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Rising Star Stacey Van Gorder: “Surround yourself with positive people who want you to succeed”

I think a large part of success is surrounding yourself with positive people who want you to succeed. I started working with Stefanie Field last year and she is 110 percent behind me. We work as a team. If I do well, she does well. I truly believe if you have a partnership with your […]

I think a large part of success is surrounding yourself with positive people who want you to succeed. I started working with Stefanie Field last year and she is 110 percent behind me. We work as a team. If I do well, she does well. I truly believe if you have a partnership with your agent and they know you, what roles are good for you and your type, what roles to call and get you in for, etc.. That’s huge.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Stacey Van Gorder. Stacey is an actress, writer, and producer based in New York City. She has five children and keeps her sanity running half marathons. Stacey recently co-wrote, produced and starred in a pilot called, Sismance.

Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in a beautiful small town in upstate New York. My parents married young and had a tumultuous relationship. I grew up in that environment, so it was very normal for me. Then life hit me hard when my parents divorced. I was on my own and heartbroken. Ultimately, I had to take care of myself and that journey made me who I am today. It took awhile.

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

A friend of mine was on her way to an audition and asked me if I wanted to tag along. I had been taking acting classes for years as a hobby, but I had never considered pursuing it as a career. When we arrived at the audition, the person seated outside the casting door asked me if I wanted to audition too. I asked my friend if she minded and she said, “Do it!” I felt butterflies take over my entire body. I felt exhilarated before and after the audition. I did not get the job, but I wanted more. I still love to audition!

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

Whenever I booked jobs, I used to get this feeling that casting had made a mistake. Other people were more talented than me. They had smaller noses, bigger lips, and were skinnier. I eventually came to own my looks, my body, and the talent that I brought to the table. As a result, I got into the room much more and then booked much more. I’ve traveled the world for commercial work, while also recently immersing myself in film and television. I finally feel comfortable in my own skin. Laura Dern once said, “Keep your eyes on your own paper”. We all have our own journey.

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?

I went in to audition for a manager and started talking to this guy who was part of the manager’s team. We talked about movies and famous actors for a while until I finally said, “Hey, I’m Stacey” and he said, “I know, you were my 3:00.” He was the manager. We had a good laugh. That conversation led to my first national commercial and roles in television. I learned that everyone matters. Treat everyone well, not because you want to get something, but because you would want to be treated the same way.

I’m very interested in 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?

Our world is diverse. Television and film should represent that.

I want my children to see themselves reflected in the characters they watch on-screen.

We are all humans, regardless of race. That should rise above everything else. If the film and television industry sets that example, maybe other industries will follow.

The breakdowns have changed considerably since I started acting. Now, I see character breakdowns for all different ethnicities and it gives me hope that the world is improving. Sure, maybe I don’t get as many opportunities as I would have ten years ago being a Caucasian woman, but that’s okay. Television should truly reflect the world we live in. My husband is Chinese. We are a diverse, blended family and I want my children to see themselves in the characters and in the families portrayed on television and in film.

From your personal experience, can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address some of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?

Create more starring roles for different ethnicities.

Don’t put one race in a stereotypical box.

Communication is key and being open to creating a diverse workplace is extremely important. I’ve never worked with a female DP and I’ve only worked with a female director a few times. We need to change that. Hire women.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why?

Always be a part of an acting studio. You get to meet collaborators and visionaries. They may motivate and inspire you. You will learn from each other and that can take you a long way.

Be 100 percent you. Ultimately, that’s who gets hired.

Learn a script, monologue, or even a few lines every week. Your brain is like a muscle. The more you rehearse your lines, the stronger your memory gets.

Anxiety and nerves are your friends. They bring energy into all that you do. They also make you prepare ten times more.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. What’s my frame? Can I look here? I want to do this, could that work? Asking questions leads to better performances.

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

Be positive. If you don’t get that audition or job, it’s not the end of the world. The disappointments don’t feel as bad if you can find happiness outside the entertainment industry.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Give people the benefit of the doubt. People often think the worst about experiences and other people. But maybe if we think better of people, we would support and respect each other more. I truly think everyone would be happier.

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 think a large part of success is surrounding yourself with positive people who want you to succeed. I started working with Stefanie Field last year and she is 110 percent behind me. We work as a team. If I do well, she does well. I truly believe if you have a partnership with your agent and they know you, what roles are good for you and your type, what roles to call and get you in for, etc.. That’s huge.

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

“If not now, when?” I thought about acting when I was a kid, but I didn’t have access to training and when I was a teenager, I was a mess. I needed to work for a career to survive. In my early twenties, I thought I was fat and ugly. Chances come and go. Take a chance before it’s gone. Feel beautiful now because in the future you’re going to look back and think, “Damn, young self, why didn’t you embrace yourself and everything around you?” Today, when I contemplate sending an email, making a cold call, or taking a job out of my comfort zone, I think, “Well if you aren’t going to do it now, when will you?” And I do it!

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?

Shonda Rhimes because she’s a writer, producer, showrunner, and mom. She seems unbelievably human. Her incredible stories provide insight into life and the world that we choose to be a part of.

Shonda may be busy, so there is also Michelle Obama, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tyler Perry, Sharon Horgan, Dax Shepard, Paul Giamatti. Oh yes, I could go on.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Staceyv_g

Facebook: @MsStaceyVangorder

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