At 11 years of age, Samarah Conley is making her mark on the television and film industry. Recently she gave Right On! Digital’s CEO Cynthia Horner an exclusive interview about her latest project, “Last Vermont Christmas,” and shared her insight on the competitive acting world.
Q: What was it like working on the Hallmark special?
A: Working on “Last Vermont Christmas” was a lot of fun and I was fortunate to work with so many talented people from cast to crew. I was on set for the entire three weeks of production and each day was super busy between hair and makeup, wardrobe, school with my tutor, blocking out scenes and filming. Craft services was amazing too!
Q: Talk about the character and what she’s like?
A: Ivy is an only child who lives with her mother Megan (Erin Cahill) in Austin, TX. A few years prior her dad was killed in an automobile accident. She has a very close bond with her mom and really loves going to Vermont to visit her grandparents and aunts for Christmas every year. Ivy is a smart, loving and compassionate child.
Q: Can you tell us about any memorable or funny moments that took place while you were working on the project? Did you become close with any of the actors or actresses that were part of the TV special?
A: There were definitely a few memorable and funny moments on set. The funniest was the first day of shooting. We were all at the Christmas tree farm and prior to walking through the trees and looking for the perfect tree to cut down, David Jackson, the director asked me if I ever cut down a Christmas tree before. I pause for a second and looked at everyone and said, “No, I am Jewish.” Everybody began laughing. A memorable moment on set was before the snowball fight. David Jackson bet me $1 to hit Nash (Justin Bruening) with a snowball as he came through the gate. We did two takes and I hit him both times. David give me the dollar and I asked him to autograph it for me. He did and he also wrote me a really nice message on the dollar!
I really made great relationships with several of the actors and some of the crew as well. We are connected on social media and even email and text once in a while. Catherine Corcoran, who plays my Aunt Audrey, came to the premier of the short film “Aperture” which I star in. Ann Osmond, who plays my grandma, invited me as her guest to the Mabel Mercer Foundation’s Cabaret Convention at Lincoln Jazz.
Q: You are so awesome! Now, you have been acting for several years. How did you get interested in acting and did you ever think that you would be able to start landing all of these parts?
A: When I was about five-years-old I asked my parents about acting. They set up a meeting with an agent in NYC. I had to remember a Frosted Flakes commercial. I was very prepared, but when we got there, there were about 10 kids there. They were taking us as a group into a room and our parents could not come. I began to cry. My parents decided to leave with me at that moment. When we got off the elevators my parents asked what was wrong. I told them that I’m not supposed to go with strangers and that they were all strangers.
When I was seven I performed Castle on a Cloud in front of an audience of about 150 people. I received a standing ovation. Afterwards, I told my parents that I was ready for bigger audiences and wanted to try acting again. The rest is history.
I have been very blessed to have landed as many roles as I have for such a young age. I have taken many acting classes, I also have an acting coach (Renea Baker), and I work very hard to be the best actor I can be. I’ve auditioned for a lot of roles from small parts to lead roles for blockbuster films. Being able to take the rejections from an early age is an important part to all of this. When I land roles I realize how lucky I am and it makes me want to work harder each time.
Q: What are your secrets to learning your lines and how do you focus on acting and attending school?
A: Thankfully, my mom passed down her photographic memory to me. Sometimes I have difficulty when a portion of my dialog is not just a few sentences, but more like a paragraph. I recently took a master monologue class at A Class Act NY with Mitchell Gossett and that class was super helpful. But school always comes first for me. When I have to prepare for an audition or an acting job, I always make sure all of my school work is completed first.
Q: Do you ever get nervous when you have to go on auditions or is it getting easier for you since you have gotten so many great roles?
A: I always get nervous for auditions and even for my vocal performances. They are good nerves; nerves that make me want to do the best I can for the casting directors or audience.
Q: What has been your favorite film and why?
A: My favorite film has to be “Last Vermont Christmas” (which is airing now) because it’s a feel good Christmas movie for Hallmark.
Q: What advice would you give to other young children who might have an interest in being in commercials or TV/film?
A: My biggest piece of advice would be to always go after your dreams but make sure that you are maintaining great grades in school first. Acting is a commitment which takes a lot of hard work, dedication and flexibility to stop what you’re doing to take that next audition.
Q: What are your very favorite hobbies or interests outside of acting?
A: Some of my other passions include singing, writing songs and stories, playing piano and creating music. I also enjoy musical theater, ballet, drawing, painting, swimming, riding my bike and crocheting.
Q: What do you like to wear? Are there any particular clothing lines or stores that you prefer?
A: I love to dress casual and comfy. A few of my go to stores are Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap and Hollister. I also enjoy wearing my high top Vans and on cold days Uggs.
Q: What is your favorite subject in school and why is it your favorite?
A: I love science because it’s challenging.
Follow her on social media @SamarahConley