Abigail Winter is a rising star. Having recently won Best Young Actress at the Festigious International Film Festival, participating in a new TV show and performing on many movies, both features and shorts - this award doesn’t come as a surprise. In between rehearsals and shoots, Abigail found some time to share her insights with us.
Your lead role in Emma is extremely demanding. And your performance was absolutely exquisite! How did you prepare for the role?
I appreciate you saying that! I think the most important thing to me while preparing for the role was to understand what it feels like for someone to be dealing with their health every second of every day. It's easy to make the mistake of assuming this character is her disease, but that's not the case. I was lucky enough to talk with a couple incredible people who have been through the experience while preparing and what stuck out to me was how great their desire is to create a normal life for themselves; to be treated as a human and not their sickness. Once I understood the depth of this, and how trapped a person can feel in their fate, the rest unfolded. Emma is a person like any other and what makes the character admirable is how she maintains her spirit throughout.
Emma - Official Trailer
Beyond the touching story, what in your opinion makes Emma so memorable?
I think what makes Emma memorable is how close it can feel to two teenagers falling in love, and all the feelings that go along with that. Every human can relate to a love story and I think the writer, Simon Paluck, did a fantastic job at creating those feelings, just in a slightly different environment. And a small detail that was my favorite about the film was the bucket list that Emma has. I have a big weakness for people who dream, whether they are big dreams or small ones, like trying different ice cream flavors. The bucket list is a gentle, but poignant reminder of how precious life is, especially to Emma.
What was the most challenging scene/moment for you when working on Emma?
I'd say the most challenging scene was when Emma and Jason are in the school gym near the end, and Emma is confronting Jason about the article he wrote. It was a difficult scene to find because Emma simultaneously wants nothing more than to be close to Jason, but feels betrayed and misunderstood. It's when she questions the authenticity of the relationship that they have built. And even if Emma is furious with Jason, there is still so much love. I wanted to make sure I walked that line properly.
You started your acting career very early, and have worked on so many different productions over the years (The Fog, Bridges, Unless - to name a few)… What would be your advice to directors who work with younger actors, based on these experiences?
That's a great question. I would say the biggest thing I would suggest to directors working with younger actors would be to remember to keep seeing them as a person. It makes the world of a difference when the director would take even a couple minutes to show interest in me outside of what I do... it helps young actors to feel lost in an adult's world. I think the other thing would be to keep things simple. Children have incredible intuition and most of the time, if left to their own judgment, will blow you away.
You have a role on a new TV show called Mary Kills People. Tell us a bit about that and about your character - Jess Geller.
Jess Geller on Mary Kills People, is a very practical person. She's right at the height of figuring out who she is, as most teenagers are, and an aspect of that is her sexuality. I appreciate that the writer has made this apart of Jess' journey, without making it her whole world. Additionally, since Mary Kills People is built a lot upon secrets, I see Jess as the one person amidst all of this that is trying really hard to be truthful. And since she can tell when she is being lied to, or not being told the full truth, it makes her quite resentful to the various people around her.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I'd like to say thanks again to Simon Paluck for writing such a beautiful story, and to the people who inspired the story in the first place.