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Rhoda Jordan

Rhoda: "I never really found anyone
I stuck with".

Conducted by Phil Davies Brown
June 24th, 2005

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 training?
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 feeling.

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 death scene.

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!

Rhoda: "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 me.

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 you?
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.

Rhoda: "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 Rhoda.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."

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