Young and driven, the ambitious Katie Chonacas doesn’t believe in limits, she does what she wants and does it well! While most artists’ in Los Angeles find it challenging to get one career going, this hard-working woman is an accomplished model, singer, actress, and recently movie producer! From touring South Africa and Spain alongside 50 Cent, and the G-unit crew, to co-starring with Al Pacino, Sharon Stone, and Nicolas Cage (to name a few) – the entertainment industry has always been her calling. With two feature films set to be released this summer (2009), and another in the winter, this is only the beginning…
I’ve arranged a meeting with her at the swanky Beverly Hills Hotel, and although I have no clue what to expect, I’m filled with excitement. As I wait in the lobby, I finally spot a young pretty female – designer clothes, fussing with her hair, doing her make-up – and as I begin to approach I realize it’s not Katie…
I scan the space once more, and not a minute later, a second women sprints across the room to a secluded area; she is holding a laptop case, wearing baggy slacks, with a plain black sweater, her face has minimal make-up as she is nearly unrecognizable and resembles a young teen, so I take a chance…
“Are you Katie Chonacas?”
“Hi, yes, Veronica? I thought this would be a good spot,” she says politely.
It’s perfect and we begin…
“Streets of Blood” Co-starring Val Kilmer, Sharon Stone, 50 Cent.
Veronica: This movie looks deep, raw, and edgy! What was it like working on this film and shooting in Louisiana?
Katie: Everyone on set was there to make a great film; the director was amazing – he knew exactly what he wanted and we were able to get all the shots – all of that is really important, it was really cool!
V: Was it challenging to play Cecilia, a teenage drug addict? It’s such a dramatic role.
Katie: It was cool, to have track marks all over my arms, black circles covering my eyes, my hair knotted up & twisted, holes in my clothes…I was able to think crazy thoughts! From how it would be to live in a crack house and what it would be like to be involved with people that just got high all day. Imagination of the mind is so beautiful, and being able to experience that on set and living in that moment, is a blessing, to go there, I think it really makes you grow as a person, spiritually as well.
I observe, and as she speaks with passion, I assume this is her favorite role to date so I ask, and she replies with a simple…
Katie: Yeah I would say it was.
“A Perfect Get Away” Acting along side, Milla Jovovich, and Steve Zahn.
V: The locations were amazing – where did you guys film? How was the atmosphere on set?
Katie:We shot that in Puerto Rico! They took us to set, and we had to walk a half a mile, in the jungle, through a rain forest just to get to where we were going. It was really neat to see how the whole crew was able to get all the equipment out there on location. Once you were out there, you were far from your trailer. The set needed to replicate Hawaii.
V: What did you enjoy most about being involved in this project?
Katie: Being able to work with the director/writer David Twohy (G.I Jane, The Fugitive). He’s cast Demi Moore. Her and I have the same birthday; everyone says I look and sound like a young Demi, so for him to offer me the role was so cool!
V: He offered you the role! That’s huge!
Katie: Oh no, well I definitely auditioned for it. Here’s what happened: I went in to read for a hippie girl role, which I thought, I was too young for…so I go in, read for it and when it came down to booking, he saw my work and actually offered me the role I originally wanted (the spacey teen on the island), even though I auditioned for something else, which was really cool.
“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” with Nicholas Cage, Eva Mendes, and Jennifer Coolidge.
V: The director hand-picked you for the role of Tina, what was that like?
Katie: Have you seen the trailer for it? I’m in the trailer, this film is very…
She is speechless for a second, takes a moment and then…
V: Describe Tina – the role you play.
Katie: If this took place in New York, Tina is very Upper East Side – a socialite type/rich girl. In one scene, Tina and her boyfriend come out of a Studio 54 type club, she meets Nicholas Cage, his character is questioning her about drugs, and she manipulates the situation; it provides the set up for the movie, and (tells us) why his character sort of becomes the bad lieutenant.
She has an abundance of energy and excitement, her answers are ubiquitous and minutes later she comes back to her original thought then nails it…
He called me up and tells me, “There were two girls (auditioning) that were absolutely wonderful, exquisite, but your work was by far the best!”
V: That’s got to be the best compliment ever!
Katie: The best! At that moment, I felt like a Joan Crawford, I just said to him; It would be my honor…I would love to!
V: You’ve worked along side most A-lister’s in this town, what’s that like?
Before she answers, she sort of shrieks like a high school girl, speaking about her crush!
“I know right!!”
V: It’s crazy! People dream about this stuff!
Katie: I know, in the last year and a half, it’s been like 19 (A-listers)… It feels right; it’s meant to be – I’ve wanted it for so long! I’ve been setting up platforms, working on the foundation, the layering, all the rooting that I’ve been doing and now it’s coming to surface, falling in order because of how I’ve prepared.
V: What is the most important part of your preparation?
Katie: I talk to God every day, I have a positive mental attitude. And my dad – he taught me about long-term goals, short-term goals, and medium goals. Sometimes you are in the process of doing things and you forget about the goals you set up, but they naturally happen!
V: Who is the most memorable actor you’ve worked with?
Katie: Al Pacino, it was short & sweet, but there was something there, being there in the moment with him, something about his energy, his eyes, there was an unspoken sense of…he knew…he knew that for me it was a big opportunity to be there; he was charming & warm – it was very, very memorable.
V: You try to steal from them (the A-lister’s) ? Learn their tricks?
Katie: I listen, watch, I observe, I see what they are doing, what they have to offer, what I like, what I dislike, then I take it and make it my own. I look at them to build my platform, to make a solid foundation, but I always make my own choices at the end of the day.
V: Sounds fearless…
Katie: Yeah. You have to be in this business or in any business; you have to be fearless and go full force, be excited about it…
V: Were you always like that, even as a child?
Katie: Always, my whole life, I was told early on when I first got started in modeling, “You’re gonna hear, no – you will hear no”… I remember I was 14, 15 years old…
Her drive becomes ever apparent, as her young voice shifts into that of a CEO, she states…
Katie: Fine! Have them tell me no…tell me no! Tell Katie Chonacas “no,” because guess what? For the 99 “no’s” I get, that one “yes” will be…
Her enthusiasm is quite charming…
V: Life changing!
Katie: The cherry on the pie, which makes it all worth it!
I ask how she avoids being type cast and she credits turning down reality TV, but reveals that recently it is her resolution to be open to it.
Katie: I’ve proved to myself that I can do it (acting), I didn’t want to take the easy route – get 15 minutes of fame – I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it the “proper way”…
V: It’s an interesting dynamic though, because people build careers on it, I mean talented people; for example, I think Jessica Simpson is a great singer, but she got her big break and her career took off because of the reality thing…
She fires back, “Everyone has their own path.”
Katie: I’ve worked with Jessica, on Major Movie Star, she was really sweet, really kind. I played her make-up artist & best friend in the movie; Jessica would tell Steve Miner (the director) “Oh my friend would really be here, when I do this, so she actually ended up adding me in a couple scenes in the movie!”
V: What’s your take on young Hollywood – the Lindsay Lohan’s, Paris Hilton’s – that stereotype. Do you identify with them? I want your perspective on this because you are around it.
Katie: I love Paris, I love Lindsay…I love them both, I think that Paris is evolving, I think she is really intelligent and she is a business woman; she’s charming, she’s got the whole world in her hands – people can say whatever they want, it doesn’t matter; it’s her life and at the end of the day, as long as she’s happy.
V: You are also venturing into producing, was that the original plan, or something you fell into? I love it; I don’t think that there are enough females behind the scenes, having the creative control!
Katie: Honestly I’ve always thought of myself as a producer of life, I always look at me in this world and the people I connect with, as a big web, you just link everyone together…I really wanted to do it, but I didn’t know how, and then I met Randall Emmet (a producer.)
As a business women it’s great because I can produce movies and be in them. Look at Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Sandra Bullock they all have their own production companies; they are producing their own projects, and that’s how you make the real money.
She talks about helping produce a flick with Nicholas Cage, and how it may have fell through.
V: How do you deal with that, the uncertainty of the acting and the producing world?
Katie: I take the hits. It’s sad and it’s hard. I’ve got a thick skin – I’ve been in this since I was 16 years old – you build layers, and accept it. You get connected but not too deep so it doesn’t emotionally affect you.
V: When you walk into a room, and have to pitch a project, as a young woman, do you feel you have more to prove than someone else, or is it an advantage?
Katie: I think both. I’m lucky with Randall being on my side – he’s made over 60 movies – so I don’t have to say anything. He does all the numbers, the business side of it; I’m still learning…there’s so much to learn. I read the scripts, I have the power, from day one he saw me as an equal, liked me as a person, and brought me on as a partner. People automically give me the foundation & respect because of Randall.
V: What advice would you give to young girls trying to make it in this crazy industry?
Katie: I think the best thing to do is stick to your morals and values. A lot of people, they don’t have a good foundation. Embrace your passion, whatever that may be! Just hold on and have that as your secrete value, some kind of religion…have someone to look up to; be healthy, have a positive mental attitude, make goals for yourself! Have a mentor you can learn from.
V: Where do you see your self in ten years?
Katie: I will be married, I will be having children – I want to have my own kids – but I also want to adopt kids! I’ll be traveling around the world, working on my business, I’ll be involved in charity’s, growing my future family.
V: I’d like to see you write a book.
Katie: Thanks, I’ll look into that! Cool. What should I write about?
V: Your perspectives on what you’ve been through. I think that there’s much to learn from what you’ve done, and how you look at things.
Katie: Great, thank you, I’ll have to give you a “thanks” in my book!
Sounds perfect. Perhaps Katie Chonacas will also conquer the best seller’s list, and we look forward to it. For the latest on all things Katie, check out Katie’s site!