#GOAHEADGIRL: Actress, Genevieve Gearhart

Actor, Director, Dancer and Choreographer, You can view Genevieve Gearhart's work at the Getty Villa, REDCAT, the Ohio Theater, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Williamstown Theater Festival, and several found spaces in Los Angeles and New York. She serves as a Co-Artistic Director for The Speakeasy Society, an immersive entertainment group creating 'real' work that connects and challenges audiences.

On a day-to-day basis, I find that my biggest source of inspiration and positivity comes from the people I surround myself. As a creative person, I wholeheartedly believe in collaboration; that we are truly better together than on our own. I run a theater company, The Speakeasy Society, with my best friend, Julianne Just and my husband, Matthew Bamberg-Johnson. It is a fantastic combination to do what you love with the people you love!

What is your favorite quote or motto that inspires you daily?

As an artist who is trying to continually better their work, I like to look to The Four Agreements:

Be impeccable with your word;
Don’t take anything personally;
Don’t make assumptions;
Always do your best.
— Don Meguel Ruiz

Share your struggles, share how you overcame those struggles? 

As an actor, it can feel as if you are always searching for the next gig, and that you need someone else to create opportunities for you.  Starting out in New York City, I felt bogged down by the rigorous audition cycle.  After a year of auditioning for other people’s projects, I took matters into my own hands and helped to start a new theater company.  I began to create performance opportunities for myself and my collaborators while I continued to audition for other projects.  I took control of my creative happiness and career, and many doors have opened up for me in the process.

You have a movie in which you are lead, congratulations! Can you talk us through the process of how you landed the role? What was the audition process like and can you share some of your audition tips?

Thank you! Shooting “When the Fever Breaks” was a fabulous experience, with plenty of opportunities for serious dramatic acting and good old-fashion zombie butt-kicking.

It was also a particularly fun casting experience. I was initially called in to read for one of the supporting characters. The scene I was given to audition with was between the supporting character and the lead, and after reading the piece, I knew I would be much more believable as the lead character.  I took a big chance- when I walked into the room and played the scene much more in the style of what I imagined it to be, and it paid off!  The producers immediately asked me to read for the main character.  I took a few minutes to go over the new scene they gave me, made some quick choices about the role and situation and gave it my best shot.  When I walked out of the room, I heard the director give a cheer of excitement.  I had never had that happen before.

A few days later they called two other women and me back in for a final audition.  We took turns reading with three women who were auditioning for the main character’s best friend.  It was so much fun to play off these women! I loved reading with all of them.  Not long after, I received the news that I would cast as the main character.

As far as audition tips go I believe in preparation, then play.  If you prepare and do your work beforehand, it will give you the confidence to take on whatever happens in the room, to be at the moment, and have fun with it.  Moreover, always approach each audition with an open mind- as in my case, you never know what opportunities await you!

What made you decide to pursue a career in this industry? Did you always know you wanted to be an actress?

I did not always know that I wanted to be an actor.  Growing up I was a competitive figure skater- that was my childhood dream.  I did not begin acting until I went to High School.  Eventually, I discovered that my favorite part of figure skating was the performance, the choreography, and the artistry, and I found all of this in the theater.  I left the ice rink at the end of high school to pursue a college degree in Dance and Theater.

Artists inspire us. They let themselves be completely vulnerable, and they can share that with others. What type of contribution do you feel you are making as an actor/artist?

One of my largest goals as an artist is to inspire others through the stories I tell and the form in which I tell them.  Right now with my theater company, The Speakeasy Society, we are working on creating a place for a new generation, by pushing the boundaries of the traditional audience-performer relationship.  We create work that is immersive, meaning that as an audience member the performance surrounds you, you become a part of it.  We are creating theater that feels more like a video game than a movie.  You as an audience are an essential element of the action- it could not happen without you.  Our goal is to reestablish a culture where the theater is a vital part of life.

Do you feel the use of social media has helped your career? In what way?

I do feel that social media has helped my career.  As an actor, it is a great tool to engage with other artists or people in the entertainment industry to whom I otherwise would have no access.  For my theater company, it is an amazing way to interact with past audience members and to cultivate future ones.  Our company is even looking at ways to theatricalize social media and create performances on the individual platforms.

If you could paint yourself a picture, where would you like to see yourself five years from now? 

As an actor, I hope to make great strides in the world of film and television.  I am particularly interested in TV right now because of the incredible character development available for actors over what feels like at 13 or 26-hour movie.  As a director and creator of my theater company, I hope to be working internationally, having been commissioned by a variety of organizations to produce exciting new work.  Above all, I hope to surround myself with happy and healthy friends and family!

Photography by KrisD Mauga | Makeup by Alexander Peuchot

KEEPUP WITH GENEVIEVE

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