ARF: Please tell us about yourself!
My name is England, I like dope beats and scaring kids. I’m an actor, filmmaker, all-around weirdo and former reality star.
ARF: What inspired your passion for acting and directing?
My oldest sister, Paris, created the monster you see before you today, lol! My big sister majored in theater when she was in college; she has been in over seventy-plus stage productions. Watching her create art and become different people enticed me. For years, I was booking gigs for her and managing her budding career, until I realized that I wanted to be her… I studied my sister for years, soaking in every ounce of talent that she poured onto the stage, then I started stealing auditions from her. My sister realized that acting was my everything, so we made a deal. She’d stick to stage theater and I would delve into film/TV projects. Years later my sister gave up acting, but it was only the beginning for me.
My obsession for directing came a few years later when I produced and directed a geek culture show called This is Where the Fish Lives… It starred myself, my twin sister and our best friend, Frankie Day. All three of us were young, black, female nerds that provided social and cultural commentary to all of the nerdy things that we loved. I directed every single episode of that series for 7 seasons. The struggle was definitely real, but necessary.
ARF: Tell us about your first project?
I consider Prelude: A Love Story as my directorial debut. It’s about a woman obsessed with a singular event that changes her life forever. The film showcases her inner turmoil as she is greeted with all of the pent-up rage, anger and violence that she’s kept dormant and hidden.
"Above all things, I am a black woman… And that has been a steadfast truth while I navigate the horror genre."
ARF: You are also a teacher! In what ways do your interactions with your students inspire your writing?
My kids know that their teacher loves monsters and villains. Everyday they try to scare me or intrigue me with a weird dream or random stories… One student was convinced that the “stank” from the boys bathroom, plus the “stank” from a fictional mountain caused an ancestral ghost to haunt him. I immediately went home and wrote a short story about his haunting. My babies inspire me to do my best because I never want to disappoint them. My kids gloat about me. They think I’m cool, but in actuality I’m old and tired.
ARF: What genres are you interested in exploring outside of horror?
Truth be told, I’m known for being the funny fat chick. Everyone was shocked when I produced something as dark as Prelude: A Love Story. Nonetheless, I am always eager to explore the right comedic projects, but I am passionate about the horror genre. Also, I’d love to do more drama.
ARF: Tell us about your journey with Prelude: A Love Story.
Prelude was definitely my battle cry! It was evident that my appearance was the reason I wasn’t getting offered many roles, so I was determined to focus on writing, directing and producing. Create to live. I started fine-tuning a story that I’d been developing for a few years. I made Prelude at a very sensitive time in my career. My agent and I parted ways, and I was scoring a lot of “almost gigs.” I starred in a comedy film that was developed for a well-known urban network and another reality series for a female-focused network, but both projects got shelved. I was very vulnerable, as an actor, so making my directorial debut while I was going through this was beyond difficult. I’d been through so much trying to make the film. I had crew members, and cast alike, drop from the project because they were not confident in a female filmmaker. Nonetheless, I made something that I am proud of, something that has reignited my passion for independent storytelling.
ARF: What has been your experience navigating horror and the film world as a Black woman?
Above all things, I am a black woman… And that has been a steadfast truth while I navigate the horror genre. I’ve had individuals tell me that I don’t “fit the description” of a particular role, but then ask if I could coach their subpar actors or help produce their project. As of recent, I had one man tell me that it wasn’t realistic to have a black woman as a killer, but he prefaced it with “not to sound racist,” so I guess that made it better.
ARF: Do you feel that things are changing in the mainstream and underground cinema world?
Absolutely. Original stories, DIY filmmaking and unique imagery is taking over… Any fan with a camera, a captivating story and a true passion will find an audience somewhere.
ARF: Where do you see Black women filmmakers fitting into that world?
Black women are magical! We are an undeniable force. We will continue making relatable, significant stories, despite being marginalized. We will probably have little to no support from most, but we will continue to make a prominent mark as filmmakers.
ARF: Who are some of your biggest influences and why?
Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert, Bruce Campbell and Lloyd Kaufman taught me that being a filmmaker is a very attainable goal. Jennifer Kent, Lena Waithe, Dee Rees, Barry Jenkins, Emilia Ruiz, Robert Eggers, Marc Price and David Robert Mitchell are all telling the type of stories that I want to tell. Brilliant writing, unimposing storytelling.
ARF: What can we expect from your in the near future?
I’m excited to announce that I will be taking part in a Women in Independent Filmmaking panel at the Days of the Dead Horror Convention in Charlotte, May 2018. Prelude: A Love Story will be screening at a few more events before it is released online. Also, I have started production on my latest horror short. I will be releasing more information about that very, very soon.
ARF: How can we stay in touch with your future projects?
Audre's Revenge is a collective of creatives, determined to promote visibility of QTIBIPOC in the Sci-Fi and Horror Universe. In 2015, we created this space to network film makers, writers, actors and artists, to inspire timeless and important work.