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Catching Up With Actress Catrina Ganey

*It’s been awhile since we’ve heard the latest news about the former “All My Children” actress. What has she been up to these days?*

Anything New Film/TV lately?:
This past year has been incredibly hard; not only for me – but for a lot of artists. The recession hit everyone across the board; and artists were definitely not exempt. A lot of shows have been canceled and production companies are cutting back on costs. I am still reeling over the cancellation of Law and Order. That show was such a mainstay and a major part of my life for so many years as a performer. Up until last year, I usually would get a featured role on it just about every season. I’m going to miss the crew, the cast and everything. It was definitely the heart of New York. A lot of us are going to miss that steady work. I read a recent article where it actually employed over 3,000 actors a year! So the cancellation is a really major loss for so many of us.

Remembering my first Law and Order:
Getting my first audition for the show and actually booking it, was a blessing within itself. I was still living in Detroit at the time. I was teaching at a community college and had directed the play The Great White Hope. Jane Alexander (my dear friend and mentor) made her Broadway debut in the play and her husband, Ed Sherin had directed it. He was one of the producers of Law and Order when they both came to Detroit to see the play. After they saw it, they were really impressed and Ed told me flat out, I had to leave Detroit, if I ever wanted to have a meaningful acting career. I was terrified. I hate change. I was very comfortable in Detroit. I had a job I loved; great friends and was quite comfortable with my lifestyle. But I knew he was telling me the truth. And deep down I felt if I didn’t take a leap of faith and leave Detroit, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life. So I decided to leave. I was in the middle of wrapping up my job in Detroit and flying back and forth to New York to find an apt. I had less than 72 hours. Ed had tracked me down at a friend’s house. He told me he wanted me to go in for an audition for Law and Order. I was so stupid and naďve at the time, I actually told the poor guy I didn’t have the time and I would (believe it or not….) see what I could do. We laugh about it now, but he was so mad at me that he actually hung up on me! He couldn’t believe I would say something like that; seeing there were over 1,000 actors who would have killed just to get an audition! But I didn’t have a clue about the business or the rarity of having such an audition at the time. Luckily for me; that night my friends talked me into it and I went to the audition. To my surprise and good fortune – I booked it! I had to fly back to Detroit; tell my boss I needed a few more days because I had to go back and shoot the episode. When I came back to New York, I was so nervous! I knew absolutely nothing about acting on camera. What I learned was just watching the show over and over again; to try and get the feel of it. The poor make-up woman must have gone through two boxes of Kleenex – just dabbing my face because I was sweating so badly from nerves! The wonderful Jerry Orbach (God bless his soul) kept giving me cranberry-apple juice to settle my stomach. I was a mess! But ten Law and Orders later…I’m still standing!

Working with Jerry Orbach:
The guy was a genius in my opinion! He was so erudite and incredibly nice. I would be on set going over my lines a zillion times – and he would be sitting there reading the Wall Street Journal like it was an easy summer day. But when the cameras rolled; he was right there. I remembered the last time I worked with him, I was a little anxious and told him they were about to shoot our scene and we needed to get ready. (Can you imagine that?? Telling the great Jerry Orbach to “get ready”.) But he just smiled at me and said: “When they roll…he will come”. That’s how classy and generous the guy was. He could have told me “where to go…and how to get there.” He was such a brilliant man and lovely individual. I had the good fortune of working with him twice before he passed away. His death hit me harder than I had anticipated. He was sorely missed by so many people; actors and the average New Yorker alike.

Impact of Law and Order on my life:
I just consider myself an average actor out there trying to get work like everyone else. I rarely get recognized. But I’ve done so many “Law and Orders” and they run non-stop on cable now, that I’m actually getting noticed. There’s this one woman on my block, who startled me one night. I was in a store on my way home and she stopped me because she had recognized me from one of the episodes. She must have been a huge fan because she had seen just about every Law and Order out there. She even knew every episode I was in! Now every time she sees me she yells: Hey…Miss ‘Law and Order’”! To this day, I believe the opportunities on Law and Order led me to landing the role of Zora on All My Children. You have to be focused whenever you go to any audition. But there was a certain type of focus and energy you had to have when you went in for the producers for Law and Order. They were very specific about who they wanted for each and every role. I learned so much about working on camera on Law and Order. Being on that show gave me an opportunity to sharpen my skills and develop a certain work ethic. By the time, I had a chance to audition for All My Children I was more than prepared to do my best; regardless of the outcome. Soap work is such fast pace. You don’t get too many opportunities to shoot something more than once when you’re doing a Soap Opera. So you have to be on your toes. I don’t think I would have been able to keep up with it all when I was working on All My Children; had I not done several Law and Orders first. It really prepared me for the regiment of Soap Opera work.

Other Actors who made an impression on Law and Order:
I met so many wonderful performers on that show. A few have actually become life-long friends. A lot of times, when you are cast, you actually don’t know who is playing what part until you get on set. The last one I did I was so excited to see Oscar winner, Mercedes Rhuel there. She was playing the judge and I had my scene with her. That was so cool. And of course – Alana Delagarza landed the “big cheese” when she got her contract on the show. We were all so very happy for her. I thought she did an amazing job with her character. We were all proud of her.

Staying in touch with former All My Children cast members:
I am still very close with Laura Allen, Eden Riegel, Kelly Overton and Alana Delagarza. We all have such busy schedules. We try and stay in contact via emails and text messages. Phone calls are a rarity these days. But we have our own little “girls’ time out” when I go out to LA to visit. We have too much fun when we get together. Laura made me an aunt with Harper and now Alana is going to have a baby. We found out its going to be a boy. I’m really happy for her. But the rest of them better have a girl the next time around! I’m very excited for Eden and her new role on The Young and the Restless. I finally caught her on the show the other day. She’s doing an amazing job. We spoke briefly about her new change. She seems to be very happy and I think her fans are happy for her.

Upcoming Projects:
I’m finally going to put my reel together in the upcoming months. I’m going to post it on line, so people can check it out and keep abreast on what shows I’ve been on. It’s been something I’ve been talking about doing for over a year now. And with the business changing so drastically; you really have to have a reel if you’ve done a certain amount of TV/film; so casting agents can check out your work prior to meeting you sometimes. I just didn’t have the time in the past. Kelly Overton’s husband, Judson Morgan is an amazing film director and he said he would do it for me. I love his work and I know he’ll do a good job. One of the reasons I was hesitant about doing it was the fact, I was waiting for the release of this great indie I did a while back called: The Speed of Life. I have some nice scenes in it and I wanted to put them on my reel. I think it’s a great film and I thought the writer/director Ed Radtke did an amazing job. Even though the film has not been officially released, the director finally mailed me a copy of it. I watched it again and was more impressed with it this second viewing. Unfortunately, it takes money to get things released and Ed is still looking for some backing. But he’s working on it. I’m hoping it’ll get out there because I think it’s a solid piece of work. The actors in it are really good – in my opinion. I did another Indie: 3 Backyards starring Edie Falco. It was directed by Eric Mendelsohn. It did really well at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. He won Best Director of the Year. Once again – there’s the issue of finding the necessary monies to get it out there. I have yet to see the entire film myself. But Alana called me one night and told me she had gone to a special screening of it. She said it was really good. I’m praying both films will get out there soon.

My Actor’s Wish List:
I’ve been praying and hoping I get a chance to be on The Good Wife starring Julianna Marguiles. I absolutely LOVE that show. I think it’s well written and directed. I watch it every week. I think it’s one of the best shows on TV right now. It would be a satisfying coup for me if I do get a part on it. I wouldn’t even care if they cast me as “Prison Guard #1”! That’s how much I love that show! I think it has a long-run ahead of itself. So I have high hopes of booking something on it. I had a chance of working with Julianna awhile back when she did Canterbury’s Law. I hope I get another opportunity to work with her again. I think she’s incredible actress.

Advice for Beginning Actors:
A lot of people who want to be in the business come up to me and ask me what do they have to do to get started? I’ve notice most people don’t want to be ‘actors’ per se – they want to be ‘stars’. I think that’s where they start off on the wrong foot. They think it’s really easy. They think because they look a certain way or have ‘some’ talent; then they can go out there and BAM! a million dollar contract will fall into their laps. I always tell people: “2 + 2 doesn’t necessarily equal 4 when you are trying to make it in the business”. I’ve been doing this for awhile now. I know some AMAZING actors who never get a big break. But they keep plugging away at it. I know people who have never set foot in an acting class; and for some reason get cast all of the time. I know people who just do acting for ‘fun’ and have better natural ability and talent than those who have been training for it for years! I’ve stopped trying to figure out the formula because in my opinion; there isn’t one set formula. If you want to be an actor; you have to expect a lot of disappointments. You have to be willing to endure the hard knocks of not getting cast; or do a great audition and it comes down to you or someone with a bigger resume/name. Most times; the one with the bigger resume/name gets it. That’s happen to a lot of people I know. But they keep plugging away. I just tell people to go to school; get training; get an education; learn how to do other things so you can support yourself in between gigs. Count your blessings! There are other people out there who have it far worst than you at times. On a lighter note- I tell them, if they want to be famous…all they have to do is do something really “freaky”…have a reality film crew film it….post it on youtube…get the word out and most likely…they’ll be famous within 48 hours. They’ll get their ’15 mins.’ of fame and make a lot of money. Hmmm? Maybe I should do that!

Cathy Hi Catrina. I understand you just wrapped up filming a new movie called "Freedomland".
Can you tell me who else is starring in the film, and who did you work with?

Catrina: Julianne Moore, Samuel L. Jackson, Edie Falco, Anthony Mackie, Aunjanue Ellis and Ron Eldard. I got to do a nice little scene with Julianne which I loved doing it. Although it was a little hard for me. Without giving away the movie, I had to be a little mean to her. And she is sooo sweet and lovable...it was hard acting like I "was" mad at her. I hated when I finished filming my moment with her. I wish I had more time with her because she is such a lovely person. It was nice meeting Anthony Mackie. He did "Sucker Free City" with Laura Allen. She was excited when she knew he was going to be in the film with me. So I got to talk to him briefly and pass on a "hello" for Laura. Overall, it was a talented cast and I think it's going to be a great movie. I saw a clipping from it and it is "hot".

Cathy: Tell me a little about the character you played....what was her name, and what was she like?

Catrina: I play the character of Lorraine. She's a hard-working woman who lives in the projects with Julianne Moore's character, who happens to be the only white woman living in the projects. We started off being friends, her son went to the same child center with my daughter. But after I suspect of her doing something...our relationship falls apart.

Cathy: What was it like working with the beautiful Julianne Moore?

Catrina: I was sooooo nervous before I met her. I always liked her work. But I really liked her after I saw her do, "Far From Heaven". After I saw her do that...I was a fan. I was so relieved my first day of shooting, I didn't have to work with her. I needed a little more time to adjust to the fact that I was going to work with her. But the second day of shooting I had to do my scene with her. We were shooting up in Yonkers. I was on location with Aujunue Ellis waiting for Julianne Moore to show up and to rehearse our scene that we were all going to do together. I was trying to be cool and all of a sudden someone came up behind me and said: "Boo! Hello girls!" and started giggling. I turned around and it was Julianne! That did it! She won me over. I love jokes and started laughing.I was hopelessly smitten by her. I had heard she was nice...but after working with her...I got a cavity because she is so "sweet". :) We did have one thing in common - she lived in DC for awhile and I was born and raised there. So we talked a little about that and some other things over the course of days. Very down-to-earth woman with a good head on her shoulders. No "diva" attitude. A rarity in this business sometimes.

Cathy: Can you tell me a little bit about the film?

Catrina: The film is based on the book by Richard Price. I never read the book before. But when I received and read the script, I was blown away. It's about a woman who is suspected of foul play when she tells the police she and her son were carjacked by a black man. She's pretty distraught and claims the man took her car with her son in it. The city is racially split and tense. And this situation doesn't help when the police force goes all out looking for this little boy. It only reinforces the black population of the town to become irate and disturbed because rarely does a police force send an army (per se) looking for a missing black child. But when a white child is missing....send in the Marines. But more than that...the movie also focuses on the relationship of Moore's character with Samuel L. Jackson's character (who plays Lorenzo - the policeman for the black tenement). Jackson is going to be terrific in this film. We did some hard late night shooting...I'm talking 3-5:30 AM shooting! Jackson was always on top of his game when I thought I was going to fall out from exhaustion.

Cathy: All in all, how was the experience?

Catrina: I have to admit, I got a little teary-eyed when they said I was "wrapped". I had so much fun and loved every minute of filming. I made some good friends from the set. It was a wondeful experience. Well...there was this ONE time I didn't like so much...and that was getting up at 3:00 AM! one morning in order to be on the set by 6:00 AM! I didn't like that too much. :) And this other time, when I ate something that didn't agree with me when we had a meal at midnight. I got so sick! But it was one of the best experiences I've had thus far in my career. I love doing tv/film. I love the entire process of being on a tv/film set, working with cameras and the complexities of it. It's become a much more enjoyable process for me these days than stage. Not to mention, the residual checks ain't too shabby. :)

Cathy: Do you know when the film is set to be released?

Catrina: It's not scheduled to be released until next year. But the movie industry is funny. So it can be released earlier or even later. I can't say for sure. It would be nice if it's released before the end of the year because I think Moore and Jackson could possibly get Oscars nods from this one.

Cathy: And now for a few fun questions. LOL
Who is your favorite actor?

Catrina: My mentor, friend and favorite actress is Jane Alexander. She's been my favorite actress and friend for over 20 years now. She's an icon in the theatrical community. Unfortunately, this MTV generation only remembers her if I tell them she was in "The Ring". But die hard acting fans know her from her other films: "The Great White Hope", "Kramer vs. Kramer" and "Eleanor and Franklin". She's a wonderful person and I love her to death. She always blows me away when I see her on stage or on film.

Cathy: Who are you other favorite actors?

Catrina: I'm starting to really like Cate Blanchett. I also like Sophie Marceau and Peta Wilson. But I'm from the old school, so my all-time favorite actors are Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Spencer Tracy and Cary Grant. I love Pierce Brosnan because I'm a James Bond fan. And I also love old monsters flicks that Lon Chaney, Jr. did. I have all of those. I collect old movies. That's my hobby.

Cathy: If I couldn't be an actor, I would be:

Catrina: Believe it or not, I was planning on being a doctor. But I was so dramatic when I did my scientific projects that the science teacher told me in high school that I needed to leave the class and go to the drama class down the hall. I did...and I've been there ever since...in a manner of speaking! :)

Cathy: If I had one wish, it would be:

Catrina: Hmm...that's a hard one. Well...if I could be a character in the "Twilight Zone", I would wish to be a character like Lt. Ripley, Lara Croft or Sydney Bristow ("Alias"). I loove watching women kicking butt. I think it's soooo cool!

Cathy: Something that always makes me smile:

Catrina: Seeing my friends succeed when I predict they would. Without naming names, I told a friend of mine once she would end up with a tv contract. She didn't believe me. So I made a bet with her. I WON! Now her face is plastered all over the subway trains. I love it when I'm right...and that always makes me smile.

Cathy: What I would title my autobiography:

Catrina: "One Lucky Colored Chile". I grew up in the inner city of DC. So there weren't a lot of opportunities for black children. But I always seemed to end up with scholarships to study overseas. I've studied in Germany and London. I've done missionary work in South Africa and Central America. One time, when my mother was going with me to the airport before I took off to study in London, she looked over at me and said: "You's the luckiest colored chile I've met!". I never forgot when she said that and I believe I am. :)

Cathy: The cause I most believe in:

Catrina: Education! Education!! Education!!! That's why I love to teach. Regardless of my acting career, I still teach at a community college in Queens. I think education is very important. People come up to me all of the time saying that they want to be an actor. But sometimes, they fail to realize that actors have to be well-read and well-informed. I'd admire people if they are well-read. Some of the finest actors I've come in contact with are some of the smartest folks I know. The late Jerry Orbach ("Law and Order) was one of these actors. He knew something about everything. My friend, Jane Alexander is very erudite and intelligent. I played Scrabble with her once, she beat unmercifully. I never played with her again! :)

Cathy: If I could live anywhere, it would be:

Catrina: It's a toss up between Rhode Island and London. I fell in love with Rhode Island after I did a play up there several summers ago. I still go there to vacation and I have good friends there. But I also love London. I think British men are "hot"! :) I always believed I was going to marry a British man, have British children and have dual citizenship. :) But I never had the guts to follow-through with my fantasy plan. :) Maybe one day I will. Let me see...where did i put my passport? :)

Cathy: If I were a cartoon character, I would be:

Catrina: Definitely one of "The Proud Family". I love that cartoon. I watch it every Saturday...if I get up in time. They crack me up; especially Sugar Mama. What a hoot!

Cathy: Film or theatrical role of the opposite sex I would most like to play:

Catrina: Bond. I've always wanted to say: "I'm Bond...James Bond". I think that's one of the coolest lines in film history.

Cathy: If I could be in a TV show as a character for one month, I'd choose:

Catrina: The other month, I was in a thrift store. (I love thrift stores!) I saw the Complete Seasons of "Alias" - Season one and two on dvd. They were so cheap, that I bought both boxes. I never watched "Alias" before. I knew some friends of mine who were crazy about the show. But I never got into it. Well...I started watching the dvds and couldn't stop watching them. My sister also turned me on to "La Femme Nikita" with Peta Wilson. So I bought those dvds and watched them too. So it would have to be a toss up between Sydney or Nikita. Either one would be fine.

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