"I'd tell my younger self that I'm proud of her"
Jinny Ryann is a theatre & movie actress, who recently won Best Performance of Fest at the Actors Awards with "Melrose".
In Melrose, Ryann portrays Rachel, a door to door marketing person on Melrose avenue in LA, who tries to make the best out of her situation, otherwise she’d have to face reality and settle for a lesser version of herself. We asked her to join us for an interview to reveal some of the magic behind her work.
Jinny, congratulations on winning Best of Fest for your role as Rachel in Melrose. Such a fantastic performance! Tell us how did it all start for you? Did you always know you wanted to be an actress?
Thank you! Yes, I did. Ever since I was a little kid, I was always loud and crazy and imaginative. I loved being the center of attention (still do) and I've wanted to be an actor ever since I can remember.
Who are your favorite actors and actresses, and which memorable movie-characters have influenced your own work?
Recently, I've really fallen in love with Juno Temple. I think she's so genuine and fun and I have a soft spot for "indie" actors. I especially love her work in Little Birds. I also really look up to Zoe Kazan. I think it's awesome that she really embodies the artistry of an actor. She creates her own work, writing and producing, and it's super rad to be such a creator like that. Also, I can't help but adore Reese Witherspoon. Legally Blonde was always one of my favorites when I was younger. Then, as I grew up, I really followed her more "serious roles," and I've been amazed. Her work in Wild is breathtaking.
You graduated from Chapman University's Screen Acting program in 2016. What were the best takeaways?
As far as the program, it was life-changing. It's cliche to say of an acting program, but it's true that they really started by breaking down what I though I knew about acting. It's not about performing; it's all about living the truth. Chapman doesn't teach any 1 particular technique, but rather samples all different schools of thought. It was great because everything was presented as a tool. I took what worked, and let go of what didn't. For example, I particularly connected with Viewpoints work and Meisner work. Whatever keeps me present and in my body.
Let's talk about Melrose. Your portrayal of Rachel was so incredible, our committee immediately fell in love with your perfect performance. How did you prepare for this challenging role? How did you get into the character's mindset?
Wow thank you. My preparation really varied throughout the shoot. Over the course of filming, I learned more and more exactly where Rachel was inside me and my own memories and emotions. We have a lot in common. I'd do my "homework," and breakdown each scene with what Rachel needed out of Clarke (or whatever the scene was) and how she could try to get it. I also certainly listened to a lot of music. Most importantly, I just did my best to let go once the camera started rolling and just play.
What was the hardest scene for you to do, and why?
All of them! Just kidding (kind of). I'd say the webcam scene (flashback from Rachel when she was younger where she destroys the room). It was an extremely vulnerable long take. It also involved singing, which freaks me out.
Was there any improv?
So much! Soren was really great in allowing a lot of takes that gave me room to play around. A lot of the rooftop scene where Rachel and Clarke really connect for the first time was improved.
Is this your first collaboration with director. Soren James? How did you get on board and what was your experience working with him?
It was! I actually just submitted myself on Backstage and came in an auditioned. It's crazy to think we were once strangers because we're actually great friends and collaborators now. It was really cool to work with someone my age. I felt like we were really on the same wave length about what we wanted out of the film. He pushed me hard. And I'm grateful.
Tell us about some of the highlights of your career so far. What were some of the happy / meaningful moments for you?
In 2016 right after I graduated college, I was accepted into a program at Julliard called The Artist as Citizen Conference (put on by Artists Striving to End Poverty). It was a week of workshops and intensives aimed using art and creation as a tool for social change. I met so many other amazing young artists there. Social justice is a huge passion of mine, and this was one of the first times that I was really able to visualize how I could merge my identity as an artist with my identity as an activist. I also wrote and produced my own short film last year called Sideways Gravity. It felt so amazing to conquer that passion project after so many years of dreaming about it.
Along side film acting, you've also done theatre and web work. Do you find yourself acting differently when on stage, as opposed to a film/commercial set?
The process is different in that for film, I need to be prepared to do the same scene a zillion times out of order with lots of stopping and starting. For theatre, the challenge isn't getting in the moment; it's remaining in the moment for 90 minutes (or however long the show is). But as far as my acting itself, it's all the same. I don't think about it any differently when it comes to performance.
What is your dream role?
Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream :)
You're represented by Jacque Pedersen - Rascals Talent for both Theatrical and Commercial projects. How and when did you get your representation, and do you feel it's an important / crucial step in an actor's life?
I just started being repped by Rascals at the beginning of 2018. I submitted myself either through mail or email, I can't remember. Just a cold submission. It took me a while to find representation. Now that I have it, I'm super grateful but I still have to remind myself that having or not having an agent doesn't define my worth as an actor! I think there's a lot of emphasis put on getting an agent, and while I agree it's important and helpful for getting in the door, it can't replace your own work ethic. I still submit myself and have to hustle hard. It's just nice knowing there's someone else on my team now hustling with me and for me.
If you could chat with a younger version of yourself, what would you tell her?
I'd tell her I'm proud of her and to remember that everything is an adventure.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am in the very beginning stages of mapping out an experimental film piece with some fellow filmmakers that will hopefully come to fruition in 2019. Other than that, just auditioning, auditioning, auditioning.
Is there anything you wish to add, or anyone you wish to thank?
Definitely everyone who helped out on Melrose. It was a long and intense adventure and it wouldn't have been the experience it was without Soren, Drew, Hansen, Frank, Nick and the rest of the cast and crew. And of course my parents and my sister (who's actual name is Rachel) for supporting me and dealing with me so long.
"Melrose" - website: http://melrosemovie.com/