Worthy is a film about a young woman, Jules Jenson (played by Amberlee Colson) who struggled to become a famous actress in Hollywood, forgetting what is important in life.
In this film, Jules chases a guy that fit her fantasies, then eventually discovers what’s truly important to her, Amberlee explains. While chasing the Hollywood dream, Jules managed to make a living by dog walking and promoting a hot dog place wearing a hot dog costume besides attending unsuccessful auditions.
Also, Jules is a girl who anyone can relate to—for example, she’s someone who would walk out with toilet paper stuck on her shoe. “She sticks-her-foot-in-her-mouth and embarrasses herself constantly, but in this very charming, naive way,” Amberlee said. Also, at the end, she realizes that family is the most important thing in life besides fame.
Worthy is unique—partly because this film is an overgrowth of Amberlee’s one-woman shows in Hollywood. The screenplay for this feature-length film was still under development where Amberlee, who is an actress in real life with her own struggles, would explore who Jules is as a person by doing her own one-woman shows on stage in Los Angeles, called Big Hair.
Could Amberlee personally relate to Jules—given that they both attend auditions in Hollywood. “I definitely pulled from my own life struggles and I can totally relate to the themes in Jules’ life,” Amberlee said. “Jules just wants to find her place in the world but she goes about it in all the wrong (and hopefully funny) ways. And it’s because she fails to get validation from those she deems “worthy,” that she must look inside and give it to herself.”
Being in Los Angeles, Amberlee had a fair share of failed auditions while her friends successfully landed acting roles. However, Amberlee’s struggles as an actress in real-life brought Worthy to fruition. “The fact that I wasn’t getting jobs, gave me the stimulus I needed to start writing for myself,” Amberlee said. Self-confidence and self-empowerment are classic themes in stories because people can often relate to those.
Also, performing Big Hair allowed Amberlee to overcome her fear—being on stage by herself. “I also was completely terrified to be on stage for 90 minutes by myself,” said Amberlee. “I am a firm believer that when you tackle your fears, you grow tremendously.”
The film’s producer, Saralyn Armer, has known Amberlee for nine years, and has seen her in Big Hair. “I laughed and cried watching Amberlee’s one-woman shows, so when I was asked to produce this film, I said let’s do it! It was like family working together,” said Armer, who added that shooting the film took 15 days.
Actors Ian Gomez and Rain Phoenix also had the opportunity to help tell the story in this film as well.
“When my manager showed me the script, I thought it was funny, and when I came on set, everyone—the director/producer (Marianna Palka) and the producers (Saralyn Armer, Amberlee Colson, and Mitch Yapko) were all so positive and easygoing—which I experienced for the first time as an actor for a project,” Gomez said, who played the role of Rick. Gomez also commented that while working on this film, he realized that the cast and crew dedicated on the art of storytelling—not on time or money. “Everyone was a pleasure to work with,” Gomez said. “I didn’t have any stress or anxiety while on set.”
Rain Phoenix, Marianna Palka, and guest. Photo by Megan Clancy
Additionally, Rain Phoenix knew some of the crew for this film, and was asked to play the role of Vicki. Amberlee had a goal to have the film “female-driven” which she achieved based on what Phoenix commented. “People should see this film because it’s funny and honest, and they will follow the journey of Jules—which shows an example of what women go through when they try auditioning for roles in California,” Phoenix said.
Now Amberlee does have advice to today’s actors. Her acting coach and mentor, Steven Anderson (Actorswork), told her to be pro-active when she first arrived in Los Angeles from Orange County to pursue her acting career. “Create your own work. Start writing, start preforming, start producing your friend’s projects. Do not wait for someone to hire you or tell you that you are talented. You are talented!” Amberlee says—while highly recommending Steven Pressfield’s Book, The War of Art.
This film will be shown in Florida: http://skywayfilmfestival2015a.sched.org/.