Latin actress, writer, and producer Katherine Geren is behind the hotly-tipped new pilot series “Elisa’s Almost Thirty” that follows ‘Elisa’ (played by Geren) who on the brink of turning thirty meets a father she never knew existed, throwing her into a quarter-life crisis after learning her newly moved-in father is sleeping with her roommate. This new show is in the vein of BRIDESMAIDS meets “Emily in Paris” and currently filming in Los Angeles.
“Elisa’s Almost Thirty” has been fully cast and in addition to Katherine it stars Ryan Carnes (“General Hospital),” Matt McKane (40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad), Manson Mathews (“Sorry Not Sorry”), Selita Ebanks (Victoria’s Secret Angel), and onboard. Raquel Gardner (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D”) is set to direct, with Emmy-nominated DP Matt Valentine who is known for “The Office,” “Parks & Recreation,” “The Bridge”, ” “Entourage,” Shameless,” and “Chicago Fire,” and legendary 5x Emmy award-winning cinematographer Don Morgan. The show is expected to be taken out to cable, streaming, and broadcast networks in the fall, and production wraps at the end of August.
Katherine is a California native, who grew up in the Silicon Valley attending one of the most academically competitive high schools in the country. She decided to take her dreams down south to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting and writing. After a successful 6 years of working as an actress in national TV commercials for companies such as Target, Honda, Wells Fargo, and Lexus just to name a few, she decided she wanted to tackle telling her own stories. Her debut short film, Amelia’s Story won fan favorite at the Danny Elfman Rabbit and Rogue LA Film Festival, and her follow-up short film, Behind Her Eyes can now be streamed on Amazon Prime.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Katherine to discuss her journey in the industry and here’s what went down:
Can you tell us more about yourself? How did you get started in the entertainment industry?
My first encounter with the entertainment industry was when I was scouted to model in a local mall fashion show. I was still in High School at the time, and playing sports was of utmost importance; so I chickened out on the opportunity, but the seed was definitely planted. Then, when I moved to San Francisco for college I got scouted by agents and photographers while walking the streets of San Francisco. The first time I brushed it off as a fluke, but then it happened two more times; making my interest peak. I didn’t have internet in my apartment yet, so I went to the local library to look up the agencies and found them to be reputable so I set up some appointments and ended up signing with a really great commercial agency in San Francisco. I had no idea there was a genre of modeling for “commercials” and it opened my eyes to how amazing and vast the industry really is. I started to work regularly and made more money than my friends in college, so I decided to drop out (to the horror of my parents) and move down to Los Angeles to really make a career out of it. I loved everything about the process; auditioning and meeting the clients, then working on set and creating an entire world in a mere few hours. Creating a vision that someone had in their mind and making it a reality. I knew I had found my home. Then it was the icing on the cake to see my work on a screen or in a store. I also loved how close everyone got on set, I have made some of my closest and lifelong friends from working on set with them. Something about being together for 8-12 hours together really makes you get to know people on a very personal level.
What do you like most about acting?
I love being able to express and convey deeply passionate emotions through the art of storytelling to convey the human condition to other people; to make others feel something, and to perhaps connect in such a way that it makes the viewer question the world in ways they hadn’t thought of before.
How different is it to act in a movie and produce a movie? And which one do you prefer?
Vastly different! To be a producer one must be available to all others 24/7 (literally). You must be completely at will to the production–whatever the production needs you have to be able to deliver at a moment’s notice. On the other hand, acting is deeply personal, and to be honest, for me, while prepping on set, I would much rather be by myself or with my scene partners and listening to music and getting into the space of the character. While producing my most recent project, I brought on an amazing Line Producer, Larry Kaster, who was my producing rock throughout the shoot. I told everyone on set that all production needs must go through Larry when I am acting, as being pulled out of character for production needs can be very distracting to an actor’s performance. I honestly love both, but for very different reasons. They are both deeply satisfying and rewarding, however, acting will always be my number 1.
What are your weak points when it comes to acting? How do you try to improve them?
I am so thankful for my mentor, and acting coach, Raquel Gardner, who directed Elisa’s Almost Thirty. She and I have such an amazing relationship and I trust her guidance like no other. She completely transformed the way I work as an actor. I am very much a perfectionist and before I started to train with Raquel, I very much wanted every one of my performances to be “perfect” which is such a weird, unquantifiable statement to make. She saw right through me and broke down why I felt the need to perform this way, as it was making me too rigid in my performance and too unwilling to commit fully to the moment. Once I broke down those emotional barriers and felt confident enough to be “imperfect” I saw an acting performance like I had never seen before in myself. I am now fully committed to my performance meaning I let everything that I have rehearsed go and really listen and play off my scene partners allowing whatever emotion comes up to come through–instead of forcing things. I can’t begin to describe the freedom it has allowed me, it truly feels like I am living the moment instead of “acting” it. Raquel is AMAZING!
What are your strong points as an actor?
Now that I have fully committed to each of my performances I think honestly, I’m just not afraid to look like an absolute idiot. I committed so hard to my character Elisa that I had everyone in tears from the completely outlandish, hilarious, weird, and outright crazy things that came through while performing. I think with comedy in general, you have to learn to let go; to let go of ANY insecurity you may have. We watch comedy because we want to laugh, not to watch a wooden actor stand there too afraid to look stupid.
What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?
I think working with Raquel has taught me the most. Watching her be so fully committed to her work made me only want to commit to mine. She had a vision in her mind and she was able to convey that vision so beautifully that I only wanted to support her vision by doing everything I could to make it come to life. I think noticing how symbiotic an actor-director relationship can be, and if they are on the same wavelength true magic can happen, and it did!
What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?
It is ruthlessly competitive. Back when there were more in-person auditions pre-COVID, it was always a stark awakening going to an audition and seeing twenty other girls who look exactly like you all auditioning for one role. You have to learn to really trust yourself and your gifts and know that whatever is for you, is for you. I had to learn that being my most authentic self was the most powerful gift I could give myself, for it’s the only way you stand out.
What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?
Ha, so many things! Money? Definitely financing. But also just completing the script. Sitting down to write a fully fleshed story is hard work. It is not easy to write a story that has a cohesive beginning, middle, and end that is engaging to watch on screen. My screenwriting teachers have always taught me to write what I want to see happen on the screen. I really try to remember that while writing; no wasted space, no wasted exposition, and definitely NO telling. I think one should study the craft of screenwriting to really understand the nuance of writing for the screen. Then, once you have your first draft, begin the super fun job of re-writing. Ha, I would say most of writing a script is re-writing. Also, hear it out loud–have your friends and family read it so you can hear the words outside of your head. Listen to how others talk, and emulate that in your script. I watch a lot of reality television for this exact reason.
What do you do when you’re not filming?
I spend time with my family and friends. I love my family so much, they mean the world to me. Also, my husband and I like to go on mini outings to fun places when we both have the time. We love getting away to Palm Springs for the weekend, or to Santa Barbara, or Vegas. We also love playing sports together, like soccer, beach volleyball, paddle boarding, biking, hiking, anything outdoors, and being active. We also are huge foodies (he is actually a Sommelier), so we love trying new restaurants around LA. I also love to watch TV and films for research and read scripts for fun. I really love to read scripts while watching the show or movie while reading it at the same time, it really helps me see how words translate on screen. My brain is never not working.
What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?
Definitely winning fan favorite at the 2017 LA Film Festival Danny Elfman Rabbit and Rogue short film contest. Danny Elfman leaned his film scores to filmmakers for the task of writing a short film around one of the scores he provided. I heard about the contest about a week before the deadline, so on a whim, I wrote a short film in a day, assembled a crew, shot it over the weekend, and we submitted the film with literally one minute to spare before the deadline. We ended up winning fan favorite for my film, Amelia’s Story, which garnered over 500,000 views within a week of being online. We got to go to the LA Film Festival and meet the Oscar-winning judges and screen all the winning films. A true honor I will never forget.
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
Recently I met and got to work with Don Morgan, the 5x Emmy Winning Director of Photography, and Lifetime Achievement Award winner. We are honored to have him be a part of Elisa’s Almost Thirty as the DP and what an amazing man he is. We can all only hope for a career like Don’s and he couldn’t be any nicer. He truly is a gem of a person and we are so incredibly grateful and honored. He was an absolute joy to work with.
If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?
Me of course!
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
I hope to have Elisa’s Almost Thirty up and streaming very soon, as well as my feature film The Whistling Trees in production next year. Hopefully, you will be seeing more of me on the screen next year!