Character Building with Actress Christy Chilton

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Christy Chilton Instagram Sarasota

What is the first movie you ever starred in? A film noir style crime drama, where I played a young detective.  Full of terrible late 90’s CGI and a techno ambient soundtrack to match.

What other movies have you starred in? Love and War, The Truth About Monsters, The Paint Job, Choices and a few others.  

Growing up, what movies or stories inspired your creative passion? I used to get lost in books like Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and until I was older, Disney films were it for me.  

Was there a specific moment that made you start acting and if so what was it?  My first large scale theatre production really solidified my love for acting. The curtain rising, the lights shining in our faces as we lined up and braced ourselves to begin, all with the momentum of our combined, tedious effort in rehearsing up until that moment was a beautiful thing.

For an unknown actor, what is the best way to get an acting role? Find an agency, submit to local castings and auditions, keep practicing your craft- no matter what level of skill you have.  

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome in your journey so far? Being typecast as a blonde after switching my hair from brunette, finding quality projects at times.

How has that impacted the way you have developed? It helped me to build my self awareness, not so much from an actors standpoint, but from a marketability standpoint.

What experiences from your life influences your “acting” in characters?  I’ve drawn from personal experience in every role I’ve portrayed over the last decade.

Can you explain your character development process? First research the characters background. I take even small things such as socioeconomic level and upbringing to mold the character, as that can alter their posture, mannerisms, speaking pattern.  Once you understand their background and where they are coming from, I then focus on what they want or need from the current situation and why. Their driving force and everything that has led them to this moment.

How emotionally involved are you with the characters you play? Since there is very well a part of me in every character I play, I’d say quite involved. You can’t serve a character well if you aren’t emotionally vested on some level.

What is the most important aspect of building a great character? Understanding them and relating to them until you can think and act as they would without the guidance of a script.

Can you talk about the importance of having distinct character voices? Aside from the obvious, accents and dialects from other regions helping to paint the background of the story you’re telling.  Small inflections, manner of breath and speaking can all influence the way in which the character comes across, accent or no accent. These small inflections can assist in conveying what’s currently being felt by the character and the current situation as well as their background, fast talking characters can be slick, nervous, smart. Slower paced dialogue can portray dignity, thoughtfulness, comfort and so on.

During the acting process, do you ever find that your characters start to speak for themselves? Absolutely! This has happened on many different occasions, whether on film or at table readings. As you know your character, the more easily you can slip into them and temporarily become them.

Does following dialogue in script come easily or is it difficult for you? For the most part, it comes easily, it definitely depends on the script and how comfortable I’ve become with the character.  

What do you think is the biggest misconception about being an actress? That it is in any way, shape or form, about vanity. It is truly self expression.  The same as an artist would paint with a paintbrush or a dance would perform a routine, acting is the same, only your body is your tool.

How do you deal with the solitary aspect of preparing as actor for an emotionally challenging role? Emotionally challenging characters can be draining as you delve into them. Ones that portray a lot of vulnerability, hurt, or sadness will literally wear me out physically afterward so I try to stay aware of that beforehand and allow myself the downtime after.  Negatively charged characters (villians) can stick with you too, I’ve found that it’s important for me to meditate and discuss the character a lot after any intense character work as to separate it from my energy after.  

Where do you see yourself (as a actor) five years from now? Teaching drama, acting, writing and directing a bit.

Where can your fans connect with you?

And finally – one surprising (non-acting related!) fact about you…I am a huge computer nerd, always have been and it doesn’t show signs or stopping!

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