Make sure you have a great package! A killer demo reel, fantastic headshots, and a correctly formatted resume. Without these, no one in the business can take you seriously. Because it is just that — a business.
I had the pleasure of interviewing American actress and dancer, Courtnè Alyssa.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
It’s funny because I’ve ALWAYS loved acting and performing. Ever since I can remember I was constantly making up plays and putting on shows with my cousins, doing private performances for my stuffed animals, and pretending to be a beloved character (like Laura Ingalls from Little House) for hours at a time. Acting has always been a dream of mine, but because of where I grew up, it never seemed possible. I’m from a super small farm town in Kansas. And not much happens there other than lots of farming and harvesting; definitely no film work! I moved around a couple times for my ballet career and eventually ended up in Chicago. It was while I was there that I realized that acting is actually a real thing that real people do (ha!). And it WAS possible! Long story short, I ended up meeting other people in the industry and just slowly learned things and began to break into the business.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I definitely have a lot! But last summer I was on location filming in a hotel, and we had to use some crazy (and very realistic looking) bloody makeup to look like someone bashed my head in. I got some pretty crazy reactions from people as I walked through the lobby — People were horrified! And one instance that is particularly amusing … I was in an elevator with an older couple, and they were absolutely in shock. Neither of them would look at me and the poor woman was quite distressed at my appearance. I assured them that it wasn’t real, there was even a sign in the elevator that said a movie was being filmed at the hotel. I pointed to the sign and said it was for the movie. They didn’t believe me. Then, the next morning at breakfast, I ran into them. I didn’t have makeup on that day and they were completely shocked. I reminded them that it was just makeup for a movie. They both laughed hysterically realizing I had told them the truth the day before. And I jokingly said, “yep, I heal fast!” Ha! And to be honest, it was also quite distressing to me that so many people were horrified and believed it was real, and yet only one person tried to help me… I was in the parking lot getting something from my car, I had something covering my head but a man saw the fake wound on my arm and he came running up to me saying he was a paramedic and asking if he could help me. Then when I lifted my head up and he saw the head wound, he gasped and started calling 911. I obviously explained everything and he got a good laugh about it.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
So I had recently moved to a suburb outside of Chicago and had barely actually driven in the city. I reserved a parking space on an app the night before I was to go in for a photo shoot/meeting with an agency downtown. I left plenty early, giving myself lots of time. I arrive at my reserved parking place and then typed in walking directions to the agency only to find that I was 8 miles away! There had to have been a glitch the night before because I had triple checked the locations and it was only supposed to be .2 of a mile away! I freaked out for a minute and then drove to the agency to just try to find parking nearby. I couldn’t find ANY parking! I drove around for half an hour and finally found one open street parking space. It was now only 7 minutes until my photo shoot and I was 1.2 miles away… it was the middle of summer and I was wearing heels. But I couldn’t miss my meeting! So I took up my courage, got out of my car and just ran the whole way! In my heels. Through downtown Chicago. I got there in 8 minutes and was only one minute late. Lesson learned: always have a spare pair of sneakers in your car!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m super excited about a new project I will be filming in a couple months because I will also get to dance! I’m so excited to be able to both act and dance together. I can’t share too many details right now, but be sure to follow me on social media to stay updated!
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I’ve gotten to work with so many unique, amazing, and talented people. I’ve gained so many friendships too. And trust me — you really get to know people when you spend 12+ hours a day working with them! With late nights and early mornings, just a couple weeks of filming with certain people and you feel like you’ve known them for years! I absolutely love it when you can connect with people and have a blast laughing and goofing around off camera, then when the camera starts rolling be able to cry and get super emotional.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Definitely have other things in your life — find a hobby, make sure you have life giving people in your life and surround yourself with positive and encouraging relationships. There is so much disappointment and rejection in this business, you can’t solely put your happiness and sanity in whether or not you book a role.
Perseverance and persistence is also key. You have to REALLY want it and never give up.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Literally just old fashioned kindness. It makes me so sad to see how cold-hearted our world is today. If people could just treat others the way they would like to be treated and didn’t cast so many judgments on other people, the world would be such a better place. You have no idea what another person has been through or what they may be going through right now.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1.) Casting directors WANT you to succeed!
When you go in for a casting, don’t be terrified! No one in the audition room want to see you fail, they are all rooting for you. Think of it this way: casting directors have a problem, they need a good actor to fill their role. When you walk in there, they want you to be the solution to their problem. They WANT you to be good and succeed!
2.) Be confident and be yourself.
I know this sounds cliche but it’s so important. Don’t come into an audition super nervous and shy and jittery. Remember the first tip to help ease the nerves and just be yourself. Be confident and make bold choices. Even if you aren’t right for this role, if you make bold choices and a good impression, they will remember you when another role comes around that is more right for you.
3.) Really pay attention and learn while you are on set. Observe other actors you are working with who may have more experience than you. See how they get into character and prepare before a difficult scene.
4.) Learn other aspects of filmmaking. Get familiar with what goes on behind the camera. It’s really important for actors to be able to do other things also, for multiple reasons. One being, so you can create your own content. Another being, so you can be hired as a crew member when acting gigs may be scarce.
5.) Make sure you have a great package! A killer demo reel, fantastic headshots, and a correctly formatted resume. Without these, no one in the business can take you seriously. Because it is just that — a business.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom
I love this quote because it is just so so true. Learning to be at peace with what is going on around you and not worrying or stressing about things you cannot control. An analogy I always think about is — worrying is like rocking in a rocking chair… it keeps you busy but it sure doesn’t get you anywhere!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I wouldn’t be where I am without God. He has opened doors that no person could open. I was also given a trait that is very important if you want to make it in show biz — stubbornness! Ha! It is usually connotated as something negative, but without being stubborn in your will to not give up or give in, you’ll never make it. I’m so thankful for every opportunity and I’m so excited to see what the future brings.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Julie Andrews or Candace Cameron Bure! I really look up to both of them as actresses and just as people. They both exude so much kindness and class; it’s so beautiful and I would love to chat with both of them about their life experiences and learn from their wisdom.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I am on Instagram! @courtnealyssa