With a considerably impressive and varied resume of work to her name, Jamie Bernadette really loves what she does and that passion comes across in every project she takes on. Her latest film The Furnace, out on October 15th, will strike a chord with anyone who has experienced a loss in their life and ahead of its release later this month, Jamie spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about how she prepared for such a demanding, emotional role, her upcoming projects and her advice for aspiring actors and actresses.
TITL: You’ve been a part of the industry now for well over a decade, but was there any point in your younger years when you considered taking a different career path, or has it always been about acting for you?
Jamie Bernadette: I grew up in a small town where the thing that most everyone did was get a 9-5 job and get married and have children. So, this definitely impacted me quite a bit and I found myself very confused about what I wanted to do with my life. I was about to get engaged and told the man I was dating not to buy the ring and left for Los Angeles four days later. So I was just about to enter into that life that most everyone in my town lived. I thought about being a dental hygienist, an airline stewardess, an editor at a publishing company. But, it was that day when my boyfriend and I drove back from the jewelry store where he almost bought that engagement ring that it all became very clear to me. I sat in his truck and thought that I would rather die than live this life. And that’s when I knew that something was very wrong about what I was doing. I have never regretted the choice that I made – leaving that all behind to act. He and I remain really good friends to this day.
TITL: Can you remember the first thing you auditioned for?
JB: I am not really sure but it may have been a silent student film at The New York Film Academy which I booked.
TITL: How do you find the audition process? Would you say you still feel nervous when making tapes and applying for roles?
JB: I used to be very nervous when I first started auditioning. Now I really sometimes only feel my nerves when it is for something that is very, very big like a series regular role on a TV show.
TITL: Your latest project The Furnace, is out this month. What is it about the premise/story of this film that drew you to the project and how does it differ from the many other works you’ve been a part of?
JB: This is the first faith-based drama that I have ever done. I loved that it was inspirational and does mention God but it doesn’t shove the concept down your throat. It is so well-written in such a way that all people can relate to the story, whether they believe in God or not. I also loved that it was a survival film, which is one of my favorite sub-genres. I love stories about people who are struggling to survive in nature.
TITL: What preparations did you make for taking on such an emotionally demanding role?
JB: The preparation for emotionally demanding roles is life-long. I pull from my life experiences a lot of times to pull out that emotion when I’m acting. Regarding the physical aspect of this role, I did a lot of research about those who live with only one working lung and also looked into ultra-marathons and studied up on those. I normally run and work out but I began running longer distances when I booked this role to prepare myself for it.
TITL: How did you find working with Oscar nominated director Darrell Roodt on the film? Was there much collaboration between the two of you?
JB: Darrell is kind, warm, funny, down-to-earth, honest, and truthful. He is truly one of my most favorite people in the world. He is a very giving director and he really pays attention to the acting. He also is very energetic and enthusiastic. He really knows how to lead the crew. Darrell knows exactly what he wants and has a clear vision. He knows when he has the shot he wants and moves on rather than doing take after take unnecessarily. Darrell was definitely open to collaboration and listened to my ideas.
TITL: Do you have any particular standout memories or moments from the shoot?
JB: Oh, there are so many. Shooting in this film was one of the best experiences of my life. I remember when we shot the end of the film, a lot of the crew were crying their eyes out and standing up and applauding as well. There were a lot of emotional days like that on this set. I think the film touches anyone who has experienced any type of heavy loss in their life, which is most people.
TITL: If you had to sell this film to an audience in a few words – give them one reason to go and see it – what would you say?
JB: If you have ever suffered from any type of heartache in your life and felt that it was difficult to go on, see this film.
TITL: You’ve got several projects in the pipeline for the coming year or so, is there anything you can share about a couple of them?
JB: I’m attached to about nineteen films as an actress and I am also producing three feature films that I haven’t announced or spoken of publicly. One is a true story, a military drama. The second one is an abuse story. The third is a psychological horror.
TITL: The life of an actor/actress can be extremely demanding, so what do you do to unwind after a hectic period of filming?
JB: Sleep, sit in the sun with my dog, and eat popcorn if I am at home. Sometimes I take a trip, usually to tropical destinations. Travelling and photography are two of my hobbies.
TITL: What advice would you give for actors and actresses just starting out? Have you ever been given a piece of advice that you still reflect on, and which three traits might you say someone needs to make it in such a cut-throat and demanding business?
JB: Don’t believe the negativity that you hear and do not make that your reality. Do not go into agreement with it. This is very, very important. You create your own reality. I had a seasoned actress, Alisha Seaton, tell me early on in my career that there is a fine line between over-acting and under-acting and that you have to find that fine line in between those two. I still think about that one and believe it is true. The three traits someone needs to make it in this business are hard-working, persistent, and brave. And I do want to make a comment about kindness. Kindness goes a long way. No one likes a diva.
TITL: Finally then, with a decade + in the industry behind you already, what would you like to see happen for you in the next ten years? What goals and ambitions do you want to achieve and, many years from now, what would you most like people to say when looking back on your work and what you brought to the entertainment world?
JB: I would like to be a series regular on a TV show and book work at that level and on the level of big films on a regular basis. I would love if I am able to give performances that move people and tell stories that change people’s lives. I also want to have several poetry books released in the next ten years.
Check out the trailer for The Furnace below and to keep up to date with Jamie, you can follow her on Twitter.