This week, I wanted to share an interview with one of my best friends, actress Deanna Pak. I’ve known Deanna since college and have seen her grow from a young college student to a working actress. Deanna is one of the lead actresses in the recently released thriller “Prom Ride.” “Prom Ride” is currently available on iTunes and will soon be available on HULU and Redbox. The film was directed by Kazeem Molake and stars Omar Gooding.
When did you know acting was your passion?
One day in my sophomore year of high school, I was crying hysterically about something- I can’t remember (laughs). I just remember looking in the mirror with my reflection staring back at me. I saw the pain on my face. And I thought, “There’s something really beautiful about this moment. As bad as things are right now, it’s real. This is my story.” After that, I signed up for a drama class in my school. I was already in the performing arts academy with dance production, so I thought, why not? Then first day of drama class came. We did a bunch of improvisation, and I had so much fun. In that moment, I fell in love with acting.
How long have you been acting?
I’ve been acting (between theatre, television, and film) for about 6 years in total, but as far as pursuing it as a career in Hollywood, it’s only been about 3 years out of that. What I love most about acting is being a vessel in telling an amazing story. I love having the opportunity to touch people’s lives through art. When I decided I was going to really do this- in the real world (smile) – my entire life changed.
I know that as an actress you face loads of rejection, what inspires you to keep going?
There is a lot of rejection in this business, but it is a part of the journey. Every major star or successful company has faced rejection at some point. If you are “rejected”, it means you are on the right track. I mean, you can only get “rejected” if you put yourself out there and actually TRY. And that is a huge accomplishment on its own. The only guaranteed way to fail is to not try. I remember hearing that Nicole Kidman said “It only takes one film…” You can have 100 “NO’s” but that one “YES” can change the game. Also, rejection has helped me grow both as an artist and a businesswoman, so it may not always feel good during the rejection, but I appreciate it. I’ve come to understand that it may have nothing to do with me. And if it IS me, then it’s my job to work harder. My job as an actress is to give my best work, and as long as I do that, I can’t fail.
I know that you are a Christian, how does your faith play into the roles you choose to take on?
My faith is a big part of me. Not in the typical sense though. For me, having a real relationship with God is what matters. Don’t get me wrong, church is amazing, but if there’s no real intimacy with God, then everything else is void. I’ve gone through many ups and downs in my life, but God has never forsaken me. I understand not everyone will share the same beliefs, but everyone shares the desire to be loved. I believe (His) Love is the answer to that. As far as accepting roles, I look for the story. For example, I don’t think there is anything wrong with playing the role of a prostitute if there’s an important message that needs to be shared with the world. That character is human, and she has HER story too. Whether you like that lifestyle or not, denying someone else’s real struggle or choosing to ignore it, is like saying “I love people but I don’t want to help anyone.” But then you have the other end of the spectrum— Not too long ago, I was offered the co-lead role in a music video and she was supposed to be randomly topless, and I was so confused, (laughs). I just respectfully had to decline.
Are you ever afraid to express your faith in the entertainment business?
There have been times others in the business have told me to keep quiet about my faith, but there became a point where I’m like, who am I serving? This is a relationship business, and the most important relationship is my relationship with God. If a door closes, another will open.
What was it like being in “Prom Ride”?
Being in “Prom Ride” was a surreal experience. I became good friends with everyone on set, and we all still talk and hang out. I got to have fun, but at the same time, stretch my emotional range. The director, Kazeem Molake, was very helpful in creating an atmosphere for us be the best we could be.
What was the hardest scene for you to play?
The hardest scene was a scene where the villain forces me to do something humiliating in front of all my friends. You have to watch it to find out what it is (laughs). Because there were so many other technical things I had to do in the scene, it was very challenging. In short, I had to carefully hold an important attachment to my dress, while holding my actual dress (and it was huge), while recording with an iPhone with my other hand, while standing in a physically unbearable position, and then last but not least, I had to cry on cue. All at the same time. No biggie (laughs). It was definitely a great experience, and I’m happy with my performance.
What was it like working with Omar Gooding?
Working with Omar Gooding was so fun. He had a few scenes with the rest of our prom entourage, so we all worked together. Omar was very kind, and his personality and experience made the journey even better. I’m grateful that we all got to work with him on this film.
Any upcoming projects we should look for you in?
I will be playing one of the leads in a martial arts thriller feature film, “The Gathering”, which is currently in production. It will challenge me differently as it my first action film. Also, at the moment, I’m working in a dramatic film called “Tattooed Love” which will wrap shooting this week. I am excited about these projects and the many more to come.
What advice can you give to aspiring actors?
My advice for aspiring actors is to learn as much as you can. If you are just starting, take the time to learn the craft of acting and then build your resume and reels. Start with community plays and local films, and work your way up from there. Audition as much as possible and just get out there. Sometimes the best way to learn is to just DO it. Before you try to get an agent, ask yourself what am I bringing to the table? Once you do have an agent or manager, remember it is a TEAM effort. If one part of the team is slacking (yes, that includes you as the actor), it affects everyone. Make specific goals and take control of your career. But the most important advice I can give is that no matter what happens, BELIEVE in yourself. I know it’s cliché, but if you do not have faith in yourself, then you have no foundation. You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation. Believe and achieve.
I hope you guys found this interview inspiring. Even if you aren’t an aspiring actor, no matter what you do, you have to believe in yourself.
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