“I practice the emotion more so than the lines. I do come in prepared with the lines, because then you’re freer to say it or let it come out the way it wants to come out… I just take myself and go meet the character where she’s at.” – Angela Relucio
In Angel, the debut film from writer and director, Raeann Giles, three thirty-something women (Giles, Chelsea Gilson and Angela Relucio), travel to wine country for a weekend away from husbands, boyfriends and a stressful jobs. After getting their hands on a bottle of forbidden wine, they wake up in an alternate reality, showing them a life of what-could-have-been and where one revisits a past miscarriage, coming face-to-face with the traumatic loss.
Relucio, who you may have seen as Nurse Risa in CBS’ Code Black (among many other things), won Best Supporting Actress at the International Christian Film Festival for her role in the film and they weren’t wrong. I have a role in the film and she is in fact, terrific, both in the film and in real life.
In this interview, Relucio, talks about the film and why she wanted her role, preparation and auditions. She also has some great tips that will help everyone out with their next self-tape. These are edited excerpts from that conversation. For the full interview, check out the video below or watch it on YouTube.
Let’s talk about your role.
Angela Relucio: In Angel, I play Alexis, who is one of the best friends of Niko, played by writer, director, star extraordinaire, Raeann Giles. It’s a girl’s weekend out, and we discover some things about ourselves and each other, and we have a good time doing it.
With the subject matter of the film, I feel like it’s coming out like right at the perfect time.
Angela Relucio: Yeah, it is a little serendipitous, actually. It’s good timing, it was unintentional, but things always happen the way they’re meant to be. I think that this movie could mean lots of different things to different people, regardless if you’re a woman or not, or if you identify as a woman or a man, you’re going to come away with just a different feeling or reinforcing the feeling you already had. And it is a miscarriage awareness movie, but there are also other elements rolled into it. Each woman in this movie, each character has a different feeling about pregnancy and children and motherhood and what it means to be a woman, which I think is quite timely.
How did you get the part?
Angela Relucio: This is the second time I’m working with Raeann. We worked some years back on Playdates Anonymous, which was her comedy where we all had children and we were in a playdate group, and of course, we had conflicting personalities, all the moms in that group did. And then she remembered me when it came time to cast for Angel, and I’m happy she did because she’s good people.
You and Raeann have this really, really emotional scene in the film. I was there that day and while you guys were filming it, you could feel something heavy was happening upstairs. Can you talk about that scene? And how did you go about preparing for it?
Angela Relucio: I remember this scene well, because it was night time, not to mention the set was already dark and it felt peaceful and serene, and I think that really helps just to get yourself in a neutral space.
Raeann’s character, it was a lot of her revealing that she had been pregnant, and while my character was her best friend, there are certain things you just want to keep for yourself. So, I get that her character kept that to herself until she felt the need to reveal it to me. And maybe that brings about a little bit of maybe sadness, like maybe I should have held back, because all that time in the movie, without giving away too much, I had a different opinion on wanting to have children and wanting to have a household and to be a wife and all that stuff. So, perhaps it changes my mind a little bit about how I feel about those certain things when other people are suffering from loss. I think it was a very pivotal moment in scene, not just for Raeann’s character, but for my own.
The film has a mostly female cast, and behind the scenes, there were a lot of women there as well. How did it feel to be surrounded by a lot of strong, smart women who were so dedicated to this film?
Angela Relucio: In the words of Beyonce, who run the world? Girls, girls. [laughter] I was excited. I love working with everybody, and it’s just the spirit you bring and your creativity that you bring to any set.
But it’s true, this one was very female heavy, the cast and also the crew. I always welcome different experiences, and it was really lovely. I think we hear sort of just like that sisterhood bond that naturally comes about when there are women in the room, and I certainly appreciated that they’re all professional, and they’re creative and they were fun, and they were in good spirits all the time. That makes it easier.
Not every set with a lot of women can be that friendly. Sometimes, it’s catty. You know that… Or that kind of behavior or the feel of competition, and there was none of that. I really enjoyed myself in my experience working on a set with a lot of women.
Being with you on set, you just had this sort of calm, ready to go attitude. How prepared are you when you come on to the set?
Angela Relucio: There’s always a certain amount of nerves that comes with being on set, regardless of how prepared you are, because you just let go and let what’s supposed to come out in your acting. And sometimes, that can be scary because you don’t know where your feelings are going to go, or what your scene partner is going to do that’ll make you react in a way that you didn’t pre-plan in your head.
And sometimes, you’ve not said the words out loud before that day. I practice the emotion more so than the lines. I do come in prepared with the lines, because then you’re freer to say it or let it come out the way it wants to come out. I do try to be relaxed. I make sure I eat, so I’m not hungry and cranky to anybody on set, very important. I always make sure to stay hydrated and to feel good in my body, so that my body is nice and relaxed.
I think it’s just a matter of experience. The more sets you’re on, the more you realize, “I’m just being me in different circumstances than I’m used to.” But I don’t ever try to stretch my character, necessarily. I just take myself and go meet the character where she’s at.
You’ve been working a lot and I’d imagine a lot of them were through self-tapes. What are your self-tape tips that you can share?
Angela Relucio: I’ll give you a couple of important things. When you have a good amount of auditions, it’s a pain in the butt to keep putting up a backdrop, setting up the lights, doing all that. Especially if you’re auditioning three, four, five, six, seven times a week. So, I converted a walk-in closet into a self-tape room. It’s only 5 1/2 x 6 feet, but it does the trick. And now I have a four-light setup: One pointing to the backdrop, one pointing to my hair, just to give a hairline, and then, two lights in front of me at 45-degree angles, the key light and the fill light. I know that’s fancier than a lot of actors have, and you don’t need anything fancy, but I find this is the setup that works for me.
And then I have a camera with a front-facing mic on sort of a clamp that I just pull from the side and place in front of me. Sometimes, you have a reader that’s just on Zoom or on your phone, and I have another clamp with an arm that pulls right next to the camera so I can look at somebody’s face.
And now, when I have to do a tape, I just walk into that room, flip on the lights, and the camera is rolling and I’m ready to go. It makes it so much easier than having to deal with the stress of the tech.
And then just hit record on the camera and live your life before you even start the lines, before you start the scenes. What activity are you doing, right? Because you’re going to be editing it afterwards anyway, and it just feels more natural when you’re living life and having a conversation versus, “Now I’m staring at the camera, and now I’ll start my lines.” That’s always helped me, and I feel like the more I watch my tapes, all the tapes that I do, that’s one thing that I will always do for myself, is start from somewhere.
I asked a lot of people that question, and those are two great, great tips. Finally, what’s been your worst audition ever?
Angela Relucio: I’ve heard some horror stories, but for me, I’d have to go pretty way back when we were still doing in-the-room auditions. And this was for, I think, kind of like a catty night-time drama with a bunch of women. And the casting director brings me in, and I’m just very… “Hi there, thanks for having me in,” and… Or like, “Hi there, good afternoon to you,” just something super simple. And it was met with a… Like she didn’t want to talk. That’s cool. I don’t really like to get chatting before an audition either, it’s more just to be personable.
And we go into the room, and she just is not having a good day or a good time. And right when we start my scene, she wasn’t wanting to read with me, I guess, or she just wasn’t in the mood. And she wasn’t picking up her lines at all, or the cues, so then it was throwing me off. And then I had to stop it, and I never stop myself at an audition, but it was just… It wasn’t happening. So, I stopped it and said something like, “Oh, I’m sorry, I think I wasn’t quite getting the rhythm there.” I put the blame sort of on myself because I didn’t want to be like, “Hey, lady, pay attention.” That was what my mind was saying that, because the casting director was not paying attention, to the point where I honestly thought maybe she was intoxicated or something. I’m not even joking. I was like, “I think there’s something medically happening.” I didn’t know, and it made me feel uncomfortable, but we just gave the scene another go.
You know, sometimes, that happens. As prepared as I was, I wasn’t prepared for that, and I think it was a good lesson to learn, in that you never know what you’re going to walk to in a room. Just do it, do it as best as you can, and then get out of there. Just say “Thank you” and get out of there.
And if that role wasn’t meant to happen for whatever reason, for whose ever fault it was, then it wasn’t meant to happen, but you can’t hang on to that all day long or all week long. You’ve just got to keep moving forward.