Adelle Drahos: Finding Joy In The Process
Adelle Drahos is a twenty-something, Atlanta-based actor who works in Film, TV, Commercials, Theatre, and Improv. Here’s her take on acting, the industry, and inspiration.
Thanks so much for agreeing to be featured on my blog! I'm excited to hear what you have to say and share it with others. So, talk to me about how you became an actor. I've always grown up with a creative edge, having taken an interest in writing and painting at a young age. During my first two years of high school I thought I'd go to college and play soccer and be an interior decorator.
"Then I decided interior decorators had to deal with too much math."
To be honest, to this day I'm not sure how much math they actually have to do but it was a valid enough excuse for me. And, as much as I loved soccer, I knew one day practices were going to conflict with rehearsals. Now, speaking of rehearsals, I'd been acting and doing plays off and on since 5th grade. In high school I plugged in to the theatre class my freshman year and stayed with it all four years, staying heavily involved with the shows that our very small theatre club produced. My junior year I attended this random monologue competition hosted by some women's club. I remember being very judgmental of the other performances and very confident in mine, and I wasn't surprised when I won first place. It sounds cocky, and maybe I was a bit, but something in me just knew that I was doing exactly what I should be. By the time I started looking at colleges, I was looking only at acting programs and my parents supported me 100%. I guess, in short, deciding to become an actor was a slow build that was happening my whole life. There wasn't any single performance that inspired me to make it my life path. I didn't pursue any other career and then decide to "drop it all and become an actor." Acting - more importantly, story telling - I think is something that God just put in my blood. I love that your parents were so supportive. So where did you end up going to college?
I went to SCAD-Savannah. I LOVED IT. I went to a high school planted in the middle of cornfields. The idea of making films, well it wasn't really an idea. We didn't even have a theatre space at our high school. SCAD opened up a world of opportunity and exploration. And I'm pretty sure the SCAD lunch ladies were blending Creativity Steroids into all those Oreo milkshakes I drank. (Long live the "Freshman 15") Savannah is a beautiful city and there were so many art projects and student films going on that I could not have been happier in my busyness. Oh, and the Savannah Film Festival. LIFE CHANGING. I love movies. So much. The art, the people, the opportunities, I can’t reiterate it enough: I loved my college years. But no, I don't want to go back. I am quite happy not having to worry about a GPA. It’s great that you had such a good experience! How do you think other colleges prepare actors? Honestly, I'm not very familiar with other colleges, and a lot of actors these days skip that step. I think SCAD has a pretty well-rounded program. I suppose I felt lucky because our professors were all, if not currently, industry professionals. They didn't just get a degree to teach acting. Being at school training and being immersed in the industry are two completely different worlds and one thing I think SCAD did pretty well was to mentally prepare you for the reality of how grueling the business is. Oh and taxes. I wish someone had taught me how to keep track of taxes as an actor. Or taxes in general. How do you do taxes as a freelancer who doesn't keep a steady job? If you do taxes for actors and you're cheap (need I mention I'm an actor?) then please have Anna give you my contact info. I agree about the taxes thing! It seems like they should teach that in high school since everyone has to do it. Can you tell me a little bit about what a typical day looks like for you? It depends what day it is. And what week. I definitely eat my Quaker Oat Squares every morning. After that, it varies. Two to three times a week I attend an acting group. If we're not meeting I might work on my screenplay or head to Stone Mountain for a jog. Wednesday evenings I have four hours of improv class. Other days I might spend at one of my many consistently temporary jobs; they include headshot photography, catering, extras work (shh), brand ambassador gigs, and the occasional temporary sales rep gig. I have a number of jobs that give me a great variety of skill sets, but on resume paper it looks terrible. Haha, I completely understand that. I think most actors and artists could say the same. I love that you are part of an acting group! Can you tell me more about that? YES. We meet two to three times a week for about three hours. As a collaborative group we run improv and acting exercises, practice scene work and script analysis, work auditions, attend acting panels together, go see plays and films together, and occasionally go for a hike or hit up the club on a weekend. I can guarantee I wouldn't be where I am in my career without them.
"Don't go it alone in this industry. Other actors are not your competition; they're your strongest support system."
That’s excellent advice. It’s easy to feel lonely when you are doing this alone, facing the rejection alone, etc. We really do need each other! Do you have any other advice you would share with someone interested in pursuing acting as a career? My advice to anyone pursuing an acting career is this: If you can do anything else, do that. Here's the thing, I'm very proud of the hard work I put into this career and am easily offended by anyone who is star-struck by it. You have to want the entire package, which includes a lot of patience, a lot of vulnerability, a lot of monetary investment, and a willingness to change your schedule at the drop of a dime. Yes, I'm trying to scare you away because there is nothing more frustrating than people who call themselves actors because they were a featured extra in a big hit film. (I've got nothing against extras work for the record, but please don't put that on your resume!) In short, if you want to make acting a career then please have a sincere love for story-telling and for people. Be humble, have empathy, and be highly self-motivated. Ok, that's not necessarily going to give you a career (there are plenty of a**holes with successful careers). That's just me saying that
I sincerely believe that if you are a better person then you will be a better actor. Be the person that inspires you and FIND THE JOY IN THE PROCESS.
Oh, and don't make acting your entire world. Find hobbies, play sports, travel, and just go get those life experiences because they will only help your craft!
You hit on some really important stuff there! You mentioned being self-motivated; how do you motivate yourself, or what are some of your goals for this year? I would like to book an agent-acquired gig each month. I don't know how realistic that is but I'm trying to be positive here. I also hope to produce (and act in, naturally) my first feature film this year. I 100% believe that you can book that agency gig every month! Don’t even say you would like to or you are going to try to. Just do it! Tell everyone you know that you are going to book an agency gig this month. Believe it J And go get that feature film too! Part of my self-motivation comes from looking at the careers of actors that have made it. Do you have any favorite actors that you look up to? I quite admire Cate Blanchett. I think we have similar essences, and I gravitate toward a lot of her roles. Plus she's a powerhouse, wickedly talented, and loves this craft. I also think that Gary Oldman is a chameleon of an actor. In my opinion you don't go to the movies because it's "Gary Oldman" the way a movie is starring "Matt Damon." But Gary sure does leave some darn impressionable characters in our lives. Seriously, go look at his resume right now. Also, Tom Hardy. Another chameleon. His voice, his physicality, it all changes for every character he does. And it's always amazing. Benedict Cumberbatch, Emma Stone, Amy Adams, they're all just good people too. That's always important to me: how are these actors when they're not actors, how are they in the public eye? Yeah, that goes back to what you said earlier, “If you are a better person, you will be a better actor.” Are there other things that inspire you as a person, outside of acting? Yeah, I enjoy photography (you can see Adelle’s photos at dellabephotography.weebly.com) with a focus on headshots and outdoor portraiture. I've always enjoyed writing. Handwritten letters aren't dead yet! And I have an Etsy shop where you can see some of my paintings and repurposed home decor. (You can see Adelle’s creations here dellabedesigns.etsy.com) I could spend my money on therapy or at Hobby Lobby. Needless to say I always end up at the latter. I've also found a niche in creating repurposed journals from old books. I'm such a nostalgic soul. Oh, and I love traveling. You'll earn my respect when I know you've left the country at least once, haha. So I need a passport in order to be your friend, I’ll remember that, haha. It sounds like you have found a lot of ways to stay busy, creative, and positive! Do you have any frustrations with the industry or things that you wish you could change? Unfortunately it's a numbers game. And a lot of people who don't deserve to get cast, get cast. There's no corporate ladder to climb. Anyone can jump into this industry and anyone can be at the top within a minute. Don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean everyone does, it doesn't mean it happens often, and it doesn't mean they're always undeserving. It can get frustrating nonetheless.
Imagine you going into the office and learning you didn't get the promotion because "Larry the intern" got it because he has blonde hair or he's friends with the boss's son.
I guess the most frustrating thing about this industry is people having no idea just how much I put into my career. Also, it's frustrating how expensive it is to make a movie. It doesn't help that none of us have any money. (But fear not! We'll find a way because if we don't create our own content to keep us occupied we could go crazy waiting for the next gig, and it's fun.) What is Adelle doing now? Adelle recently produced a short film, Immortalis, that will be submitted to the film festivals this spring. Check out the Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/immortalisthemovie/?fref=ts
She’s also currently working on a feature screenplay with the intent to produce it this summer. In March her first SAG (Screen Actors Guild) project will air! She said, “It's two lines on a major cable network show. To put it in perspective, a minimum of 600 people might audition for something like that. I've been grinding hard for three years for this opportunity. And that's not a complaint, it's just to reiterate how much I love this industry.” Adelle also made her Cable TV debut this past week on an episode of Homicide Hunter!
Congratulations Adelle, on all your hard work and success! Are you interested in being featured on my blog? If so, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm open to interviewing anyone in the film/theatre industry, not just actors!