A Day With Adrienne Wilkinson
Recently, I was reading a post by Adrienne Wilkinson on her forum about independent film making. Pondering what I had read on her board, I decided to contact Adrienne in regards to conducting another interview. Little did I know, she was already part of a plot when she agreed...
On September 23rd, I headed to Seattle in order to support friends of mine during their final performance of "The Maiden's Prayer" at the Northwest Actors Studio (NWAS). The production has been 'haunted' in the sense that nearly everyone involved had had some major crisis befall them. As their Canadian good luck charm, I decided to make the trip down from Vancouver, to be there to support them (and I was also dying to see the show).
Arriving at NWAS around 4pm, I entered the theatre's green room. It's not a strange thing to see people you don't know throughout the studio, so I didn't think much of the fact that there was already someone in the room. She was reading something and didn't glance up as we came in and was mostly hidden by the brim of her hat. Even so, I couldn't help think that she looked like Adrienne Wilkinson. How ironic; I was just discussing this scenario with someone the other day.
One second later, my brain clued in with my eyes - the woman was Adrienne Wilkinson!
She'd flown up from LA to see "The Maiden's Prayer" and meet with me and another fan. The other fan and Adrienne had planned this a week ago and decided not to tell me. My idol played a practical joke on me. How many fans can claim that?
Next stop was an early dinner, so we headed to the Elysian, a few blocks away from the studio, where we had far too much fun in our little booth in the corner.
Adrienne was having difficulty picking something off of the menu ("It all looks so good!") and, unfortunately, the waitress wasn't much help on the specials as she'd just come back from vacation. She commented that the salmon quesadillas had sold out the prior night and I suggested that it was a good sign. So Adrienne ordered the salmon quesadillas and then it was time to make an idiot of myself.
I ordered the chicken sandwich, but asked to hold the shallots. The waitress told me the shallots were in the sauce and it would be a dry sandwich otherwise. "That's fine. Just...no seafood please." Clearly my brain was broken - I was thinking scallops. Adrienne started to laugh as she informed me, "A shallot is an onion." "Oh well, I hate those too!" And we all laughed.
While we waited for our meal, we discussed the insane 'processing' through the Canadian/American border and airplane security. Adrienne recounted how women have their purses searched now and there's a giant garbage can full of lip balm, chapstick, and mascara. Adrienne had her chapstick taken, to which she commented, "I am addicted to chapstick." We all agreed it was completely ridiculous.
I shared funny stories from the set of an independent film I had recently worked on until we started talking about the challenges of shooting with kids on set. After I talked about an elaborate discussion I had with the kids to keep them quiet (which did work for the most part), Adrienne replied, "That's too much effort. I'd have just bribed them with candy."
Adrienne talked about babysitting and how, when the parents leave, it's "big drama" and then the child is fine until the parents come back and it's more "big drama".
Talking about kids led us back to bribing with candy. The other fan talked about bribing Adrienne to come with peanut M&Ms. This invoked some gushing over the candy.
Discussion of peanuts led to allergies and how people can develop allergies later in life, which Adrienne was fascinated by how that happens. Adrienne has a friend in Hawaii who's been around fish his whole life and then suddenly developed an allergy to them.
I don't remember how it came up, but discussion of eBay arose and the fact that I worked at eBay Express. This led Adrienne to question, "What is eBay Express? I've seen the commercials and they aren't really clear." Meanwhile I was screaming, "No-o-o-o-o!" and pretending to run away from the table. Everyone always asks eBay questions. I then said I was joking (maybe...) and explained what Express was.
Heading back to the theatre, I got a better look at the necklace the other fan was wearing. It was a locket with a real four leaf clover on it that Adrienne had given to her as a birthday present, because "We can all use more good fortune".
The other joked that she liked my necklace (Xena's chakram). I said I had to wear it because I wasn't wearing a Xena shirt (didn't seem right for the play) and she asked me if it was the only non-Xena shirt I had. I replied that I also had my Mountain View shirt because it was for a good cause.
That perked Adrienne back into the conversation and she asked what Mountain View was. I explained that it was a breeding and conservation society located in Langley, BC, and that I was a sponsor of the Cape Hunting Dogs (AKA: the African Wild Dog). "They breed highly endangered animals and have an excellent success rate." You actually need to make an appointment to schedule a guided tour, and its like going on an African safari with the unique wildlife you get to see and because they are not kept in cages, but rather, large enclosures.
Adrienne talked about how her sister had bought a home that shared a fence with a wildlife preserve which I thought was just the coolest thing ever. Adrienne said they had to sign a form that the preserve was not liable if, say, a lion wound up in their backyard, to which I replied, "That would be sweet." "Not for them. They have kids." "Well, maybe if you were inside then..."
For the next two hours, we hung around outside of NWAS.
- Adrienne told a story about a friend and his jeep. He took a date rafting and parked the jeep in the parking lot. While he was gone, the jeep caught on fire. It burned so hot that the fire department couldn't put it out and had to let the jeep burn. When Adrienne's friend returned later in the evening, all he found was smoldering ash. No car and no one around with an explanation.
- Adrienne was asked about editing and how it changes the process. She talked about, when doing CGI, about how you were generally acting opposite a tennis ball, which seems to be the standard CGI replacement item. She figured it was because it was a green ball against a green screen.
- She also has a friend with a six toed cat (called a Polydactyl cat), and a very smart one at that. When the cat wants the attention of its owners, it walks into the kitchen and opens and closes a drawer until they come.
- The same owners of the six toed cat have two dogs and work in film. They kept coming home to find cupboards open and food all over the floor - clearly devoured by the dogs. Wondering how the dogs were doing this, they set up a camera one day to record it. Enter the six toed cat, who was opening the cupboard and knocking the food to the floor for the dogs, who, by opening bags for themselves, allowed the cat to get at it too.
- Discussing fandoms and how smart series respect fans and let them make sites, post pictures and write fan fiction, because these are some of the best ways to spread marketing about a show - and it's free. "I think they're starting to learn that," Adrienne observed.
- When Amy Chavez (actor in "The Maiden's Prayer") arrived, I went to say hello. When I came back, I informed Adrienne, "She played Pez in 'Awakenings'." (the indie film I had worked on) Adrienne replied, "And how exactly does one play a 'pez'?" I laughed and clarified, "Sara Pezzini from 'Witchblade'" and I was surprised Adrienne was actually familiar with the series. "I try to watch everything at least once to get the feel of it for audition purposes."
- Adrienne talked about her voice work, in particular "Everquest" and who she played. Adrienne explained that it was hard to know too much about a character as it was such a detailed game.
- Discussing online gaming led to Adrienne talking about how she was fascinated by the market online for people selling game items and characters. I explained how people can actually get in trouble for this as it infringes on copyrights and one of the other people with us, as a gamer, talked about how it could really take the fun out of playing for gamers.
- A Xenite friend of mine, Silverwaves, arrived and didn't clue in at first who she was looking at until I said, "It's Adrienne." at which point she exclaimed, "I know you!"
While we were outside, an employee of the theatre came by with a hot chocolate which Adrienne thought was a great idea. As I actually knew where the coffee shop was, I walked with her to show her where it was. She decided on the chai latte instead at the suggestion of the barista and I pulled out my card before she could pay.
She looked and me and said, "I didn't mean for that to happen." "You flew all the way up from LA," I replied. "Yeah, but not so you could buy me chai." "It will be a cool story I can tell!" At which point she accepted.
When it was nearly 8pm, we headed inside the theatre for "The Maiden's Prayer". I sat on the aisle seat of stage right, with Silverwaves beside me and Adrienne beside her.
"The Maiden's Prayer" is both sad and hilarious and it was really great to see Adrienne laughing the most at the character of Andrew (who has some really funny monologues) as Shobhit Agarwal, the actor, has a heavy accent and can be hard to understand at times. But he was so the embodiment of his character that he kept everyone laughing.
The play ended around 10:30, at which point the wrap part started. Adrienne enjoyed the play and did meet about half of the cast and crew and even singled out Amy for her performance as Cynthia. Mostly everyone just mingled about and though Adrienne was clearly fading fast, it didn't stop her from chatting and telling humourous stories until one in the morning.
- When coming home to LA from the airport one time, Adrienne's cab was forced to stop due to a naked man running around in the street who was yelling that he was Jesus. There were several police officers trying to usher him onto the sidewalk, but without touching him. Adrienne commented that she said to herself at the time, "Ah, I'm home."
- At an Angel convention in the UK, Adrienne talked about how much the fans partied the night before and that they all had major hangovers. Adrienne was paired on stage with Clare Kramer (Glory from Buffy) and no one was asking questions because they were too out of it. So Clare and Adrienne interviewed each other.
- At another UK convention (possibly the same one), Adrienne was on stage with an actor from Angel who had never done a convention sober. Adrienne had been told he was really funny - which was likely because he would drink an entire bottle of tequila while on stage. At the convention he did with Adrienne, he didn't drink a bottle as he had commented that it would kill him to keep doing it. He was out of place and not sure what to say because of it. A fan asked Adrienne a question about Xena and the other actor said, "Oh my god! You're from there? In college I used to get high and watch Xena everyday."
- Silverwaves and Adrienne discussed Adrienne's boots and hat. When discussing hats Adrienne mentioned that she's never able to figure out hat sizes. Silverwaves mentioned as long as the hat was a little too big rather than too small so you could avoid getting a red ring around your head, which the two laughed about.
- Adrienne talked about wanting to see more of Seattle so Silverwaves and one of the crew members talked about the different sites like the troll under the bridge and the Jimmy Hendrix statue that people put gloves on it in the winter. Adrienne talked about loving Pike's Place and Mount Rainer, which Silverwaves suggested looked like a painting that changed everyday which Adrienne completely agreed with. She expressed an interest in wanting to come back to Seattle to explore.
- When she was a kid, Adrienne had a cat she played hide and seek with who used to scare her when the cat would play when she wasn't aware of it - so the cat would just suddenly leap out at her randomly. Adrienne also talked about how one time she woke up to the cat clawing at her face. She didn't realize at first that the cat was actually asleep and having a nightmare.
- Joking about myspace Adrienne talked about odd friend requests like Kermit. "So I figure, I like Kermit, so what the heck?" To which the most evil Silverwaves brought up that I can do cartoon voices. "Yeah, what was that one you used to do? Baby Yoda?" At which point everyone turned around to stare at me waiting for me to do it, including Adrienne. Thankfully, I backed out by saying I simply didn't remember the voice.
- Adrienne was asked to sign just a few items including a poster from the set (for a Xenite unable to attend), a play program (for me - hey, I didn't have anything else and she was in the audience) and a cocktail napkin for Dan for his mother who is a Xenite. As Adrienne signed the napkin, she joked, "I feel like I'm hitting on her, writing on a cocktail napkin." Dan then sang a lovely piece for us from Guys and Dolls.
Well, Adrienne was nearly falling over at this point so we walked her to the hotel. During this short walk I commented about me being the Bitch of Rome, to which one of the other fan's challenged, "Oh no, the real Bitch of Rome is right there." And Adrienne responded, "And I wear that title proudly." I decided to settle on being the Bitch of Canada, which made everyone laugh.
I didn't sleep that night as us fans got all distracted. However, we had to pick up Adrienne around 7am in order to get her to the airport. We pondered for some time, wondering what time would be the best to call to wake her up. Then there was a challenge in regards to who had to wake her up. I finally surrendered to doing it. To our surprise, when I called her at 7am, the girl had been awake since 6:30!
Adrienne was again in a hat, and she was wearing her ripped jeans that she wears in several of her photo shoots.
Driving to the airport, we did actually, just by fortune, drive by the Jimmy Hendrix statue, but it wasn't cold enough yet for people to put mittens on it.
I did grab a quick photo with Adrienne before we put her on the plane (after joking about kicking her to the curb as she said we could just drop her off outside).
I would like to express my deepest thanks to Adrienne for the coolest 'gift' and surprise I ever got. It was unique and truly remarkable and will not be forgotten.