The Perils of Angeline
by Jay S. Jacobs
It isn’t easy being a young aspiring actress. The fantasy is that you arrive in Hollywood, fresh-faced and talented, park yourself on a bar stool at some soda fountain (or coffee shop) on the Boulevard and wait for someone to come along and discover you. Reality is much grimmer; a frantic whirl of blind auditions, call sheets, surly casting execs, crappy waitressing jobs, blue books, tiny apartments, b-level productions, rooms bursting with hundreds of other aspirants, hard plastic chairs and a near constant sense of rejection.
It’s no secret that becoming a huge star is a high-odds proposition on the level of hitting the power ball. There are way too many aspiring actresses and just not enough interesting projects. Therefore, Angeline-Rose Troy had a radical idea. Instead of jumping through all of the hoops and waiting for someone to find her right for their precious project, why not just create her own content?
And thus, Cassiopeia Productions was born.
“When I had just graduated college in 2010 and a friend of mine was still in school working on a feature film, in which he had given me the lead role,” Troy recalls. “It was an amazing role. It was a really strong, female-driven film. I just loved it so much.”
This feature script was Ever Last. It was the chance of a lifetime, and yet it was just one of hundreds of thousands of small independent films that were being developed at any particular time. The film was in pre-production. At that point, as an actress, Troy was not overly involved in the day-to-day setup. But her friend and soon-to-be director Chris Dimoulas kept her in the mix, so she heard what was going on the entire time.
“About two weeks into pre-production, everything was getting set; they were getting ready to roll in a month, [and] his producer quit. He didn’t know what to do. He said, ‘I guess I’m not going to be able to do the thing.’ I was like: No, we have to do this! We have to find the way. This is such an amazing script you’ve written. And I really want to do this role, because it’s so good. So I said, how about if I produce it? He asked, ‘Have you ever produced anything before?’ I said no, but come on, let me try,” Troy laughs.
So, suddenly, Angeline-Rose Troy was a player in the movie game.
“It was a huge learning experience,” Troy acknowledges, reminiscing. “It was so biting off way more than I could chew, but I feel like that was the best way to really throw myself into it and make a movie. You can only learn so much in school. Eventually you’re out there facing the challenges and seeing really what goes into making a movie. What a producer does. What an executive producer does. Especially on a low budget. Then you don’t know what you’re going to be facing. This was an amazing challenge. That’s how I formed Cassiopeia. I did that.”
It also led her to realize that everything needs compartmentalizing. She has her actress hat, and she has her producer hat.
“That is what I learned on Ever Last, that as one person you cannot do it all,” Troy laughs. “You must have a really good support team. I’ve had an incredible support team around me ever since. I work with a very talented producer named Scott Roughgarden. We’ve worked on three shows together. You kind of find the yin to your yang in someone else, and that’s what makes a great partner.”
And if as a producer, she happens to find a project that has a plum role for herself as an actress, all the better, right?
“Absolutely!” she laughs. “Why would you not? Sometimes you have to take charge of your own career like that. There are a lot of great roles out there that are sometimes just going offer only. People aren’t even getting to audition for them. So when you find a script that has an incredible role, and the script is so good and it’s not being made, there’s just something inside of you as a producer and as an actress where you just want to do it. You want to make it and you’re going to give it everything you have to give it the life that it deserves.”
Troy has been acting and modeling all of her life – literally since she was a toddler. When she was a mere year-and-a-half old in her native Tennessee, people kept telling her mother that little Angeline-Rose should be a model. Troy’s mother blew it off good-naturedly, pointing out that she was a baby and she wasn’t going to have her child out there working. But eventually, after hearing this enough times, her mother took the plunge.
“She continued to get approached and so finally, one of the cards she got from a modeling agent – Elite Models – she finally gave them a call,” Troy explains. “They booked me on my first modeling gig, which was for these stockings which were way, way, way to big on me.”
Troy laughs looking back. “I’ve seen the pictures. They’re really funny. I had no idea what I’m doing. I’m a baby. I guess I liked it, so we continued from there. I did a bunch of modeling. Then I sort of segued into commercials when you are at that age, because there is not a ton of people doing it – especially back then. It was a lot less densely populated with actors in the world.”
It was definitely a different way of growing up, but in the long run Troy sees it as having been beneficial towards her future aspirations.
“As a kid you begin to develop skills, not even acting or modeling skills, just working with people and adults,” Troy says. “Seeing adults as equals. Trying to be able to communicate with people on their level. You form a foundation for an interesting form of communication.”
As she grew, being in this world also allowed her to have a different viewpoint on the arts going on around her as well. As a little girl, her family did not have cable. Her parents did not want her to be spending her days glued to the tube. The only usage their TV ever received was a well-worn series of classic films on VHS tape: things like Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain (“to this day I can still watch that movie every day”), and Mary Martin in Peter Pan. In fact, it was a live performance by Martin in this last role that hardened Troy’s future aspirations in her young mind.
“I always loved theater,” Troy says. “My mom and dad would take me to the theater, to the opera, to the ballet, on a weekly basis. There’s actually a huge theater hub and arts hub in Memphis, Tennessee, which is where I grew up for six years. We started doing that. I remember telling my mom I want to be that. I want to be on stage. I remember seeing Peter Pan and… oh, my God! Flying across the stage. I said, ‘Mom, I want to do that so badly!’ So, I got into doing plays that way. It progressed into film, TV, all that good stuff.”
Otherwise she had a pretty standard childhood, life as an only child. Her work caused her to be home-schooled, but she never felt like she missed out too much. There are certain touchstones which can always take her back to that time.
“Smells make me nostalgic,” Troy says. “I grew up on the east coast and [love] the smell of fall. Watching the leaves change. Apple picking, pumpkin picking, cider, donuts, all that stuff.”
Of course, not all memories are so positive.
“I’m terrified of balloons.” Troy laughs, a little sheepishly. “When I was little, you know you go to all the little kids’ birthday parties? They give you a balloon to take home. When I was getting into the car once after a party, I was holding the balloon by my face and it popped right next to my eye.” She laughs again at the memory. “So now when I see clowns making balloon animals, I have to leave the room. I can’t stay around it.”
Ironically, for a girl who grew up without benefit of cable, Troy’s first big breaks were making movies for a major cable network. After years of working as a model and actress, she had taken time off to attend college at Fairleigh Dickinson in New Jersey. While a student, Troy had decided that she was going to take a break from working. Therefore, she was in the school drama department, but she was not out there looking for gigs. Right before finals, she received a call from a producer she knew when she had been living and working in Los Angeles. He was working for the Lifetime channel on a made-for-cable movie and it had a role he felt she would be perfect for. Could she fly in and audition?
“I said: I have finals!” Troy laughs. “Can I fly out this weekend and audition?”
So she did. She auditioned for the director, Richard Gabai. They had coffee the next day. Then she flew back to school and prepared for graduation.
“The very next week I started filming Who Killed Allison Parks? (a/k/a InSIght), which was my first Lifetime movie,” Troy recalls. “I just formed a great rapport with Richard Gabai, who is just a wonderful individual. His family is so wonderful. He put me in two more of his films (Imaginary Friend and The Good Mother) which were all slated for Lifetime. So, I did three Lifetime films in a row.”
It was at about the time that she was working on the Lifetime films that Troy was getting her feet wet as a producer. Cassiopeia Productions was open for business.
“My first thing out the door was a feature film, then from there I did a couple of music videos, a short film, and a few more feature films,” Troy says. “My latest thing was CineDopes, which is a YouTube series that has recently actually gotten a lot of attention. We’re now trying to take that to the next level by talking with some networks. Hopefully you’ll be hearing more about it pretty soon.”
CineDopes is a rowdy sitcom about a couple of stoners who inherit a failing revival movie theater in Los Angeles full of misfit employees and decide to juice the sales by getting a medical marijuana license and selling pot with the matinees. Four episodes are available on YouTube (so far). Troy plays the role of Elizabeth, the gorgeous employee with a personality that is a strange mix of girl-next-door and Harley Quinn.
Troy helped with the writing of CineDopes, but she acknowledges that is a skill set that she is not sure she wants to pursue further.
“In college I wrote plays, and went up on stage,” Troy recalls. “It was always something that almost gave me a heart attack, sitting there watching the words that I’d written coming out of people’s mouths. It was very nerve-wracking. There are some incredibly talented writers out there, and I’m going to let them stick to the writing.”
She laughs, “I’m also going to let them stick to the directing. I love working with directors who have a vision. They bring things to the table that maybe as an actor you don’t see. That’s just an incredible feeling.”
Still, Troy felt the making of the series was an incredible experience. She also acknowledges that the internet may be the next direction for television.
“Now so many really high profile shows have come out of YouTube,” Troy says. “It’s just small production companies doing it on a low budget. People really gravitate towards the material, and networks take notice. I think that is the way of the future. We are seeing way more platforms. Digital platforms – Hulu, Netflix, Amazon – clean up on these small productions and giving them a better life. It’s kind of awesome.”
Speaking of Netflix, Cassiopeia has a new film which has just been released through that platform. The Sin Seer stars Isaiah Washington, Lisa Arrindel Anderson, and of course has a nice juicy role for its producer.
“We shot in North Carolina. It’s a really cool film. It’s a very dark thriller. Isaiah Washington is very good in it. Lisa Arrindell Anderson is absolutely incredible. There’s a lot of mysticism that goes on in that film,” Troy laughs. “I really love thrillers. I love watching them and I love being a part of them, too.”
She also has another thriller in the works called Element, in which she got the opportunity to work with long-time character actor Michael Ironside, who has been gainfully employed in low-budget films for decades, with no stop in sight.
“[He] is just like the veteran of all veteran actors,” Troy enthuses. “He’s been in everything. He’s very cool to work with on set. There’s a scene – it’s not a spoiler or anything, because it happens in the very beginning, so it’s not giving anything away – but Michael Ironside kills me. I’ve died in a couple of films before, and I was like, okay, I can do this. He took me aside and he gave me an entire tutorial on how to die from this particular gun shot. He was going to shoot me. Because, he just knows how to do this stuff. This is what he does. There were some scenes where the director would just step aside and say, ‘Hey, Michael, what do you think about this?’ And Michael would almost take over directing a little bit. He’s so talented and so smart that it’s wonderful to have people like that on set. You really do learn from them.”
Still, as a maker of low-budget productions, Troy does have to admit sometimes she slightly covets the filmmakers with huge amounts of cash to throw into a project.
“I recently went to the premiere screening of a new show on Epix, called Berlin Station,” she said. “They shot entirely in Berlin. It’s this incredible spy thriller, sort of WikiLeaks show. You could just tell that everything was so incredibly well thought out. They shot six months in Berlin for nine episodes. They had incredible, just amazing photographers. Their aerial shots are amazing. The script was so good.
“I really just want to do a film where you have every single aspect be the best it can be. Maybe that means a high budget. It’s hard working under constraints. This, I don’t know what their budget was, but it was amazing. Especially for television, which is kind of interesting, because TV used to be sort of low-budget, like, whatever…. People will accept that this is whatever they think we are. Now television, people are staying home more. People are watching television more. The budgets and the experience of television shows have really gone to the next level.”
TV and film is just one level of Troy’s career, though. She has also spent a ton of time on stage. She can never really see separating the different art forms, though each has their own joys and challenges.
“Stage is incredibly nerve-wracking,” Troy admits. “I get butterflies in the wings every single time, for every single performance I go on. You go onstage and they disappear. Theater is really fun because each night is going to be different. Each night you’re going to get something different from your partner. You’re going to put something else out there. You’re going to discover more and more about your character. You have the time and the space to do that. And the response from the audience is always going to feel different. It’s just a very interactive medium, which is wonderful.
“With film and TV, you get to do – well not a million takes – but you get to do multiple takes. You find what works and what nuances work. You have your director right there with you the entire time, saying, ‘Hmmm, maybe try it this way.’ Or, ‘let’s just do a little bit less here.’ Or, ‘Think about this.’ You go, ohh…, and then you do it again, instantly. On stage, your director is sitting in the audience, either going, ‘Oh, my God, I love what you’re doing,’ or ‘Oh, crap!'” She laughs. “So, it’s very, very different.”
To make sure this difference is of another galaxy, Troy has taken a very active role in an annual Los Angeles theatrical experience: The Science Fiction One Act Play Festival (also known as Sci-Fest). Troy was approached a few years ago by David Dean Botrell, a long-time character actor (probably best known for Boston Legal) and screenwriter, who started the Fest with partner Lee Costello. Bottrell told Troy that he and his partner were doing something that had never been done before, and asked if she wanted to be involved.
“I was like: Yes! Wait, what is it?” Troy laughs, recalling.
What it is indeed is this: “Science fiction on stage, it’s a bunch of short plays, all by either emerging talents, emerging writers, or by the greats, like [Ray] Bradbury or [Neil] Gaiman,” Troy explains. “Gaiman came to ‘The Case of Four and Twenty Blackbirds’ that I performed (in 2015), and he loved it. It’s bringing a whole kind of new genre to a new form. It’s never been on stage like this. We’re showing what you can do without all of the special effects of film and television. At the heart of every good TV show, every good movie, every good story, is the story. On stage you are really able to show that without so many gimmicks. Science fiction shines on stage. I really do think so.”
That brings up an interesting question. Troy has worked in lots of genres over the years, but mostly she seems to have been in thrillers, and some science fiction. Just as a fan, what types of things does she tend to watch or read just for pleasure?
“I do really enjoy thrillers. Of course I’m a rom com girl,” she laughs. “Who doesn’t love Bridget Jones? The one genre that I actually find myself… or did find myself… shying away from was horror, because I’m terrified of that. I have a very low tolerance.
Troy figured the best way to cure that would be to just jump in with both feet and produce a horror film. Therefore, she did a short horror film called ‘Jägerbär.’
“I was there throughout the entire production,” Troy says. “I knew that the props were fake. I knew that the actors were actors. Even on set, I was so freaked out by it. Watching it back, I was like: Oh my God! I was hiding. I was gripping the armrest of the chair. We were at film festivals. So it did not cure me of being afraid of horror films, but it did sort of immerse me a little bit more, and that was fun.”
She has immersed herself in other things, as well, throughout her life. For a while Troy thought that if she were not in show business she would like to be involved in the law.
“I’ve actually always been interested in law. Growing up, I was home-schooled because I working. I had a friend who got into a little bit of trouble with the law. Nothing big. We were kids, like sixteen or seventeen. He didn’t want to tell his parents. So I went to Barnes & Noble and I bought all these books on law. I really started studying and trying to find cases that set precedents for what he was going through. I was highlighting, I was writing out – a frigging fifteen-sixteen year old writing out a deposition? I don’t know how well that would hold up in court.”
She laughs at the memory, “I was really, really interested in all that. I think the law was something that I’ve always gravitated towards. Then I was called in for jury duty. I saw how the lawyers treated the witnesses. I saw how they treated the potential jurors. I saw how to win the case, you manipulate words, you manipulate feelings. You do all these things to the people around you. I realized that I didn’t actually want to be a part of that. So I figured, maybe I’ll play a lawyer one day.”
Beyond her interest in the law, Troy has always been socially conscious as well. In the year of arguably the craziest Presidential election of all time, she still feels that it is of vital importance.
“I think politics are especially important, and I think voting is especially important,” Troy said. “Too many people think, ‘Oh, my vote doesn’t matter. It’s not going to mean anything.’ When so many people think that way, it does. It means everything. Getting out there and voting is very important. It’s an odd time that we’re in politically right now. It’s unfortunate for America that we don’t have a candidate who we are all super-excited about. Who we think, yes, this is the person who is going to change everything. I love everything you are saying. I love everything that you said in the past. I love your history. I love who you are. We don’t really have that right now. It’s people saying who is the best of two evils. That’s not where we should be as America.”
However, as a public figure, Troy recognizes the importance of using her influence on fans for good. Therefore, she tries to get involved in causes that she is passionate about, and help to spread the word, use her notoriety to affect change.
“I do a lot of work with St. Baldrick’s, which is a foundation that raises the most money out of any organization aside from the government for childhood cancer research,” Troy explains. “This is a cause that is very dear to my heart. I had a friend growing up who passed away from leukemia when we were little kids.”
What she has learned from the experience has humbled her, and made her even more determined to help the cause.
She says she cherishes the opportunities. “Getting to be with these people. Getting to be with the moms. Getting to meet the doctors. Getting to see the great strives they are making in research. Bringing people’s attention to it. Something like, I think it’s only 3% of all federal funding that goes towards cancer research is designated towards childhood cancer. And that sucks. I really want to get people to be aware of what’s going on with others and to do all we can to help each other. That’s what we’re here for. We’re here to make the world a better place. To look out for each other and do what we can.”
It’s all part of Angeline-Rose Troy’s make up, whether as an actress, as a producer or just as a human being.
“I’d like for it to be thought of as actually having meant something,” Troy says. “Whether or not that’s doing films, producing films that affect people in a way, to open their minds to different subjects, topics, or make them feel a different way. Be able to access their own emotions in a different way. I’d like my body of work to have had an effect on someone, somewhere.”
Copyright ©2016 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 27, 2016.
Photos ©2016 Mark Doyle. All Rights Reserved.