Welcome to Godly Girls For God
Glorifying God and Encouraging Others.
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Interview with Celina Tolbert, Actress
As you know, we are a Webzine for Christian girls. One of the best things about GGFG has a very awesome group of pre-teen, teenage, and young adult writers from all around the world - so these questions are based on our common interest of sharing the Good News about God's saving grace through our talents!
Who, or what inspired you to become an actress? How old were you when you started your acting career?
I never really decided to become an actress - it just kind of happened. I had always been interested in performing - I had been singing in church and at school and taking various dance classes throughout my childhood. When I was in 7th grade, my mom found an ad about auditions for a local production of The Wizard of Oz. I thought it sounded fun and auditioned - I got the parts of a Lullaby(ballet) Munchkin and a tap-dancing crow. It was a blast, and it started my passion for theatre, and later on film.
What is the main thing you would like to accomplish through acting? What has been your biggest achievement in the field of acting?
My goal in acting is to further God's kingdom. If a project is not appropriate and uplifting, what's the point in performing in it? Our time on earth is short and I want to make the most of it for Him. I know God has a plan for me and my acting, so I want to use my talents for Him and Him alone.
My biggest achievement so far is my supporting role in the faith-based film "Secrets in the Fall." "Secrets in the Fall" is the sequel to "Secrets in the Snow," which I was a background extra in. "Secrets in the Snow" focuses on 6 high school kids and what they are all going through - it's kind of like a christian version of the breakfast club(It will be released on DVD January 8th worldwide). "Secrets in the Fall" brings back most of the characters from the first movie and introduces new characters, including mine, Carrie. Carrie is a girly, bubbly high school freshmen. She is a small supporting character, but as "Secrets in the Fall" is an ensemble film and it is set during a weekend retreat at a camp, Carrie can be seen in almost all scenes. "Secrets in the Fall" is an inspiring film that teens can relate to and that shares God's love and promises for us all. http://www.facebook.com/SecretsInTheFall?fref=ts
In your article, you talked about not compromising your values by taking roles that would not be fitting for a Christian. Do you feel like there is a constant pull to change yourself within the entertainment industry? How do you deal with the pressure?
The entertainment industry is a challenging place for a christian to be. I pass up many projects due to content and language. Sometimes I am tempted to audition for roles that aren't appropriate because with those roles I could be on my way to fame and fortune - but then I remind myself that this world isn't where I belong. If my goal is to further God's kingdom, than fame and fortune spawned from inappropriate roles and projects will not help me.
What kind of roles have you performed throughout your career? Have you had a favorite role?
Throughout my career I have played the hero, the villain, the best friend, the mom, the crazy grandma, the mental patient, the Shakespearean woman, a cat, a munchkin, a crow, and an angel on a few occasions. My most challenging role was when I played the Pit and the Pendulum Woman in A Fright Night With Poe - I played a mental patient and I had to memorize a nine page monologue! My favorite film role was Carrie because she had some very funny lines and it felt really natural to play her. My favorite theatre role was The White Witch in Narnia because she was my first real villain role.
What's a typical work day like? How different is it to act in a movie and to act in a theater play? You mentioned you are in high school - how do you manage school, acting, family responsibilities, and building your relationship with the Lord?
A typical work day for theatre and film are completely different.
In film, most days start extremely early - I usually have to wake up around 4 or 5 when I'm on set for a film. Sets are required to provide 2 meals a day, but most of the sets I've been on provide 3, so my days starts out with a good breakfast. Then there's hair and make-up - sometimes there is a make-up artist on set, and sometimes there isn't. Then there's usually some waiting time for the crew to set up. Then we walk or drive to the set. Then we begin shooting one scene at a time. You can film the same scene 20 times to get the perfect scene, so it's very repetitive. Between scenes there is a lot of waiting. A common phrase is "hurry up and wait" :) When I'm not filming, I hang with the cast and crew - I've made some amazing friends on film sets. After about 6 hours of filming we break for lunch. then 6 more hours and a break for dinner. But dinner isn't always the end of filming. One day of filming we filmed until about 1 or 2 a.m. That day was somewhere around a 22 hour shoot - the longest shooting day of my life. But surprisingly, that day is one of my favorite shooting days and holds tons of great memories - I wouldn't trade that day for anything!
In theatre, almost all rehearsals are in the afternoon only. Rehearsals can be anywhere from 1 - 7 hours. Rehearsals typically go on for about 2 months. This is very different from film, as many films do not have scheduled rehearsals before filming. Theatre shows can have anywhere between 1 and 100 performances. The most performances I have ever done for one show was 10 shows in 2 weeks. For a show, your call time is usually around 2 hours before the show starts. This gives you time for costumes, make-up, and props. Then you get to perform!
I like film because you can fix your mistakes in another take, but I also like theatre because every performance is slightly different and you get to see the audience's reactions.
Having a balanced life is really important to me. The spring semester of school(I am a high school senior) is usually stressful for me because I have AP classes, my school musical, various film projects, among other things. I also love youth ministry and volunteer with my church and Campus Life, which is a branch of Youth for Christ - Campus Life is a christian club that meets at schools across the country - I volunteer at the one at the middle school next to my high school. I love volunteering with these organizations because it really strengthens my relationship with God. I pray all the time which really calms an de-stresses me. I know as long as everything I do, I do for Him, then everything is going to be okay.
Tell me about an area in which you would like to improve as an actor? How does acting grow you as a person? Are there areas you grow spiritually in when you act?
I would love to develop my more dramatic acting. I have lots of experience with comedy and I really love it. However, I really want to delve into deep and emotional scenes and projects.
I always treat every show, project, or film as a blessing. God has given me this talent, so everything I do with it belongs to him. I want my acting to be a form of worship for God. Personally, "Secrets in the Fall" really helped me grow spiritually. We prayed at meals and before filming - it was amazing. I also love that at my school we say the Lord's prayer before every performance.
What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with? What have you learned from other actors?
I am still relatively new to the film circuit, so on every set I learn new things. In film, every director I have worked with has been really unique. My most recent director gave me a small reminder that I'm pretty sure will stick with me for life - she told me to keep acting for God, which really supports my goal in acting and encourages me to continue acting for Him and no one else. My theatre directors have really pushed me to the limit with some off-the-wall characters that help me grow in acting.
Other actors always teach me that there are many different ways to read a part. I can read a script and imagine a character saying a line one way and another actor will do it the opposite way but it made the project interesting.
What projects are you currently a part of? What have been some highlights of your career so far? What do you look forward to in the near future?
I just finished filming "Secrets in the Fall," performing in "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe," and participating in "The V Awards"(a school theatre award show). Recently I have auditioned for a few projects and anxiously await results. In the spring I will perform in my school's presentation of "The Sound of Music." I hope to perform in a few community theatre performances, but might not be able to because of college scholarship weekends. So I'm staying busy :)
What advice would you give to GGFG readers who want to act?
Godly Girls For God - go for it! Acting, or any job in the entertainment industry, is really hard - but it is NOT impossible! However, if you want it you must be determined and willing to work! I suggest getting someone to take some headshots of you - they don't have to be amazing, they just need to highlight how you look naturally. Take some acting classes at school or in the community. Work on building your resume - church performances, local community theatre, student films. Make sure you go into the industry with standards - if you don't have set boundaries or goals, you might do something you'll regret. Most of all PRAY! If God wants this for you it will happen, it just might take some time and effort. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11
Thanks for letting me share my experiences! :)
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