Brand New Interview With Actress Maya Parish
By James Whittington, Wednesday 31st August 2011

Maya ParishThe urban vampire movie Midnight Son was one of my favourites of FrightFest 2011. A realistic blend of human emotions and pure horror it proved that the vampire genre was far from dead thanks to a very intelligent script and a superb cast. Maya Parish plays the female lead Mary and we’ve been luck enough to talk to her to bring you this exclusive interview.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be an actress?

MP: I did, yes. I started doing theatre at five years old and I've always felt at home on the stage. Both acting and dance have been very important in my life from childhood on. They are the forms of expression that I've found that bring me the most freedom, stillness, and ability to be completely present from one moment to the next.

HC: Where did you get your first big break?

MP: My very first break was when I was selected from my ballet class at around age nine to join a New York City based ballet company called Ballet For Young Audiences. I performed locally and on tour with that company for several years, often getting to miss school for those performances. My first substantial break in acting came soon after I moved to Los Angeles, when Juel Bestrop and Jeanne McCarthy cast me in an HBO pilot called The Near Future directed by Bob O'Denkirk. They Taft-Harleyed me into SAG for that job so I was able to get my union card very quickly after moving to L.A. In a lot of ways, however, I consider Midnight Son to be my biggest break thus far.

HC: Are your family supportive of you career choice?

MP: I'm very lucky to have a family that is so supportive of my career choice. I was born and raised in New York City by parents that loved the theatre and the arts in general. I was exposed to all different types of performance, visual art, music and other facets of culture from a young age and when it became apparent early on that I gravitated toward acting and dance, my parents did everything they could to nurture me along my path.

HC: How did you get the part of Mary in Midnight Son?

MP: I first met Scott Leberecht many years ago at a screening in which his AFI graduate thesis and a film I had acted in were both playing. We both thought highly of each others' work and since he was writing the first draft of Midnight Son at the time I think he inserted me into the role of Mary in his mind right then. We had several meetings and he gave me the first draft of the script and then the script got optioned and Scott moved to San Francisco and we fell out of touch for a while. A few months before he was planning on coming down to Los Angeles to shoot the film he sent me an email telling me of the plan to shoot that summer and asking if I still wanted to be his Mary. And I said yes! There was never an audition or anything, he offered me the part and I accepted.

HC: What did you think of the script when you first read it?

MP: I loved the script from the first reading. And it changed quite a bit over the various drafts. We even rewrote on set as we were shooting, and Scott and I had many conversations about dialogue and plot etc before he arrived at the final draft. Scott is an amazingly collaborative filmmaker and it was a joy to work with somebody as intelligent, talented, and without ego as Scott. What I loved the most about the script from the first draft to the last was that it knew what it was, and what it was was something original, with a unique voice and perspective. That it floated somewhere in between genres, that it was as much a love story and a coming of age story as it was a story about a vampire.

HC: You spend a lot of the screen time with co-star Zak Kilberg who plays Jacob, what were your first impressions of him?

MP: Zak and I worked well together from the beginning. I liked him right away. It was clear to me that he was a dedicated actor who was as passionate about the project as Scott and I were. I found him to be generous, hard-working, and truthful in his approach to the work and to the story. He worked from a very natural place and it was a pleasure to share the screen with him.

HC: Did you rehearse a lot together or did you go in and improvise a lot as the acting is very natural?

MP: We did have the luxury of rehearsing before we shot, which I believe strengthened the connection between Zak and me and also helped things move smoothly once we were on set. I believe we shot the entire feature in 21 days (Scott would know for sure) with an extremely bare-bones crew. That the film looks as good as it does with as limited resources as we had is a testament to the talent, vision, and cooperation of all the crew members and actors involved in the project.

HC: Both characters of Mary and Jacob hold dark secrets which they try and hide from each other. Do you think that this makes them similar in a way?

MP: Absolutely. I think Mary and Jacob are very similar, though they express themselves in different ways. They are both incredibly lonely and alienated, having been broken down by the city/people/world around them, but they both still possess an innocence and desire to participate more fully even though they can't always achieve it. In a certain sense I think they're two halves of a whole. It is when they are together that they find the courage to face their fears and self-doubts and take ownership of who they actually are.

HC: The end scene (without giving anything away) is beautiful in a really chilling way, would you agree?

MP: I love the end scene. It was a bold choice cinematically and I think we pulled it off.

HC: It’s a very real “vampire” movie are you a fan of the genre?

MP: I've been a fan of the film Near Dark for a long time and I think there's something very compelling about the vampire myth but I can't say I'm the biggest fan of the genre that ever lived. But I've always been drawn to darker stories, giving voice to the shadow side of ourselves, unearthing that which dwells beneath the surface, and I think that the vampire genre does this very well.

HC: So what’s next for you?

MP: I've been focusing on teaching theatre writing and performance to youth in at-risk areas through a non-profit organization in Los Angeles recently and I am also writing my second full length play that I intend to produce and act in later this year. I'd love to sink my teeth into a new film project as well-hopefully soon!

HC: Maya Parish, thank you very much.

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