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Interview: Tracey Birdsall on “Who’s Jenna?”

WHO’S JENNA? Star TRACEY BIRDSALL

TRACEY BIRDSALL in the film WHO’S JENNA?

It’s been a big twelve months for Tracey Birdsall. Hot on the heels of her award-winning science-fiction film Rogue Warrior : Robot Fighter, the Malibu-based actress changes gears to headline a new romantic comedy, Who’s Jenna..?, out in May. The movie tells of a man (Bill Sorvino) who mistakes his new girlfriend, played by Birdsall, for an adult entertainment star.

How did you get the gig on Who’s Jenna..? is there a story there?

Isn’t there always a story?! I met the Director, Tom Baldinger, at a film festival where I was receiving an honorable award for my conglomerate roles in film. Apparently he had a script – but had been unable to find a suitable leading lady (i.e.: an actress who fit the physical descriptive requirements of the role whilst also being a name with talent.) Tom and I were in contact at this point and the project moved forward with me attached!

Were you familiar with the director’s other work?

I wasn’t! Upon reading the script, however, and seeing the other attached names… I was definitely “in.” Working with a fairly new director with a ton of passion is definitely a better experience than working with a fairly new actor with a ton of passion. It was a risk worth taking, and well worth it.

You see, when you work with a director they “give.” There’s a variance with how much they give depending upon their experience. With Tom’s gathered cast, much of the unknown was insignificant because the actors were seasoned.

When you work with a fairly new talent, no matter how much talent and passion they’ve mustered up, they still “take.” They need to be fed emotionally and it takes from the other actors. A seasoned actor “gives.” We feed each other and you feel more full at the end of the day instead of drained. Thus I would always rather work with a newer director than a newer (less than 100 days on a paid professional set) actor.

And your character -forgive me If I’m spoiling anything – is mistaken for a very specific porn actress, as opposed to just a no-name adult star, right?

Absolutely correct. Originally, the title included the last name; however, they chose to remove it to avoid legal scuffle.

Did you know anything about that world before signing on?

Not much! I did a lot of Google’ing in order to be more familiar with my dialogue due to the fact that the character is familiar (as you would be if you were constantly mistaken for somebody.) It wasn’t that different than preparing for any other role, as it always involves being familiar with the life, the perspective, and the feelings of the character. Keep in mind however, that I was researching somebody I was constantly being mistaken for (as a character), and also additionally creating the character that she was – which was a very successful attorney with her own strengths and vulnerabilities that were completely unrelated to her doppelganger.

That’s only a small part of the film, isn’t it?

It really is. Who’s Jenna…? is actually a love story very much like Sleepless in Seattle in tone – with multiple side-stories going on around and throughout. The love story and the interwoven thread of her mistaken identity is actually the thread that weaves throughout the film, tying in the various sub-stories that make it up.

Was it nice to be able to jump from Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter to something lighter, like this?

Breaking genre from one film to the next is always a challenge and a welcome treat! As an actor, we like to exercise all of our muscles – so to speak. I only had a week off between these two films, and I actually shot a film playing myself a couple of days during that week off. Sometimes when we switch genres and characters and immerse completely in these
characters, finding yourself in between can be the toughest role…

Speaking of, that movie was nominated for Academy Awards I believe? How was it to headline a movie that was spoken in the same breath as Star Wars: the Last Jedi and The Shape of Water?

We qualified with Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter, but we weren’t nominated. Just over 300 films qualified in 2017, so that was a first for me for sure. Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter was a bit of a breakout film last year as it accomplished so much more than most independent films that I’ve done. It was an exhilarating ride for sure, one that I hope to supersede this year. I have several projects coming out that I’m just so proud of! I’m actually filming another action/sci-fi as we speak – so that announcement will be coming soon!

Can you tell us anything, at all, about the recently announced TV series spin-off of Rogue Warrior?

We’re keeping most of the information under wraps for now, so I actually can’t talk about that project specifically. I can tell you that between several projects I’ve been working on within that genre, I’ve already filmed over 200 days in the last year. There’s a lot of exciting news coming!!!

Who’s Jenna…? is available on VOD and DVD April 23 from Indican Pictures.

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