An Interview with Theresa Meeker – By Matthew Saliba

Actresses are a dime a dozen with very few of them having the chops and Old Hollywood flavor to truly catapult them into the mainstream or at least into our mind’s eye, long after we’ve seen them perform. Thankfully, that is not the case with Theresa Meeker. The gorgeous starlet of "Look," the award-winning avant-garde short film by Ryan Pickett (reviewed last month) was very generous to take some time out of her busy schedule to sit down and answer a few questions about her role in the film as well as her outlook on acting in general.

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MS: Let’s start out by having you tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be an actress.

TM: While I was growing up I loved reading and writing. Some of my favorite books, such as "Harriet the Spy" and "Matilda," which I read dozens of times, were turned into movies. I thought that I could have played the protagonist better because I knew the character so well. I’ve been acting my whole life. My family, including my aunt who was a make-up artist for movies and network television, really encouraged me to pursue acting. I started out modeling. Immediately I wanted to move to New York and get some acting training as well as meet some filmmaking professionals. I traveled to Los Angeles to audition and there I realized that my closest network of filmmakers was actually in Nashville, TN. Even though Nashville doesn’t have a big film industry, there are plenty of aspiring filmmakers who fall back on being music video directing to make a living.

MS: Who are some of your favorite actors and how have they influenced your work?

TM: While examining Keira Knightley’s "Coco Mademoiselle" commercial was inspirational for my role in "Look," I often examine Rachel Weisz, Emma Watson, Anouk Aimée and Parker Posey to see how natural they are on camera.

MS: What does acting mean to you and what goals do you hope to achieve through your work?

TM: Acting means to me that I reveal my heart and soul in front of other people while I do the most mundane things as well as things I typically wouldn’t want them to see. I hope my acting shows people that they can pause and examine the small beautiful things in life.

MS: How did you come to be involved with "Look?"

TM: I came to be involved with "Look" shortly after Ryan was chosen as a top five finalist in the Race to Be film entrepreneurship competition hosted by media mogul Russell Simmons at Sony Pictures Studios in Los Angeles. I knew Ryan was going places with his film career, which was important to me because I had just studied at Michael Howard Studios as well as Larry Singer Studios with some pretty talented instructors. I wanted to be in a film that would take my career to the next level. I started talking about my goals with Ryan, while he was excited to develop a film that could showcase my abilities.

MS: Considering Director Ryan Pickett is your husband, you’re obviously more privy to information that we, the audience are not, but if you could put yourself in our shoes for a moment, imagine you’ve just seen "Look," how would you describe what you’ve just seen?

TM: If I were describing "Look" from the point of view of the audience, I would say that it is a dream-inspired short film that examines the vivid and extravagant imagination of a barmaid while it utilizes beautiful visuals and a harmonious score. There’s really only one main bit of dialogue when Emma (Starina Johnson) says, “Beauty exists in the mind that contemplates it. It’s in the blink of an eye we find it and in the blink of an eye we lose it.” Anyone could relate to that line, including those going through a break up, insecure teens and unrequited lovers as well as new parents. I’m a new mom to a 17-month-old girl. In the blink of an eye the most beautiful thing I have in my life, my daughter is developing while if I close my eyes too long she’ll be heading off to college. I’ve really enjoyed being privy to information about "Look" while Ryan really left its meaning up to interpretation. There are so many different ways that people could think about "Look" without being wrong in their analysis of it.

MS: Who is your character and what is her relation to the story?

TM: My character is confident in her appearance, while everyone is in awe of her beauty. The objective my character has is to get everyone to admire her while she doesn’t have to work very hard for their admiration.

MS: Describe the actor/director dynamic between you and Ryan on set. 

TM: While Ryan was wonderful to work with, he communicated very clearly to all of the actors. I knew I was really comfortable with Ryan being behind the camera already, which made me really excited to be there. I enjoyed seeing Ryan so calm and collected, while sometimes other directors have seemed scattered on set.

MS: You’re also credited as an "associate producer" on "Look." What responsibilities did you have on set and did they come in conflict with those you had as an actress?

TM: I was credited as an associate producer on "Look" because I secured a location when the original location that Ryan wanted was unavailable. My responsibilities as an associate producer didn’t conflict with those I had as an actress. I had previously seen this beautiful urban photo studio where I badly wanted to do a photo shoot, although I was too poor to get a professional photographer to take my pictures there. When the crew and cast began arriving we found all this plastic laying around because there had been construction going on there all week. Ryan and I loved the location because of the view overlooking Nashville, which we couldn’t see with all the construction. One of the main windows was boarded up and covered with plastic. Luckily Ryan was able to make the set work for "Look," while he actually got a discount on the location for the mess.

MS: How do you go about preparing for any given role you receive?

TM: I typically go about preparing for any given role I receive by examining the context and by analyzing my objective. I like to know how my role fits into the entire story as well as what my character is trying to achieve.

MS: Do you have any hard limits as an actress? That is to say, is there any kind of role or situation that you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing?

TM: Sure, there’s plenty roles and situations that I wouldn’t be comfortable doing. I’m studying to be an elementary education teacher at Vanderbilt University Peabody College, which is the number one school for education. So I want my next project to be very family friendly. Plus, I’m a mom and wife now so I’d really want to do something that would make my family proud.

MS: Do you have any new projects in the pipeline?

TM: I recently won about $1100 worth of filmmaking software from a Student Filmmakers raffle. So who knows, maybe I’ll start writing something.

MS: If someone wanted to get in touch with you regarding a project, how would they go about doing that?

TM: The best way to get in contact me would be twitter.com/theresa_pickett or through ryanpickettproductions.com.