Creative Conversation with Actor Allie Costa
Welcome to Creative Conversations. Lean in close and eavesdrop in on our exploration of the creative process. Add your comments, too. We’d love to hear from you. Today I’m thrilled to be talking with Allie Costa about the acting profession.
I’ve known Allie since our readergirlz days. Allie is a Los Angeles-based actor, writer, director, and singer working in film, TV, theatre, and voiceover. Highlights include roles in Spring Awakening, 90210, Hamlet, Alien vs. Musical, and You Me & Her. Allie has also lent her voice to video games, appeared in commercials, and narrated audio books.
When not performing the works of others, she’s writing her own. Her original screenplays and stage plays have been seen all over the world. Her critically-acclaimed play TWO GIRLS was a finalist for the Heideman Award, and WHAT SHE SAID, a dark comedy she co-wrote, had its world premiere at the Marietta International Film Festival.
She always has energy to burn and a song to sing. Occasionally, she sleeps. Check out her phenomenal resume
Janet: I just popped open a can of grapefruit sparkling water. Ready to begin. How are things with you today, Allie?
Allie: I’m doing well, thank you! How are you?
Janet: Enjoying summer. Working on another YA Fantasy. Dragon fire easy to imagine in the heat. I’m excited to hear you share about the acting life.
Allie: There’s nothing I love more than being on set or on stage. Performing makes me really happy. I always say, do what you love, love what you do. Acting allows you to experience things you may or may not have gone through in your own life. It can be cathartic and therapeutic. Acting can be challenging, gratifying, energizing, and fun. It creates compassion and connection in so many different ways. I love working on a dramatic film one day and a musical comedy the next. I work in a range of genres in various mediums – film, television, theatre, commercials, voiceover, audio books – and I find joy in all of them.
Janet: The secret is out. Living the challenge of the creative life, in whatever way we’re called to do it, is joyful. I feel that way about writing novels, though there’s a lot of ups and downs at all stages of writing/revision. There’s also a certain amount of dealing with rejection. What do you do when you try out for a part and don’t get it?
Allie: Just getting an audition is something to celebrate. You know you aren’t always going to get the role – only one person will get the part, and sometimes that’s you, and sometimes, it isn’t – but when you have an audition, the role is yours for the time that you’re in the room. So, you make it yours, you do your best, and then you exit the audition room and let it go. I appreciate every opportunity to perform, and I learn something from every audition.
Here’s a great quote from Bonnie Gillespie’s book Self-Management for Actors: “If the role is not yours, there is nothing you could do that would make it yours. If the role is yours, there is nothing that can keep you from it.”
Janet. I love what I learn from artists in different professions. This piece of advice is one I’ll take with me.
Janet: I found these cool clips and thought Dreamwalkers would like to see you in action, Allie. Can you tell me more about them?
Allie: That video includes clips from my roles as a nerdy girl on the TV series 90210, a sardonic shopgirl in the film Goldfish Love, a surprisingly friendly Goth girl in the series Danger Jane, and a feisty party crasher in the film FUY2K.
Janet: I particularly liked the sardonic shopgirl in Goldfish Love. How did you get into her character?
Allie: Thanks! She was fun to play. Did you watch the TV series Parks and Rec?
Janet: Yes 🙂
Allie: In the casting call for Goldfish Love, the character was described as an Aubrey Plaza type – along with other recognizable comedic actors, but Aubrey’s name jumped out at me immediately, because I play sarcastic, “over it” characters like April Ludgate just as often as I play optimistic and earnest characters. So, at the audition and the subsequent callback, I played the character dry and droll, and I booked it!
As Justina, the Goth waitress who brings the Aeneid to life in a run-down pizzeria, in the film Pizza With Aeneas.
As the personification of Twitter in the musical #Brad4Laura. World premiere.
Writing can have similar demands, particularly when I’m facing an emotional scene. I light a candle, sometimes I dance before I begin to write, or if it’s a fight scene, I act it out, punch the air until I feel the anger. What do you do to prepare for a role?
Allie: I read the script first and figure out what I need to do from there. If a role requires a specific accent or skill, I devote additional time to that. I memorize lines fairly quickly, simply by repeating them over and over again. Sometimes, I create playlists for certain characters and projects. Music is VERY important to me – We could have another entire conversation about that!
Janet: I’d love to, Allie. I know authors who create playlists for their characters as well, Justina Chen and HollyCupala to name a few. I sometimes have a theme song for a novel, The Long and Winding Road for Wenny Has Wings or Bonny Portmore, from Loreena McKennitt’s The Visit for The Dragons of Noor that so deftly caught the emotion for the loss of the ancient forests.
I’m listening to the sound of crashing waves for what I’m working on now. What are you working on now?
Allie: I just wrapped a film about a school shooting called ALLY 16 ALMOST 17. In July, I wrapped a horror film entitled FORAGED, where I played a confident, ruthless leader named Capucine. We shot on location in Big Bear, California. Nothing like night shoots in the woods!
Allie: 🙂 I also recently filmed some comedies. I played a college-bound overachiever in I-SCREAM and an opinionated protestor in THE ELEVATOR. I filmed I-SCREAM less than 24 hours after we wrapped FORAGED. Funnily enough, I only had to scream in the comedy!
I recorded a number of tracks for ANGELS OF THE SOUTHERN ACCENTS, a new musical about the life of Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone with the Wind. I played Margaret Mitchell.
I’m currently in rehearsal for a reading of a new musical OUTSIDE THE LINES. Writing-wise, I’m knee-deep in three screenplays – two full-length features and a TV pilot – plus additional scripts for subsequent episodes of the series.
Janet: This makes the “Occasionally, she sleeps” in your bio startlingly clear. Where do you get your creative energy?
Allie: I have a lot of energy. I think I’m both solar and lunar powered. I’m motivated by curiosity,
honesty, and joy.
Janet: Curiosity, honesty, and joy are clean-burning fuel. One last thing before we close. What advice would you give to actors who are just starting out?
Allie: Believe in yourself. Stay positive. If you want to see more, I shared a bunch of encouraging ideas in How to Be Yourself While Pretending to Be Someone Else
Janet: Thanks for this inside view of the actor’s life, Allie. Let’s talk again soon.