Ghiraldi and Paul Travers, the producer and writer of the film, told me they never got my tape from the casting director. I uploaded my tape to Vimeo and for some reason it sent them a Google alert. They realized, looking at tons of Brooks, that, “Oh My God, that is Brooke.” I sent them a tape and did a Skype call with them. I just talked to the Director and I had a lot of genuine enthusiasm for the project because Kane Hodder and Bill Moseley were involved. They are sort of legends within the genre, and I think that was something that I dreamed of; working with people like that. I loved the script and I loved the character. We were going to get to do really fun stuff while filming it. It was overall a perfect moment for me and something next for me to move into as an actress. Then it happened and it was such a great experience and so good being on set everyday. I do not know if I have ever had that much fun on set.
CrypticRock.com – It definitely shows in the film. It is a good and effective film. In the role of Brooke, as you said, you play a pretty ruthless character. As mentioned, you thought that working on Attack of the 50ft Cheerleader helped you. With that said, how did you prepare to play the part Brooke?
Olivia Alexander – Well, one of the reasons I think that I can play bitches well, and I enjoy it a little bit, is because instead of thinking of them like they are a bad person or a bitch, I think of them as anyone else. I play from their insecurities, because I think that is what people do not really get off the bat about people like Brooke and the characters. How I played her, I saw her as an extremely insecure person, just in her little life, clutching to anything or anyone to control because she sort of feels invisible in her house, just the way her family is, or she has some inner self-hatred going on. I think that I love the idea of where Brooke ends up in the film, so I really wanted to play to that.
I know a certain part of the genre, even if it is like screwed up to say you are either rooting for someone to live or rooting for someone to die, and I think that sort of adds to it. I know the writer, Paul, really wanted Old 37 to be layered in some way. It definitely was something that I ran with, and I think that is another reason that I have so much fun and I did a great job because Paul and the whole team let the camera run. They let me improve, they let me really be in these moments where we were all in our wardrobe and we are on the street in these places, that it felt so real in moments. In moments it was actually terrifying, that is the only way to describe it.
CrypticRock.com – Right, and as you mentioned, one of the aspects that helps make this film work is that Paul Travers developed this back stories for each character such as Brooke. You get insight into her as well as the villains in the story. With that, uou understand where everyone is coming from and you almost have sympathy for each character whether you like or dislike them.
Olivia Alexander – Yes, I think the genre has developed into this weird, maniacal place where people kill other people for no reason. I love Dateline, Mysteries, Thrillers, and Horror. I think that the most important thing that we ask, even when heinous crimes happen in real life, is why? Just to have Slasher films or films were people are just dying left and right, it does not make sense to me. I know Paul and a lot of the people involved in the film, none of then were those people, everyone was asking, “Why?” I think that is a cool part of it and I hope that it reads to the audience because it is definitely something that was intentional. We want people to know that behind every situation, behind every death or survival, is a story. I think that is what makes us all human. It is supposed to be storytelling, not just always special effects, or gore, or whatever.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed, and that is what works about Old 37. It has the gritty feeling of an older Horror film, it has a story, and it also has some really great music in it as well, which helps make it work.Music is essential for a film, particularly a Horror film.
Olivia Alexander – Yes, there were moments on set where they played me certain songs that they already had in their head about where they wanted it to go. Paul has a background in music and I had such a background in music that they were able to communicate that to me. I know there was a scene where I was driving in the car and they were playing me the music. It really helped me get in the mood and vibe, and it really guided me too, so it added to it as well. I think these are filmmakers who are Independent filmmakers and they really set out to make something that they were passionate about.
I think that is also what reads in every detail, because when people who are really passionate and they are doing something that is their first of many films, I believe, I think that is just a magical thing that happened. Then they get people like me, even though I have a great resume, I am still fairly unknown, and they gave me that role. That was a great moment for a lot of people involved in the film and I hope and I know that it will read onto the screen.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed, many viewers will enjoy it. As you had mentioned, you got to work with some really great people on this film. You have been in the Horror genre for awhile. What was it like working with people like Bill Moseley, Kane Hodder, and the rest of the cast?
Olivia Alexander – There were so many nights that it was bitterly cold, let me just say that. It was Winter, it was Long Island, and it was really cold. I do not know how people live on the East Coast (laughs). It was bitter cold and some of the nights were really hard. Bill and Kane are professionals. They will be attacking you, beating you, and then in between scenes, they are like, “Just remember this is supposed to be fun,” and then are talking about their families. They are just real people. Then, the juxtaposition that people like myself, who are younger, and their legendary experience bringing it to the scene, the attention to detail, and just the care that they show up to set with everyday.
It is definitely like a presence and an experience. It was really cool for me as a fan because I watched them both in so many films. It was just wild to be able to work with them. I am going to cherish those scenes that I am in with them on film probably for the rest of my life. It was just really cool and they are so knowledgeable and passionate. You could just see why they succeeded so much, it is a magical combination of presence, knowledge, experience, and just pure talent and charisma, in different ways of course.
CrypticRock.com – Right, those are definitely different experiences that you can take with you for the rest of your life, especially someone such as yourself, who does embrace the Horror genre. It is something you really seem to embrace, opposed to some who look down on the genre.
Olivia Alexander – There are some people who do their first film and they win offers. That is incredible, but there are people who do not have that experience. That has not been my experience. I have had to audition for every role I have ever gotten. I have auditioned for way more than I have gotten. I have been through that machine that the industry is behind the scenes that people do not get to see, and I appreciate the people who have hired me throughout the years. I appreciate every film made because making movies is a really hard thing, even shit ones. Not that I have been in any that are really that bad, I do not really believe that I have. I just take pride in what I do, being from a small town, having auditioned so much over the years, being close to star-making roles, being close to roles that were just going to be fun for me, it is all the same at a certain level. We are all just trying to do the same thing.
I just think that Independent film, Horror film, there is a place for every type of film, even ones people make at home now. Look at the power of YouTube, look at the power of the internet, there are important. Creativity is important to humanity and I would never look down on any genre or any type of film. I think that it is incredible that people do this and are passionate about it. Then of course the bigger the movie, the more controlling the Producers and Directors and the people involved are, and the less say you have. When you are on an Independent film set or a Horror film set, there is usually a lot more place for fun, experimenting, and trying things, and that is what I like. What is the point of going to work everyday if I am not going to have a good time?
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely, and like you said, you have that freedom in say a Horror film to have that fun because it is a more loose and liberal environment. It seems like with modern Horror films, the mainstream is not embracing Horror as much as it once did, say back in the late ’70s or the ’80s where Horror was really quite popular with Slashers. Why do you think mainstream is -as far as Hollywood and people promoting films in theaters and stuff, why do you think it has turned its back on Horror a little bit?
Olivia Alexander – Probably money, and then probably society, violence, and shock factor. What was so shocking in the ’70s and why it was so special is people had never seen that before. People had not thought about making movies like that, it was always glitz, glamour, every frame lit perfectly, the machine of MGM and the starlets, and everything back in that evolution of film. Then I think money. I think people, and the big studios especially, want to make movies that kids can see. Like Minions, are you kidding, if I saw one more Minion this year I was going to become one. It was a marketing machine, it is going to make a billion dollars. Then you have big action movies. It is true that the budget for these great little Horror movies are low, and Horror films are notorious for not needing big budgets, instead of making ten movies: two Action, three Horror, or a cool, artsy, Indie film, these studios are making one big movie a year, and no work – just less.
Then there are shows and networks like HBO that are giving people that same sort of vibe on TV shows, so it is like a combination of a lot of things. It is sad, but so much of this industry is really run by money and what is selling. I do not know, but when you put the Horror genre up against the big Action films and the kids movies, if there is that much money to be made, but that is what controls the industry.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, you are right there. The irony of the whole thing is that you look at Horror, and some of the biggest television series right now are Horror-based, like The Walking Dead and American Horror Story, and shows like that. It is interesting how television has embraced the Horror genre.
Olivia Alexander – I think movies are what the economy is and the way that people are. People are definitely watching more TV and the movie industry has suffered for years as far as people going out. Then you have people that literally shoot up movie theaters, and I think that changes it even more. I think that it is so wonderful that these TV shows have success in the genre. The Walking Dead, it does not get bigger than that, and it does not get greater than American Horror Story. That is amazing because that is important too.
I think that the genre just sort of ebbs and flows and I have a really good feeling that maybe we are about to go into another big moment for Independent Horror films and just Horror films in general just because i am hopeful. I am hopeful Old 37 will be part of that, and people will get really excited. It is everywhere and it sort of has that energy from the support of the fans, so it will be interesting to see, but yes, it is definitely interesting how the industry has evolved in the Horror genre.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and some of the best Horror films today are being made independently like Old 37. We touched on a little bit earlier that you have done music in the past when you released a three track EP, entitled It’s On, back in 2012.
Olivia Alexander – Yes, I was in a girl group with Vanessa Hudgens when I was a teenager. I was definitely always in the studio writing music and being passionate about it, because I am a true triple threat. I can sing, dance, and act. When I did Attack of the 50ft Cheerleader, they, basically the Director, he was all about supporting me and said, “What are your plans for the future? What are you doing?” I was in the studio working with a producer at the time, and then one day, Roger and Hem called me over to their offices and we played eight different tracks. In addition to those three songs I released – I almost did the score of the film with the music department. Eight of the songs I wrote and then another group of them, we worked with producers to get them into the film, and they really let me do that there, so I did the EP and I did a video.
I did a show at the House of Blues last year, but I have honestly become quite an entrepreneur in the last few years. I started a Luxury Lifestyle brand of crystallized vaporizers and eye wear, and sort of my version of Jessica Alba’s Honest company, I like to think. We have had immense success. I have been working on that and a couple of other ventures in addition to doing films. I have been staying busy, music has kind of been put on the back burner, but it is definitely a passion of mine. I am sure I will release something in the next few years when I get the itch again.
CrypticRock.com – Excellent, that will be something to look forward to. That is excellent, best of luck with that, glad things are going well for you.
Olivia Alexander – Thank you. Yes, I really think there is a something similar to being an entrepreneur and acting. I am using all the same skills that I have honed for years. When you start doing a few films a year, you start to not have bearings in life because I was jumping from product to product, you are travelling, and do all these things. When you come back home, it is sort of this weird vibe. So, it has given me something else to put my energy towards as well, and I am sort of a workaholic. I like working a lot, so it has been exciting for me and it has given my life a whole other chapter.
CrypticRock.com – That is great, it is good to keep busy and keep yourself active like that.
Olivia Alexander – Yes, definitely, you have to. There are some people who can chill, but I am not one of them. I do not have a chill bone.
CrypticRock.com – That is very understandable. I had one last question for you, my last question for you is pertaining to movies. CrypticRock.com covers music and Horror films. Since you are a fan of Horror films, what are some of your favorite Horror films?
Olivia Alexander – The Devil’s Rejects (2005) is legitimately my favorite Horror movie of all time. I love the original Saw (2004). I super enjoyed the newer film It Follows (2015), I died after that. The Babadook (2014), I died over that. Then, thinking about my ’80s favorite Horror film, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), maybe, I am not sure. The Exorcist (1973) of course. It is so corny, but I remember seeing that and being absolutely terrified of life. I was one of those squirmy kids. I think that is why I like movies so much, because when I watch one I can suspend reality inside of my head. It is the same when I am acting or one stage; I get lost in that moment. I can really get scared or can feel it because I just get into it, but I definitely love those. I am into documentaries too. I am into all kinds of weird things. I am just not into Sci-Fi, that is really the only one I do not totally get into. I also like terrible reality television, and I am sure CrypticRock does not cover that, that is just a confession. I think a raw confession to end the interview, I admit that I love reality TV.
CrypticRock.com – That is okay, we are not judgmental here, whatever you like. It is fun to watch for some people like yourself, you enjoy it.
Olivia Alexander – Yes, but in Horror, especially when people ask you what your favorite Horror film was, that is a big one because the genre is so vast right now that you can have Horror snobs. There are definitely people out there that if you say the original Saw, are like, “Oh my God, Saw is terrible.” I liked it and it scared me.
CrypticRock.com – Right. It is important to have an open mind. As far as remakes, one needs to learn to look at them as a separate entity to the original. Because that is what they are, you cannot compare them otherwise you are going to be disappointed.
Olivia Alexander – Definitely, I like remakes with a purpose, but what I like about remakes is that they are giving that sort of nod to that film as it was once, in the ’80s or so, was amazing. Then they change them and you are like, “No, why?” Then they have other films that they really kill it and it is amazing, but I think it is just cool that Horror is a genre that the fans support and care about and people are actually a part of a community. Even though it has its hierarchy, and I read a lot of blogs and I’m sort of an internet nerd myself, I think it is just a support group of people. I hope that this community will really support Old 37 because it was a hell of fun to make and all the people involved in the film are actually really good people. Hollywood is not full of really good people, and I think that is important too.