Kayla Tabish: Indie Films Welcome A Refreshing New Face - Fan Quarterly Magazine
You may not have heard the name Kayla Tabish just yet, but if you’ve picked up a recent copy ofVentura Blvd Magazine or Southbay Magazine, you’ll see her beauty gracing the covers. She co-starred in “The Girl Next Door,” alongside Emile Hirsch and Elisha Cuthbert. She more recently starred in the indie hit “Loren Cass,” which screened in 22 film festivals worldwide and was acquired for theatrical distribution by Kino International. The performances of Kayla Tabish were nominated for an IFP Gotham Award, for “Best Actress” in a Wire Critic Poll, for a CineVegas Grand Jury prize, and for a Heineken Red Star Award. That’s considerable press for an actress whoserésumé is still so modest. In addition to acting, Kayla has produced three films – Goodbye (short),Loren Cass, and the upcoming Angel Falls In Love. In this exclusive interview, we yearn to learn more about this aspiring star.
Fan Quarterly: How did you first get into acting and producing?
Kayla Tabish: I have always been drawn to acting. When I was a kid, I would try out for every play that they offered. In high school I competed for Best Dramatic Monologue and I took first place at the regional and state levels. I guess I do love being the center of attention, but it was more than that… I just loved the sensation of being someone else. I grew up in Spokane, Washington and there just wasn’t much on-screen work, but I did have an agent up there. Everything really didn’t start rolling until I moved to Los Angeles. I actually had just moved out to LA and I was working as an extra on the film ‘The Girl Next Door.’ After the first day of shooting, the director, Luke Greenfield, came up to me and said that he had a role in the film that I’d be perfect for. That was a pretty big break at that time — I went from being on set as an extra, to the very next day sitting in my own trailer. The producing came later and I do enjoy producing, but my first love will always be acting.
FQ: Were your parents supportive? Did you ever have a back-up plan aside from show biz?
KT: Well, this is a conflicted question. Now my family is totally supportive, but I guess it wasn’t always like that. My Father passed away when I was just 16, so my Mother (who is a teacher) always was pushing for me to excel in school. I actually graduated from high school, with my two year Associate Arts college degree. I was the only student in my class to graduate from college and high school in the same week.
From there, I moved to San Diego to finish my last two years of my BA at SDSU. I was in a sorority and I totally appeared to be ‘happy,’ but something was missing. One year into it, I dropped everything and packed up to pursue an acting career in LA. At first my family wasn’t too thrilled, but they came around.
So no, I don’t have a back up plan, but for me I know I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. I’m still very undiscovered and I know that my journey has just begun. I did get a little slack from my family for leaving college, but I think that now they all realize that I’m where I should be. My Mom is my rock, and I don’t know what I’d do without her unconditional support. I now also have an amazing boyfriend of almost three years and he’s like my biggest fan. I am very blessed.
FQ: You have an interesting name. What is your background and is there any significance in the choosing of your name?
KT: My last name, Tabish, comes from my father’s side and it is Lebanese. I get this question a lot actually, because I am a natural blonde with blue eyes, so most people can’t understand where the name comes from. I am a mix of many different ethnicities, but mainly Swedish. My Grandmother was a first generation immigrant from Sweden. Kayla Tabish is my real birth name.
FQ: You mention that “Hollywood has been a crazy road of ups and downs.” What did you mean by that?
KT: I sometimes feel like a Hollywood career is very uncertain. One day you’re on top of the world and the next, no one knows who you are. It’s a very unstable business, but maybe that’s what I love about it. It is such a challenge and I have since learned to embrace the ups as well as the downs. When I first started, the ball was rolling… I did ‘The Girl Next Door’ and then I starred in ‘Loren Cass’. Then it felt like I hit a brick wall. I was so young and really didn’t have a lot of life experience — and show biz can be tough, if you don’t have thick skin.
I knew I had to step away from it all for a bit and find my Zen. I threw my stuff in storage and moved to Hawaii for 7 months. I fell in love with Maui and it was just what I needed to be able to return refreshed. When I came back, I did an international film festival tour for ‘Loren Cass’. We started with our domestic premiere in Las Vegas at the Palms Hotel and Casino for Dennis Hopper’s CineVegas Film Festival. Then I left for our world premiere at Locarno International Film Festival and promoted the film in Italy and Switzerland. It was hard to return after all that madness and then I was like ‘Okay, back to reality…time to find a way to pay my rent…’
FQ: This month, you mentioned you’re shooting a celebrity Public Service Announcement to raise awareness for Teen Suicide. Please tell us more about that.
KT: It is a Celebrity PSA for the non-profit organization “My Life, My Power”. It was in support of raising awareness for teen suicide. I guess this is probably one of the hardest topics for me to discuss because it is so close to home for me. My father battled with depression for many years while I was growing up and when I was 16, he took his own life. I have since made my peace with it, but I still miss him so very much. I agreed to do the PSA so hopefully I could reach out to others and let them know that they’re not alone. Depression and suicidal thoughts actually come when the pain outweighs your resources for coping with the pain. I wanted to speak out and reassure these teens that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel and you should never make a permanent decision to cope with a temporary situation. I also wanted to let these teens know that I do care about them!
I will also be participating in a Domestic Violence PSA this week for a different organization.
FQ: You produced and starred in Loren Cass, which received a glowing review in the NY Times.What did you like most about working on this project? And why should people go see the film?
KT: Working on this film was such a crash course in independent film making. I learned so much from the talented director/producer, Chris Fuller. We were so fortunate to receive positive reviews from Variety and The New York Times. The press really understood what was at the core of the film — and that is so important for the success of an independent film. What I liked most was playing a character that was a polar opposite from myself. I just loved stepping into my character’s world and living in that moment. It is such a fun challenge when the character is so different from who I really am.
You should see the film because I believe there is something in it for everyone. It’s not your average popcorn flick; it has some pretty disturbing content. I know Variety compared it to Larry Clark’s hit indie film ‘Kids’.
FQ: What was your character like in Loren Cass… and how was she similar or different from you?
KT: Nicole was an extremely melancholy character, which is very different from me. I am usually always laughing and smiling. There were actually times on set when I remember Chris Fuller telling me during the diner scene, “No smiling.” I felt like I had a good understanding of the character, but we really didn’t have much in common. The film was about this raw feeling, rather than the characters directly. The feeling was one that I could absolutely relate to. It is a deep void or sorrow, and Fuller’s characters lived within that personal torment.
FQ: According to Wikipedia, Loren Cass took 10 years to complete. Is that true? Why did it take so long? Did you find it difficult to summons the patience to work on a project for so long?
KT: This is true. Chris Fuller wrote the screenplay when he was 15. He had a lengthy process of raising the funds for production, and he used super 16mm so the costs were a lot higher than digital. I really respect Chris’s motivation and dedication with this project. Post-production ate up almost two years because of limited resources, but he stuck through it all. The film then hit the festival circuit for about a year and screened at 23 festivals in 13 different countries. Then came the IFP Gotham award nomination and the film was placed on quite a few critics ‘Best of the Year’ lists. This opened doors for distribution, Kino International picked up the film for theatrical distribution and it was released on dvd in 2010. I was only involved for the last four of the 10 years.
FQ: You’ve had to play some sexually charged roles. What is your process like of trying to establish chemistry with a coworker and get through the scenes as believably as possible?
KT: I think this is different for everyone, but for me, I have to let my ‘real’ surroundings dissolve. When I am filming an intimate scene and there are literally tons of people on set, it is the only option if I want to deliver an authentic performance. We filmed on location in St. Petersburg, Florida, so I had just met everyone when we jumped into the love scenes.
FQ: What can you tell us about your latest project, Angel Falls In Love?
KT: It’s an independent that I produced with Dan Peterson and we are currently in the post-production phases. It’s a cool little story about a young girl and her personal discoveries as she falls in love. We are pushing to complete post-production and have a cut by early 2012.
FQ: What’s on your wish list for the future?
KT: I want to continue to work in independent film. I just love how raw and real the stories are. I love playing dramatic, so the more compelling the character is, the better. I really want some meaty roles with substance — you know, the kind that move you to feel something significant. On my wish list is definitely having the opportunity to work with some of the actors that I respect, like Anthony Hopkins and Michael Cain. They both are so captivating. I also adore the type of films that David Fincher and Quentin Tarantino make. I would be honored to be cast in one of their projects.
FQ: I see you do a bit of modeling for brands like Mineral Kiss Cosmetics. How did you get into that line of work and what has the industry taught you?
KT: The modeling was never my passion, but I have really grown to love it. In a way I think of it as acting for the still camera. You have to capture a moment or a feeling with your expressions. Mineral Kiss is such an amazing new brand of cosmetics, they feature only one color of makeup that suites every skin tone. It’s pretty cool stuff, it reflects and brings your natural complexion to the surface. I’m pretty excited now to be involved with Mineral Kiss, because it is so unique and natural.
I was also featured on the covers of Ventura Blvd Magazine and Southbay Magazine for August and September 2011.
I think the lesson I have learned is to just be yourself, and if people find beauty in that, then you have succeeded.
FQ: What are your hobbies and passions, aside from the obvious?
KT: I am a big supporter of The Innocence Project. We are advocating for a change and reform in the current judicial system. The Innocence project uses DNA technology that we didn’t have in cases prior to 1995 to free innocent people from prison. They are trying to show the public that there is proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated, rare events, but instead they are defects in our current system. It is their mission statement to free the staggering numbers of innocent people who remain incarcerated, because our legal system hates to admit when they make mistakes.
I am working to join their Artist Committee and I try to speak out and raise awareness for this cause whenever possible. I just could not imagine someone I love being incarcerated for 20+ years for crimes that they did not commit. I know that we didn’t always have the DNA technology, BUT WE DO NOW, so there is no reason that we can’t re-test evidence, especially if it clears an innocent person. So far The Innocence Project has helped to exonerate 280 innocent people. So if your reading this and you would also like to support this cause, please check out the website. You will find that they have template e-letters that you can sign in support of each case, most are pushing to allow DNA testing to exonerate these innocent people.
FQ: What are three little-known facts about you?
KT: I was born on Halloween.
I don’t care for horseback riding, but I LOVE watching and gambling on the horse races.
I have two Bengal cats, Titten and Fatty. They both come to their names and do tricks.
FQ: Who’s the coolest celebrity you’ve hung out with, and why?
KT: I had the pleasure of meeting Dennis Hopper and Charlize Theron at CineVegas, when Loren Cass competed in Mr. Hopper’s film festival. Charlize Theron is just so charismatic and I truly admire her work. Dennis Hopper was so full of zest and his personality was electric; the world has lost a truly gifted man with his passing.
FQ: What advice would you give to people looking to get into acting, modeling or producing?
KT: You have to follow your heart. By definition, I still have a long way to go myself… just remember that it is the journey that is more than half the fun! I love my life and I realize it is not for everyone, as it may seem a bit unstable — but I wouldn’t have it any other way. So if you know that the entertainment industry is your calling and there is nothing else that you’d rather do, then sometimes you just have to jump in head-first and hope that there is water in the pool!
To stay up to date with what Kayla is doing, you can visit her personal site at www.KaylaTabish.com, or follow her on Twitter& Facebook