Close-up: An Interview with Kelly Pantaleoni

Prestridge² caught up with actress Kelly Pantaleoni to talk travelling, Virtual Reality and her favourite films of 2017.

Q: I understand you recently returned from some travelling in Asia. Can you tell us about that experience?

A: IT was a life changing experience. I had recently lost my best friend Lindsay M. Hawley to suicide and was feeling pretty down myself so I needed to get away and reset.

Half of it was a volunteering trip through Lindsay’s non-profit GiveBackpackers.org to continue her legacy. The rest was an eat, pray and love kind of deal.

I discovered so much about myself and the world, going to places I could never have imagined. The people you meet when you are backpacking have a way of opening your eyes to new ways of thinking and I feel like the whole experience saved my life. I wish I could do it all over again.

Q: At what point in your life did you decide you wanted to pursue acting? Did you have any role models or performers you aspired to?

A: EVER since I was a kid growing up on a farm, I had a wild imagination and would orchestrate these worlds of my own. I would watch movies and think I wanted to be part of them. But I thought I wanted to be a director at first because I like to be in control.

Then I realized I wanted to be all of the different characters inside those worlds. I loved – and still do – Nicole Kidman for her presence and grace and Charlize Theron for her strong female portrayals and fierce advocacy for animal and human rights.

Q: Out of all the characters you have played, do you have a favourite? If so, why?

A: I STILL really love Catherine in Artful Gambit. She was troubled but had a brilliant mind underneath it all, outsmarting all the people who thought they were playing her. She was clever, calculating and strong. Characteristics you do not get to find often in young female roles.

Q: You have directed two short films. How did you find those experiences and do you plan on doing more work behind the camera?

A: IT is so great to be in control of what you are shooting because as an actress you never are. It is a fun, creative process to write stories and see them come to life and communicate something powerful that was once just bouncing around in your head.

I would definitely love to do more of that and I am currently working on my first feature script.

Q: With the current turmoil in Hollywood, how important is it for more females to be in positions of power? Do you feel the culture will start to change?

A: IT is unfortunate that it had to come to such a bad place before people started to realize what was going on.

Things are changing for the better because of it though. It is crucial now more than ever that women rise to positions of power so future actresses do not have to go through the pain and emotional trauma so many of us have.

It is cruel to threaten and bait women, demanding sex in exchange for roles and it has been happening for far too long.

Women are worth more than their sexuality. That needs to be addressed through the media and men have done a pretty awful job of representing us so far. So we need to do it for ourselves.

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Q: Can you talk about the work you have done with Virtual Reality – and your passion for it?

A: I AM a bit of a nerd and when I first saw Virtual Reality I knew I had to be part of it.

So I went to all the conventions, panels, conferences and meetings about it. I co-founded a company and shot a suicide awareness short film called STOP – along with numerous shows for artists around the country. It is a fun new platform to tell stories in the most immersive, intimate way, and it breaks the boundaries of traditional media. I think it is going to go far.

Q: Director Alejandro González Iñárritu had a VR experience at this year’s Cannes. Do you see it as the future of storytelling? How will it change the industry?

A: I SEE it as another way to tell stories, just like television is to movies. Books are not going anywhere, just like music. Humanity is always looking for new ways to tell our stories, inspire people and this is just another form.

It will make people feel more connected to the content so I think it could be a really useful way to raise awareness and help people. So hopefully it will only be positive change as long as it does not backfire and people start becoming more disconnected to reality then we are already.

Q: You were recently at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Are there any films we should look out for? Coming to the end of the year, do you have any favourite films of 2017?

A: IT was a great festival showcasing some raw Canadian talent. I loved Entanglement by Jason James and Hollow in the Land by Scooter Corkle.

Also, Never Steady Never Still by Kathleen Hepburn (who cleaned up with awards at VIFF) and Gregoire by Cody Brown.

My favourite movie of 2017 was definitely Wonder Woman. I saw it in Kathmandu while I was backpacking through Nepal and it re-inspired my love for film. It was just so awesome to see a strong woman taking charge and kicking ass like that. That is when I knew I was ready to come back to America.

Q: Can you tell us about the recent work you have done with the Peruvian Hearts charity (click here for more info)?

A: ALONG with some friends and family, we threw a charity event in Lindsay’s name and have almost raised enough money to put three girls through college. It was a cause close to her heart. Lindsay had visited the school back in 2012.

If anyone would like to donate to our fundraiser, you can find the link on my Instagram @KellyPantaleoni

Q: Lastly, do you have any upcoming projects you can share with us?

A: I BRIEFLY mentioned a script I am working on. It is highlighting the issue of pharmaceutical companies getting people hooked on drugs which fuels this cycle of addiction and death.

Fentanyl is the latest killer, wiping out more people than any other opioid on the market. Big pharma companies are drug dealers in lab coats and they are dishing out this poison that is sweeping across the US and Canada, destroying so many families and “normal” people’s lives. Some are comparing the epidemic to genocide.

I am living in Vancouver where this issue is a huge problem. So I felt compelled to tell a story that could highlight and potentially help people in this area. So we will see where it goes.

Photos by Kurt Lindner 

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