make the story of Inez Milholland into a movie, what does she mean to you
personally, and what kind of research did you do on the subject?
just getting started - thereís so much more to tell about Inez! I was
compelled to make a film about her because I was stunned and honestly
angry that she literally gave her life so I could vote, and I had never
heard of her. Whoever made the history books I read in every class
didnít think her life mattered enough to be remembered. But she was
instrumental in turning the tide for womenís right to vote. She was also
a lawyer and pioneer of prison reform - exposing the atrocities of Sing
Sing prison and helping it become more about rehabilitation than
punishment. She was an early member of the NAACP when there was a lot of
racism in the suffrage movement. She was a peace activist in WWI and had
an open marriage ~ she and her husband were redefining gender roles and
traditional marriage vows. And so much more. Even though she knew that all
of the issues she worked so hard to change were too mammoth to be
ďfixedĒ in her lifetime, she gave it everything she had. And she was
far from perfect. She struggled with self-doubt and indulgent extravagance
and chronic illness. She was a human who did great things. To me, thatís
exactly the kind of life I want to learn about and dive into portraying as
an actor and filmmaker.
sources of inspiration when writing Into
the work of four top Inez- and Suffrage-historians: Linda J. Lumsdenís
Inez: The Life and Times of Inez Milholland; Robert Cooney jrís
Remembering Inez: The Last Campaign of Inez Milholland, Suffrage Martyr;
the work and materials of Martha Wheelock of Wild West Women, and relative
of Inezís family, John Tepper Marlin.
What can you tell us about Into
Light's director Jessica Graham, and what was your collaboration
is a phenomenal artist and human. This is my third time working with her ~
I was honored to star in her directorial debut on the powerful short film Listen, about domestic
violence, and then on a comedy pilot I wrote for
YouTubeís Women In Comedy initiative, where I played 3 characters. We
seem to pick very diverse genres!
knew that Jessica was the perfect director for this project because
sheís also an activist and a writer about positive sexuality and an
actress, and Inez was all of those things. Thereís an energetic imprint
that Jessica has that I knew Inez is a harmonic of - and vice versa.
Grounded and dynamic. Jessica is also a mindfulness meditation teacher, and
itís important to me to really unify the team in mindfulness for big
production meetings and especially on set. I knew sheíd create a
grounded, open, safe container to really dive deeply into the work.
Sheís a pure joy to work with and brought everything Iíd hoped for and
more. Weíre creative soulmates for sure.
What were the main challenges of bringing Into
Light to the screen from a producer's point of view?
every producer will tell you itís to do with the budget. Itís so
important to me to honor peopleís time and work. I canít wait until I
can pay people what they truly deserve, but we had to cover everything
with donations, so we were working on a very tight budget. For a period
piece with the scope of Into
Light, that doesnít go very far! This
absolutely would not have been made without the incredible hard work of
lead producer Martine Melloul guiding our amazing team of Rachel Thundat,
Jennifer Brofer and Alejandro Lopez. And the saving grace was Martha
Wheelockís nonprofit production company Wild West Women, our fiscal
conduit. That meant Martine could get companies to rent us gear for free
or huge tax-deductable discounts, and Rachel got us amazing food sponsors,
and Jennifer helped with marketing so we could reach donors to support us
with tax-deductible donations. People were so generous ~ it really takes a
village! And the cast and crew and extras willing to work for free or
minimal stipends, but still giving it everything they had. Just deep
also play the lead in Into
Light - so what can you tell us about your approach to your
character, and did you write her with yourself in mind from the get-go?
absolutely - Iím really only a writer of scripts I want to act in. I
started off as an actor, but Iíve always kind of secretly written
scripts because sometimes I feel compelled to play a character in a way
that I donít see them having been portrayed yet. Inez had only briefly
been portrayed on film prior to Into
Light, and not in the way I feel her,
but as this beautiful weak thing who faints to death. Inez was a total
force of nature and barreled through her life, and I found it a great
challenge and honor to play with embodying that.
tend to approach a character from the inside out. I get a sense of their
energy. I meditate on them and literally ask permission ~ ask if they want
me to play them or to just write their story and play someone else in it.
Then voice is often a way in, because voice is such a pure expression of a
personís energy. Iíve spent literally thousands of hours exploring my
voice, so when it comes out a particular way that feels like a character,
my body naturally moves and holds itself in certain ways that seem to fit.
Itís very organic. And a lot of research goes into it because there are
ways people sounded and moved in 1916 that donít exist anymore. So if I
was to sound like 2020, it would be so dissonant it would just stand out
horribly. But I relish the process so much. Itís endlessly fascinating
talk about the rest of Into
Light's cast, and why exactly these people?
cast gives me chills every time. When (director) Jessica and I saw Jessica
Erin Martinís (Vida) audition tape, she had everything Iíd imagined in
Vida. Vidaís strength is different from Inezís, but no less powerful.
Sheís like water, where Inez is fire. She needed to be able to sit with
the doctor and wear down his defenses by her pure, loving presence. Jessica
The doctor was tough to cast, because the writing has a very specific point of
view thatís hard for people these days to understand. Heís not
anti-women, he loves and cherishes women and wants to
protect them. He just genuinely doesnít understand that his view of
women being made to be protected in the home could be considered
misogynistic. Travis Joe Dixon had this depth and tenderness in his tape
and we knew he had the right energy for Dr. Campbell. His performance
gives me chills every time - and Iíve seen it probably over 100 times.
our four Suffragists ~ Martha Wheelock, Justine Wachsberger, Marie Moutť and Raluca
Amerine were all
incredible and so committed. They all created characters based on real
people who would have been there. And the extras were amazing. Several of
them had marched in the Rose Parade for the Suffrage
Centennial, and they
came in their full regalia!
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
shot it all in only two days, which is a lot of pressure. Respect and
mindfulness were really important to us - to stay connected to the reality
we were re-creating and the purpose of telling this story. Our costume
designer, El Miezel was amazing, and watching our Emmy-winning DP Sherri
Kauk work with Jessica and run the camera crew was just mesmerizing.
Sheís so clear and on top of every detail. There were certainly
stresses, but everyone worked their hearts out and it was wildly
$64-question, where can your movie be seen?
on Amazon Prime Video: t.ly/intolightamazon
also in several film festivals, so you can get the latest at
can tell us about audience and critical reception of Into
been so fulfilling to have audiences and critics alike so deeply moved and
inspired by it. Itís a dream come true. Especially stories like we had
from one of the founders of the Sherman Oaks Film Festival. He has a 12
year old daughter and after theyíd watched the presidential debates this
year, sheíd said she didnít see the point of voting. So he showed her
our film and she said she really understood how hard-won and how important
our right to vote is.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
in a few beautiful feature films due out soon: Grace and Grit, based on
the best-selling Ken Wilber book of the same title, directed by Sebastian
Segal, who poured his whole heart into it for years. Evan Wood, which is a
powerful family drama that deals with addiction. And The Scheme of
which was so fun to shoot ~ itís a family adventure film. My fiance,
Nipun Nair, whoís also my producing partner at SoulFire
Creations, and I
wrote a song for the credits of Into
Light which weíre making into a
music video that we shot in gorgeous locations, so thatíll be fun.
Weíre also editing and writing a documentary short for filmmaker Sabrina
Aman, about binational couples whoíve been separated due to the
pandemic; and weíre in the middle of an animation project with Theatre
of Will and the LADWP to teach school children about water conservation.
Oh my gosh thereís more... Iím in a few episodes of the next season of
Boss Baby, which
is hilarious and fun. Iím also writing a new biopic short, which I spent
a few months researching, and an experimental feature, as well as
co-writing an incredibly uplifting family film with my dear friend and
writing partner - best-selling author Suzanne KelmanÖ And a poetry book
Iíve been slowly chipping away at for a year. Guess I should stop there
because this is sounding ridiculous, but there are always a lot of plates
made you want to become an actress in the first place, and did you recieve
any formal education on the subject?
knew when I was eight that I needed (and I do mean it was a requirement)
to be an actress. I grew up doing all of the arts, but only acting uses
everything I have and more, all in one job. Especially because I often
write and get to research and learn new skills and inevitably will write a
song about any new project at some point. Itís all a deep dive into
empathy and finding more and more ways weíre alike as humans.
took every drama class growing up and attended Wollongong Uni in Australia
and have taken many acting classes from great teachers here in LA
Anthony Meindlís Actors Workshop, Ted Brunetti, the late greats Gary
Austin and Stan KirschÖ Itís hard during quarantine, but Iím
normally in class.
What made you
eventually branch out into writing and producing as well?
started writing my first screenplay when I was 16. I knew nothing at all
about the format or the craft. Nothing. But Iíve loved writing stories
since I was tiny. And then when I was 25, my YouTube channel took off and
I started writing sketches. Iíve had an odd career trajectory where
basically none of it has been the traditional route, but Iím honestly
happiest making stories that matter to me. That I feel can bring empathy
and insight and hopefully empowerment into the world. Iíd rather write
and produce something that has heart and meaning for me than be in some
shiny thing thatís putting out a message I canít stand behind. There
is a phenomenal amount of powerful, meaningful content out there, donít
get me wrong, and I completely love being able to just drop in and play a
role and not have to wear every hat. Itís such a joy to be supported in
that and not bear all the responsibility of producing. But at the end of
the day, however the creativity wants to flow through me will always make
me happy. I think I just relaxed the restrictions on what I thought I was
supposed to be, to welcome in all I feel called to create.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Into
Light, in whatever position?
love being on set. Thereís this tangible atmosphere of complete focus
and respect that feels like home to me. Iíve said so much, Iíll keep
this one short!
How would you
describe yourself as an actress, and some of your techniques to bring your
characters to life?
talked a lot about this before ~ moving from the inside out. I also
usually write as the character - find their handwriting, the way they hold
themselves, but it often starts on the energetic level. I get a feeling of
them in my body and then start talking, finding their voice, and my body
finds its way from there. I research a lot. I can always tell when Iím
meant to play a character because the entire universe will send me every
experience and piece of info I need to portray them authentically.
Thatís why Iím very choosy! Because I know Iím going to go through
it as closely as is safely possible. It always makes me laugh, because
suddenly everything will be about womenís rights or whatever the subject
at hand is.
Actresses, writers, filmmakers,
whoever else who inspire you?
so many: Alfre Woodard, Emma Thompson, of course Meryl Streep, Michelle
Yeoh, Jennifer Hudson, Penelope CruzÖ Mira Nair, Ava DuVernay, Nzinga
Stewart, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Nicole Holofcener, Jane Campion...
Your favourite movies?
have so many! Favorites are hard for me, I want to include everyone. Life
Is Beautiful/La Vita e Bella, La Fille Sur Le Pont, Sleepless in Seattle I
could watch every year forever, I just saw Soorarai Pottru and was
destroyed and rebuilt in 2 Ĺ hours. Beautiful film. 1917. All of the
brilliant biopics ever. True stories always been my favorite.
and of course, films you really deplore?
is hard. I can always find something to love.
movie's website, social media, whatever else?
on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
~ @soulfire.creations on Instagram; @SoulfireCreatns on Twitter.
~ @AmyWalkerOfficial on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube; @amiablewalker on Twitter.
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
that I need to shout out my incredible team and donors, sponsors and
supporters. Thank you! We did it together! Especially my partner, Nipun
Nair, who did all of the editing, sound design, score, VFX, rotoscoping
and more for Into
Light. Even on set he made sure I had food and water and
sanity. Heís an unfathomably brilliant, kind, hilarious, supportive and
wonderful human and Iím honored every day to work and live with him.
for the interview!
you! Weíve written a novel together! ;-)