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Rising Star Eden Campbell On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Entertainment Industry

When we hear stories, we try to find similarities in ourselves that help us connect to the character. When we only have white, or male, or straight characters, it makes it so much harder to connect for the rest of us. If you can’t identify with the characters on screen, it sends a message: you […]

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When we hear stories, we try to find similarities in ourselves that help us connect to the character. When we only have white, or male, or straight characters, it makes it so much harder to connect for the rest of us. If you can’t identify with the characters on screen, it sends a message: you don’t belong here, you have no place here, no opportunity to get here. That is extremely discouraging. The film industry should do better to represent all people in their stories, so their audience can all see something of themselves on the big screen. That’s a small but super important way to show that we’re all equal and worthy. It’s also a smart way to grow their business.

Fifteen-year-old Seattle actor Eden Campbell has been acting professionally in film, commercials and TV since she was six. She has had leading roles in quite a few feature films, playing a wide range of roles — from a ghost who doesn’t know she’s dead in the horror film, Ghostlight, to a truly wild orphan who unites opposites of a war in soon-to-be-released Warmuffin, to the half-crazy yet lovable Cheddar in They Reach, for which she channeled Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. In her latest film, Fear Street 2, she shares the screen with Sadie Sink from Stranger Things. She is also the voice of the award-winning Mindful Powers app, an award-winning App that helps kids tackle anxiety.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in Seattle, in what I think is just about the prettiest city in the world. My mom and dad moved out here from the midwest before having kids because they wanted to live close to the mountains. I feel so lucky they did. I have a younger brother and sister. All of us are actors. I started first, when I was 6 years old. They fell into it after me.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I would credit my introduction to the industry to my mom, who’s always pushed me to try different things. The summer after kindergarten, she enrolled me in an acting class. I still don’t know why, but I just loved it. Some time after the acting class ended, the teacher, who’s a local casting director here in Seattle, was casting for a national commercial for CenturyLink, and she called me in to audition. I was cast in the commercial, which looking back, I think was a bit of beginner’s luck. After that, I had to get an agent (I went with Seattle’s TCM Models & Talent), The agent got me further auditions, and I’ve been working mostly in independent films and commercials on and off in the Pacific Northwest ever since.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Hmm, I’m not sure what the most interesting story would be, but what always comes to mind for me when I’m asked a question like this is when I was filming that first commercial. For the spot, I was sitting bow of a speed boat as the boat was cruising around in this bay. There was also this “safety boat” that rode along next to us for the whole shoot. Funnily enough, that safety boat cruised so fast at one point that it created a huge bow wave, which completely soaked the entire boat I was on. I was drenched, and so was the camera crew. But if that wasn’t bad enough, the water ruined the camera, a really expensive camera!! Needless to say, that safety boat held filming up for a quite a while. Luckily the production had hair dryers and lots of towels, and most importantly, a back up camera, (and insurance!) and we were able to finish filming that day. But it was a pretty exciting start for me!

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?

When I was seven, I was asked to do a post-production interview about a film I had made over a year before. It’s so embarrassing to tell it, but I kept getting the character I played in the film mixed up with another character I played right after that. To a seven-year-old, a year in the past is ancient history! That’s my excuse, anyway. The director just rolled with it, and I don’t think he ever corrected me. Apparently he somehow made it work.

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?

Oh there are quite a few….but I absolutely need to call out my main acting coach, Patti Kalles. She really helped me get my start, and she’s worked with me for 9 years now, more than half my life! I’ve spent quite a few late nights with her working to get a scene just right…and from day one, she never sugarcoated anything for me. She’s very direct and tells it as she sees it. She also taught me how to take direction on the turn of a dime, which is such an important skill to learn, and I think often a hard skill for kid actors, especially.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

Well, I’m glad you think I’ve had some success! Seattle is pretty back water when it comes to films and TV shows, so there’s not a lot of work to be had. You have to be patient. I’ve also learned that acting is a super competitive business, no matter where you live. Actors need grit, perseverance, and probably most importantly, they need to enjoy the process of auditioning. If you don’t enjoy auditioning, I think it’s almost impossible to succeed because I think you’ll just be miserable. I think the work in acting is really in the auditioning. Actually getting the job is the icing on the cake! I’d say I don’t hear anything back from about 95% of my auditions. Those are not great odds. But I really like auditioning, especially in person. It’s what energizes me. it’s my training ground. Also, after every audition, it really helps me to tear the sides up and throw them away. I try to just forget about it, and look forward to the next one!

What drives you to get up everyday and work in TV and Film? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?

What drives me is to make every moment that I have spent memorizing, practicing, and working on my acting worth it. I owe it to my younger self, all of the hours I spent memorizing, practicing, learning how to channel my emotions, and to be able to cry on camera, etc. My younger self didn’t give up on my dream and I don’t want to let all the hard work I’ve put into acting all these years go to waste. I have worked with really amazing, hard working and inspiring directors, producers, cinematographers, crew and cast.

But, in the future I want to see more women in these positions. I have worked with several really impressive female directors, but looking back, I see that I have worked with far more male directors. I would like to see more of a balance. Who knows, maybe I could be a director one day…

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

Almost all of the projects I have worked on in the past few years are wrapped up and are either in post production, or are about to be released, which is exciting. The covid shutdown has put a stopper in the industry this year, but as it is now starting to open up, I hope to hop on some exciting projects, fingers crossed. I notice an uptick in auditions recently,which is exciting to see!

We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?

When we hear stories, we try to find similarities in ourselves that help us connect to the character. When we only have white, or male, or straight characters, it makes it so much harder to connect for the rest of us. If you can’t identify with the characters on screen, it sends a message: you don’t belong here, you have no place here, no opportunity to get here. That is extremely discouraging. The film industry should do better to represent all people in their stories, so their audience can all see something of themselves on the big screen. That’s a small but super important way to show that we’re all equal and worthy. It’s also a smart way to grow their business.

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. Put everything you can into your auditions. Then walk away from the audition, and furgetttaboutit. Being told ‘no,’ or more typically in the industry, just not getting any response at all, can be really discouraging. It can really affect your self esteem. But I’ve learned so much of casting is out of an actor’s control. Casting is like picking out an outfit, maybe they like the shirt, but it doesn’t go with the pair of pants… or the shoes. A casting director may actually love your performance, but maybe they wanted someone with red hair or someone who’s taller, quirkier…who knows?! But if they love your performance, but you’re not the right fit, they’ll quite likely remember you for next time.
  2. You don’t need to totally lose yourself in the character. What makes your delivery of the character unique is you. When I auditioned for They Reach for the Cheddar role, the wild, goofy, most-likely-to-be -a-stoner kid who loves corn dogs, I thought… oh god, this so isn’t me, I’ll just have to fake it. But then I started to think about those times with my friends when we ran through the street dancing to weird music and dancing so crazy we all just doubled over laughing, and just being weird, I realized that if I wanted this role I shouldn’t try to be who I thought casting wanted me to be, I should just channel that weird part of myself who would do anything for a good laugh with my friends, with my guard completely down because they’re my friends, you know? I also thought I had nothing to lose since I (incorrectly) assumed they wanted a boy to play the role of Cheddar. Just bring an aspect of yourself to the role, and, um, NEVER assume!
  3. Time is just about most valuable thing on set. And seriously respect how hard the crew works — way harder than the cast. When shooting early into the morning on many nights of the They Reach set, you could typically find Mary Madeline, Morgan and me wrapped in huge puffy jackets, asleep in some corner, while the crew was setting up the next scene. During those looong hours on set, I learned that every time I butchered a line, it wasn’t just me who had to start over. The director had to yell cut, the camera and microphone had to be reset, the crew had to replace all the props and we could start again. With all the moving parts on set, including the sunlight, which stops for no man, time is more valuable than money. Know your lines. Know your blocking. Be a professional. Do this out of respect to everyone on set, especially the crew.
  4. Pretty much no matter what mistake you make while filming, never break the scene unless the director yells “Cut!”. Time is money, and screw ups can often be worked around in post. And a real screw up can definitely make a scene even better. While I was on the set of They Reach, I dropped my corn dog while I was in the middle of the scene. I decided to pick it back up and just take a big bite and continue on. Believe me, it did not taste good, but Sylas, the director loved it. It made the scene even funnier, and eating a corn dog off the ground fell within Cheddar’s wheelhouse for sure.
  5. The film is actually really made in post production. Spoiler alert — while we were filming They Reach, the monster was just a huge styrofoam dummy that would reach out and ‘grab’ us- not very scary. I remember thinking, is this really a horror movie or will it just look like we’re running from a possessed piece of plastic? But when I saw the movie for the first time, I jumped and screamed even though I knew the whole script. Needless to say, editing is everything. And a great practical special effects crew!

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

Starting my mornings off correctly has really helped me take control of my days. Now I always have a full glass of water when I wake up. This helps me get out of bed and helps my body start up again.

I have also started journaling when I wake up in the morning. This has gotten me out of the bad habit of reaching for my phone right when I wake up. Instead of scrolling through social media focusing on the lives of people I’ve never even met, I can focus on my own, and reflect and check in with myself.

Lastly, I facetime a friend and do a quick 10 minute workout every morning. This helps me wake up like nothing else! During this time I can check in with my body. Getting my body moving at an early hour is so much better especially if I’m going to be sitting down doing school work for the next six hours. I also would never get around to do it if I didn’t do it with a friend!

For me, the best medicine for stress has always been exercise. I love to go on long runs, but any type of exercise helps. I think it calms my mind and makes me more positive and more productive, so at the end of the day not only will I feel more accomplished because I exercised, but I also feel so much better now that I have completed the things I was stressing about.

Like anyone else I love watching shows. I easily lose track of time from episode to episode. But as an actor, it is really important for me to watch shows, and movies. But it’s just as important for me to take a break from the screens, and just read. Reading is a big escape for me.. It gives me the inner perspective and thoughts from characters that I don’t get tv and the movies.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Like many teens, I love fashion, and have so much fun with my friends seeking out and wearing the latest trends. But I’ve come to realize that we spend almost no time considering the terrible impact the fashion industry has on the environment. Fashion, specifically, fast fashion, is the second most polluting industry on earth (second only to oil). It seeks to produce the trendiest fashion for the cheapest price in the quickest way possible — via toxic fabric dyes and other chemicals that are a major contaminator of fresh water, second only to agriculture and produce a tenth of the world’s carbon emissions, and via exploiting the worlds most vulnerable workers, across the globe. Why isn’t this in the news?

I think there needs to be a movement to hold companies accountable to provide ethically and environmentally safe production of products. I would very much like to be a part of that movement.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

I would love to have lunch with Greta Thunburg. She’s so young, like me, and yet so fiercely and vehemently stands up for what she believes. She is such a huge inspiration to my whole generation, and those who come after. She is no less than a call to arms for everyone to follow her lead.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

Yes! You can find me on instagram at eden.campbell! I also have a fashion blog that my good friend Lola and I started up this year: www.elloblog.com. Coming up with this blog this year has been a real inspiration for creativity and has given me something positive to focus on in this otherwise really tough and unusual year.

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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