J.A. Steel is an American writer, director, producer, editor, stunt person and actress. Winner of several awards for her film making and as an actress. She is in conversation with Namita Nayyar, President Women Fitness.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: Your started acting at the age of seven years when you appeared in numerous school plays (most which you had written) and continued until you received a scholarship of a summer theatre program at the age of 14 years.You reached the pinnacle of success when you as a Director, Writer, Producer, Actress, Editor, Stunts & Fight choreographer, Producer of SoundTrack created the film “The Third Society”. Tell us about your journey that took you to where you are now in the world of acting and filmmaking?
Ms. J.A. Steel: I was always interested in writing and telling stories since I was very small. I got accepted to a summer theater program at a local college. It was the first time I had ever had used a video camera. The College had some teachers from New York to teach us and it was there I learned about screenwriting. I had already written several plays and a novel – but at 14 I wrote my first feature length screenplay.
Now, some 30 years later I have over 45 feature scripts on the shelf. I plan to spend the next 30 years making all of them. I just finished another edit of my fourth feature “Blood Fare” and I’m planning to start shooting another one of my scripts in April.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: You have selected a profession of being an actress in films that requires a lot of hard labor, technical soundness and excellence in different faculties to finally succeed, how do you achieve that?
Ms. J.A. Steel: Passion for the art. Passion for the craft. Passion for life and living. What an actress brings to a role ultimately is a culmination of life experience. The ability to show the audience the parts of your soul to reach out and draw them in to the character – you have to hold up a mirror to yourself and the audience. Technically, one can practice weapons and become proficient in stunts. Ultimately, in an action film it’s the eyes that do the acting and the eyes are the mirrors to the soul.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: You are a leading actress, singer, producer, writer, editor and stunts & fight choreographer. How you manage such a remarkable multi-dimensional lifestyle?
Ms. J.A. Steel: I really don’t know. I don’t think about. I just do it. I believe a lot in fate and destiny. Most of my life has just been a natural progression due to the course of living. Most people are afraid of dying – I’m afraid of not living.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: You have attended the 3 years of USC’s Filmic Writing program (1987-1990). How this education helped you in taking the role to creating successful films, being an actress and as a film writer?
Ms. J.A. Steel: It was interesting. The Filmic Writing Program tried to mold me into its version of Academy Award winning drama writer. That didn’t happen. At the end of my junior year – I was supposed to retake a practical filmmaking class called “290”. I didn’t. I changed my major to Anthropology my Senior year upon the recommendation of George Lucas and the Cinema School’s Dean Daley (who was head of the Production Program at the time). Having a film background and the views of a cultural anthropologist, I have the best of both worlds.
Ms. Namita Nayyar: What exercises comprise your fitness regime or workout routine you shall like to share?
Ms. J.A. Steel: Running. Push ups. Sit-ups. More running. I have a jump rope I take with me wherever I go. Shadow boxing. Bag work. Before a project, I’ll build back up from one work out to two workouts a day. One morning. One evening.
If I’m between projects, I give myself a break. Exercise consists of walking. The level of fitness I have to maintain before and during a project – I have a tendency to get “burnt out”. Yes, I gain a bit of weight. But, I think it’s important people realize giving your body a rest is as important as the workout. My workout changes depending on my goals. Do I want to be healthy? Look a certain way? Or when I was fighting – it was training to win.
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