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:: Spotlight :: Interview with Tracey Birdsall

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

Actress Tracey Birdsall, who started in soaps, is now producing her own films, including At the Edge of Time and Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter. She leads the cast of both of those. They are both at post-production stage. Later this year she plays famous porn star Jenna Jameson in the comedy Who’s Jenna?

Currently in production in the Salton Sea, Yuma, Arizona (same locations as Return of the Jedi used), Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter is described as “Star Wars meets Mad Max” about the overthrow of humanity by artificial intelligence. The film stars Tracey Birdsall, Daz Crawford, and Stephen Manley, with a supporting cast of Livvy Stubenrauch, Erin Bethea, Tim McGrath, Miss Asia USA Ashley Park, and Aaron Jacques. The director is Neil Johnson.

Tracey spent a little time in Australia recently and I had the pleasure of speaking to her.

Q. You've had an interesting career so far, as having worked in television, modeling and movies. Has your career taken the path that you expected, or did you have to change focus at any time?

A. There have been a couple of times where multiple opportunities came my way (I always look for the open doors), and sometimes the most lucrative opportunity is not the best choice for long term career goals. You have to focus on the big picture.

Q. Tell us about your early days in front of the camera, and what was a breakthrough moment?

A. I have breakthrough moments on every project! I’m constantly evolving, learning, slurping whatever information I can from icons that I work with to continue to grow in my craft and be more. A couple of years ago, Del Weston of Action on Film Festival honoured me with the Maverick Award. At that moment, I revved the engine over 100 mph and have not looked back since – nor have I been without a project. I prep every film role at 110%… or more. I’m ridiculously serious in my work ethic!

Q. What have you learned from the various industries about yourself and dealing with various aspects?

A. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, I have defied the odds in continuing to work the amazing challenging parts over the years. I move forward consistently without listening to the “way it should be” or the “odds” for or against me. I’ve learned to simply be the best me that I can be and to work to the utmost of my ability. The best part of what I do is that I truly enjoy it. I truly enjoy taking on the various aspects of my character’s personalities and living them. I’ve also learned that no matter how hard I picture the work and the physical and emotional challenges, that it can be harder than I had imagined. I accept that, as it grows my very essence and character. I realize that each time and with each role, I can multiply that which I am, and that which I am capable of.

Q. Tell us about Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter, in which you produce and star? Did you think you were made for such a role? I also understand you filmed many of the action sequences and that there is a Star Wars connection with the location?

A. Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter started out as an amazing independent Science Fiction film in which I starred in and helped produce. Since it’s birth; however, it has grown astronomically! It’s a film about the overthrow of humanity by artificial intelligence and my character’s (Sienna’s) prejudice against the very same. Sienna’s sole mission is to take out the A.I. Scourge, and to save the worlds. This proves more difficult than she had imagined – as she also has some self-realizations, which throw a monkey wrench in the whole plan. It’s an action/sci-fi/character driven film that I’m so honoured to have led.

We filmed the movie across two countries and various states in some of the same locations as Star Wars (Yuma, Arizona), Planet of the Apes and Star Trek (Trona Pinnacles), amongst many others.

Q. You have other film projects such as At The Edge Of Time and Diary Of A Fatman. Tell us about them?

A. At the Edge of Time is a Science Fiction film also directed by Neil Johnson. It’s a time travel film, which involves a man with a Messiah complex trying to take over the world by re-writing history to his betterment. My character, Dianne, is the general of her own army who will stop at nothing to put an end to him.

Diary of a Fatman is actually an Australian production, although my scenes were shot in Los Angeles. It’s a hilarious bevy of ridiculousness following the journey of a fatman (Berg) and his real life versus his imaginary life (he dreams of me…). Steve Ravic of Magestic Films (based in Melbourne, Australia) is at the helm, and if you ever figure out the purpose of this film (besides making you laugh until you pee) please let me know! In all honesty though, this was a blast to work on and certainly worth a watch!

Q. Who's Jenna…? Is sure to ignite much interest, as it is based on the famous porn star. Was there any apprehension in accepting such a role? How will mainstream audiences review it?

A. I read this script many times prior to signing on to the project, and I assure you there was no apprehension. The script is brilliant, the cast is brilliant, and the marketing potential was astronomical. Depending on how they market it, it could be a really huge hit. Either way, it was a blast to make and I’m so proud to have been a part of it. Mainstream audiences that like this kind of humour (think The Hangover or Ted) will love it! It’s my favourite type of comedy.

Q. Do you think, with the Rogue Warrior role in particular, that it is important not to pigeonhole yourself into science fiction only and you see the “Who's Jenna” comedy as a welcome change?

A. I believe in working cross-genre. When I work on a Science Fiction film, I crave comedy or drama, when I work on a comedy, I wish there was more action and Sci-Fi… It’s a never-ending story of not being satisfied with just one flavour of ice cream… That said, it’s important to stay relevant in multiple genres, and to keep your skills honed across the board.

Q. How important is managing life/work balance - being very involved in these film projects, as well as finding time with yourself and family?

A. Very important although I am a complete failure in that! I have tremendous life balance unless I’m prepping for a film role… at which point my focus is entirely on work. After a while, those around you come to accept and hopefully appreciate your focus…

Q. Do you have any other hobbies/interests?

A. I do! In between projects over the years, I have enjoyed numerous adventures at sea (I am a boater and a sailor although I recently sold my last boat). I’ve built and remodelled over a half dozen homes. I am into extreme fitness and working out – along with fighting and boxing, and I absolutely adore getting lost watching movies on almost a nightly basis… and then there’s South Park which often lulls me to sleep.

Q. What medium-to-long term goals have you set?

A. I’m a constant goal setter, but I only focus on the next project… the very next goal. They called it “baby steps” in the infamous film What About Bob? It’s very much a dot system in constantly moving forward to the next right thing, and then being amazed at a later time at where it has taken you. I try not to think too far in advance at it may spoil the journey…

Stills from Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter