While promoting/supporting Indie Horror through social media, I came across Dawna Lee Heising on The House of Evil 3D - directed by Massimiliano Cerchi. I dug a little deeper and found out that she works for Eye on Entertainment in which she interviews fellow actors and directors in the industry - please, see her Youtube. I discovered she was also a Miss Universe in 2009 and saw how dedicated she was to Indie features through her Imdb page. She also works with Frolic Pictures - founded by Jared Masters.
I had small roles as a cage dancer and prostitute in “Blade Runner” and as a Chinese guard in “Big Trouble in Little China”, but I was on the set for both films for at least two weeks. The sets were both huge and very elaborate, and there was a cast of thousands. If you look at the beginning of my career on IMDb, I’m sure you've heard of most of the shows. The industry is completely different now because of cable television and the Indie film industry. It’s much easier to make a film now because of digital cameras, and more are being made. However, you still must be talented and smart to succeed in today’s industry to take a film from conception to distribution and make a profit.
You work with Jared Masters a lot. What can we expect from Frolic Pictures?
I love working with Jared Masters. He is a brilliant young filmmaker with a huge future. He cast me as Joan in “Slink”, which won a 2013 EOTM Award for Best Horror Film, and I played Naomi Perkins in his next feature “Teachers’ Day”. I was honored to win a Best Actress Award for “Teachers’ Day” at the 2014 Mockfest Film Festival. I played a record producer named Gladys Kang in “Deadly Punkettes”, which will hopefully premiere at the 2014 Galactic Film Festival. Jared is currently shooting his next film called “Passion Show”, starring Andy Dick and Domiziano Arcangeli. I am playing an ex-pageant queen named Shelby. Upcoming are the films “Ballerina Massacre” and “Carny Girls”, which will star Bill Oberst Jr.
Jared is a filmmaker who just gets things done – and done brilliantly. All of his films that I have been involved with so far have gotten excellent reviews and he makes them on minimal budgets. He works fast because he is an expert at pre-production and budgeting, and he can conceptualize how he wants each scene to go in his mind as he works. His creativity amazes me, but he is also a brilliant businessman. He has gotten his films into Amazon, On Demand and Red Box, and is always looking for new opportunities. I feel very fortunate and blessed to be working with Jared.
When did you get the acting bug?
I’ve always enjoyed being on stage, from being a cheerleader in school to competing in pageants. I’m from an Asian family so my primary focus was to get a good education. I majored in Chemistry while at U.C. Berkeley, but I also took Chinese because I was going to go to Taiwan as Miss Los Angeles Chinatown. I got a role in Fantasy Island as Miss Hawaii after winning Miss San Francisco Universe and came back to Orange County. I started studying with Sal Romeo at Fullerton College and followed him when he opened the Friends and Artists Theatre in Los Angeles. Sal is the one who taught me everything I know about acting – he is a fantastic teacher!
What is your latest film?
My latest film is “Salvation of One” from Chandra Gerson. It is a psychological suspense drama and my role of Honora Turner was incredible and life-changing. I worked with acting coach June Barfield and with Chandra on the role, and I learned so much about acting while preparing to play Honora. I am so proud to be a part of “Salvation of One”, and I hope to see the short film premiere at the FANtastic Film Festival. “Salvation of One” is the third story in Chandra’s feature film “Book of Choices”.
I just wanna say, thank you Dawna! Good luck to you and Frolic Pictures on your films.