Interview by Kai
Maryland native Noree Victoria has been entertaining her entire life. Not even a Master's in Information Technology could hinder her true calling. Aside from starring in independent films and television series, Noree has also challenged herself by becoming the one behind the camera; producing short films and music videos. I could go on and on about how talented this rising star is, but it's best I leave it for you to learn after reading her interesting interview below. Check out Noree's film reel and continue on for more:
EY: Thanks for taking the time. First off, let’s talk about Noree. Where are you from and what was life like growing up?
NV: I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. Or, “B-more Careful”, as many say. It wasn’t always easy, but it wasn’t all bad either. I’ve had a lot of experiences that made me who I am, and wouldn’t change a thing.
EY: I read that you’ve actually been active in the creative arts since a young age, writing a children’s book at 8 years old. What compelled you to pursue a career in the arts?
NV: My imagination. As a child, I learned quickly that what I made up in my head was far more interesting than what was actually going on in most of my classrooms. And even better, I could make up my own endings. So, art, writing, and drama – those were the subjects that kept me intrigued – not the ones where there’s one answer, and one answer only. My brain doesn’t work that way. My heart doesn’t work that way.
EY: How did you get your start in the industry?
NV: I went to college and grad school first, and started working in fields that, honestly, were just a means to an end. I did well, but I day-dreamed most of the time in Corporate America, about being somewhere ELSE. So, to make a long story short, a series of fortunate and unfortunate events led me to a casting call, and I booked the lead role for an independent film that I shot with the cast of HBO’s “The Wire”. That was like a toddler’s first taste of candy: ‘No turning back and I dare you to try and take it away from me…’
“…with the film blood, we all smelled like sweaty corn syrup.”
EY: Who are some of the actors/actresses that influenced you and continue to do so?
NV: Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, Kate Hudson, Natalie Portman, Keira Knightly, Halle Berry, and of course my sister, Penny Jerald. All of these artists have INCREDIBLE character range, something that I believe every actor strives for. And a “watchability” factor that soars – once you start watching them, it’s hard (for me, at least) to tear my eyes away from these people.
EY: Tell us about your upcoming movie “The Dark Party,” your role in it, and your interpretation of the tagline “Are you beautiful in the dark.”
NV: This, was actually my second film project. I shot this with Kadeem Hardison back in 2008 and it’s currently having the journey that a lot of independent films experience in “post”. That’s the biz. So until it’s officially released, I suppose it will forever stay at the top of my IMDB page.
But the way I got involved with the project was absolutely amazing. I randomly ran into R&B singer, Jon B, and producer “Richie Rich” in a pizza parlor in New York. I’d traveled up from Baltimore on a bus at 4AM that morning to audition for an Eddie Murphy film. They sparked up a conversation, said they were working on a project, and Richie asked for my headshot. As an actor, you have interactions like that pretty often, and pretty often, nothing really materializes. But lo and behold, about a year later, they contacted me again and basically said “If you want to be in this movie, you need to be in Los Angeles to read for Kadeem… like, YESTERDAY!” So, I hopped on a flight, and I went.
EY: “Quarantine 2: Terminal” was your first horror film. What intrigued you about the script and how did you feel about your character being in such a frightening situation?
NV: I loved Shilah the first time I laid eyes on the audition material. I read the character breakdown and sides, and just said “this is me”. I loved that she was so brave and fearless and willing to take one for the team. I also loved that she was an Army Medic, not your typical role for an African-American female. I appreciated that she was written the way she was, and I really wanted the role, so I spent HOURS on the material. I also loved that she went out in the end, as my friends would say, “like a G”.
And all those zombie-like creatures became like family to me, especially after spending so much time together in a small town. Well, it was all good until lunch time every day. We had an incredible special effects team, and I admit that it was a bit difficult eating and looking at everyone’s open wounds, with guts and eyeballs and such hanging out. Plus it was 104 degrees in a rather stuffy warehouse, so with the film blood, we all smelled like sweaty corn syrup.
EY: What was your initial reaction on appearing in “Single Ladies,” and was there anything particular about the experience that impacted you?
NV: My initial reaction was “Oh, Rob Hardy’s directing me? Sweeeeeet.” He’s amazing to work with. Definitely an “actor’s director”. Lots of positive energy into the wee hours of the morning. That’s important when you’re shooting AM to AM.
EY: You’ve appeared in films, stage productions, commercials, and television series. How important is it to be versatile as an actress?
NV: It’s essential to your career to be versatile. If you do one thing well, all the time, well, that’s great. But as an actor, in TODAY’S market, it would be really difficult to ride that wave with much longevity.
EY: Describe the challenges of taking on different characters.
NV: I live for that challenge. I LOVE getting into the head, mind, heart, and body of a new character. Take Johnny Depp for instance, someone whose career I greatly admire… when you see him, you never say “Oh, that’s just Johnny.” You see Edward Scissor Hands, Jack Sparrow, the Mad Hatter, Sweeny Todd… That’s what I ultimately want, for you to see right through Noree, and into the character. If you see Noree, then I feel like I haven’t done my job. My craft is always a work in progress. I’m working on that. I’m my own worst critic, but not for nothing… I want to always take my audience on a journey, a wild ride. I want my viewers to feel as if they’re living the stories I’ve been charged to tell through my craft.
EY: How do you feel about your accomplishments so far and what motivates you to keep working hard?
NV: I’m just thankful that I’m able to exist and create. I know what it feels like to have your creative energy stifled, so for me, everything on this journey is a blessing – from going to class and working on my chops with other actors, to seeing my work on the big screen – it all still excites me. Even when it gets tough, I’m like “suck it up Noree, you love this.” I go into each project like it’s my first and my last, so I’ll say that even with all that I’ve accomplished, it still hasn’t totally sunken in. I have a lot more that I want to do and experience. And I won’t ever stop working hard, because I love what I do so very much. When I don’t love it anymore, I’ll stop. But I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
“…it requires a MONUMENTAL work ethic, and sacrifices that many people would never imagine.”
EY: Aside from being in entertainment, are there any other talents we aren’t aware of?
NV: A few. lol. I’ve dabbled in a lot. I turned my kitchen into a lab for a couple years and had a pretty lucrative natural hair and skin products business. It went well, but was extremely labor intensive. I did all of my own testing, research, taking orders, packaging, printing labels, delivering, website maintenance, etc. I was basically an organic chemist in my own right. One of my undergrad degrees was in biology, but eventually, my acting career became too time-consuming for me to maintain it. Because I’m so naturally curious, the science of a lot of things come pretty easily. Admittedly, I just haven’t been as interested in anything else but acting, or the arts, to pursue them full time.
EY: What’s next for you?
NV: Pilot season in LA! And lots of training. I believe one should never stop learning and growing. As far as television appearances, you can catch me in the next seasons of The Game and Teen Wolf! I’m also looking forward to more film.
EY: Please leave a message for your fans and maybe a little tip for those trying to get into acting.
NV: Fans are always amazing to me. It can be surreal sometimes, people who love you and support you that have never even met you. I really appreciate that, and I love them right back. It’s like, sometimes you sit back and think, “wow, all these people really like me.” And it’s motivation to keep giving them what they love.
As far as breaking into the industry, it requires a MONUMENTAL work ethic, and sacrifices that many people would never imagine. If this is what you want, make sure you really want it… then fight/train/work like hell to get it, and KEEP it. You can do it!
Visit www.noreevictoria.com for more!