Fur Coat – Georgine
Photography by Michael Williams
Fashion Editor: Lauren Abbondola
Hair: Charlie Taylor
Makeup: Lena Koro
(Interview follows photo series)
Dress – Pamplemousse
Leather Dress – Georgine // Boots – Marc Fisher
Leather Jacket – Sass & Bide
Leather Dress – Georgine // Boots – Marc Fisher
Top – Vince // Jeans and Converse – Brianne’s Own
Fur Coat – Georgine // Pants – Julianna Bass
INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL WILLIAMS
STORY BY KATINA GOULAKOS
Down to earth and ambitious, our next subject is making huge moves in the industry, appearing in the hit television series The Exorcist. We at Imagista got to have a chat with the gifted Brianne Howey to find out more about what makes her tick!
Imagista: How did you get into acting?
Brianne Howey: I grew up in Pasadena California and I went to an all girls Catholic High School in Pasadena called Sacred Heart, and I think it was there that I kind of found my voice because I was involved in improv and the plays and I would also do the plays at the all boy school, it was just sort of what all the “cool” girls were doing.
Imagista: What was the improv like? Can you describe that experience a little bit?
BH: It was the fundamental principles of improv, basically the same thing you would hear at Improv Olympics, so it was just building off one another. I had to try out for it which I was nervous about. I had tried out for every sport freshman year and did not make any of the teams because I was just not athletic but my mom was determined to help me figure out what my “thing” would be. I decided to audition for the improv team and I just felt so at home and I made the team, thank god and it was kind of this nice sisterhood. I felt comfortable in my own skin and I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that it was all girls, I don’t know if I would have taken the same path at a coed school because it’s intimidating you need to be willing to fail and that’s harder when you are a teenager and there are so many other pressures. From there, that’s when our coach recommended that maybe I should audition for the plays, I am not a singer or a dancer, so auditioning for a musical was the last thing I wanted to do but it ended up being a good source of confidence for me. I was able to be myself and take risks which is something that is so important, when you are outside of your comfort zone and I think that’s when you really start to discover yourself.
Imagista: How much of a role did your family play in getting you into acting? Do you come from a creative family?
BH: I think my mom was always strict on making sure that my sister and I had the brightest futures possible, I think all parents always want for their kids what they didn’t have. Getting to go to this wonderful private school and making sure I had options after that for college was super important to her. Schooling is so competitive now, I had to take AP classes and have extracurriculars, there was a lot of pressure on that aspect. I think in the big picture she wanted me to discover what my thing was, for me to find out what I was good at. Acting was not something my family expected me to pursue. Growing up I honestly did not realize acting was a profession because I had no examples of that around me.
Imagista: What would you consider to be your “big break”?
BH: I had always auditioned a ton, my manager who is amazing has always managed to get me in the room. I believe that you just need to keep auditioning. For a good two years I had an audition almost every day, depending on the time of year. I was constantly putting myself out there and eventually you start to book a couple. As your resume grows, your opportunities do also. I think a lot of industry people do not want to take risks on new faces, which sort of seems backwards but I think the more you work, it will bring you even more work because people start to trust you and your craft. The first audition I ever went to, I booked it, which was kind of misleading because it made it seem easy and then a couple more months go by and you realize why it is so hard to be in this industry. I have had an interesting trajectory, it’s been very slow and steady and upward, from guest star to recurring guest star, I started getting more and more solid roles.
Imagista: What do you think you would be doing if you were not acting?
BH: I minored in child psychology almost by accident. I found myself taking all of those college classes and before I knew it my college counselor was like you know you basically have a minor. All the classes I chose to take fulfilled the requirements for the child psychology program. I love kids, I am from a huge family and I think I have always been curious to know why we are the way we are, which I believe all stems from our childhood. I don’t know it always interested me, so I guess that’s what I would probably be doing.
Imagista: Acting is in a way similar to psychology, do you agree?
BH: Absolutely, I think that you really need to know who you are to be a great actor, you really need to know what your own strengths and weaknesses are which takes a lot of self awareness and honesty.
Imagista: Speaking of great actors, who would you say inspires you most in the field?
BH: I love Sarah Paulson’s work, I love Julie Delpy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brie Larson. I also love Edie Falco, she is so strong as an actress. When I watch these women I am craving to go work on something.
Imagista: What are you working on right now that you are most excited about?
BH: Right now, The Exorcist. It turned out to be this super cool, almost art show in a way. I didn’t know what to think going into it because it is such a big network show; The Exorcist is already such a branded name with a huge audience built into it but the creators have been able to have this network show but make it feel like a cable show if that makes sense. It has a lot of substance, it is definitely not watered down.
Imagista: Tell me about your character on the show and how you prepare for something like that? What is your process like?
BH: I was immediately drawn to the project because it is a good family drama with this thriller horror aspect, take away the horror and it would still be a good show because the characters are so complex. I play Kat, she is the oldest daughter, in the first episode you think I am the possessed one so that was fun because they wanted to fool the audience and they wanted me to act super bipolar. Kat is in her early 20’s she is a ballerina going to Juilliard and she is forced to leave school early because she gets into a bad car accident; a girl that she is very close to ends up passing away in the accident, so she is dealing with that guilt and remorse. This girl was also someone she was maybe having a romantic relationship and her dad has a traumatic brain injury so he is not as supportive as she needs him to be and her mom is distracted because her sister is possessed. So there are a lot of different layers, I saw this complex character and realized how real it was and how it was so much more interesting than just a one dimensional character. She was just dealing with real life things and I felt connected to the role, I was really excited to play with all these layers this character had to offer. I memorize but I try not to be too rigid, and I think I try to stay on my toes and use the room and the people around me as much as I can to ground me to the character.
Imagista: Do some of the scenes scare you while you are actually filming?
BH: To be totally honest, not so much, which I feel bad saying but it’s the truth. We rehearse and you get so much coverage and do it over so many times that you are expecting everything to happen. However, that doesn’t mean that there are not any surprises and I believe that always has the best outcome. To allow yourself to be surprised in a scene is such a pure and amazing thing. Honestly, some of the scenes done in the attic are a bit scary to film and also the prosthetic are pretty terrifying, they do such a good job.
Imagista: What do you have coming out in the next little while?
BH: So there is this wonderful show called I’m Dying Up Here which is on showtime and it is being produced by Jim Carrey. It is a beautiful story that follows the lives of a couple of standup comics living in LA in the 70’s. I read the pilot, it is written so beautifully and it was just the perfect dark comedy, it was both hilarious and heartbreaking and I think that is so symbolic of life.
Imagista: How did you land that role?
BH: My manager got me the appointment and I read the script and I loved it. I was personally putting a lot of pressure on the situation because I knew it was something that I wanted and there were also only 3 female characters so I knew it was going to be difficult and at this point only two of those roles I was age appropriate for. I went in and read for the part of the waitress that works at the comedy club, then I had a call back and I got it!
Imagista: What was it like working with Jim Carrey?
BH: It was wonderful, in the pilot someone passes away and at the same time someone in his life passed away and there was this sad environment on set but at the same time he was so incredibly passionate about the project because it began hitting his emotions in a new way and I think that rubbed off on all of us. He would give beautiful toasts about how special the story was to him and he sort of asked everyone to give it there all and that if we needed anything he was there for us. This story is special to him because he was there at the time that this show was set, doing comedy, so it was a really inspiring experience.