I want to do something about all the homeless. Obviously there is something wrong with the system and country, if the numbers keep growing. There’s gotta be a better way to help. I keep thinking about that.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Susan Chambers. She is a Sag Aftra Actress who loves Theater, Film and TV. Born and raised in Minnetonka, Minnesota, she found her love for acting in college but it was quite the journey getting were she is today.
Thank you so much for joining us Susan! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
It’s a pleasure to have this interview. Yes! I wish I would have been a good girl and listened to my mother. She was always encouraging me to get into Acting. She was a Theater actress herself. I think the writing was on the wall. I was always trying to get the neighborhood kids to perform made up skits, asking for a ventriloquist doll for Christmas, asking for marionette puppets and performing shows with them. My father even built a huge stage (like the one in sound of music) to have my shows in. I still have those beautiful string puppets from Germany.
It actually wasn’t until college when I took my first Acting class. I was kinda a rebellious kid in highschool. I finally straightened myself out in college and took a class (thanks to mom). I of course loved it even though I got a terrible grade. Ha.
It was my mid-late twenties when I started getting more involved. I did a few things in Minnesota and transferred to Los Angeles when my job as a flight attendant opened a base there. Things were great! I was taking classes at Roy London’s Studio. Fun trivia…Drew Carey was in my class.
I was serious with my boyfriend and accidentally became pregnant. I had to make choices. I chose to put my acting on hold, and keep my baby and move back to Minnesota knowing that I would follow my dream later in life.
When my daughter was in senior high, I started getting more involved in my acting career. It wasn’t until tragedy hit that I really made decisions.
Through a series of events of being laid off, my house burning down, my mother dying, I was so depressed, I hadn’t laughed in over a year. I decided after the house was finally rebuilt, to go do something I love to do.
I went back out to LA and hit the ground as hard as I could. Taking the best classes. Waking up and devoting every day to moving up the Actors ladder. I treated it like a business. I had some amazing experiences!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I have so many interesting stories. So many miracles (I like to say). I think my most amazing one was, I went in for an audition for a tiny role for a film. I didn’t hear back so completely forgot about it. Two weeks later I get this frantic phone call from my agent saying, you’ve got the part! But not the part you audition for. A bigger part! You’re working with Eric Roberts!!
Someone who must’ve been pretty big couldn’t do the role because their previous film job was extended and the film company frantically looked through all the Audition Tapes to find someone to fit the role. I was the lucky girl!
It was a crazy two weeks filming. I got the script the night before and stayed up till 2 AM just to read it. Then up at the crack of dawn and onset practically memorizing as I went. It got better after the first day and I had all my lines down after tha whew. The crew and Director- were very helpful and would film everyone else’s close up so I could get used to the lines and have them memorize it was a crazy two weeks filming. Eric Roberts was a delight to film with. I was so nervous the first day. Eric walked past me in the hall. He jumped back away from me and rubbed his butt like I pinched him. Haha. I started laughing. He exclaimed “ Well at least she has a sense of humor”, That broke the ice and I relaxed.
It was a big role. I would be doing 13 scenes in one day. I loved working on that film. Everyone was so wonderful and there are some pretty big names in it. Eric Roberts , Robin Lively, John Ratzenberger.
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’ve made many funny mistakes. Agh. One comes to mind. I was actually a stand in for Kathryn Erbe in Mighty Ducks II. It was morning, early on set at a ice rink (of course) in Minnesota. I ordered a breakfast burrito at the food truck on set. The PA came up to me and said you need to be on set now!! So, I turned to the gentleman next to me (who also was waiting) and asked him to bring my burrito on set when he got his order.
The PA yanked me away and said, “ Do you realize who you just asked to bring your food on set for you!! One if the directors!! Well, it actually was the second director. Ha. Word gotcaround….After that, every day the director would offer would offer me a bite of his food. It became a joke. Thank goodness (and not a negative thing).
Lesson learned…don’t ask anyone to bring your burrito on to the set. Ha
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m working on a few things. First, I’m in this fabulous English comedy play called, SPIRIT LEVEL, by Pam Valentine. It goes til June. Also, a Web Series called UTOPIA PLANITIA as a senator of the Mars Colony.
I have a couple film gigs in the works that I can’t say yet. Also, two films coming out soon! One called, COVER ME, with Danny Trejo, Jesse Metcalfe, TC Stallings and more.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
First, Larry Moss is an amazing acting teacher. But so interesting as well! He’s done so much!! I advise all Actors to take his class. You’ll never be the same. I started doing more Theater thanks to him.
Second, I did this film called ONE SONG (that might never come out sadly), with Sally Kellerman, Mike Farrell, Melissa Gilbert, Barbara Eden. Such a cute film where I’m Melissa Gilbert’s sister and Sally and Mike are my parents. Barbara Eden played my aunt. What fun to work with all of them!!! Performing with people I watched in TV growing up! They were fabulous to work with. Barbara was the kindest lady I’ve ever met never an unkind word to anyone! Melissa is a stitch! Ha. Sally is always encouraging.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
A casting director once told me the ones who don’t make it are the ones who give up. I say that to myself A LOT. thus job is like a sales call, which I did as a wholesale rep for years and really helps me when I compare it to that.
You submit to a hundred gigs. Out of those hundred gigs, you get…let’s say…30 auditions. Out of the 30 auditions, you will get 1–4 Jobs. Kinda like cold calling sales! And don’t forget! You might not have gotten that role but you got to perform for that casting director who will have other films or shows they will cast another time. So it’s a win win. I’ve auditioned lately for the same TV shows 3 times so I know they like me cuz they keep asking me back!! Sooner or later, I’ll get it.
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 want to do something about all the homeless. Obviously there is something wrong with the system and country, if the numbers keep growing.
There’s gotta be a better way to help. I keep thinking about that.
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. First of all, in LA, it takes 6 years living out there before your going to make good progress. I’ve heard it and seen it. If you go to a life coach out there they will tell you it will take an average of six years (That’s what I heard through other actors who did).
So many actors think they can go out there for a few months and make it. It takes a long time to establish yourself there. Meeting casting directors so they call you in again. Being ready when those big breaks come!! It’s a very personable business. That’s why they say, IT’S WHO YOU KNOW.
2. Don’t go to NYC or LA until you’ve gotten a reel together. Stay local and do student films, short films, etc until you have experience and good clips for your reel. I’m glad I did that.
3. Have goals and plans. It’s a business. Treat it like one. I always have a yearly goal plus smaller goals that I focus on. I’m focusing on comedy now.
4. Take criticism and use it to better yourself. Usually people are trying to help with criticism. Acting teachers for example, listen to them when they tell you all the things you can improve on. I have this teacher. He always can find something I could do better. It use to drive me nuts. But I realized, even the bt actor can improve on their craft. So listen and use it to improve. Competition is fierce out there. They are always improving and so should you.
5. Remember it’s the journey not the end. Actually there’s never an end in this biz. Enjoy those wonderful moments you have on big or small jobs. Enjoy your whole life in this crazy world of Acting. I do!!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My father use to say to me, (well he was constantly quoting so many quotes) but this one always is with me
“It doesn’t hurt to ask, The worst they’re going to do is say no”. That quite gives me courage to ask and move forward in life’s challenges.
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?
That is so hard to pin point one person. It takes a village. My friends, fellow actors, teachers, special directors who believe in me, agents have all helped me get to this place so far.
I’m going to thank God. There have been some amazing ways I have gotten work that I did nothing really to get that job. God did it. Here’s one story: I auditioned for this tiny role in Los Angeles my agent go me. Never heard anything. Totally forgot about it too. I get this call from my agent. She’s so excited. “You got the part! But not the part you auditioned for, a bigger role! You’ll be working with Eric Roberts! Are you available tomorrow!!
Well…turns out that the actress, who was probably name talent cuz it was a huge role, couldn’t start cuz the film they were working on didnt finish on time.
I literally got the script the night before and was on set next day doig 13 scenes a day. Huge role!! Thank God for my training to kick in too and the miracle. That’s all I can call that one.
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. 🙂
There are so many I would love to have lunch with! There are two who come to mind though.
Amy Adams. She’s kinda my hero. She lived in Minnesota for a while too! I trained at Warner Loughlin Studios cuz she did. So I guess i really admire her. 🙂 biggest joy would be to work in a film with her someday.
Second, Theodore Malfi. He directed Hidden Figures. I loved that film. One of my favorites. I cheered for joy when they won their Oscars. I would love to work on a film he directs because of that film.
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