One of the likeable things about acting is that it isn’t like any other profession. It’s a job where one can go in and do something different each time while recreating themselves every day. They’re able to meticulously absorb personalities from script and translate it to screen or stage by adding their own familiarities between the similarities. It’s a talent not everyone can easily achieve or slip into but Caileigh Scott is an actor proving her worth in Tinseltown.
It’s been known that the best acting is instinctive. It’s not intellectual or mechanical but something that should come off natural. For Scott, being in that world seems innate as she hails from a family of artists and supporters of the arts. As an only child growing up, she tells me how blessed she is with such a supportive family around her. “I’ve certainly never had to face the stern looks around the Thanksgiving dinner table, asking, ‘So when are you going to give up this acting thing and become a lawyer?’” she quips.
The young fiery red-headed actress shuffled around quite a bit in her early years between Detroit, rural Pennsylvania and New York City but shares with me how moving at such a young age brings about the opportunity for one to reinvent themselves. Whether from the east coast or to the current west coast in Los Angeles, Scott says while theatre in the Big Apple matured her as a performer growing up, being in L.A has turned her into a savvy business woman; a quality both equally important to maintaining a career in this industry.
“I always found myself entering into new situations with a certain persona that would last for as long as it entertained me or until I entered a new chapter with new people. That innate fascination with ‘being someone else’ very quickly turned into a curiosity about the theatre and a desire to be in that world,” she says.
Something that one notices instantly when in conversation with Caileigh Scott is that she isn’t just bubbly and congenial but she is quite studious, a quality which perfectly compliments her idealistic and ambitious attitude. Besides considering herself a dreamer which is essential for diving into the world of acting and entertaining, Scott is first and foremost an artist who has always been influenced by the arts. She knew early on what kind of artist she wanted to be and went for it, head-on.
“I was the oddball who listened to classical music in the sixth grade because I was a dancer and that’s what I danced to and it made me feel inspired,” she shares. “I developed a great love of films and the glamorous movie stars of Hollywood’s Golden Era, admiring their grace, class and charm. I fell head over heels for I Love Lucy which led me to improv and sketch classes in [the] eighth grade as I suspected comedy might be something I was good at.”
Scott goes onto saying how she admired the film and television stars that were trained and got their start in theatre as they were more focused on being good actors than their level of fame. Growing up, she sat in awe watching stars of the Golden Era in dozens of films and grew a genuine and deep respect for Meryl Streep and George Clooney, Jennifer Saunders and Tina Fey, Bradley Whitford and Allison Janney, even showing a reverence for a great number of writers and directors, such as Aaron Sorkin. She strains to me how she knew she had to follow that path.
Setting her sights on the New York City Ballet until the age of twelve, Scott later auditioned with some friends for a children’s theatre production of Romeo & Juliet. With the intention of attending only for a dance call, Scott got more than she imagined and one might say that signs were pointing her towards another path when she somehow auditioned for an acting role and got quite the considerable one. “I took it as a sign that maybe the Universe was trying to steer me in a certain direction here and the acting bug already bit in that one little taste – there was no turning back. The stage already felt like home but finding the right creative outlet made me finally feel fully at home on the stage,” she smiles.
Besides the children’s Shakespeare production being her first professional stage experience, Scott has had a long history of stage work whether through dance recitals at the age of three or performing folk songs on stage with family and friends at the age of six. One thing she remembers most is the feeling of comfort on stage and the allurement that captivated her.
“It was thrilling,” she beams enthusiastically. “Even at that young age, to hold an audience captive; to be speaking these fantastic words and to have an audience hanging onto them. The intense pressure of being responsible for tears and the laughter and the unimaginable job when the audience is moved in the way intended – it was a high, a natural kind of drug and I knew I needed more.”
She shares with me a memory that one can’t help but smile about. Thanks to a last minute call from her uncle, Scott appeared on a PBS telethon at the age of five and though she merely modeled an apron while strutting over to Big Bird to deliver birthday cards, she saw herself on the monitor and refused to leave. It’s that kind of moment that makes you believe the little occurrences in our lives can mean so much more years later in our ever-unfolding stories.
As she grew older, Scott did her fair share of theatre, telling me of just some of her favorite plays even though it’s a tough question to have her answer. It’s automatically understood that each play brought something different to further unravelling her craft but she tells me about the time she did a play called Coastal Disturbances in which she played a character named Holly. The actress mentions how it was a huge honor for her because in the original production from 1987, the role was played by the acclaimed Annette Bening. It’s known that Bening went onto receive critical praise for her role in that play and today holds quite an esteemed filmography.
Some of Scott’s other theatre work includes her playing Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest, Lindsay Bluth-Funke in a parody called Arrested Re-Development which was a clever love letter to the popular cult-hit, as well as getting back into Shakespeare with Twelfth Night as Olivia; a role that came so easily and naturally to her. Currently, she’s preparing for the role of Stepdaughter in an adaptation of the Italian play, Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore translated in English as, Six Characters in Search of an Author.
“It’s a rather challenging role,” she reveals. “I can’t even express how stressed I am about squeezing in all those words into my brain in a short period of time, but I’m very excited to be involved in the production!” It’s evident that Scott is a perfectionist and it’s an admirable quality to have in an industry where you must always stay up to date and build up from your performances, as a good actor is constantly studying their craft either in classes or with private coaches to further their own expectations. In addition to formal training, Scott herself studied with unofficial mentors over the years, like directors, actors and writers who didn’t just teach her about acting but about life and becoming a better human. With training, she sums it up simply that the key is to make it all brilliant and seem effortless. “No good art comes without intense effort. It’s about making the work such an intrinsic part of your preparation that by the time you are on screen or on stage, [the] training works for you and allows you to live in the moment, in the character,” she says.
She goes onto saying there is always room for improvement and like any actor, critiques herself on a variety of things such as line delivery, inflection, working with lighting and camera angles or connecting with a role or another actor. Though she can’t remember her first audition, she shares with me one of her nightmare auditions that she’s long learned from and admits she was a bit over her head at the time. Scott, who was in her late teens at the time was quite tall and could easily play an older character. As the actress so charmingly puts it, she “fibbed” her way into auditioning for roles that she very well was too young to be a part of and because of one audition backfiring, she reveals how mortified she was that it all went sour. To this day, she shudders at the mere mention of it and you can’t help but feel terrible for her too.
For the audition, Scott was given audition sides which are unique pages usually taken out of a script in order to help an actor prepare for an audition. They are an essential part to help an actor rehearse and in this case, the sides were printed on very thin paper; something Scott was not prepared for. “I didn’t have a folder or anything to hold it up against [and] we auditioned on stage under bright lights which made the sides nearly see-through – I couldn’t see the words,” she stresses through a groan. “I felt horrible for my scene partner to this day. All of my preparation went out the window as I tried to squint and angle the paper in order to stumble through each sentence. It was one of those instances where I was humiliated.”
Unfortunately, she knew at that point there was no chance she would be getting the role and understood this was not a way to start off her career. Scott, being a sensible young woman who is a fine student at life is also very enterprising. She has her own comedy troupe called Wheels on Fire which is relatively new but it’s something she can take charge of and know how far to push while still maintaining her persona. The sketch comedy troupe, similar to the stylings of Saturday Night Live, is currently putting together their first show and is heavily influenced by the British alternative comedy of the early 1980s such as Comic Strips Presents.
It seems like comedy is something that comes naturally to Scott who is not just an intelligent and personable woman but someone who is very witty. She’s done a few web shows of the comedy genre, even filming a web pilot called Not Quite There, a dramedy to be released later this spring. The show follows the lives of three very different girls in the city of Los Angeles with Scott portraying Kelly, a former child star who drowns her past in flippancy and of course, the closet bottle of vodka.
Besides shooting for the web, she wrapped up Altered Reality, a film produced and directed by Autumn deVitry, best known for producing television shows such as The X-Factor, The Biggest Loser and Masterchef. However, Scott’s most recent project was a short film called Howard Cantour directed by actor, Shia LaBeouf; an experience she calls “very exciting” even though her role wasn’t a large one. Scott’s humble about it and though it wasn’t a big role, she has no problem with however big the size of her part in any production. She tells me she can’t just single out one role in her resume as her highest achievement because each one, big or small has taught her something different. “[They] moved me forward in a certain way and brought me to the next. Simply working in this industry is a huge achievement in itself and each job should be cherished and valued.”
Scott was fortunate to get her first role straight out of the conservatory, when she auditioned for and was booked as a member at a summer stock theatre company. “Work begets work, as you not only audition more confidently but you network and make connections and cast a wider net with the people you are working with. There are dry spells in this career and it takes some people years to get the ball rolling,” she strains. “[But] they say it takes about ten years of struggling with small roles and lots of droughts before you really start popping.”
Her attitude is laudable and something that leaves me astounded. To have such patience with your craft and realize, it isn’t always going to be easy but you go headstrong into an industry like this is remarkable to witness. The key about Scott is that she is very sure of herself and knows the life she chose isn’t sparkly, wonderful, sheer partying and glamour; it’s hard work and she doesn’t forget it. She reveals the reality is 18 hour days in less than comfortable shooting conditions, mentioning when you’re not working as an actor, you’re doing several side jobs in restaurants or offices. Though Scott knows there’s no comparison to being on set for a film and working for example, in a mine, she knows it’s not the exact vision of work many have actually thought of in reality. “It takes an enormous amount of preparation and studying to execute each role properly; a lot of overwhelming doubt [that] one is not good enough for the role, a brief celebration when the project is wrapped and everyone is happy and then the role is over and an actor is right back to acting classes, auditions and waiting tables,” she uncovers.
We discuss roles and Scott mentions to me as a teenager she preferred drama, thinking perhaps she went that way out of teenage angst or that she doubted her comedic abilities for choosing such a heavy genre. Today, with her extensive training and experience, she’s open to both comedy and drama, declaring her love for them both. “They afford one different opportunities; different emotional avenues to explore [and] require one that accesses different aspects of their talent.”
She lets slip her soft spot for period pieces though and it’s understandable because there really is something worldly romantic and enchanting about such an era. “There’s an element to it,” she starts excitedly. “The clothes, the hair, the manner of speaking and interacting with others that I find so charming! It’s lovely to be able to slip back to the days of Jane Austen for a brief while.”
I decide to ask her if there’s ever been a role that got away and she mentions that there have been but she doesn’t focus on the ones that got away. “If I had been cast in any of those roles, I may not have been available for other work that I got and I truly believe I was meant to play every role I have,” she says.
Since every actor has their own methods to the art of performing, Scott shares with me hers though she admits, she can’t describe her own methods using just one as she has studied under all major methods with an extensive study in improvisational comedy. “There are different aspects of each method of acting that work for me and I don’t feel one has to be loyal to the aspects that don’t click as much. I pull what works from the many schools of thought to create an individualized process that works for me.”
An enormous part of Scott’s life is her charity work. As someone who grew up in an environment that was socially and politically active, giving back was second nature to her. “I was always involved in charities that I cared passionately about but running one was completely by accident. I do feel that it provides a good balance to the often shallow, superficial environment that the entertainment industry can offer.”
Today, she is the co-founder of IBG Inc, a non-profit campaign that started in 2008 which is designed to utilize the power of philanthropy through the arts by assisting fundraising efforts for selected micro-charities worldwide. Scott and her partners decided to use their industry connections and desire to aid charities by putting together events that unite fan bases. The organization is now a federally recognized charity, raising over $100,000 USD both domestic and international. Last summer, IBG Inc hosted an extended version of their Conversation Series starring The X-Files stars, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, benefiting a South African charity serving marginalized youth. The series is a semi-annual event that brings together an esteemed member of the industry with a peer moderator for a question and answer period, as well as an intimate audience session. Scott shares with me how people flew from all over the country and world for the event, going further to say how Anderson and Duchovny were extremely giving of their time with donating additional meet and greets, photo sessions, auction items and much more. “It was thrilling to see all the hard work we’d put into that event and into everything for the three years prior, pay off in such a major way for the guests in attendance as well as receiving charity.”
While working hard and living these past few years in Los Angeles, Scott has learned much about the industry and the way several things work. One thing she’s learned that she wished she had known long before setting foot in the shiny and bright city is that when she doesn’t get a role, it has nothing to do with her. “Don’t beat yourself up over it,” she says, mentioning how it’s always another contributing factor like casting differences, an actor’s insecurities or believability of a role that get in the way. “It’s that they loved you, but sometimes no matter how talented and trained you are, you are not right for the role. It’s important to know that. Nobody is right for every role and if you did a fantastic job in the room, the casting director, producers and whomever else was there will remember you, will want to hire you and will call you in time and again, will book you when it is right.”
Upon asking her what components create an actor, she doesn’t hesitate and knows right off the bat what is an important element to that very creation: “Training!” she tells me enthusiastically. “Never stop studying and learning your craft. You are never done. Do theatre, because it is true acting and if you can carry a show for two hours a night, six nights a week plus matinees and be in the moment and connecting with your fellow actors, show after show, you can do anything. Training and being a kind human being, combined with the ambition and drive necessary to pursue this career makes a good actor.”
Not getting a role could definitely go down as one of the worst parts of her job but she tells me it’s the instability because you never know what or when your next job is. However, with the bad always comes the good and Scott tells me she loves her job and just working, getting to do what she loves is the best part of it all. She’s got a firm head on her shoulders, telling me how the charity work is a huge component in keeping her grounded as well as staying close to a few friends and family. “There’s something very comforting and real about having relationships with people who have kept your secrets since age six,” she smiles. “I also have a wonderful boyfriend and the normal aspects of daily domestic life keep me very grounded.”
The actress has had the opportunity to showcase her talents both on stage and screen, telling me, if she had to pick one over the other, she couldn’t because they are both rewarding in completely different ways. “Theatre keeps you on your game,” Scott starts off as she takes a moment to think. “You have to be completely on point with your lines, your blocking and be able to make it fresh and new and in the moment night after night. Film is a more intricate study [and] the camera is closer than an audience could ever dream of being. Every subtle, unconscious twitch and tremor is captured and analyzed by the audience and ultimately informs your character.”
She continues telling me how much of an intense intimacy there is in film and that it’s far more about the fine distinctions. “Since both require the same fundamental skills, yet demand those skills be executed quite differently, I think it makes for a well-rounded actor to do both. Jumping between the two mediums will definitely keep an actor on his or her toes, which is a very good thing!”
You might say she enjoys the simple life even deeming herself a “neat freak” like Monica from Friends but whether it be curling up in bed with a good book or watching The West Wing, traveling, shopping, going on adventures or merely hiking, walking around her neighbourhood, seeing live music and comedy, Caileigh Scott is who she says she is and there’s no which-way around it.
As we near the end of our interview, I’ve learned much about the young woman and understand who she is and wishes to be. She’s warm and friendly, incredibly funny and sharp. By the end of this year, she tells me she wishes to work with someone she respects and admires, whether that person is in front of the lens or behind the scenes. In the next five years, she shares her bigger aspirations such as juggling acting, her non-profit organization and hopefully a family.
“Do you have any advice for those trying to make it in the industry?” I decide to ask her, knowing that she too has struggled and tried her hardest to make it to a point where she can be content with herself in an industry that is so unpredictable.
She thinks for about a second before knowing exactly what she wants to say and is quite eloquent in her thoughts. “Seek out the best training you can find and never stop working on your craft. It’s important to get experience even if that means working for free in the beginning. Do student films, do community theatre – you need to get on that stage and on set.”
Scott passionately goes onto saying how one needs to feel comfortable in a real working environment and they need to have things to add to their resume, as well as writing, shooting or producing their own short films or plays. As a student of improv, she recommends that even though most actors are terrified of diving into such a genre that they shouldn’t be apprehensive as they can discover themselves through that form.
“Make no mistake about it: this is a very difficult career path in a very difficult industry. You need to have things outside of it that make you happy because having a life outside of acting makes you a well-rounded person which makes you an interesting actor.”
With one’s self emerging more clearly through time, Caileigh Scott has proven not only is she capable of making an impact on the industry with her style or the amount of heart put into her charity work but has shown she has the wisdom and character of an esteemed force audiences will take note of in the years to come.
Check out Caileigh Scott’s future projects, current credits and more at her official site or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter! For more information on IBG Inc's charitable efforts and events, check out their official site for news and updates.
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