ABFF 2012 Spotlight: Twilight’s Newest Star Tracey Heggins
ABFF 2012 Spotlight: Twilight’s Newest Star Tracey Heggins
By Wilson Morales
June 22, 2012
At the 2012 American Black Film Festival, as several filmmakers and actors are descending upon Miami to showcase their latest work, only a few are able stand out and be noticed. One actor in particular is actress Tracey Heggins.
You may have remembered her from the critically acclaimed independent film, ‘Medicine for Melancholy,’ but with the exception of some short films and guest roles on various TV shows, we haven’t seen much of her until now.
In 2012, Heggins has starred opposite 50 Cent in ‘All Things Fall Apart,’ producer Datari Turner’s ‘LUV’ with Common, ‘Battlefield America’ with Marques Houston, and Carey Williams’ short film, ‘Cherry Waves.’ Later this year, she will portray “Senna” of the Amazonian Coven in the highly anticipated ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.’
In Miami to promote her work in ‘Cherry Waves,’ and ‘LUV,’ and her involvement in the panel ‘Beyond the Barriers & Biases: Black Women in Hollywood,’, Heggins spoke to Blackfilm.com regarding her role in ‘Cherry Waves’ and the new ‘Twilight’ film.
Cherry Waves is the story of Angie Adams, a deeply spiritual young girl. Blessed with an intense tolerance for pain, Angie has developed into a prolifically successful underground streetfighter. When posed with a life-changing decision, Angie must make sacrifices against her moral convictions for her loved ones, but will her sacrifice ultimately lead to her demise?
What’s Cherry Waves about?
Tracey Heggins: I would say that it’s about humanity. When I read it, I like stories and situations that are not so obvious. I love my character’s strong will and beliefs, which is a contradiction to what she does as a street fighter. Plus, there’s a contradiction between her and her mother. I love the fact that it’s just humanity because humanity is so messy and complex. I’m drawn to women in situations and stories that are complex.
How would you describe your character Angie?
TH: I would like to think of Angie as a real life human being that is okay with her craft. She’s truthful and she’s honest, and she’s lives the life that she wants to live. She’s strong enough to do that even though there are bumps in the road. She still remains honest and doesn’t mess around. Even parts of Tracey are not that strong to be exactly what you want. With Angie about to leave and say goodbye to everything, it’s difficult, and she doesn’t have much; but she knows what she wants and she’s going for it. I envy that a lot.
Being a street fighter isn’t a role people wouldn’t envision you in, so is this something you did research on?
TH: When (director) Carey (Williams) came to me, I was so fascinated about it and I had finished another film that I had been doing stunts on, and I just loved it. I love the fighting and the physical activity involved in it. I normally play the girlfriend and soft core feminine characters and I thought that Angie is soft and alluring, but in a completely opposite way that Sharon or Jo would play. She’s totally different. I thought as she enters the world of underground street fighting was interesting because as Tracey, I don’t want another girl standing there, punching me in my face. I spoke to a female boxer named Little Bear and she’s like, “I love it. I can’t wait for the first hit.’ I was like, “Wow!”
How was working with Carey?
TH: I love his vision. From the cinematography, the style, and everything, he reminds me of David Fincher. He just has this style, and everything from his hats to his jeans, he has just so much style and you see it. You see his vision and it’s apparent. I like when you see directors and writers who have a very strong opinion and Carey does, and ‘Cherry Waves’ is Carey.
Can Cherry Waves be turned into a feature film?
TH: I think so. I see ‘Cherry Waves’ as an HBO series. I was wondering about each character and trying to figure out how they got into their own situation and why are they doing this. From the promoter to the mother in the film, everyone has a story to tell. It’s short film that can be a feature or a series or just about anything.
Most people remember your work from ‘Medicine for Melancholy,’ and although you’re not in control as to when your project come out, but you seem to have a lot of work come out in 2012. Between ‘All Things Fall Apart,’ ‘LUV,’ ‘Battlefield America,’ this short film and the new ‘Twilight’ film coming out, it’s a big year for you. Did you see this happening?
TH: Yeah, but then you’re still like, “I need my next job!” That’s why I’m so driven. Now that you mention that, I do think that it’s a big year for me, but I just want to keep working as an artist and meeting other artists and doing what I’m doing. I like to be busy. I didn’t think about it in those terms, but yeah, it’s a big year.
With marketing, social media sites, and other facets, being visible has become a huge component to one’s career, and with some of the films that you have done, the Twilight film will hopefully expose you to another level. How did you get involved with the film?
TH: Well, it began as a normal read. I had read for the casting director on another project, and she called me for this film, and I said, “Wow!” I love science fiction and I love fantasy. I can do any role. I don’t see a lot of girls who look like me in science fiction movies, in fantasyland, which is interesting, because in fantasyland, you can be blue or purple, or a fairy or a vampire. When I read the breakdown of the character, I was definitely in. I love history with the Amazons. I was reading some scenes and I don’t think they know their history about the Portuguese and all that stuff. We probably look like the way they appeared back then between slavery and natives. I’m very American and I was very intrigued by it. I’ve been getting fan mail from little girls from Brazil that are excited to see girls that look like them. Even it’s small or just a glimpse of us, I’m just happy to see it because I like being a vampire or being a fairy or a princess in a far off road.
Were you a fan of the books or the films before taking on the role?
TH: Yeah, I had read about the wolves and the vampires. I was intrigued by the story earlier and seen the films, and I just loved that Stephanie Meyers captured that first love. It may not be for everybody, but everybody has been in love one time in their lives and that’s what she embodies; the newness of love. When you add in the wolves and vampires, I’m there.
How excited were you to see your picture in Entertainment Weekly along with Judi Shekoni?
TH: I was very excited. “Look at me and Judi!” I started thinking about that shooting day and to see Mackenzie Foy in the picture too, and I don’t remember what we talking about before the picture was shot. That was really exciting.
You and Judi come from different backgrounds. How did the two you bond while working on the film?
TH: Me and Judi love to shop. I told Judi that I can’t hang out with her. We used all of our paycheck at the mall. Judi is fun. Any mall at a location, whether it’s Baton Rouge or whether it was Vancouver, we were at the mall shopping. It was nice and just to meet someone, and people like to say African-American, and that’s not necessary the case. We are so different. She comes from Manchester, England and I asked her about the food. She’s half Nigerian and I was very intrigued. I was asking questions because I had never been to Africa. Just listening to her story and her background, it was fun. I’m trying to do her accent and she’s trying to do mine. We had a lot of fun on set.
What do you do to stay grounded?
TH: I love kids. I love toddlers. I love hanging out with my little cousins. I’m normally with my family. Your family keeps you grounded. I’m not a celebrity there. I’m constantly looking for my next job, and when I’m not working, I’m reading. Independent filmmaking is different from studio films because once you’re at that point, you’re just reading scripts, trying to figure things out. Right now, I’m looking at different projects and I don’t care if there are shorts or theater work, I love acting. I’m always keeping my eyes and ears open, but other than that, we’re just cooking and hanging out as a family.
What’s next for you?
TH: I have a film called ‘Pardon’ that I did. They are mixing sound and it’s in pre-production. I’m curious about that independent film and how it’s received. That’s exciting.