I was fortunate enough to speak with Troy last week, in which we spoke about breaking into the film business, having the fortitude to stick with it, the harsh realities of 9/11, and the power of making people laugh.
My mom and I went to the theater all the time when I was younger. I was born in New York but I grew up in Tennessee, and we had so much theater readily available to us. One that really sticks out in my mind is when I saw Mary Martin in her comeback tour for Peter Pan. We were sitting in the first row and she literally flew over our heads, and I remember looking up and having this feeling in my stomach and in my heart. I was overcome with emotion and I looked at my mom and said, “I want to do that. I want to be her.”
Sounds like you grew up in a home that supported the arts. How has that influenced you, both then and now?
I don’t think I would have the appreciation for the arts if I weren’t exposed to it at such a young age. I lived in New Jersey and New York for a while and we went to Broadway shows all the time. Those stick with you. And the old movies. I had My Fair Lady on VHS – it was two VHS tapes actually – and I watched that movie over and over until I wore both of those tapes out. And my parents encouraged me. They encouraged me to get up and sing, and do theater. They’ve always been very supportive of my work. I’m really lucky to have that.
I know you’re a great admirer of old movies, particularly those starring Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe…
Growing up, we had a television but we didn’t have cable or anything, so I depended on VHS movies to get my fill. I was probably too young to be watching them [laughs], but Gentleman Prefer Blondes was my favorite. I feel that those movies had a special message. If I was growing up now, and I didn’t have those movies, I’m not sure what I would gravitate toward.
You grew up all over: New York, Tennessee, Florida, all of which are very far from Los Angeles. Was there a conclusive tipping point that made you say, “I’m moving there. Now. Let’s make this thing real.”?
Oh sure. Well, there were two times. When I was 16, I had finished shows in New York and my director came up to me and said, “What are you doing here? Get out to L.A.” So I thought, “Yeah, okay.” I was home schooled for the majority of my life because acting and modeling were so much a part of my growing up. So I had a certain level of flexibility. When my mom and I went to L.A. we took the red eye out and we… actually, we landed in Los Angeles on the morning of September 11, 2001. We had no idea what had just happened. And in fact, the night before, my mom was trying to change our flight reservation to get us on a morning flight. But the tickets were too expensive and we had to take the red eye instead.
Wait, where was your flight leaving from?
Newark Airport in New Jersey.
Yeah, it was incredibly surreal. I have chills right now just talking about it. It’s so sad and so scary. So, of course, everyone’s world was shattered. And it was a very difficult time to come out and make it as an actor in Los Angeles.
A lot of people’s priorities changed within the span of a few minutes.
Exactly. So things were slow. But I auditioned, I did commercials, I did a lot of work for a year. Family obligations brought us back to New York, but I never gave up. I continued to audition, did theater, did Law and Order, whatever I could do. I studied Fine Arts and Theater in college and kept this dream going. And it was still there, I still loved acting. Right after I graduated college, I flew out L.A. and auditioned for a film, Who Killed Allison Parks (also known as InSight), and that’s sort of where it all took off again. And that’s when I made the decision that, “Yep, this is where I want to be.”
|On the set of Who Killed Allison Parks|
2010 was a big year for you. You graduated from college and landed a major part, a title role. What was it like playing Allison Parks in movie called Who Killed Allison Parks?
It was so cool. I couldn’t believe it was all happening. I get on set and they’re like, “Here’s your trailer.” I mean… WHAT?!
But honestly, it was a really great experience. Richard Gabai is a great director and Natalie Zea was a joy to work with. I couldn’t have had a better, first big experience than that. And it was intense. There was one scene, we were shooting at 4 a.m., everyone was tired, it was freezing out, and that was the scene where I got stabbed. So there’s a guy standing over me with a knife, and the director said, “Okay, let’s start, give it all you got.” I screamed so loud everyone just stopped and turned. My mom was on set and she started crying. [Laughs.] So yeah, a lot of intense scenes.
Then you shot Imaginary Friend soon after?
Yeah, six or eight months later. Another Lifetime movie. I got to work with Ethan Embry who is such an intense actor, and Lacey Chabert who is such a sweetheart. It was great to work with actors who grew up in the business, and who I’ve always really admired. And in between I started producing my own work, which still keeps me busy.
You recently told Huffington Post, “When you’re not getting work, you have to make your own work happen.” I love that attitude.
Thanks! I really do believe that.
Is that what prompted you to start your own production company, Cassiopeia Productions?
Yep. It’s a funny story. One of my good friends from college was working on this amazing film called Ever Last. I kept reading drafts of the script, loving where it was going, and he actually cast me in the lead role. A producer dropped out two weeks into pre production and it was such a blow. So I sat down with the writer/director, Chris Dimoulas, and I said, “I’ll produce it.” He said, “Have you ever produced anything?” “No. But let me try.” So that’s how it happened. I threw myself into it, learned as I went, and I’m really happy with our final project. It did really well at festivals and we have a screening in L.A. soon. It’s great to see something you put your heart into be appreciated by others.
You seem to have developed a great working relationship with Lifetime.
I’ve been really lucky. Working with Richard Gabai (director of Who Killed Allison Parks and Imaginary Friend) has been wonderful. We get along really well, and he works with his crew so well. Everyone gets along and does their best work. It’s really nice to see that on a set.
How excited are you for The Good Mother? It sounds really powerful. (The film is a new Lifetime movie that explores Munchausen by proxy syndrome, a disorder in which a parent creates an illness within their child in order to gain attention).
Very excited. I’m thrilled to be a part of it. It’s terrifying that these syndromes really do exist.
|Filming a scene from The Good Mother|
What else are you working on right now?
My next project is a feature called Cinemascope that we’re going to be shooting in September. It’s a comedy, so it’ll be something a little different for me.
Well, if your Twitter feed is any indication, you’re really funny.
One of the most incredible traits is to be able to make someone laugh. Getting joy out of people is really wonderful. Last year, I was fortunate enough to be in Sunshine Boys on stage with Tony Roberts and Richard Benjamin. These are two absolute legends I was so blessed to work with. But after my scene, I got a standing ovation and it was crazy. After the performance, Tony Roberts pulled me aside and said, “Yeah, you kid… you.” That was incredible.
The film business is a tough one. You’re met with a lot of negativity along the way, and I’m curious how you handle those people who say, “No, this isn’t for you, you need to do something else.”
Yeah, you’re going to hear that all your life. You have to have enough confidence in yourself to know that this is something you love, something you’re dedicated to. I can’t find anything else in my life that I want to do. This is it. I love it. Know that it’s not all going to be easy. It’s going to be hard. But if you stick with it, you’re going to be happy with yourself.
All pictures in this post were taken from IMDb. Follow Angeline-Rose Troy on Twitter @AngelineRTroy.