What was it about the role that made you want to do it?
I wasn’t drawn to play a mermaid in particular but was intrigued by the description of the kind of character they wanted to create. This wasn’t a princess or a cliche, but a mythical creature who doesn’t volunteer to be amongst humans and isn’t romanticizing them as some superiors species. This mermaid doesn’t want to be onshore, she was hauled against her will, brutally violated, and abused. The same way humans often treat nature and many oceanic creatures today. She is unable to communicate with them verbally and is put away with abused and silenced women. What drew me was that this isn’t an exploitative tale. The director Jeffrey Grellman co-wrote this award-winning script with a published feminist and clinical psychologist Kelly Lauren Baker. It is bold and unique, and I wanted to be a part of it.
“I could barely move in it. I either had to lay on the ground or stay in the freezing cold water…”
You’re playing a mermaid, how comfortable was it playing that role? I imagine there’s a great deal of stuntwork involved or at least being in uncomfortable positions as well.
Playing this character was far from glamorous. I wanted to do all the stunt work for my character and, as a result, gained several bruises and scars. The scene where you see the mermaid crawling into the pool at Beyer Mental Health left my legs and feet bloody and scratched. I didn’t notice during shooting and only realized it after we were done. Although I spent a lot of hours in my beautiful giant tail (created by Jack Edjourian and Monty Shook), I could barely move in it. I either had to lay on the ground or stay in the freezing cold water in between takes. This was a micro-budget film, so a lot of the time, we had to re-adjust the camera and sets to make it work with the tools we had available. This was what I signed up for. Swimming with the tail was challenging because of its size, especially during the ocean scenes. Even though this role was physically and emotionally demanding, I would do it a million times over.
What kind of direction did you get in creating the movements and vocalizations of the mermaid?
I loved the director’s vision and the idea of this character and fortunately, he appreciated my ideas and instincts as well. It was very easy for us to understand each other, so it was a great collaborative process. The scene where the mermaid walks for the first time was interesting because it was the first time Jeffrey and I didn’t agree on the character. It’s funny because up until that point we would finish each other’s sentences in regards to what the scenes would be like. Here we couldn’t have been more opposite. He thought the mermaid would have a Charlie Chaplin style walk and I strongly believed she would have a Marilyn Manson “The Dope Show” vibe (maybe it was the white suit). It was funny explaining that to each other. In the end, the walk became something of its own. I have the utmost gratitude for the director because he treated the entire cast with such value. When you’re starting out there can be times people are dismissive of your ideas and contribution, despite hiring you for the job. I was fortunate to have an experience where a partnership and camaraderie was built on mutual trust and respect.