Rhoda Jordan landed her first
feature film role in Brad Sykes 'Death Factory' thanks to her ability to
scream. Having just seen the movie, I can now testify that this girl can
scream. Talented vocal chords, and huge lung capacity aside, Rhoda is
also a fine actress who always brings something special to the movies she
stars in. A bright, articulate and creative woman, Rhoda is definitely
one to watch, as I have a feeling she'll be one of those actresses that we
will remember for getting her start in the horror genre, as she moves her
way up the Hollywood ladder.
When did you first begin to
lean towards acting as a profession?
It was immediately after college. I spent a couple weeks at the Cannes
Film Festival, before moving to Los Angeles, and it was quite an
adventure. People from all over the world with these films. All the
diversity, all the culture, and the hopes for success. It was really a
great introduction to the industry, after getting out of school and
wondering where exactly I was going to start. I felt like, wow, okay,
this is possible. So after Cannes, I moved to Los Angeles and started
building a body of work that has been evolving over the last few years.
Did you do any formal
I trained extensively while I was in Boston. I had acting training in
college, but I also went outside of the school for new perspectives. I
had major breakthroughs with movement-based training, which I worked on
with Erika Batdorf, who is amazing in every way.
The thing is, though, when I moved to Los Angeles, I never really found anyone I stuck with. I was always in and out of different classes. Scene
study, cold reading, Meisner, Alexander technique...I learned a great
deal, but I've never really connected with any of the teachers completely.
I recently started feeling the lack of theater in my life. I mean, you get sucked into the film world, and there's no time to even think of
theater. But I think it's so important. Theater will keep your instincts
as sharp as anything. It will transport you in ways that film can fail to
sometimes. So I think, for me anyway, that it's necessary. It's good for
the soul. So, after not doing theater for the past 4 years, I recently
joined this great theater group, run by Elizabeth Huffman, who is this
fabulous actress/stage director. And I have to say that it's really
keeping my instincts fresh and available. There's nothing like that
How did you make the
transition into feature films?
I did everything, let me tell you. I tried to get every audition I could,
and in the beginning, it was a lot of short films. But then I started
auditioning for features, and eventually, things clicked with Death
Factory. Getting the part just sort of fell into place. All it took was
the most bone-chilling, spine-tingling scream I could muster, and I was
booked. Well, it was that, and of course, I had to read through a scene,
but let's face it: When you're doing a horror movie, and you can't scream
and show some convincing fear, you're not getting the part, no matter how
well your reading goes!
But yeah, the experience on my first feature was definitely something
else. I was doing a show onstage at the time, so it was definitely an
exhausting period, running back and forth between gigs. Brad (Sykes)
likes to shoot everything almost in order, and that was actually a plus.
You could always keep track of your character easily. Not that there's
much to keep track of, because it is just a simple horror movie, of
course! But it was definitely nice to know where your character was at all
times. And the fun part is, when your character dies, you're wrapped, and
there's really no greater way to get wrapped onset other than after a
How did you enjoy working with
Tiffany Shepis and Brad Sykes?
They were great to work with. Both of them. I was new to the horror
world at this point, so when I got the part, I wasn't familiar with their
bodies of work, I'm ashamed to say! So I had to get on the Internet and go
to Blockbuster and do my homework, before we started shooting. I like to
know as much as I can about the careers of who I work with beforehand, if
it's possible. It just orients me. It's good to know who you're working
with. But yeah, Tiffany was really great--very perceptive and instinctual
and real. And Brad made my first feature film experience feel like a
breeze, which helps when you're just starting out!
"The tone is always set at the top".
You also starred in the short
films 'Revenge' and 'The Birthday Party'. How did you become involved
with the projects, and did you enjoy working on them?
I got involved working with the director, Lincoln Kupchak, through a
friend of a friend, early on. Both Revenge and The Birthday Party are
short horror films. I did enjoy working on them. Lincoln has a really
sincere appreciation for the horror genre that is apparent in all his
projects, which is what makes these things so much fun to work on. The
tone is always set at the top. So if your director or producer is really
feeling the movie and is just thrilled to be there, working on it, then
you're going to have the rare opportunity of working on a great set.
You are probably best known to
horror fans for your role as Christina in 'Aquanoids'. How did you land
the part and what was the shoot like?
Well, I auditioned for the director, Ray Peschke, and it became apparent
that he wanted me for the role instantly. We had meetings and talked
about the script and my ideas for the character a little more, before it
was decided that I would be the right fit. And I was just thrilled. I
mean, off the bat, I really liked Ray a lot and was just eager to work
with him. He's a passionate, strong, thoughtful person, and he really did
make me feel like I was consistently in my zone onset. He just really
knows how to work with actors, which made the shoot a great experience for
You seemed to get on well with
Laura Nativo, what was she like to work with?
Yes, actually, it's funny you mention that, but from the moment we met, we
clicked completely. Everybody onset thought that we had been best friends
and known each other a long time, which was really weird, considering we
just met two seconds ago. But we really hit it off. In fact, she was a
bridesmaid at my wedding last year!
Laura is just a really great, hard-working actress. We
had the best time working together. We looked out for each other, pushed
each other. Without her, the experience would not have been half of what
it was for me.
Aquanoids was quite unusual,
as you and Laura's characters were strong females as opposed to screaming
girlie girls. Did that aspect of the character appeal to
Oh, completely. I really did like the character of Christina and all the
things that Ray and I had discussed about doing with her beforehand. He
really wanted her to be strong and extroverted. That was important in
nailing this character's spirit. And I felt up to the task. I was a bit
surprised that Ray had so much vision for each of the characters, and I
wanted to live up to that vision of Christina and make it my own.
What are your thoughts on the
exploitation of women in low budget horror movies?
A lot of the actresses that I've worked with on these horror movies have
been really bright, strong females. They all know what they want, and
they've all been working hard to get to the point that they're at. These
movies definitely lean on female nudity in order to make sales. A low
budget horror film without the nudity probably wouldn't get distributed.
It's too bad that it has to be that way, but that's how this channel of
straight-to-video films work. And personally, I believe that the women
are in control in these situations. An actress can decide for herself
whether or not she is okay with taking a role, and once she's onset, the
important thing is that the actress is comfortable at all times and makes
the decision as to what her boundaries are beforehand. As long as your
director and producer respect that, there shouldn't be a problem. No one
should feel exploited. No one working as an actress should ever feel that
way on a set. I've done nudity a couple times, and it's been something I
haven't had a problem with.
You work constantly, moving
between short films, low budget horror movies, and big budget features.
Which do you enjoy the most?
I definitely enjoy working on features most. Coming off of a supporting
or lead role in a feature is extremely gratifying. To put a few weeks of
your time totally committed to something is my ideal situation, 14-hour
work days and all. I haven't been doing many shorts lately, but if
something about the character spoke to me, I would definitely not let it
pass me by.
"That's what it's all about for me.
Pushing myself to the limit".
Would you like to continue on
as you are, or do you hope to leave behind
shorts and indie films in order to work on theatrical features?
I'm definitely trying to move toward more theatrical features in my work.
Last year, Never Die Alone, starring rapper/actor DMX and actor David
Arquette, hit theaters. I had a small role in that, which was a great
experience to work on. And so lately, I have been a little pickier about
the projects I take on, only because I'm aiming toward the next level.
I'm constantly looking for new ways to grow and challenge myself as an
actress. That's what it's all about for me. Pushing myself to the limit.
And so I am more than ready to explore that on a whole other avenue, which
is big-budget films.
Although you have worked in
many different genres across many different mediums, you keep coming back
to horror. Are you a big fan of the genre?
I have been a fan of the genre, more and more lately. But when I started
out, the horror film world just sort of happened for me, so I took it and
ran with it. It was very new in the beginning, and I didn't realize how
big of a following these kinds of movies had. Once that was all clear to
me, I thought, wow, this is what I'm a part of. And I embraced it.
What are some of your
favourite horror movies?
I'm a big fan of Zombie movies. Put any Zombie movie on, and I'll be
glued to the screen. My recent favourites were 28 Days Later and the Dawn
of the Dead remake.
Can you tell us about The
Mummy's Kiss? It isn't out here in the UK yet.
The Mummy's Kiss was really a bizarre experience for me. Honestly, I did
enjoy working with the director, Donald Glut, who's a really nice guy.
But when I was cast in the film and I picked up the script, I knew there
wasn't going to be much substance to it. It's one of those erotic horror
movies. I had maybe about six or seven lines in it. And I always say
that Death Factory was my first feature, because I had a large role in it,
but The Mummy's Kiss was actually the first feature length film that I
ever shot. It's just that my role was so tiny in it. I believe I only
worked a day on it. In the beginning, I have to say, I was a bit
reluctant to take the role, because of the subject matter. I knew there
were a lot of erotic elements to it from reading the script, and I
grappled with the value of it. You know, would this really do anything
for my career? And in the end, I decided to go ahead and take the role,
because I did want to work with Don, and I thought, why not?? And it ended
up being a lot of fun to shoot. It really was a sneak peak into the
feature film world for me, even though it was such a small film.
Finally, what's next in the
pipeline for you?
Next in the pipeline is this amazing Sci-Fi script that I am developing
with my husband, Horror Sci-Fi author Eric Shapiro (It's Only Temporary).
We are looking to shoot that within the next year, and this is basically
my passion project, so I will be putting everything into this. I'll be
producing for the first time, which is an exciting path to take. I just
figure, you know, we have to make our own opportunities. Not only here in
Hollywood, but in any field. That's the beauty of things. We can take
things to extraordinary heights, if it's in our will to do so. And so all
my focus and energy is going to be directed toward pushing myself onto
this new frontier.
You can watch Rhoda in 'Revenge' at
http://www.riversofbloodproductions.com/revenge.htm and 'The Birthday
Party' at http://www.riversofbloodproductions.com/party.htm and be sure to
visit her official site at www.rhodajordan.com
"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."