Today, I have the pleasure to be interviewing the actress Amanda Reed, who has appeared in several movies and shorts, such as A Matter of Principal and My Best Roommate, Ticklish and Zits (starring and produced by Karen Black) to name a few. She also plays Brenda, a young woman suffering from alcoholism, in the movie Mother’s Red Dress (Aug. 2011), and has starred in several plays, and musicals, as well as being an acting teacher in California.

Amanda Reed is an excellent actress who is rapidly coming to the forefront of attention of Hollywood producers and directors, and a fan favorite of moviegoers. Thanks, Amanda, to doing this interview with me!

Douglas R. Cobb: Amanda, growing up in California, who were some of your acting inspirations, heroes/heroines from movies who you admired?

Amanda Reed: I grew up watching a lot of different types of movies so I developed a wide range of inspirations: Drew Barrymore, Winona Ryder, Linda Hamilton from Terminator. But I also think just movies in general inspired me. I think that a whole world, people and the world around them could be brought to life was what was inspiring to me the most. Like: Willow, The Goonies, Robin Hood, Fried Green Tomatoes, Big, and Stand By Me, to name a few.

You grew up in a creative family of musicians, sculptors, and painters, right? Did you realize at the time that your family was maybe different from the norm, and did you appreciate it; or, have you maybe done so more in retrospect?

I think I noticed it to the fact that other kids were doing different things than I was (LOL). Like they were playing video games a lot where I was painting, sewing or trapezing (my friend had a trapeze in his backyard!) or playing make believe or writing and things. I was lucky to have a family that really regarded that is important. I think I just saw that I was different haha. I definitely now see how blessed I was.

You got your start in show business at a fairly early age, 14, and appeared in seven full-scale musicals (including Newsies, Chorus Line, Cats, and Grease) over the course of the six years you were a member of the musical theater group, Steppin Out, which you also helped form. This must have been a great experience for you in many ways!

Which musical(s) do you have the fondest memories of appearing in? Do you have any anecdote you might want to relate that might be humorous about some mishap that happened during a performance?

Oh gee. My fondest memory…. I think the one that really touched me the most was doing Cats. I think it was such a different world and so abstract that that helped transport me. We also had an amazing costume and stage designer. He created an amazing world to “live” in.

We once had an actor dance a whole number with his shoes tied together! Which I still don’t know how he did it! Or when giving a massive speech the actress swore on accident or when a tap dancer’s skirt completely fell off in the middle of a tap battle and seeing the actress’ face when breaking a stage vase (they break very easily) broke all over the stage. Just fun stuff haha J

I’ve heard that you got the chance to sing with the late, great James Brown! Could you please tell the readers of What’s New In Book Reviews, Amanda, how that came about, what you sang together, and what it was like meeting James?

Oh that was truly an amazing moment. He was on his “comeback” tour and he was at The Greek Theater in Los Angeles. A select few of us from Steppin Out were asked to sing with him in a new song. He was such an amazing performer and he had so much energy, even at the age he was, and gave it his all, which was a lot! I only met him very briefly but he was so nice and gentle in person but on stage he gave 110%.

You also starred in and directed the musical “Grease,” and were the lead performer and assistant director of the musical theater group, Kids on Stage, when you were 20.

What year was it that you performed with them in the Hollywood Christmas Parade? How would you describe that experience?

I performed in the Hollywood Christmas Parade in 2005 on The Way To Happiness float. It was really fun! It was definitely different (haha)! We sang and danced with songs and waved a lot (which can get really tiring), but I think the best part was seeing how other people, especially kids, reacted to the parade and if they thought you were singing to them they got really excited. I think that was the special part of it.

There’s so much competition landing a job as an actor. Of course, there’s lots of competition in most professions, and it’s often whom you know that unfortunately seems to be more important than your skills at acting or doing whatever job you are good at in any field. Acting is an especially tough profession to get a break in, though, unless you’re just very fortunate.

What were some of the commercials you’ve been in that we might recognize, and/or voice overs?

Commercials are not necessarily my strong suit but I did do a Starbucks commercial haha. It was Christmas themed, but you know I have never seen it!

As I mentioned at the start of this interview, you’ve starred in various shorts and have been one of the stars of the movie Mother’s Red Dress that was just released a few months ago in August. Before I ask you questions about Mother’s Red Dress, could you please tell our readers a little bit about the shorts you’ve been in, and how it was like starring with Karen Black (who was also the producer) in the short Zits?

Matter of Principal was a drama short about a ransom gone bad. It was my first ever job. I learned quite a bit on that one about just how a film set works and how many takes you do of each scene! Then I did Zits with Karen Black. What was great about Karen was she knew exactly what she wanted and was very clear. I think that’s because of her experience in the biz, you know? I had such a small part in that I don’t even know if she would remember me! I then booked My Best Roommate, which is about a roommate gone horribly wrong. I played the roommate out to get the lead, whose name was Amanda, funny enough. That was a great experience as I got to fully emmerse myself into a character that wasn’t just a couple of lines but was in the whole film as well as pretty complex and fun. And it had a female director which was different and edgy.

Mother’s Red Dress (Aug.2011)is your latest movie, right? Unless one’s come out I haven’t yet heard of….You play the role of Brenda, who is, as one film critic said: “…a young woman teetering on the edge of alcoholic self-destruction.” The movie is a tragic love story.

Could you please give my readers an idea what the movie is about?

Sure! The movie is about a young man who has an abusive relationship with his mother. He leaves home to get away from her and the psychosis of the situation. He meets my character Brenda and her best friend, Ashley, whom he falls in love with and wants to start a new life near. But his past still haunts him and he slowly is pulled back to his mother and to the past that he has psychologically and mentally tried to forget, but to no avail.

Who is the “mother” of the title, and what is your relation to either her, Paul(a young man suffering from amnesia), and to others in the movie?

The “Mother” is his mother as she is always remembered and shown, wearing a red dress. My character deals with Paul and Ashley and her relationship to both of them. She highly opposes Paul as she knows something is off with him, and she is quite protective of Ashley. She also is struggling with her past demons and so takes them out on herself, with the drinking but also with Paul as all men to her are no good.

Amanda, one more question, please, to close the interview: Do you have any upcoming projects you’re working on, like plays, movies, or musicals, you’d like to tell my readers about? Also, is there a site(s) where we could learn more about you?

I just finished working on a short film based on the Twilight Zone episode called “The Piano in the House”. That was with Jerry London, the director of the award winning mini-series “Shogun”. And I also did a role in an independent untitled feature film. I am also currently writing a feature length script myself that is called “Censor” A post-apocolyptic Sci Fi story.

One of my other passions is teaching acting and helping others become the best artist they can be. I teach at The Acting Center in Los Angeles. That’s actually where I met Elvis Winterbottom. I was his teacher;) I feel that The Acting Center is truly a unique way of approaching acting. So when I am not acting myself I am there helping others.

To find more about you can go to these sites:

The Amanda Reed Facebook Page
Contact Amanda Reed by Tweeting her
Amanda Reed Facebook Page
Amanda Reed at YouTube
Amanda Reed’s Tumblr Site

My own personal website is currently under construction and will be done soonJ)

Thanks, Amanda Reed, for doing this interview with you! You are truly an amazing talented actor, who I’m sure will be starring in many more movies to come! I wish you much more luck and success in your career, Amanda, and hopefully I will get the chance to interview you again in the future.