March 22nd, 2007
CATCH THIS RISING STAR!by Chip Maloney
Navigating a course through the unguided and thick-with-disappointment jungle that is the New York City acting scene is a treacherous, soul-scarring undertaking that few are capable of and even fewer find any success with, but for Naama Kates there is no Plan B. Four years in hell later, her journey is nearly complete, with leading roles in two upcoming feature films; however, any measure of respite is a long forgotten fantasy for this determined 23-year-old actress, for she knows precisely how difficult this passage has been.
In person, it is abundantly clear that Naama is in possession of all of the talent, beauty, and poise God cheated everyone else out of. Her dreamy countenance and beguiling radiance is immediate, perfect and captivating… the stuff tortured composers and poets have long struggled to describe in immortal odes. There is little doubt that Naama Kates is headed for great things.
SoHo Journal: Acting is not an easy life. What made you pursue that?
No, it’s not easy. There’s a lot of downtime and waiting, and taking horrible jobs, but I knew I wanted to be an actress since I was three years old. Maybe I have some need for the adoration of the millions, but at the same time, I don’t want to be unable to go to a restaurant. I don’t really desire a Hollywood, family-movie type of career…but that doesn’t seem to be the direction I’m going in.
Which direction are you going?
I prefer interesting, edgier roles. The kind that a lot of the European actresses do, or like Maggie Gyllenhaal, Parker Posey, Rachel McAdams, and Michelle Williams do here.
Describe your upcoming features and the type of characters you play.
The first one is titled, Nothing Sacred, and was directed by Dylan Bank & Morgan Pehme. It’s a horror fantasy thriller due out in April. My character is named Delilah, and she is a priestess in an evil cult. My father is the leader of this cult, and he has populated it with his minions by having children with different women from all walks of life all over the world. According to a prophecy, if he has more than one child with the same woman, it will bring about his destruction. Of course, it’s revealed that I’m a twin, and while I was raised in the cult, my brother Blue was hidden away by my mother and raised on the run. The movie takes place a year after my brother has found me and introduced me to my dying mother. The rest of the movie is about our journey to prevent our father from achieving immortality.
How did you prepare for that role?
Well, it’s not as easy to do horror and fantasy films because there’s no point of reference to draw from in real life. I only had three weeks to prepare for this movie, so I didn’t have a lot of time either. I focused on understanding my character’s motivation since she does magic and spells, and sort of lives on the fringe of society; I put myself into a kind of tough mindset and read several books on the tarot, witchcraft and ancient mythology.
Three weeks to memorize all of your dialogue must’ve been hard.
I use a technique with my lines that involves personalizing them, thinking about the meaning of every word and putting an action to everything, so I understand why I’m saying them.
Who were your co-stars in Nothing Sacred?
It was an American and European co-production, so we shot some of it here, some of it in Europe, and I was very fortunate to get to do a couple of scenes with Philippe Nahon and Thierry Lhermitte. They’re both top grossing French actors.
And the other film?
It’s called Normal, and it’s a dramedy directed by Jehane Noujaim. He shot the documentary Control Room. This is his first narrative feature, and I play a lesbian dominatrix who actually likes her job, and uses it to get what she wants…which is to be involved in movies.
Dare we ask how you prepared for that part?
There was a lot of rehearsal for this one. It was almost done in a theatrical style. I also know some women who work in dungeons, and because the screenplay is so well-written, it was very easy to understand that character. I also worked very closely with the screenwriters and that helped. The movie also explains the psychology of the lifestyle.
Have you done any theater?
I was in a play called Beyond the Veil. It was written and directed by John Chatterton. It was about the occult movement in Victorian England, and the characters were based on real people.
Do you prefer theater over film?
I think I prefer the camera. Even though in film, you sometimes have to turn your head like 300 times for one take, I think it picks up more of my energy.
You must’ve been on Law & Order by now?
Surprisingly I haven’t.
No? Every actor in New York has done an episode of Law & Order.
I know, but I never did the knocking on doors thing you need to do for parts like that.
No cattle calls for you?
I don’t usually do those, but I did find the part for Normal on Craigslist and went to a cattle call audition. There were tons of people there, and I waited for hours until they were down to one person ahead of me. Then, the people renting the space told everyone to clear out, and that they didn’t have time to see me, but they took my information. I eventually got a call back from them.
That’s pretty amazing.
Yeah, they told me they’d been looking for months, and had seen thousands of girls, but they chose me.
Have you worked in Hollywood?
I’ve been out there on jobs, and ultimately, I’d like to be bi-coastal. I kind of hate it, but I’ll go there for work
Where did you study acting?
Not in any formal acting school or conservatory, but I had classes at NYU, Fordham, and The Australian Institute of Dramatic Arts.
You must be a natural. To what do you attribute your burgeoning success?
You have to have the drive. It’s a certain kind of drive, but not aggressive. Of course, I’ve also had to give it the commitment of time. I moved to New York when I was 18, on my own, and with no connections. I believe that I’m finally starting to get the energy out of this that I’ve put into it.