It can often feel like the first day at a new school - joining a pre-established cast that have already worked together for not one, not two, but THREE other seasons before you came on board. Hierarchies are in place, people know where to sit at the lunch tables, and if you dare show up the popular kid in a subject you could very well begin a war for the rest of your life at school!
So when I came along to the first season read of Starting From Now Season 4, I was prepared - nay, expecting to feel on the outer of a continual personal joke I hadn't been around for. I couldn't have been more wrong in my expectations.
I know all actors say this about all projects they work on (especially in Oscar speeches), but the cast and crew of Starting From Now truly have been the most welcoming group of warm hearted, egoless, generous, and beautiful humans. After only an evening together I felt as if we'd known each other for weeks. After weeks, it felt like years.
I have no idea how Rosie Lourde manages to wear the hats of both actress AND producer, while maintaining such an open, generous nature, seemingly with endless amounts of time to give to anyone who needs to chat. The striking and drop dead gorgeous Bianca Bradey could not have been more humble, down-to-earth, or unpretentious. The ever-smiling Sarah de Possesse is actually the nicest person to have ever walked the planet. Period. Mother Theresa would look like Miss Trunchbul to Sarah's Miss Honey! And Lauren Orrell - the darling lady who I had the utter privilege of working opposite in our scenes together - threw her arms and heart wide open and just said "yes, let's do this!" A fierce, brave and courageous actress with whom I had so much fun on set.
And the writer/director, you ask? Was she a tyrant? A dictator? A precious bully? I think it speaks volumes about Julie Kalceff that the team of people she has established around her are of the quality they are. She is the ultimate leader, in that she gets down in the muck with us to make this all happen. Her willingness to let the script shift and be workshopped is a testiment to her egolessness, and respect for collaboration. In fact I remember one particular rehearsal we were discussing a scene and I was saying, "It just feels like since the last changes were made, this section now doesn't quite fit. Like it's still got a hangover from the previous draft..." The very next day a new scene had been drafted. This is Julie. I question whether the woman actually sleeps at all, sometimes.
What could easily have been a "new school" boobytrap turned out to be my home away from home. And I cannot thank my new family enough for having me on board. Thanks guys!
by Julia Billington