Interview with Savannah Lathem of California Solo
Savannah Lathem made her screen debut in the cult TV show Lost. Ever since then her career’s been going from strength to strength and we got the chance to quiz her on her career so far. She recently acted alongside Robert Carlyle in festival hit California Solo which hits cinemas in the US later this year.
Cult Hub: When did you start acting and how did you get into the industry?
Savannah Lathem: When I was nine years old I got into the industry after hearing a radio announcement advertisement in Birmingham, AL about a chance to audition for one of the top talent agencies in Hollywood. After hearing the announcement something just clicked inside of me that instant and I just knew acting was what I wanted to do with my life.
I wrote my own monologue that best fit my whole personality to showcase my talent and stood in line with over 1200 kids & teens hoping for a chance to sign with the Hollywood Agent. Four kids were selected that day and I was the only talent to sign a contract and move to LA. My Mom and I travelled back and forth during pilot season and I auditioned for commercials for several years before auditioning for TV and film.
CH: You’re first major role was in Lost as a young Rachel, how was the experience and did you feel any pressure from such a widely watched and established show?
SL: I have always been one of those kids who has to work for everything so while waiting for a chance to audition I studied with some really great acting coaches and waited for that day when I would finally get a chance to audition for TV & film speaking roles. The day finally came two years later when I was 11 years old. That day was the day I auditioned for Young Rachel Carlson on Lost.
When I booked Lost it was one of the most exciting memories of my life. I was picked up in a long, black, stretch Limo and driven to the LAX Airport where the cast members & I boarded first class and we were treated like Royalty. Hawaii was amazing and the cast members, Producer and Director, Jack Bender, were so kind to me.
I loved playing the role of Young Rachel Carlson and received a Young Artist Award Nomination for best performance in a TV episode. That was such an amazing experience. I never really felt any pressure from such a widely watched and established TV Show. I had a few people on several trips back and forth to LA recognize me as Young Rachel and I was asked to sign autographs and take pictures which I always enjoy doing for Lost fans. I have had several fans from all over the world write letters and send pictures of me as Young Rachel to sign autographs for them. A lot of my friends are very supportive and accept that I am an Actress although some still cannot believe I was on Lost and other TV shows because I don’t really talk about acting around my friends and it is hard for them to believe when people talk about me as an Actress on a professional level because they only know me as being their friend and I love that comfort zone I have with my friends. They are like, “Oh! Do you mean Savannah? That is just my friend Savannah!” It is an honour and privilege to be on Lost and I am forever grateful to the Casting Director, Directors, and Producers of Lost & ABC for choosing me as Young Rachel Carlson.
CH: You acted in a movie playing Robert Carlyle and Kathleen Wilhoite’s daughter; can you tell us more about your role in the film?
SL: In the Feature Film California Solo I play the daughter of Robert Carlyle and Kathleen Wilhoite. California Solo is about a man (Robert Carlyle) who is a washed up Rock Star from Scotland who is challenged with facing deportation after DUI charges. He is forced to revisit several areas of his life which include his estranged daughter and Ex-wife (Kathleen Wilhoite). California Solo is a Drama written and directed by Marshal Lewy, & Produced by Mynette Louie. The scenes are lovely, intense moments of truth with my character Arianwen and Lachlain (Robert Carlyle). I loved playing the role of Arianwen and it was by far the most ultimate highlight of my acting career to have an opportunity to work with Robert Carlyle. He taught me so much on set about unspoken feelings and emotions of the character Arianwen just by watching him perform. He is a brilliant actor. Off set we talked about the simple things in life and he showed me pictures of how his make-up was applied on set of ABC Once Upon a Time for the role of Rumplestiltskin which was so cool. Robert Carlyle is someone I look up to both on set and off set. He is truly an amazing role model and I am honoured to have been selected by Marshal Lewy, Mynette Louie, and Casting Directors Heidi Levitt and Michael Sanford play his daughter Arianwen in California Solo.
CH: How was the experience of seeing yourself on the big screen with an audience?
SL: It was such an unbelievable & joyful experience to watch my dreams become reality on the Big Screen. It was almost like a fairy-tale moment but the real deal coming to life.
California Solo was selected as a World Premiere at Sundance Film Festival with sold out crowds. Afterwards, we had a panel discussion and everyone had such nice comments to say about Robert Carlyle, Alexia Rasmussen, Danny Masterson, Kathleen Wilhoite, A Martinez and myself. In regard to my performance as Arianwen on the Big Screen many people praised my performance alongside Robert Carlyle and Kathleen Wilhoite as well as California Solo receiving great film reviews at Sundance, Edinburgh International Film Festival, as well as others film festivals.
I look forward to seeing California Solo with the Cast & Crew members and with family and friends in Theatres soon.
CH: And you’ve just finished filming a lead role in a ‘The Guest House’, can you tell us more about the film, your character and how it was different to other roles you’ve played?
SL: The character role I played in The Guest House was quite different from California Solo. Although I play a daughter role in both, the characters are very different. In California Solo I have an estranged father who was never really a part of my life. In The Guest House I know my father well and he is very much a part of my life although things are very twisted at times. The Guest House is about a psycho obsessed stalker with a vengeance who comes after my family to try to kill them.
CH: Who are your heroes?
SL: My heroes are those people who are able to rise above during tuff times with dignity like cancer survivors and people who are homeless who somehow manage to find a way to pick themselves up and find a way to get themselves off the streets and be the change in their lives & everyone around them. My heroes are those who have a heart to reach out to help those in need. I think there is a little bit of “hero” in everyone. If we search for it we can find it. I think it is definitely there.
CH: What would your ideal role be?
SL: My ideal role would be to play a character role like Sally Field played in Sybil. Although I love Comedy I love Drama equally as much and I love roles that challenge me as an actress and take the audiences places they have never been. I like roles that are remembered days and years after the movie is over.
CH: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given and what advice could you give to young aspiring actors?
SL: The best advice I have been given is to Love the Lord and put him first, love your family, friends, stay positive, be kind to people and prepare. That, I think, is the winning combo to success. The best advice I could give young aspiring actors is to never ever ever back down or give up on your dreams. Sometimes, you may have to re-evaluate and re asses your dreams, but never give up on your dreams. They can come true!
California Solo hits cinemas in the US on 30th November 2012
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