You may recognize Meredith Garrison from the Bad Romance video I posted a little while back. She is an amazing actress and I’m honored to call her a friend as well. I hope you enjoy getting to know a little bit about this talented lady. (I especially love her answer to the last question – I think it is excellent advice for anyone in a creative profession.) Thanks for sharing, Meredith!
When did you know that you wanted to be an actress?
I’ve known since childhood that I wanted to act…. basically, from the moment I found out that it could be a career path. I had my first line in a school play in second grade, and played the title role in Julius Caesar in 5th grade. From then on, I took part to some degree in every production presented at the schools I attended.
What do you enjoy most about acting?
I love being able to portray someone else on stage or camera, especially if their personality is completely different from mine. It’s exciting, every role is different! But still, at the end of the day, I can return to being me.
What is your creative process like? What inspires you?
I’m big on research. If I’m working on a documentary or other period piece, I will learn everything I can about the time, the events surrounding my character, as well as all I can find on their personal history. But even if I’m portraying someone who never existed before, I try to use what’s already established through the script to learn as much as I can about my character- they’re background, motives, everything. From that starting point, I play around with mannerisms and individual characteristics until I discover qualities which turn the character into someone who is relatable and real.
What has been your most exciting moment as an actress?
With so much of my work being in documentaries, I’ve had to play a few historical figures, which can be nerve racking. I think my favorite moments have been when historians and living relatives of the women I have portrayed have contacted me to tell me that I did a good job.
When are you completely satisfied with your work?
I always try to push myself as far as I can go, and then see if I can take it farther. It can be exhausting on every level, but it’s only once I’ve reached that point that I feel satisfied with the job at hand.
How do you think you have changed as an actress in the past five years?
I originally went to college to be a performer on stage, but ended up being drawn more to film by the time I graduated. I loved playing with the subtleties that could be picked up with a camera, but wouldn’t be seen from a stage. Since then, the vast majority of my work has been in film and television– though I would still love the opportunity to work in theatre!
What has been your favorite project that you’ve done so far?
Wow, that’s a tough one to answer. I got to work on The Avengers last year, which was a phenomenal experience on so many levels. I worked with a lot of really talented, awesome people, and learned a lot. It was so exciting and humbling to get to work around so many people, cast and crew, who I’ve admired and respected for years.
What was it like working on the “Bad Romance” video?
It was a lot of fun! I got to work with several people, including several friends, who I hadn’t seen in years, and everyone contributed to the project made up such a great team. As a result, we got a LOT done in a very short span of time. I really loved working with our choreographer, Jena Burgin-Peters, who owns and runs JBP Entertainment in Charlotte. She, Eddie, and the dancers in the video were fun, professional, and so talented. The writer, Emilia, wrote such a clever, intelligent script. I absolutely love that every element of the video, both visually and in the lyrics, has a meaning. It’s always a pleasure to work on a project that has such depth of meaning behind it. Also, I was extremely impressed with Tim Grant as a director. I’ve known him for several years, but this was my first chance to work with him in this capacity. He was very clear on his vision, and was able to get his ideas across to everyone so easily. It is rare to find a director who is so easy to work with; he communicates really well with cast and crew alike, and manages to be efficient without ever losing composure or his great attitude- even on such a tight schedule as we had on this video. I hope I will be able to work with this team again in the future!
How do you deal with the ups and downs of your profession?
I always have to work towards the next big thing. Before one project ends, I like to know what’s coming up in my area, who certain members of the crew are, their contact information, and what the tentative dates of the shoot are. In between jobs, I have side projects which still provide me with some income while giving me enough time to work towards getting on another set. I love working, and feel I’ve learned how to deal pretty well with the slow times, stay positive, and keep focused on my goals!
What advice do you have for other young actors?
Keeping these things in mind have helped me: always keep a positive attitude, don’t let anyone take advantage of you, and never stop trying. In my experience, if you stay positive and show a willingness to work hard, even long hours or in tough conditions, people will want to work with you again. Also, never surrender your morals. No matter what anyone tells you, you don’t have to stoop to break in…. in truth, you’ll gain more respect and get more serious roles if you maintain a good reputation. There is absolutely no reason to take a role that you do not feel comfortable with. Aim high, and strive for great things! Lastly, never give up. It’s an uphill struggle to break into the business, but once you do, the payoff makes it worthwhile. An instructor of mine once told me, “There is always someone out there who wants it more and is willing to try harder to get it.” If you show tenacity, and always strive to better yourself and make yourself more marketable, you’re more likely to get work than those who don’t push themselves. Don’t give up hope- it takes time, but if you truly dedicate yourself to this career path, it can be quite rewarding!