Updated: Oct 23, 2018
A Conversation with Marem Hassler…
Marem Hassler is the star and Award Winning actress of the Tello Films’ Webseries “Riley Parra.”
“Riley Parra” is a 6 episode webseries adapted from the books written by Geonn Cannon. It was produced by Tello Films and S1E1 was released on August 1, 2017. It has since been renewed for a second season.
Marem Hassler, The star of the webseries, joined us for a Q & A.
To watch the series, visit https://www.tellofilms.com/series/riley-parra
May 20, 2018:
Astrid Ovalles: Hi Marem! How are you today?
Marem Hassler: Hi:) I’m good. My mum is coming to stay with me next week, so I’m doing final touches to my cleaning lol.
Astrid Ovalles: Lol! Been there! I hope you have a nice visit with your mom. Thanks for taking the time to do this, by the way .
Marem Hassler: Love it! Ask away.
Marem Hassler: Ah – thank you :)) it’s been a ride for sure lol! I started actually when I was a kid – but then had a music career and after doing that found myself back acting. I felt the music biz to be confining and as an artist that can be hard at times. Acting has allowed me to try on many “skins” feel many “hearts” make enormous mistakes and at the end of the day walk away from the job and character- hopefully a better and more compassionate being.
Marem Hassler: I should probably say that my father is a filmmaker and my mother and artist – so it really was just a question of “when” rather than “if.”
Astrid Ovalles: Absolutely. Well it’s in your DNA then, no wonder you are so terrific! We have a lot of fans who simply love you! What kind of musician are you?
Marem Hassler: That makes my day that they like it. Love that I can include emojis here lol! I was very much in the genre of singer/songwriter. Alternative/pop/rock – heavy on lyrics and melodies :). I had several recording deals and was signed as a writer by a publishing company, which was wonderful- I got to travel to different countries, work with some prestigious producers, and some incredible talented people I’m still friends with :). Music has always been a way for me to bring meaning and a kind of understanding that words can’t always do. I just found out the other day that apparently, my spirit animal is a cricket lol!! That’s right! At first I was a little disappointed I had def held more of a tiger in mind but then I read up on the cricket and I think it’s pretty dead on. I’m a cricket :).
Astrid Ovalles: Hahaha!! That’s funny! I’m actually married to an opera singer and she told me the other day that her music teacher said her spirit animal was a monkey! Lol. So [spirit animals] must be a thing!
Marem Hassler: Oh that’s brilliant!!!
Astrid Ovalles: Well, I will be checking out your music, that’s for sure. And I LOVE me some emojis so I’m glad you are using them, haha. So, you said you get to try on “different skins” as an actor, has there been a role in which you have felt yourself thrive? If so, why?
Marem Hassler: Lol!! The music is a bit elusive lol! I only released one track and thank God it’s hard to find . But I’ll happily send you some ;).
Astrid Ovalles: Please do! I will share whatever you want to share with us! I love music and strangely enough my life revolves a lot around music, I seem to get along best with musicians.
Marem Hassler: I loved playing Riley Parra on Tello Films. Her deep, sometimes blinding, sense of justice resonated with me. Her “badassness” was funny to play, and her vulnerability made me look deeper into my own fragile skin, which we
tend to enforce with a lot of armor. And there can be, suddenly, the realization that yes, I’ve kept my heart and feelings safe- but at a tremendous cost. You can’t shut stuff out without being left isolated. So, I think it was such a humble and beautiful experience to rip the armor off and feel it all, lol! Generally, I love playing warrior type roles. Not necessarily with guns and bravado, but the tenacity, endurance, and the persistence of getting something done that serves a greater good.
Marem Hassler: Do you do music too? If so please send to me ;).
Astrid Ovalles: I completely get what you are saying. The most vulnerable characters are usually also the strongest. It’s my personal belief that the two go hand in hand. I can see why you thrived in that role. You won a best actress award for that role, yes?
Marem Hassler: Yes I did!! Blew me away it was the Indie Series Awards.
Astrid Ovalles: That’s so freaking cool! Do you per chance, have a pic of the award lol . Just for us nerds.
Astrid Ovalles: Whaaaat look at you! You go, girl! Congratulations!!
Astrid Ovalles: Have there been any smaller roles in which you have had to work extra hard to showcase your talent. I think a lot of times, with Indie Film, we get these little roles every now and then, in which we get to really make a lot out of it. Have you encountered any roles like that?
Astrid Ovalles: And to answer your earlier question, no! I’m actually not a musician of any sort. I’m just married to one and I LOVE music. My best friend is a classical pianist and my wife is an opera singer, so I’m always going to concerts and learning everything she learns. I have no musical talent, I just like to think I have good ears. I also love the music school drama. I live for it.
Marem Hassler: Yes, totally! I’m an Indie Film girl at heart – but it’s true you get very little time to explore or allow the audience to explore through you . I did a James Franco Project called Actors Anonymous- with a small role- so much fun lol. One just has to jump in and hopefully there is water in the pool . It’s hard coming on a set where you have just one day and where everyone knows each other lol. I make sure I say hi to EVERY single person on set, and then try to gather and sync my breath with my scene partner. My voice teacher, Erika Ackermann, taught me this technique of “breathing together”. Most actors will be OK to hold hands for a moment or just lean against each other and experience the other person through the breath. I’ve found it breaks down barriers fast and if all fails, at least you share a laugh. Or even if the person takes offence (never happened to me) you have something “real “ to build on. Love me -hate me, as long as I’m part of an experience between the actors- then I’ve done my job.
Astrid Ovalles: That’s a great idea! Sounds very effective. Touch is an excellent way to break the ice and allow yourself to feel whatever you feel towards your fellow actors. Speaking of techniques, did you study a particular acting technique? Or do you consider yourself more of a natural artist? I’ve met people who do VERY well with little training, but I’ve also seen people come a very long way with the right coach. What do you think has helped you the most?
Marem Hassler: I’ve had amazing mentors in my life. I’m always slightly in awe by raw and untrained talent. It’s an amazing quality if it can be maintained- I think over time the more we “know” the less we “know”. In my case, teachers have been imperative to my instrument and I owe them a ton of gratitude!! I started in London, and my mentor, Vivienne Rochester, was very movement and text based. English training, I think, is initially very text driven- meaning the text dictates the road-map and [the] feelings follow. My U.S. training at Stella Adler in New York, which brought to me another mentor in the form of Robyn Lee, is more “feeling” driven – she was very much about the moment and letting “ideas” fall away as they are usually a construct of the past. She taught psychological self-management as an artist. It changed my life at the time- still does . Then in LA- my home studio at Tony Barr’s Filmactor Workshop with my teacher, Eric Kline- text analysis- finding “moment to moment” through text and listening, has become a very big tool in my tool box. Now, at this point, I think my biggest point of entry into a role is to stay completely curious, to listen and to breathe.
Astrid Ovalles: That’s a tremendous repertoire of mentors. And it’s really such a pleasure to get to listen to your experience. Thank you for letting us in, it’s probably a very personal experience to get to fine tune your “instrument” as you said. So this is a random question, but I came across this picture, and I’m dying to know what this is from!! It’s so freaking cool!!
Marem Hassler: Lol!!! One of my favorite jobs up to date.
Astrid Ovalles: I bet!! That’s awesome looking!!
Marem Hassler: I did a feature video game “Longshot” and it’s part of the “Madden” franchise. I played one of the first women to appear in their franchise- we even got a mention lol. On the picture I’m in a MOCAP suit. It stands for Motion Capture. I love that medium of acting. It’s completely freeing – and I suspect our industry is heading towards that medium more and more :).
Astrid Ovalles: I think so!! I have a friend who did something similar for Assassins Creed, and my editor explained to me how it’s done (I forgot most of what he said) but it was pretty cool!
Astrid Ovalles: You have a production company called Viscus? Did you start that yourself, and if so, could you tell us a little bit about it, and what prompted you to produce as well as act?
Marem Hassler: I started Viscus with my best friend from drama school [Andrea Goldman] – We met at Stella Adler instantly knew we were “sisters”. At the time, I became increasingly frustrated with the parts I was going out for – LA is a wonderful, but tough, environment. I understood that I was surrounded by incredible talent that was being underused. I understood I had a voice and a vision and I wanted to tell stories. Stories from a lens that were raw, complicated, flawed, and human, lol. I knew I wanted to build a community- and we have. Our first short “Duo,” in collaboration with Actor/Director Karl E. Landler, had over 20 awards and nominations. We’ve done branded content and are now moving into feature films. Meanwhile, producing content for other artists:) I think the profession of acting primes you for writing, directing, and producing. It’s just about finding the “Yes” within a sea of “No’s.”
Astrid Ovalles: That’s wonderful. The main reason I’m doing these interviews is because I feel that we are all dying to connect and find the art in each other. We put a lot of emphasis on “Celebrity” and sometimes neglect “Story.” So, thank you for the work that you do an I have no doubt your feature productions will be extraordinary. You certainly have the experience!!
Astrid Ovalles: So, for this part of the interview I like to have the person (you) say the first thing that comes to your mind! Short answers, and go with your gut! Is that all right with you?
Marem Hassler: Let’s do it
Astrid Ovalles: Let’s do it!
Astrid Ovalles: If you could be invisible and inaudible for a week what are the three top crimes you’d commit?
Marem Hassler: Go to a bakery- eat all I can eat .Travel naked in an elevator of a hotel. Stay over night at a bookstore.
Astrid Ovalles: Hahaha!! Sweet!
Marem Hassler: Wait – not sure if that qualifies as crimes? I’m a pacifist at heart lol.
Astrid Ovalles: It’s ok! Haha, that’s your answer. Besides, I think naked in an elevator is a crime in the U.S.
Marem Hassler: Yes, it would be!
Astrid Ovalles: Hahahah yes. [But] we are safe around you!
Astrid Ovalles: You find yourself in a room with nothing but white walls and a phone. Who do you call?
Marem Hassler: My mother.
Astrid Ovalles: What do you assume is happening to you in that room?
Marem Hassler: I’m being brainwashed into thinking the world outside no longer exists- or I’m on a spaceship.
Astrid Ovalles: Someone walks in and you feel they are of equal physical strength, do you fight them and run or ask questions?
Marem Hassler: I’ll prepare mentally to fight them but I’ll ask a question before they are too close.
Astrid Ovalles: (We would be good battle mates)
Marem Hassler: I’m sensing that too .
Astrid Ovalles: You have to flee the country and change your name. What do you change it to?
Marem Hassler: Miss Cricket Brown.
Astrid Ovalles: HAHAHA. Awesome.
Marem Hassler: Thank god I had coffee today
Astrid Ovalles: Hahahah
Astrid Ovalles: What would people be most suprised to find out about you?
Marem Hassler: That kindness makes me cry- every time.
Astrid Ovalles: Awww *hugs*
Astrid Ovalles: You seem like a really nice person btw.
Marem Hassler: I don’t like sharing my fruit platter.
Marem Hassler: Prob just changed that one with the fruit platter lol!!!!
Astrid Ovalles: HAHAHAHHA you may have the fruits to yourself, Marem...
Marem Hassler: I don’t know why- must be some childhood conditioning.
Marem Hassler: That I played the cello growing up.
Astrid Ovalles: I love the cello! It’s my favorite instrument!
Astrid Ovalles: What is an every day tool you’d use as a weapon if your life was in danger?
Marem Hassler: My keys.
Astrid Ovalles: Nice!! Between the knuckles??
Marem Hassler: Yep.
Astrid Ovalles: Lol!
Astrid Ovalles: Love it!! Ok, to wrap it up I always ask this… Can you name one person you’d like to see interviewed? I’ll do my best to get in touch and interview them. Or, do you have someone you know and can recommend?
Marem Hassler: Marina Sirtis!! I got to work with her on Riley Parra and of course she is a Trekkie icon lol!! Her insight and humor and presence is amazing- I love her!! Jane Clark, a wonderful director. Shannan L. Reeve, another actress who has gone into filmmaking and will be undeniable . I can always make introduction to those ladies if you need
Astrid Ovalles: Awesome!! I’m on it!!
Astrid Ovalles: Do you have any upcoming projects that you want to let us know about?
Marem Hassler: [Yes], I’ve started shooting my feature Film “Pen Pals”- that I’ve written and I’m now directing:))
Astrid Ovalles: Can you give us a brief synopsis on “Pen Pals?”
Marem Hassler: “The Penpals” is a dark comedy about SEX:))). A lot of it – amongst a group of friends in LA. Starring Angela Rockwood, amongst others- very excited about it. I have an amazing DP, David Chung, and producer team in Ainara Landon and Karl E. Landler, and the creative family keeps growing lol.
Marem Hassler: Thank you so much for letting me share what I’m passionate about. If there is something you are working on and want to collaborate let me know!!
Astrid Ovalles: Yes!! That sounds awesome!! I can’t wait to watch [your upcoming work]! Best of luck with it (although I know it isn’t needed ).
Marem Hassler: Always needed lol!!!! Thank you so much! If you and your wife are ever in town let’s share a drink.
Astrid Ovalles: You are amazing and an inspiration for women everywhere. I’ve learned a lot from this interview alone, I can only imagine what else is in that powerhouse!
Marem Hassler: Right back at you!!!!
Astrid Ovalles: I will take you up on that! I’m in NYC but I’m ALWAYS happy to collaborate, if you ever need any extra hands on set or anything, if I’m very passionate about a project I’ll do everything in my power to be there! So please stay in touch and feel free to consider me an ally in all that you do. We really love your work.
Viscus Film was founded by Marem Hassler and Andrea Goldman. Check out Viscus Film here!
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