Passionate pursuit: Get to know actress Connie Jo Sechrist
Connie Jo Sechrist has not been sitting idly by, despite their last TV appearance being before the pandemic. While she is best known for her complex roles in drama, action and sci-fi genre films over the last decade, she has been hard at work building the changes she wants to see in the world. Her latest endeavor has her fighting for the rights of women and nonbinary artists in film and TV, and the foundation is only growing stronger.
We were lucky enough to snag a few moments with the Coven Film Festival founder to see what they have up their sleeve for the future, not only for herself but for the rest of us too.
Tell us about your history as an actor. How did you start your journey?
I never thought I would be an actor. Since I was 13, I wanted to be an investigator for the FBI. But life changed after I was introduced to acting. Long story short; my sophomore year in high school I was literally pushed on stage. I was an assistant stage manager for a play and one of the actors got sick and couldn’t perform.
So, I was tasked with taking on the role with only 2 hours to prepare. From that moment on I pursued acting, and I haven’t looked back. There have been a lot of ups and downs. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and most importantly passion to be in this industry. But I’m really lucky that I can pursue this career and I have to remind myself of that every day.
Who were your biggest acting influences growing up?
Gillian Anderson and Robin Williams!
Actors can often be their own worst critics. Do you like rewatching your own performances on film and television?
It was weird the first time I saw myself act in a movie. My mind can take me into a negative spiral sometimes when watching my own performances. I tend to see all of my mistakes and start doubting whether I was the right person for the role. It’s a personal thing for us actors and it’s not always fun to watch ourselves.
How does acting on film differ from acting on television?
Television is more fast paced. You don’t get as many takes as you would on a film and the filming process is faster. So, you need to bring your A game.
Between film, TV, and the stage, which medium do you prefer and why?
I enjoy the unique artistic experiences each one provides.
Do you have any techniques or routines to help you get into character?
I do exercises to help me physically connect with the character. Like what unique mannerisms would my character have? Like head tilting, nail-biting or posture. I play around with different physical habits, see which ones work the best and then do more in-depth character development.
Do you prefer to play characters that you have a personal connection with?
Yes and no. Playing a character that I connect with is easy. Playing a character that I don’t connect with is a challenge. I would pick the challenge over the other every time.
You’ve worked in numerous different genres. Is there a genre you haven’t worked in that you’d still like to?
Yes! I would love to do a period piece. Like an old western or 1960’s film. I feel like I have a classic look that would work well in period films.
You’re an Emmy-nominated producer in addition to your acting career. Do you feel your experience as an actor informed your producing style?
Definitely. I’m a better creative producer because of my acting experience. I can help with storytelling, casting and what the overall vision of a film should be.
You’re the co-founder of the COVEN Film Festival. What inspired you to launch your own festival as opposed to participating in pre-existing events?
I wanted to help and uplift the film community in the Bay Area. I’ve been to tons of festivals and learned a lot from those experiences. So, I wanted to help create something that was rewarding for filmmakers.
What would you say distinguishes the Coven Film Festival from its peers?
We are devoted to films by women and non-binary filmmakers. Not a lot of festivals focus on non-binary filmmakers.
The Coven Film Festival is devoted to films by women and non-binary filmmakers. Do you feel that Hollywood is making strides in terms of representation?
It’s still a work in progress.
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
Yes, I’m currently working on a coming-of-age feature film that is set to film in London, UK this summer based on the 1992 Luton Riots. Very excited about it. I also have a few short films that will go into production in fall.
What advice do you have for aspiring actors?
There are going to be a lot of ups and downs. Have clear and realistic goals, make sure you are financially secure, cut out the noise, love the work and find a way to keep doing it no matter what!
Lastly, what is your favorite film of all time and why?
The Goonies. It encapsulates everything that made Hollywood great. Anyone who grew up in the 80’s will appreciate this film. I was in awe of it when I was a kid, and now when I watch it, it reminds me of my childhood and all the things that were great about it.
What other platforms would you like Connie Jo to create for nonbinary artists in TV and Film? Let us know in the comments!