With several projects in the pipeline and following the premiere of her latest film The 6th Friend which took place earlier this year, 2019 looks set to be a great and busy year for Chantelle Albers. ThisIsTheLatest caught up with her to talk her admiration of Meryl Streep, her love of comedy and what she hopes to achieve in the years to come.
TITL: As an actress with a rather impressive and growing resume, was there ever a time growing up that you considered taking a different career path or have you always had your heart set on being on screen?
CA: Honestly, I’ve always wanted to act, even as a child, and I did a lot of acting as a kid growing up in theatre. I grew up in northern middle America so there isn’t a big film market there, but there was a theatre scene and I was very active with that. I remember being in the hospital when I was 4 after suffering a head injury where I fell and had an epidural hematoma, and I was watching TV with this strong burning desire to act. I kind of forced my parents to take me to auditions and rehearsals, and after a few years they were on board. I landed my first gig in a singing and dancing group called Kids on Broadway when I was 7 years old. It was my first audition ever and I sang, “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” from the musical Annie. Today my parents are my biggest supporters. Some other interests I have outside of acting is psychology because I think the study of moods, emotion, the brain, perceptions, and different realities to be incredibly fascinating. That also is what drives a lot of the research when studying characters. I also have a strong interest in animal rescue.
TITL: Which actors and actresses most inspire and influence you when it comes to your career and your work? What is it about he/she/them that encourages and motivates you so much?
CA: To me, Meryl Streep is honestly one of the greatest actresses, and what I love about her work is all the details she puts into her characters. She has played so many different characters from A to Z and they all are so meticulously filled with details and fleshed out with depth. Whether it’s an incredible accent in Sophie’s Choice, an elderly Rabbi in Angels in America, a she-devil in The Devil Wears Prada, an aging mother addicted to pain pills in August Osage County, or playing historical characters like Julia Childs. She nails it every time and adds an element of likability to all of her characters. I think it’s something about her as a human being that is really raw and beautiful. She’s an incredible talent with an incredible soul and has so much to share with the world. She is a true gift because she is beautiful from the inside out. Often times when I am researching a character, I think to myself, “What would Streep do?” Because to me she is the best. I love her taste for acting.
TITL: Your most recent film The 6th Friend premiered earlier this year. For those who haven’t seen it yet, can you give me some details as to the story?
CA: Yes, we are very excited about The 6th Friend releasing in Europe this month! Audiences have really loved the film and what they seem to love is all the humor that is in it. The story isn’t humorous because it’s a horror film, but there’s a strong element of comedy mixed in with it and audiences have really loved it. It stars an all-female main cast of six best friends on the night of their college graduation, where they decide to trip acid for the first time. The man, Tyler, who brings the goodies over decides to stay and join in the fun, but something dark and twisted happens. There is an attempted rape and murder, but the girls end up stopping him and killing him before it happens. The girls get a taste of fame from being the murder survivors and their lives are now changed forever. Fast forward five years later where they decide to rekindle their friendship on a weekend vacation to a cabin where the nightmare continues with a surprise at the end.
TITL: What was it like to re-unite with your good friend and former The Demon In The Dark co-star Dominique Swain on the project?
CA: It was great working with Dom, she really added a lot of humor to the movie and had some great ideas on set. During filming it was really great to have her to collaborate with as an actor. She gives you a lot to play with while filming and her eye for comedy is sharp. I always feel there is a lot of humor in horror because comedy and tragedy go together. Dominique was able to add that humor in and add to the humor of Melissa, my character. Our two characters add to the comedic relief of the movie.
TITL: Any fond or favourite memories from your time on set?
CA: I have a musical theatre background and I have always loved Bob Fosse. The FX channel is doing a limited series on Bob Fosse and his life with partner Gwen Verdon, with Sam Rockwell playing Fosse and Michelle Williams playing Gwen Verdon. FX asked me to come in and do a print shoot of some dance shots with Sam and Michelle. That was some of the best times on set, and the photos turned out amazing. They were raw, real, hard, passionate, and had a strong element of theatre life, which I have a deep passion for.
TITL: The film has won awards at several film festivals including the RIP Horror Film Festival, but do you care much for accolades like that or are you more concerned about what your fans and viewers think?
CA: The accolades are great and are certainly appreciated because it gives you validation, and a lot of actors in the beginning of their careers are looking for validation. At the end of the day though, it’s all about what your fans and viewers think and what they enjoy. They are the ones buying, watching, and talking about your film so they are the ones we cater to. If the awards and accolades come that’s great, but the most important thing is that people watch the movie, enjoy it and share it.
TITL: What can you tell me about your latest project Promises?
CA: Well this is the first movie that I sing in and I’m really excited to go into the studio to record the songs. I have a background in musical theatre as a mezzo-soprano and have been wanting to sing in a movie for a long time, so I was really excited to jump on board with it. The story follows my character who is a mother and also a musician with a terminally ill daughter. As the story unfolds, we find out that I am unable to pay for the medical care and we see how far a mother is willing to go to save her child. It’s actually based on true events the happen in Ethiopia.
TITL: Of all the roles and characters you’ve portrayed in your career so far, which one stands out the most and why?
CA: Even though I have a horror film out, I have a deep love and connection to comedy. Comedy is one of my first loves. A character that I played in the last few years, and really enjoyed, was a character from a play that was a west coast premiere called Niagara Falls. I played the character of Linda who is the comedic relief and has a dreamlike quality to her. Meaning that when she comes onstage, you question your own reality and circumstance. She comes with a heightened awareness, has an acute eye for detail, and has an added dose of quirk. I enjoy playing strong funny characters.
TITL: You’ve guest-starred on TV shows including Modern Family and Mob City, but if you could appear in any other series, past or present, which would it be?
CA: I would have loved to work on Arrested Development and Happy Endings. To me, those two shows have some of the best writing in the 21st century so far. There are some other shows from the 90’s like Seinfeld that is also up there, but I have a really strong appreciation for intelligent writing.
TITL: Are there any upcoming projects in the pipeline you can tell me about?
CA: I’m the lead in a really cool film going around the festival circuit right now called The Desert. It’s produced by one of the creators of NBC’s Grimm, Lynn Kouf, and directed by Ben Bigelow. The style of the film is like a 1950’s melodrama, but with an added sci-fi element. It follows my character of Martha, who breaks into her son’s imagination chamber which is used for psychological treatment. After breaking into the imagination chamber, Martha is thrown into a new world, a world of desert where she is reunited with her son. Once back to the real world, we come to find out that Martha has broken open the two worlds wreaking havoc on both.
I just wrapped on a film called Waiting, which is another film that makes the audience question the reality of the movie. The characters are stuck in the room of a restaurant that seems to become more and more claustrophobic, but they are unable to leave. That is until they are allowed to leave but they all must make a bold courageous move before they can get out. It’s sort of representational of purgatory, or the purgatory of our own minds.
TITL: Actors often work long, unsociable hours for lengthy periods of time, so what do you most like to do when you get a day or period of time off? How do you switch off from a particularly stressful role or busy day?
CA: I really enjoy getting massages. It’s healthy and beneficial for you and I think of it as a holistic form of staying healthy. It increases circulation, opens up chi, releases tension, and can help keep you centered and grounded. I also am an avid horseback rider and I have been riding horse since I was about 4 after growing up on a farm. For me being with animals is very comforting, as well as relaxing and healing. I enjoy going for a ride to clear my thoughts, be with my horse, and it’s also quite a work out when you gallop.
TITL: Finally then, looking to the future, what’s the long-term ambition for you, both personally and professionally? What’s left for you to tick off your bucket list and at what point would or will you be able to say “I’ve done all I set out to and more?”
CA: I don’t think I will ever say I’ve done it all, because there is so much to accomplish as an artist and an adult who is always growing. I have a lot of needs that keep getting added to my list of things I want to accomplish and do. With growth, comes more obstacles and more things to accomplish. What I want to continue doing is producing and acting in feature films and TV with scripts that move me. I want to partner with other investors and companies to create films and grow my creative network, but also make ground breaking films. The 6th Friend is a movie that audiences will enjoy and love, but I want to add a lot more genres and characters to my resume. I don’t want to stick with one genre because the artist in me needs to play with all the genres, styles, and characters. I’m an actor and it’s my job to create diversity within my work book of characters.