This is the Fourth installment of interview’s I will be doing with interesting and successful local Actors and Models. These interviews will show the world there are talented people in our area who are capable of handling just about anything that comes their way!
Leanna Pareja first began acting work for a SAG feature film [The Jerk Theory] starring Josh Henderson as a featured Extra. I was in the casting session and they were close to giving her a speaking role but it was cut. A month later, she booked a small role as a vampire sorority girl named Carly on another feature film [Vamp U], and was also the double for Julie Gonzalo, the lead female. Two years later and after doing International commercials, modeling and spokeswoman jobs she found herself working on the all new Dallas series where Leanna played the real Marta, She was the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in the world. She worked as an actor with Josh Henderson. She also had the privilege to work with the late Larry Hagman during the first season. Leanna has also worked on projects with Jordanna Brewster, Julie Gonzalo, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy, Ethan Embry and modeled for Nike, Lexis and Pearl Vision among others.
What made you decide to get into the acting and modeling business?
I’ve been acting, singing and performing for my family, church or school since I was four years old…so it was only natural–and a matter of time really. Modeling just sort of happened.
What made you stick with it when you first started and received some rejection?
Each “no” is that much closer to a “yes”…so getting rejected is never a bummer because I am that much closer to booking the perfect gig!
What has been the hardest thing for you as an actor or model?
Leanna: Turning down roles that paid really well–but were not where I wanted to take my career as an actress or model.
Leanna: It’s my passion. What else am I going to do? Something I am not passionate about? (No need to answer that last question…I was being rhetorical.) 🙂
What are the things you enjoy the most about our business?
Leanna: Getting to work with creative, passionate people.
Who have been your biggest influences in our business?
Leanna: Ooooh…this one is tough. I am inspired by dozens of actors and actresses, directors and business people alike…There is so much to learn from the many brilliant minds out there. But if I have to pick just one person…I’ll go with Oprah. Cliché I know– but she has defied the odds in this industry and touched the lives of millions in such a positive way. The world is a brighter place because of her influence.
What is or was your regular occupation? How did you juggle both?
Leanna: I was a Senior Vice President of a network marketing company for almost seven years. I juggled a little before I began acting full time…but whenever I had an audition or booked a gig, that took precedence and I rescheduled everything else. It’s all about priorities.
What do you feel makes you unique and talented?
Leanna: My open-mindedness and ability to adapt to change. I take on challenges with a positive attitude …and I don’t let them beat me.
And when disappointment crosses my path–as it inevitably does, I accept it, move forward with a new found perspective and smile. :0) For example, when I was an SVP, I was earning upwards of $80,000 a month. Since I began acting full-time, I have had months where I’ve made a grand total of $80. There have been months where I have made amounts I felt proud of, but either way I am happy. Life is good and I am doing what I love.
How long have you been serious as an actor or model?
Leanna: I’ve been working seriously as an actor (getting paid) for the last four years; but I’ve been serious about acting since I can remember.
I know from personal experience many friends and family can sometimes be skeptical or jealous about being in the entertainment business even if you show some success. What do your family and friends think about you being in it? Have they changed their minds over a period of time?
Leanna: My family thinks that acting, and doing anything artistic is more of a hobby…not a career…and I know they are all sort of skeptical about my decisions in general. However, each time I have a success in any area of life–they have all cheered me on, so it kind of makes up for it all. I don’t have friends that don’t believe in me…and if I did, they are no longer around.
What would your dream role or entertainment job be?
Leanna: To star in a film directed by someone like J. J. Abrams, Stephen Spielberg, Ridley Scott or Tom Shadyac that is stylish, humorous, inspiring with a brilliant story line.
I’m just saying, that may be every actors dream but somebody’s got to do it.
One of the toughest things for me as an agent is when I continually promote our talent really hard and because of things like the size of the market, the time of year or that there just is not a job coming up immediately for that particular talent, some talent get discouraged and lose interest. As an experienced agent I know things will soon get busy when you do the right things and stick with it. How have you not let the slower periods or times when you are not booking jobs discourage you?
Leanna: I make myself stay busy by taking acting classes, memorizing monologues or dialogues from favorite movies, writing music, painting, learning a new dance routine…anything that keeps my creative juices flowing, my heart focused and my mind sharp.
What advice would you give newcomers entering the business?
Leanna: Make sure it’s your passion. Don’t do it for the money or the fame cause in the end you won’t find happiness…and you will face a lot of rejection along the way. Do something you love and stick with it.
Who are your favorite entertainers and why?
Leanna: Tough again. I have more than a few…so I’ll pick three male and three female. Leonardo DiCaprio, Jim Caviezel, Will Smith, Emma Stone, Sandra Bullock and Natalie Portman; quite a variety I know. These actors are dedicated, brilliant both in their roles and outside of their characters and have played a wide range of roles that depict the epitome of life…all while maintaining a sense of humor and staying grounded.
What makes you most nervous in our industry?
Leanna: I don’t really get nervous…I get excited. And the things that get me most excited are finding roles that push and challenge me.
Do you have a funny story to tell about this business?
Leanna: I once got mobbed in Las Vegas because people thought I was Jessica Simpson. My hair was much blonder back then, but I still don’t think we ever looked that similar.
Tell us about yourself pertaining to the entertainment business, (most notable/ interesting roles, people you have worked with and some interesting personal facts about you)? Try to limit it to one or two paragraphs.
Leanna: When I first began acting, I did some featured background work for a SAG feature film [The Jerk Theory] starring Josh Henderson. A month later, I booked a small role as a vampire sorority girl named Carly on another feature film [Vamp U], and was also the double for Julie Gonzalo, the lead female. Two years later I found myself working on set with both Josh and Julie who star on the all new Dallas series where I played the real Marta, the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in the world. I also had the privilege to work with the late Larry Hagman during the first season. The whole experience was wonderful plus I got to catch up with friends I had met two years earlier on much smaller sets. I guess it is a small world after all.
This interview was conducted by Troy Lee CEO of Craze Agency. For more information about Randall or to schedule an interview go to www.crazeagency.com email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 801-438-0067.