A native of Philadelphia, the vivacious and versatile Brooke Lewis has made a quick impact as both an actress and producer. Upon graduating from Temple University with a degree in Communications and Theatre, Brooke relocated to New York, where she began her professional career.
Her first major taste of the limelight came from Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding – the Off-Broadway hit comedy- in which she played the “prima donna” bridesmaid Donna Marsala. Soon after she signed with Tazmania/Metropolitan Records and released the freestyle song “Get Me Off Your Mind,” Brooke would soon find success in television and film appearing on One Life to Live, The Rules (For Men), A Packing Suburbia, Fare Well Miss Fortune, and Pride & Loyalty to name a few.
After four years in New York, she headed west to Hollywood. There, she would create Philly Chick Pictures, an endeavor designed to increase opportunities in front of the camera, as well as behind it.
Since establishing PCP, Brooke has had roles in several projects that include All About Us, Quintuplets, Tinsel Town, Mafiosa, The Dreamless, Break, Gerald, Dahmer Vs. Gacy and Double Tap. She played the role of Stacey in the short film that won 3rd place in the original Project Greenlight on HBO. She also recently starred opposite Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster) in the indie TV pilot/web series Life’s A Butch.
Some of Brook’s impressive producing credits include: Circuit Riders (actress/producer), Broken Angel (co-producer) and Polycarp:Kinky Killers (actress/co-executive producer). Among projects still in production, or yet to be released are The Drum Beats Twice (actress/executive producer), iMurders (actress/executive producer), The Sinatra Club (actress/producer) and Slime City Massacre (actress/associate producer).
In March of 2009, Brooke launched the Ms. Vampy TV/talk show/web series, in which she starred, produced and directed. She was honored by Screamqueen.com as “Scream Queen of the Month” in November 2008 and a centerfold in Scars Magazine. Last Doorway Productions chose her as the first ever Bleeding beauty of the Month in August 2009.
Brooke strongly believes in charity work and helped create the “Hot Hunks of Horror Hottie” 2009. The “hunky horror” calendar benefits the Lynn Sage Foundation for Breast Cancer Research and Brooke is proud to promote this cause throughout the year.
She is also an award sponsor for the favorite horror film festival Shriekfest and a proud member of Women In Film and Film Independent. During football season (when she finally decides to take a break from working), you will always find her at a sports bar cheering for her favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles.
How important is networking in the film industry?
In my opinion and from many years of experience, I believe that when you are starting out in the film industry, like any business, networking is crucial and essential. It is very true when they say the industry is “built on relationships”. At the beginning of my career, I took every meeting and accepted every event invitation that came along to build relationships with people in my business.
I do, however, believe there comes a point at which it is more about “doing” and proving yourself and your talents than attending every networking event. I know people who have been in the business for ten years and have spent more time partying and being about town than putting the hard work in. It may have gotten them a few jobs but I believe it takes a lot more to sustain a career. Now, I choose very carefully the events and meetings I attend. And, of course, always decline the others gracefully!
Can you tell us one personal success story of yours on networking?
Yes…a “horrifically” successful one comes to mind! A few years ago, I was promoting one of my films at a horror convention and I met Wil Keiper, the editor of Horror Yearbook, at the after party.
We chatted for a bit and exchanged information so he could interview me for his site. Shortly after, he contacted me with a script that he was passionate about and referred me to the director. They had offered me a role and asked me to come on as a Co-producer. The film was a sequal to Greg Lamberson’s 1988 cult classic SLIME CITY. We shot the film in Buffalo in July of 2009 and in September of 2010, I won the 2010 Golden Cob Award (Annual Horror Award Show) for Best Scream Queen of 2009! Is that a personal and professional success story or what? I am blessed and forever grateful!
I have heard of actors and models landing a big acting gig without any auditions, is that true?
It definitely can be. Often, it truly is about “being in the right place at the right time”, ya I know? Sometimes a role calls for a very specific look or type.
I love the story of Gabouray Sidibe from PRECIOUS. And, sometimes, it really is all about “luck”. I remember a long time ago, a mentor told me that “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity”. Or, maybe now we believe it to be “law of attraction.”
Why are some of the best acting and modeling jobs never advertised?
We don’t have enough room for me to answer this fully, but I will say that the industry and certainly Hollywood, plays a game. So many of the studio films are cast long before the breakdowns are ever released because they are packaged by the top agencies and management companies.
Many TV and film projects are developed for specific people. A lot of actors do not understand that this is a “business”. Roles are often cast on star power and name value to secure distribution. And, the indies sometimes work in a similar way.
More and more independent filmmakers are following the “Scorsese” model in which they hire the same cast and crew over and over. I can’t say I blame them! In a business of sharks, we want to work with people we know, like, trust and know will show up on time to set!
With who, where, and when should you network?
I believe in getting very clear with your vision and goals. Target groups, classes, events and people who share common interests both personally and professionally. It is all about relating and being around like-minded people.
Some of my best working relationships started out in friendship or sharing a common interest like our love for Eagles football! Do your homework and research everything and everyone you choose. Remember, time is valuable!
Who are the best kinds of network contacts?
The best contacts are either those people who are at the level where you aspire to be or those who are on an equal playing field with you. It is important to network with people who can teach, mentor, help or introduce you to somebody in in some way.
I am a firm believer in learning from listening, observing or doing! It is also important to network and work with your peers or career equals, because you can develop a “quid-pro-quo” type of relationship, in which you are helping each other or each bringing something valuable to the relationship. The latter is my favorite working relationship because we can grow and succeed together!
What are some of the best venues for networking?
For actors, I recommend casting workshops to network with and meet casting directors. For filmmakers, I have always found film festivals to be a productive venue for networking. I also love film seminars and organizations. I have been a member of both Film Independent and Women In Film for many years.
How about networking on the internet? Do you have any tips on those?
I am the wrong person to ask, as the only thing I have on Facebook is a Brooke Lewis Fan Page 🙂 I actually have a very strong opinion about this! I understand that networking on the internet can be a valuable tool.
I am old school when it comes to networking and doing business. I want to sit face to face, have a conversation and read someone’s body language before I sign a million dollar film deal with them. Call me crazy!
I feel that actors and filmmakers need to be very careful with internet networking…especially women. It is very easy for someone to portray a completely different persona and lie on the internet. One can create a fake website, bio or profile on the internet and it can be dangerous. I have been mislead about acting roles or projects more than once on the internet, but had enough sense to do my research and homework. PLEASE do the same.
What’s the biggest mistake new actors and models make while networking?
They believe everything they hear. And, the truth is “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!”. Now, in no way I intend to be negative. My intention is to help new actors be responsible! Just as I mentioned above, do your homework and research. Don’t be overzealous and desperate. If you are truly talented and committed, you don’t need to be. Work hard, stay grounded, trust the process and success will come.
Sometimes, you hear a story in a magazine or newspaper where a famous director is looking for a particular character in an actor and you are perfect for that job, but you have no idea where or how to approach? What would you suggest in this situation?
Again, DO YOUR RESEARCH! As much as I dislike networking on the internet, that is how much I love researching on it! Trust me, you can find just about anything! Point blank…send your headshot and resume to both the casting director and production company right away. Just don’t stalk the director outside his home…you probably won’t land the job!
What’s the one thing an aspiring actor can do right away to get work in the film industry?
Headshots, acting classes, mailings to casting directors/agents/managers, casting workshops, etc… And, I was a big fan of doing student films at Temple University and NYU when I was first starting out.
Anything else you’d like to add?
The film industry is a challenging business but like Ms. Vampy says, “Follow your dreams and when faced with fear, dig deep inside, find your inner vamp and VAMP IT OUT!”