Katie O’Grady [Interview]

If you’re anything like I am, you are neurotic and underexposed to the current stream of Hollywood blockbusters and buzz worthy films.  And while this is obviously (but unintentionally) pretentious and absurd, that’s just the way some of us are wired.  Thankfully, we have our ways and means to finding joy in simple, little, and far more artistic films.  And honestly, Netflix has us covered, for the most part.  It was one dreary morning after a long night of work that I settled into a streaming pile of goodness of a film entitled Rid Of Me.  And I haven’t been the same since.
Rid Of Me is one of those sad yet bizarre films that you are surely never to forget.  The story of a woman handed a shit sandwich, and forced to eat it no matter how much she gags.  Not literally, of course, but what our heroine of the film suffers through is actually far worse.  The lovable yet utter disturbed and tormented Meris is the sort of character you just can’t help but feel bad for.  And the main reason for this can only be due to the wonderful performance from one of the today’s finest up and coming actresses and producers known only as Katie O’ Grady.
Katie O’Grady is actually nothing like the character she portrays in Rid Of Me.  She is actually an almost whimsical personality and a generally pleasing person.  She is a force to be reckoned with in the world of independent cinema.  Rid Of Me may be her highlight to date, but it is far from the last time you will be seeing this gem of an actress.  Not too mention she has a reoccurring role on the finest television show out right now, Portlandia.  We were fortunate enough to steal some of Katie’s time to talk about Rid Of Me, and what her future holds.  Check it out!
How did you become acquainted with director James Westby?  Do you work together often?
James and I worked together on The Auteur, a hysterical comedy about a porn director that returns to Portland to make his final epic film. We had so much fun filming my scenes and traveling to promote the film. I had been a fan of his films but after reading Rid Of Me I just knew I had to be part of getting it made. We have since gone on to produce several films, commercials and music videos together.
 How did Alcove Productions come to light?  What made you want to enter the world of film production?
I had been acting in film for a while when I realized  I was tired of waiting around for someone to give me a chance to show what I could do. I really felt like I didn’t have a choice, I had to produce for myself. Rid Of Me had a lead role that was opposite of who I am (in life I am blonde and outgoing, Meris is a brunette wallflower!) and a writer/director I admired. I was really determined to get that part and that included starting my own production company so I could produce it. The director went for it and Alcove Productions was off and running! Best decision I ever made.
How was your experience at the Tribeca Film Festival?  How was the reception of Rid of Me?  Did you happen to rub shoulders with anyone you’ve wanted to meet? 
Tribeca FF was better than we had imagined. For me it was not about rubbing shoulders at all, it was about getting our film seen and sold. The festival was very supportive of RID OF ME and our Producer Reps (Submarine Entertainment) along with our PR firm (42 West) really made the experience a huge learning process. The entire festival rallied to support a film that was shot for under 60k and to me THAT is what independent filmmaking is all about…getting your art out there and getting it seen! I can’t wait to return to that festival, it’s my favorite.
Rid of Me was without a doubt one of the finest films to come out in several years.  It’s been well documented that your role as Meris is almost a polar opposite of yourself.  What was your trick to transforming yourself into such a neurotic character?  Any post traumatic stress ensue? 
Thank you! I really love the film too. Yes, I am absolutely the opposite of Meris, but like her and I certainly know what it feels like to be alone or unaccepted. I despise that feeling. Meris just wants to be liked, she is desperate to get her voice heard. Approaching her was an outside in process, I first died my hair brown and changed my body language, lowered my eyes, and that shifted my inner experience with self and drew me inward immediately. I liked being quiet and observing others. I liked investigating how to disappear in a room, it was easier for me to maintain energy by giving less to others. Meris loves people…she just has no idea how to relate to them.

Regarding post traumatic stress…this is a great question! I am laughing to myself as I consider this. I recently produced a documentary about kids and teens that are bullied in the school system, there is no question that my experience playing Meris informed my passion for this new project. So far the biggest aftershock I have felt from the role is when I watch myself smear menstrual blood on another woman’s face…that gives me nightmares! Who does that?

You definitely have a prominent stance in the Portland Ore acting world.  What is your opinion of the current independent filmmakers community in Portland?  Is there a potential for growth?
The film community is thriving in Portland! I am so proud to be a part of such an up and coming city of brave artists. When someone says they are going to make a film here, they mean it. Work gets done and that speaks volumes. We also have several TV shows shooting here. Producers are figuring out that we have locations for every type of genre and a town of solid crew and actors.  It’s an amazing time to be making film. With the film incentive programs we expect to see a lot more growth of both local and studio work. I work in LA and NY but I gotta say…I love my city! Nothing beats booking work here.
You run acting classes for teens and kids.  How do you enjoy sharing your wisdom?  Is it rewarding?  If so, how?
Those kids run me…dont’ be fooled. I learn more from working with kids and teens than I could ever teach. We get serious in those classes, it’s a support for young artists that don’t fit in in the school system or with friends. So many young artists struggle, this is a class where they can gather and thrive in being THEMSELVES! When I am not on set, being in class is the next best place.
Rumor has it you will be appearing in a film with Justin Bartha and the legendary Cloris Leachman.  Can you tell us a bit about it?  
Those are the rumors I have heard as well. I am attached to Stereotypically You, a hysterical comedy about finding love.  I am really looking forward to seeing how it all comes together. We will be shooting in NY, my home away from home!
 
What else can we expect to see from you and Alcove Productions in the future? 
 

Currently I am working on I Was There, an amazing film about a fire fighter struggling after 9/11. We have been shooting in Brooklyn and NYC, it has been a powerful experience.  I just got off the set of Grimm (NBC) and am also a cast member on Portlandia (IFC-shooting it’s 3rd season), my favorite show!  I love working with Fred Armisen (SNL), he has inspired me to make my own way. Maybe someday I will look into getting a big fancy agent and seeing what more I can come up with but for now It has been an exciting ride.


Alcove Productions released RID OF ME in theaters and now OnDemand, Itunes and Showtime. We are making the soundtrack available as well as the DVD. We have a short film HOT IN THE ZIPPER (a 1940’s comedy about 3 women living in NY) on the festival circuit and a documentary/narrative film about kids and teens who are bullied, Bully’d: The Reality Of Survival, in post. James Westby, Raija Talus and I are also co-producing a 1970’s horror film, The Woodcutter. Much to come and several scripts in development. It’s going to be an exciting year!
What was the last thing that made you smile?
I am going to go all out right now, full disclosure…My new beau KILLS me with the funny. He gets me laughing so hard I can’t breathe. Laughter is where it’s at.
Stay in touch with Katie at her very own Website.
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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

One Response to Katie O’Grady [Interview]

  1. Pingback: Two Years of Trainwreck’d [Exclusive!] | Train Wreck'd Society

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