I’ve recently had the pleasure of getting to know Sienna Beckman, a talented young producer, director, actress and narrator, to name a few of her many talents. Sienna and I crossed paths through our mutual love of books, and I was so impressed with her talent, drive and creativity that I had to feature her on my blog. I’m sure you will enjoy this in-depth interview with Sienna, and be sure to check out her brand new podcast At The Beep – you’re in for a treat!
How did the idea for At The Beep come about? Tell us about the show.
“At the Beep” is an environmental awareness podcast with a fun, accessible, lighthearted spin, where I highlight various people who give so much of themselves to bettering our world and the people and things that live in it. There are so many people that are outlined in the news today as terrible people who are selfish and greedy and insensitive to the needs of the environment and other people around them. So my aim is to outline and celebrate the people who are the opposite of that. This is an audio podcast that I will post on iTunes once a week on Thursdays.
Will you interview guests, or narrate the whole show yourself?
My plan is to narrate the whole show myself, but have several different characters “in the studio with me” to help me with the show, when it’s really just me doing all the voices. I’ve always loved reading aloud and doing different character voices, so this, along with reading audio books, is a passion project where I hope to showcase those voices, as well as raise awareness and bring a little joy to listeners.
What type of people are you looking to highlight?
The first two highlights I’ve chosen are the Straus Family – of the Straus Family Dairy and Creamery of Northern California who were the first 100% certified organic dairy and creamery in the United States, and Medea Benjamin – the extraordinary woman who is the co-founder of the non-profit organization Global Exchange and the women’s anti-war group Code Pink. The rest you’ll have to stay tuned to find out, but it stays along the line of innovative and passionate individuals who are dedicated to helping humanity and striving for a better tomorrow.
You have several shows scripted. What kind of topics will be covered in those shows?
The people I’m highlighting are all heroes in their own right. Whether they are political activists or business owners or farmers or entrepreneurs, they have dedicated their lives to helping make the world a better place for everyone. My goal is to bring their heroism down to a more realistic, more personal level and show how the everyday person can provide similar help in their own, individual way.
Where and when will the show be available for download?
A new episode of “At the Beep” will be available for download online on Thursday mornings at this link: http://atthebeep.libsyn.com
Where can people contact you if they have a suggestion for a person to highlight in the show?
I welcome any and all suggestions! I can be contacted via Twitter @siennagrace89 or on my actor page on Facebook. (see links at the bottom of this interview.) I can receive messages from listeners there. Please follow and like! I will also be posting links to my podcast from my twitter and my Facebook page.
What do you hope listeners will take away from At the Beep?
If nothing else, I want this show to be accessible and helpful to everyone. I’m not here to preach about how everyone needs to make drastic changes to their lives to try to save our planet, but instead I want to try to gently help incorporate small things everyone can do to start to bring about awareness of their environment and engender a curiosity to learn even more about how they can help in their own individual way. The people I will be highlighting are heroes; but not everyone has to dedicate their entire lives to changing the world. You can do your part just by making tiny changes to your everyday life. Like refilling a plastic water bottle instead of throwing it away after one use. Or using cloth napkins at the dinner table, to be washed and reused. However small, it does make a difference. I want to show people that protecting our planet, our youth, and ourselves is all connected, and it’s very possible for everyone to contribute. It’s hard to feel like your one voice will make a change, but there’s nothing truer than the statement “Be the change you want to see.” If you do it, someone else might see that and think to themselves, “Oh, that’s a great idea. I think I’ll do that too.” Bam. One more person on board.
Tell us about your YouTube web series “If Aaron Sorkin Had Written…”?
The YouTube series was an idea my roommate and co-star, Aylia Colwell had (follow her Twitter @aylia). We basically take really well known scenes from iconic movies (Ghostbusters, Twilight, Star Wars Episode 2, and The Matrix, among others) and rewrite them in the style of Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin’s writing is so identifiable and specific, and that makes it very easy to parody. So Aylia and I bounced around some ideas, and with the help of our friend and comedian (@JimmyTPhD) we wrote a bunch of 2-4 minute scripts and put them into production. Aylia and I were the only actors and we played different characters in every scene, depending on what movie we’re parodying. We got surprisingly great feedback from viewers, a few of our videos got over 10,000 views, and our most popular was “If Aaron Sorkin Had Written Twilight” which got almost 40,000 views. You can find all of the episodes on our YouTube channel AaronSorkinWrites. http://www.youtube.com/user/AaronSorkinWrites
Here is “If Aaron Sorkin Had Written Twilight:”
Tell us the premise of your film Once Upon a Time in Vienna. I understand that you’re the director on this project? What are your plans for the film and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
Once Upon a Time in Vienna was a short film script that Aylia also wrote. We had just graduated from college and we were tired of waiting around for other people to put us in their film projects, so we decided to make our own movie. I was the director and she acted in it, and we both produced it together. It was really eye-opening to make our very own film, because we really got to see how much hard work and preparation and details go in to making a movie. Instead of just being an actor, as producer you’re job is DO EVERYTHING: the casting, finding a crew and camera equipment, the costumes, find the locations, make all the shot lists, figure out the schedule, get food and snacks for the actual shoot days, complete all the union paperwork… The list of things to do was endless. But we pulled it off and we’re VERY proud of the result. The movie is complete and we have copies of DVDs for sale here on our production company’s website http://awesomepremise.com/Awesome_Premise_Productions/Store.html. We’re hoping to send it off to some festivals and cross our fingers for a good reception.
You’re also an audiobook narrator listed with the Audiobook Creation Exchange. What attracted you to audiobooks and do you have any books in the works?
I grew up with my family reading aloud to me and my brother. I love stories and I love voice acting, so I thought I’d give narrating audiobooks a try. I currently have four audiobooks in production. One that is completed called “Parallel” by Claudia Lefeve, and three that are in the works: “Pure & Sinful” by Killian McRae, “Shadow of the Blood Moon” by Robin P. Waldrop, and “I am Just Junco Dot Com” by J. A. Huss. All will be available on Audible. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for when they’re on sale!
What drew you to the world of acting, directing and narrating? Have you always been interested in creative pursuits?
I didn’t know I wanted to be an actor when I was little. I played the trumpet growing up and thought I wanted to be a Math major in college. But I discovered theater in high school and haven’t looked back since. I grew up in a creative family. My dad was an actor in college and then was drawn to the other side of the camera and has been a film maker/producer his whole life. My mom is a visual artist with pastel, charcoal, and oils on canvas in a style she calls Dynamic Symbolism. Her art is just that: dynamic. It is colorful and vibrant, and very abstract, in that everyone sees different shapes in her art. It breaks boundaries and is very free. You can see her art on her website http://sallyrayn.com/. My brother is a musician and plays in a style he calls “folk-tronic,” a unique mix of electronic drumbeats and audio sampling with acoustic instruments and vocals. His website is http://knottheyre.bandcamp.com/.
It’s my personal opinion that film is the perfect medium to tell stories. It incorporates everything: visual art, cinematography, writing, lighting, sound, music, costumes, performance. It is a true collaboration of the arts. I think art is the most direct and complete way of expressing your emotions, and expressing your emotions is the most direct way to connect with other people. And connecting with other people shows them that they are not alone. No one is alone in their emotions, because emotions are universal. It is not an alien thing to feel emotions, but feeling strong emotions can be one of the most alienating feelings in the world. But seeing other people – through acting, through film, through any kind of art – embrace their emotions and come out the other side stronger and happier and more passionate about their lives, is inspiring. And I want to inspire people to be happy.
So, you balance all of these projects with going on auditions in the L.A. area? What are your goals as an actress?
Yes, I go out regularly on auditions for various projects around LA and film whenever I can. A few months ago I was cast as the lead in a feature film called “FACE” with Pathfinder Pictures, and that was amazing. I had so much fun and met some people I know I’ll be friends with for many years.
I’m currently working on my audiobooks and my podcast, while looking for a representation team (agent/manager) to help me with moving my career forward. It’s always a work in progress, and it is a lot to balance, but I try to just enjoy the ride and not rush things. I’m very passionate about what I do and my goals as an actress, and sometimes it’s hard to be patient for a big opportunity to come around. But acting is my chosen career, and careers last a lifetime, so I know my time will come. Right now, I just want to audition as much as I can and try to make a good impression on as many people as I can, showing that I’m a well-trained, talented, reliable, professional actress, ready to take off.
Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?
My roommate Aylia Colwell is producing an indie feature film that is shooting this year! It’s called Fishbowl. They raised some money on a kickstarter campaign last year, but they’re still looking for more funds and for more crew to help them with this amazing venture. The script has sass, wit, and a lot of heart. And the people involved with it are great. Check out their website and Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/fishbowlmovie?ref=ts&fref=ts) and contact Aylia if you’re interested in joining their journey!
It takes a lot of courage and faith for people to pursue their dreams and pursue a passion that they love, but it’s so rewarding to do what you love. What advice do you have for aspiring young actors, writers and directors?
I’ll also leave you with a few favorite words-to-live-by of mine. One is a quote that my dad told me: “Don’t push the river, it will flow by itself,” and someone once told me that there are 3 Ps to success, but I’ve expanded it to 5: Passion, Perseverance, Preparedness, Professionalism, and Patience. You need to love what you do in order to truly be successful, and you also need to be ready for when that chance comes your way, but don’t be so anxious for it to all be over and for you to be suddenly at the top. If you’re doing what you love and you know it, keep doing it. You may not be the next big thing in Hollywood tomorrow, but if you love acting or writing or making movies, then do it. And enjoy it along the way. It’s hard when there are so many people trying to do the same thing you’re doing. And it’s hard not to compare yourself to the people who are your age and are already famous. But everyone had to start small. So start small and allow yourself to grow. Take classes, do projects, read articles, watch movies…constantly be on the look out for your next move and, slowly but surely, you’ll get where you want to go.