Interview with Seana Kofoed | The Power of Storytelling
The story of our life we tell ourselves and others becomes the basis of how we are experiencing our existence. When we focus on, and continuously tell stories of events in life we don’t like, we might lose the opportunity to clearly see the solution. But when we tell a story of love, kindness and empathy, we feel good and empowered to live a happy and satisfying life.
It is fascinating how actors and writers have the ability to study a variety of angles within a character placing them in different situations.
“The appeal of storytelling is widening the experience of the viewer to encourage them to be more tolerant, forgiving and understanding of both themselves and their neighbor,” says actress, writer and director Seana Kofoed
In the following interview, you will discover that Seana is like an American Princess who learned in New York that while being peasant on surface one can feel like the Queen inside. Her desire to manifest exciting and lucrative roles is driven by her focus on family. While she celebrates women taking more dual and triple roles she is also involved in helping families put their lives together. And while she wouldn’t want to become a surgeon she knows that she is and wants to stay respectful, understanding and powerful.
- Please introduce yourself briefly. Who, in your own words, is Seana Kofoed?
I’m an actor/writer and occasional producer living and working in Los Angeles. I worked in New York City in the theatre for many years before moving west to, um…be warm.
- How do your profession as an actor and your personal experiences influence each other?
Hmmm…I think I’m a fairly big feeler in life, which can be helpful in the work. Less useful at home, some might say. I do feel that having a pretty full home life, kids, hubs etc…helps me to keep a bit of perspective. There’s only so long you can wallow in not booking one gig or another when you have kiddos at home to keep alive.
- As an actor, you have experienced both on and off-Broadway theatre. Regarding connection with the audience, what is the difference between being on stage in front of a smaller and larger number of seats?
It’s funny – it’s really sort of the same once you’re up there. Other than projection. So if you’re in a 1000 seat house, you still want to connect in a small, real-ish way, but you’re doing it in a much louder voice. I like the mid-sized houses best, the bigger Off-Broadway ones…they feel intimate, but when the audience responds it’s quite robust and satisfying.
- How has theatre nourished your experience in TV/ Film, and vice-versa?
I definitely learned comedic timing from working with New York stage actors skilled in that sort of thing, and by doing some of the great British and American playwrights. The eight-shows- a- week schedule really gives you a chance to fine tune delivery and play with the nuances of the script. My TV/Film work teaches me to do less. Or I’m sure that’s what it’s supposed to be teaching me! I’m a big feeler, as I mentioned, so…I’ll never be mistaken for a mumblecore actor.
- It seems that more talents are now expanding their professional skills into different categories within the entertainment industry. Why do you think this is happening?
I think actors are taking more agency over their own trajectories. I find it particularly exciting that more women are going down dual or triple paths in the industry. They’re writing, they’re directing, they’re producing. As actors, we’re so used to giving other people power over when we can create, we’re sort of perpetually at other people’s mercy…because, you know, we can act in our bathrooms or whatever, but that doesn’t pay the bills or feed the soul! Women actors have long recognized the disparity in storytelling, the unbalanced casts (10 men, 2 women type of thing), but are increasingly motivated to change that. As someone very smart once said, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’, so as more of us widen our creative portfolios, moving into writing, directing, producing — the stories being told by Hollywood will expand and deepen, and begin to reflect the world in which we live. It’s an important and overdue change taking place, and I think it’s awesome.
- You’ll soon be seen as Maggie in the upcoming Jenji Kohan/Jamie Denbo Lifetime series, American Princess. What did you feel when you first read the script and how was the audition process?
I adored the script! Jamie Denbo is a brilliant, funny writer. She’s an actor, too, so she knows how to write dialogue that actors want to say. Her writing flows so beautifully — and Jenji Kohan is a ridiculously talented human being. She has mastered the dark funny tone, which is my favorite sort of world to live in…that in anything, no matter how tragic, there is humor. And the audition process was painless — a rarity — because everyone involved in American Princess is a gem, so the vibe was one of kindness and respect.
- How would you describe Maggie, and does anything resonate between you as a person and the character?
Maggie is, well, the Queen. Of the Faire. She clings to that title in her daily life, but only because she was treated like an absolute peasant for years, pounding the pavement in New York. As a theatre actor, Maggie tried to rise up through the NYC ranks, landing only the smallest of roles in the Off-Off-Off Broadway houses. Doing tiny, ill-attended experimental projects in a black box theatre on the Lower East Side, when really she felt she should be headlining on Broadway. Eugene O’Neill, or Mamet, or…Forbidden Broadway, at the very least. But finally, she surrendered and took her wounded pride up the East Coast to the Renaissance Faire…where she could finally let her Queen flag fly.
And of course, I relate to her New York experience, because anyone who’s done theatre in New York knows that life. As for the royalty bit, I think within every peasant resides a queen. So in my daily life, I sort of carry myself like a peasant, tending to the kids, picking legos and dirty towels off the floor, but if you talk to me like a peasant, I’ll show you my Queen.
- On the big screen, you’ll be seen as Elaine in a feature film, 30 Miles From Nowhere, which you also wrote and produced. What’s the core message behind the film’s plot.
30 Miles From Nowhere is a thriller-comedy about five college pals who return to the summer home of their youth for their estranged friend’s funeral. What begins as an uneasy reunion becomes a terrifying fight for survival. It’s about friendships, and at what point they crack under pressure.
- What inspired you to write 30 Miles From Nowhere?
I initially wrote the script to have a film to shoot with actor friends of mine in a camp-like setting. I assumed horror, and a cabin in the woods horror/thriller setting would be less expensive to shoot – (smiling) – by which I mean — um, movies are expensive to make. But we did manage to stay on budget, everyone was amazing, and it was a ridiculous amount of fun to shoot.
- What were your criteria behind assembling the right team to make this film?
It was our mission to represent the diversity of our country in our hiring practices, and we had a female director, writer, and producing team, and a diverse and 50% female cast and crew.
There is no reason at all that more projects can’t be setting the same goals for themselves. 50/50 and diverse. In front of and behind the camera. It’s simple, it makes our stories more interesting because different perspectives are being represented. And it made for a respectful, kind, and creative set. Bonus!
- Did you have a particular moment during the process of making the film where a challenge was turned into an opportunity?
We had a very sweet dog who was supposed to be very scary and we knew instantly that this cuddly little pup could not initiate a particular scare we wanted, so our fabulous stunt coordinator, Aaron Crippen, presented a super cool lawn drag as an alternative. It was kind of awesome. Oh, and we did get a scarier dog, but ended up liking the stunt too, so…we used both.
- What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from writing and producing 30 Miles From Nowhere?
Oh goodness…that making a movie is hard work! And also so much fun and so gratifying. I have a fantastic producing partner, Kelly Demaret, and I cannot imagine producing without her. It is definitely a two-person job, both for practical and creative reasons!
- Are you involved in any charity organization or humanitarian cause you would like to mention?
I’m a supporter of and believer in the mission of WarChild.org, a humanitarian agency focused on helping war-affected children and families put their lives back together.
- How do you embrace the intimate experience with existence which we call life?
I really believe that most hurdles are bumps, even big ones, but that nothing is the end of the world. I guess until the actual end of the world, but hopefully, that’s a really long way away! I try to do my part to keep kindness in the air. Teaching my kids to be gentle to one another and kind and to respect and look out for others. It’s a tall order in these often callous and unfeeling times, so it’s extra important to do what we can in the way we treat one another in our daily lives. Obviously, I’m not perfect, there are some very bad drivers in this town, but I do try to lead with kindness.
- The spirit of The Hedonist Magazine is “The Essence of a Joyful Living.” How does Joy during the creative process affect your own experience and in consequence the final manifestation of your actions?
I approach each character I play or write from a place of empathy, which hopefully makes that character relatable to a viewer, which opens something up in that person that they never knew they could understand, relate to, or access. The appeal of storytelling is widening the experience of the viewer, to encourage them to be more tolerant and forgiving and understanding of both themselves and their neighbor.
- When you hear: “You can be, do and have anything you want,” words by Abraham Hicks. What is your take on such a statement?
I mean, I love it, in theory! I do think you can be anything you want. Meaning, I couldn’t necessarily be a surgeon, not because I’m a ding dong, but because all that blood might be a little too creepy. But I can be…kind, respectful, powerful, understanding. That, even if I appear to be a peasant to the untrained eye, I can actually be a Queen inside. Know what I mean?
Photography by Kelly Balch