Judy Cerda is a California based actress who appears in the film Tibet in Flames. Here is a link to her website:
Q. What made you interested in becoming an actress?
A. Watching TV as a little girl and gaining an interest in acting so I could pretend to be somebody else with a different family and a more exciting life. I used to watch commercials and tv shows and think to myself “I could do that!” and I would imitate the actors and create my own commercials to perform for my parents and neighbors. Then I started taking tap, ballet and jazz dance lessons which got me into performing. I knew then that I really wanted to be an actress more than anything else.
Q. What is Tibet in Flames about?
A. It’s a very dramatic and political movie about the situation in Tibet where Tibetans are committing suicide via burning themselves (hence the name) in rebellion to those opposing their religion. The movie shows how strongly the Tibetans feel about their religion and their right to practice it. It is currently making the rounds in different film festivals.
Q. What role do you play in the film?
A. I play the role of Matty, a doctor and the best friend of a Tibetan man on the verge of suicide. The role was a really emotional role and showed how sad it is to lose a best friend. I also had some beautiful scenes outside in a gorgeous garden in front of a lovely house so it was an enjoyable experience. The director and crew were wonderful to work with.
Q. What has been your greatest professional triumph?
A. I think there have been several. One that comes to mind is being able to cry on cue in movies. My most emotional role was “Lola” in the movie “To You For You”. Lola is a woman on death row who is pleading with her lawyer/brother to save her from execution. This role required hours of filming and crying over and over again for the retakes and I think I did really well with that. I had to really ready myself for the role and the emotions it entailed during the rehearsal before we began filming. I also felt that a personal goal had been achieved when I had a lead role on the national tv show “I Almost Got Away With It” as Debra Mason, which was another emotional role that required crying, yelling and showing lots of emotion. This show has aired several times on the Discovery ID channel, the Discovery channel and On Demand TV.
Q. What has been your greatest disappointment?
A. Projects that get cancelled. I have been cast in a few feature films and web series that got put on hold or cancelled due to lack of funds. This is a real disappointment when an actor goes to the trouble of auditioning and competing hard for the role, getting cast and then being informed later on that they are still working on obtaining funds, crew, etc. and that the project may not happen after all. That is such a waste of time and very discouraging.
Q. What method of acting do you employ in your work?
A. No particular method. I believe acting is about putting yourself in a character’s place, feeling empathy for this character and developing a style for that particular type of person. You have to really feel it and believe you are that person for it to work. I get irritated when I see so many bad actors out there who study under bad so-called acting teachers. I can usually spot them right away. They don’t show any emotions, they whisper and can hardly be heard, and are so afraid of overacting or projecting that they don’t act at all. It’s always easier for a director to tell an actor to tone it down than it is for them to try to get the actor to show emotions or act as a real person would. It’s better for actors to overact than underact in other words because doing something with a character is better than doing nothing, and being heard on camera is so important. Whispering can get an actor’s scene cut because they can’t be understood and therefore are a waste of time on the screen. When I play a character, I attempt to understand their feelings and their words, what they are going through in the scene, and then let it all out as I imagine the character would.
Q. What is your wildest backstage story?
A. When I was in the movie “The Final Duel” playing Coach Charlie, a fencing coach, there was another actress in the film who got really sick. We had been filming all day for a few days which included fencing lessons as the actors playing fencers in the movie and me as the fencing coach, needed to be able to play the sport for real somewhat. So we were pretty busy with our fencing in between our takes. Well this one girl seemed to have some kind of seizure which resulted in someone on the crew calling an ambulance. As it turned out, they were able to help her on the spot and did not take her to the hospital but she did need to lie down and rest the rest of the day. This changed the whole schedule that day as she was in several scenes, two of them with me. I suggested that we just do my close ups in the scene while she was down and let her do her other scenes the next day if she was better, but the crew seemed to be agitated and had a big meeting among themselves, and decided they all wanted to wrap for the day. They wanted me to come back a third day to complete my scenes with this girl, but I was unable to due to my filming in the movie “Albatross” as a TV reporter the next day. It turned out they ended up cutting those scenes between the girl and me since I couldn’t make it the next day. It was too bad because it shortened my role in the movie but this whole incident was unexpected and I did have my other filming commitment the next day.
Q. What do you like most about film acting?
A. Being able to portray so many different characters. It’s really exciting to play so many different roles the way I have. I have played prostitutes, TV reporters, school teachers, real estate agents, flirty girlfriends, cheating wives, nice wives, best friends, villainess women, queens, witches, victims and so many more types and it’s nice to challenge myself to be different people for each role. Watching yourself on the screen in a movie theatre or seeing yourself on tv is pretty thrilling too. It makes it all worth it.
Q. What do you like least about it?
A. Seeing others who are not as talented get roles because they know directors personally and have the time to follow them around in the business.
It’s hard if you know you have the right talent and look for a role but hear that a relative or long time friend got the role. I know one director who puts his neighbor/good friend in the lead in every movie he does without realizing that she really can’t act and incapable of showing emotion on screen, crying on screen or even showing the fear that some of the roles have required of her. When things like that happen, it’s easy to dislike this business and wish I had become a psychologist instead. There is some unfairness in this business whether we like to admit it or not.
Q. What film role could you have nailed?
A. I could have played the role that Sandra Bullock played in The Blind Side movie. Not only did she have blonde hair like me in it, but she dressed just like me. I tend to wear a lot of short dresses/skirts and high heels. I dress up a lot for any occasion and she reminded me of myself the movie. Plus, she was very determined and organized in the way she played the role which is definitely my style. She was firm yet feminine and I know I could have played the role just as well.