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Rising Star Candace Mcadams: “Let’s shift the paradigm from surviving artists to thriving artists and create a foundation that supports emerging talent, especially those from underprivileged communities”

I would love to shift the paradigm from surviving artists to thriving artists and create a foundation that supports emerging talent, especially those from underprivileged communities. We are losing great talent every day simply because actors cannot afford to be actors. I recently had a friend tell me has to stop acting because he is […]


I would love to shift the paradigm from surviving artists to thriving artists and create a foundation that supports emerging talent, especially those from underprivileged communities. We are losing great talent every day simply because actors cannot afford to be actors. I recently had a friend tell me has to stop acting because he is a father now and he doesn’t want to be selfish when his family needs to eat. Instead of subsidies, many industry people jack up prices on the simple things actors need to even audition, much less survive. It’s expensive to be an actor. And what’s more, is that a kid from an underprivileged community cannot even begin to conceptualize spending that kind of money each month. It’s not even a thought. So who is representing their lives? Being an artist should not be only for the privileged. It should be a right for everyone. And some of these communities hold some of our greatest untapped talents. But ultimately my wish to foster more respect and dignity to all artists, because they light up this work and make it a better place. They deserve our support.


As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing Candace Mcadams. Candace is an actress, writer, and producer living in New York City. She is a graduate of Tisch School of the Arts and is now gaining momentum in Independent film as an actress. Her recent projects include Headache by Fabien Dufils and In the Flow by Richard Burns. Please visit www.candacemcadams.com for more inquiries.


Thank you so much for joining us Candace! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thank you for having me. I knew that acting would be my profession from an early age. The very first memory I have was around 4 or 5 years old. I was sitting in front of the television, and after the show, I turned around and proudly announced to my family that I was going to be an actress. My father who was a successful television producer at the time was not exactly thrilled about the idea. He knew what actors had to go through and wanted to protect me from what he viewed as a difficult life. But I was very determined and though he did not exactly push me into the industry or help me in any way, he did give me amazing advice. He encouraged me early on to focus on theater and work on my craft. And as soon as I was old enough, I auditioned for a small part for the role of the boy in Waiting for Godot, and I got it. I am so grateful for that time because the theater helped ground me and is where I started my journey as an artist. It was also where I discovered the enormous responsibility of what we do. Life is mysterious and we as humans can struggle with how challenging it can be. People come into a theater wanting to make sense of our human experience. There is something so powerful about knowing that even if it is one person in the room is affected by the story, it could cause a ripple effect that affects our human collective. That sense of a larger purpose informs everything I do today.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

My first big movie role was in a film where I was cast a hippy in the 1970s riding on the back of a motorcycle with my boyfriend throughout India. I was flown to India to this little town where they had built this old village high up in a mountain town 3 hours outside of Pune. It was like stepping back in time, it had wild monkeys and animals all around, it was amazing. Our first scene was this sweeping wide shot of us riding down the mountain, where we eventually had to stop the motorcycle, realize we are lost ,and get into a huge fight. There was only one problem, the bike was pretty archaic and was actually from the 1970s! It had front brakes that were not working well and my co-star learned how to ride it on set that day. It was all to be shot in one take including a long bike ride down a mountain. The hills were pretty steep and I had to seem angry and tired, but inside I was actually afraid for my life. Filming was running behind and we only had about an hour to film get the shot. The first take went well, I was able to get into a zone, drop my fear, and somehow we managed to stop the bike on the mark, get off the bike, and start fighting. Just when it was going well the director yelled “CUT”. As we snapped out of character we heard “clear the set water buffalos are coming through” and we saw this herd of wild water buffalo coming toward us! It took us a while to reset after that, so this was looking like our last chance, in our second take. Somehow, someway the stars aligned and we got through every moment perfectly and wrapped right as the sun was coming down. That day I learned when you are collaborating especially with nature, something is always going to happen that’s unexpected. That is art, it is not always in your control, so you have to learn to be flexible. A good lesson to learn at the beginning of my journey. I also learned that there is a bit of magic in movie making. Something unexplainable, but very beautiful, and it always seems to work in the end.

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?

A good friend of mine, an actor, and I decided to get together and push each other to keep our work fresh every day. One day, we naively decided as an exercise to create characters for one another and go out to the park and commit to being these people in real life. My friend created a character for me with the backstory was that I was a singer-songwriter from England who had just arrived in the city and lost her backpack which had her wallet, passport, everything. All I had was a guitar and the ability to sing to survive. My objective was to somehow find a place to sleep that night. So I took my friend’s guitar and off I went off to be a singer for a day. For the first few hours, I sat in the park uncomfortably making up folky love songs on the fly. And then this nice guy starting talking to me, and in character, I told him my story. He totally believed it and did everything to help me including looking up a hostel for me to stay at, and even offered to pay for it. Even though I got to my objective I felt terrible, because I felt like I somehow tricked this guy. Of course, I eventually told him I was an actor doing an exercise and refused his money. He was impressed and laughed it off, but I still feel awful about it. I learned that day to keep my work in the professional world and only work with other skilled craftsmen, not innocent people. Ha!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Right now I am working on a feature film “The Night I met Grace” written and directed by Sean King. It’s a character within a character, a role that I seem to play a lot. What is great is that this one is a comedy, which I am excited about. It will be a nice break from all the intense roles I have played in the last few years. I also have Evil in Plain Sight on slate for 2020, directed by Michael W. Green and written by Sarah Kathleen Silverman, which deals with sex trafficking, something very close to my heart.

I am also producing my first project which is a feature-length art documentary, with my production company Flybird Films, which is about one of the most important artists of our generation. I am so thrilled to be a part of it. As a first time producer, I am learning so much about the business side of my work which I think will only help me later down the road. Some days I am completely out of my comfort zone, especially with financing and raising capital, but I love challenging myself and learning new things.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I did a summer course several years ago at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) and my teacher was Sam Worthington ( Avatar, Man on a Wire, etc). He was relatively unknown at the time and a working actor with a few good projects under his belt. We were a group of actors who all became friends with Sam outside the classroom. We had the most incredible summer and we have too many crazy and funny stories to talk about in this interview. But Sam taught me so much. I learned from him for instance, to stay wildly curious about people, stories, and life. I also learned that the most important thing is just to keep putting out good work, to trust the process, and let go of the timing of your success. I am not sure if you know this, but he lived in his car for a year before he got Avatar. James Cameron had him read for an “untitled” audition and he had no idea when auditioning for the role that his whole life would change. I still get a smile on my face when I think of that moment for him. I can honestly not think of a person who deserved it more. Even after all his success, he is still a cool, humble, nice guy. And I am so happy for him.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Treat your career and life as a great adventure. When we are on an adventure, we allow for life to happen and we get so much more out it. I think the ambiguity of our career can be quite daunting. I also believe that the beauty of our profession is that it reflects the truth back to us. The truth is life is uncertain. We are never really in control of how it is going to work out. So, it’s better to relax into that and let it take you where it needs to take you. And to remember that everything that happens in the meantime is important to your personal story, which only deepens your work as an artist. So buckle up and throw your hands in the air. And yes, there will be detours, flat tires, or you may run out of gas from time to time, but if you stay the course you never know what is around the corner 🙂

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.

I would love to shift the paradigm from surviving artists to thriving artists and create a foundation that supports emerging talent, especially those from underprivileged communities. We are losing great talent every day simply because actors cannot afford to be actors. I recently had a friend tell me has to stop acting because he is a father now and he doesn’t want to be selfish when his family needs to eat. Instead of subsidies, many industry people jack up prices on the simple things actors need to even audition, much less survive. It’s expensive to be an actor. And what’s more, is that a kid from an underprivileged community cannot even begin to conceptualize spending that kind of money each month. It’s not even a thought. So who is representing their lives? Being an artist should not be only for the privileged. It should be a right for everyone. And some of these communities hold some of our greatest untapped talents. But ultimately my wish to foster more respect and dignity to all artists, because they light up this work and make it a better place. They deserve our support.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

The only constant is change- Every day on set will be like your first day on set. There is no consistency in how it will go. It is always different. Every. Single. Day.

Always look at the big picture-Try to educate yourself on how movies are made. Work as crew for a day, take a film class, or try to make a short. Just learn as much as you can. As actors, we are one spoke in the wheel. It is important to understand the bigger picture of what we do, so we can be in tune with our crew. People can feel it when you are coming from the spirit of collaboration and on a long shoot it goes a long way.

Learn to say no-In the beginning I just wanted to work and I took almost every project that came my way. I didn’t believe especially at the beginning that I had earned the right to turn something down. That was a mistake. I realized in time is that you are doing everyone, including yourself, a huge favor by saying no to the things that are not right for you. And oddly people respect you for it. So it’s always better to stick to the projects you are passionate about, even it means less work.

Remember nothing is personal- As an artist, you are leaving yourself open to all kinds of projections from others. Try not to take it personally, or get too attached to what others are saying about you or your work, whether good or bad. Trust me it usually has very little to do with you anyway. Know your value and your worth.

Always stay true to yourself- The world needs you, to be you, in your fullest capacity. Your unique mark is your contribution to us all, don’t play small, or shy away, but instead be generous of spirit. Always do what personally feels right to you, even if others don’t see your vision at first. Trust that inner guide above all else and it will never fail you. And you will have fewer regrets in career and your life.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Life expands or shrinks in proportion to one’s courage — Anais Nin.

Live is for living, but in my career, it is vital I live it fully. To portray another’s life I must know life, and I must know it well. It means I have to be absolutely fearless as I dive into the human experience. I have to take risks over and over again, that is what I signed up for. And yes life is hard and it can devastate you, it can break your heart, and leave you broken on the floor with a feeling of failure, but every time I get back on my feet I am better for the experience. And a little braver than before and ready to take all of that and put it into my work. And I love that I have lived a full life. I wear it like a badge.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I believe that every single person I have met along the way, both positive or negative, have all shaped me in some way. It could be the stranger I locked eyes with when I was 16 on a Paris train who has never left my mind. Or the kindness of my best friend John who helped me out when I was struggling as an artist. Or even the woman who yelled at me last week last because I got the taxi before her. They all matter because we are in this together. People inspire me. And they have all helped me get to where I am today.

In my younger years, I would say my drama teacher in high school, Tim Tackett. He saw something in me from the first time I performed for him, and he fought for me to be moved me up to the most advanced level of classes, even though I had such little experience. He pushed me to work hard for excellence and stay committed to my craft. He completely believed in me when I did not know myself as an artist yet. I was so lucky to have had him so early on in my journey.

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. 🙂

This is impossible! There are way too many incredible people out there, I have to at least narrow it down to 3.

Matthias Schoenarts- Every time I watch one of his performances, he sounds off my passion alarm bells and inspires me to be get better at what I do. He is the real deal. (By the way, can the breakfast be after working with him on set? I just want to keep this fantasy going…)

Oprah Winfrey-I am really fascinated by people that have overcome great adversity, and channel that into making make the world a better place. She is a guiding light in my life and epitomizes grace. I have also faced adversity in my own personal life, which makes me deeply respect her and I want to get to know her.

Richard Branson-I love that he brings his spirit of adventure to all that he does! And who doesn’t want to sit down for a breakfast and chat with the man behind commercial spacecraft -Virgin Galatic?

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/candacemcadams/?hl=en

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/candacemcadams77

Linked in: Linked in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/candacemcadams/

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