Think about all the terrifying moments of postmodern society, for example an awkward job interview or instagram pictures of all your high school classmates getting married. Now, try to think about whatever you need to calm down. It doesn’t really work, right? The chamomile tea has no real effect and you are about to regret the impulsive online shopping. The truth is that the real energy capable of erasing anxiety comes from unique people with a healing aura. If you haven’t guessed yet, I am talking about Caylee Cowan. The normal set anxiety found a reason to leave as she arrived at the photoshoot location. Incredibly kind to everyone in the crew and stepping in the room like a ballerina, Caylee unconsciously offered a cleansing session to the room.

However, the actor provides more than a gentle or tender energy to whichever space she joins into. Cowan is curious and passionate about her craft. As she was getting her makeup done, Caylee manifested her interest in arthouse films with insightful notes on the topic. Cowan talked about her practice, SXSW and even her latest unfortunate experiences driving in Los Angeles. The actor’s constant study about performance and cinematic language is also shown in subjects of political stances. Vegan and a strong voice in the sustainable fashion cause, Caylee Cowan expresses her concerns for the world around us in many ways.

During one day, I decided: a word that describes Caylee well is “responsibility”. Being responsible means honoring something or someone. Cowan honors her practice and clearly investigates her craft on a daily basis. She respects people around her, their time and their creative voices. Above all, Caylee respects and honors this world with her posture and grace when it comes to important subjects. The actor, soon on the big screen with her upcoming film “Double Exposure”, shared with us her powerful description of awakening: “Awakening means, to me, to become aware of something that was once subconsciously understood and bring it to the forefront of your consciousness. To recognize it. To understand it. To feel it.” VULKAN is proud to offer an interview, in which you can understand a bit of the mind, soul and heart of Caylee Cowan.

During the photoshoot you mentioned your interest in portraying real people or characters adapted from a book. Could you elaborate on that?

Portraying a real person, or a character adapted from a book both present their own unique gifts and challenges. There is plenty of source material to draw upon, and the challenge is often how nuanced the performance must be. Sometimes the person you are portraying is still alive and, if you’re lucky, you are allowed to meet with them, which was an opportunity I was given when acting in my first movie “Sunrise in Heaven.” When the character is fictionalized It helps to read about them in the script as well was the book and, I try to see if it’s possible to meet the author of the book because that can also, in it’s own way, help to inform the character. Sometimes it’s not possible to meet the person or the creator of the fictional person I am portraying. In that case, I can only hope that there are recordings of some kind to pull from. If those do not exist, then it is up to me to create a backstory entirely from my own imagination to justify the words and actions of the character I’m portraying.

Before starring on the screen, you have taken part in plays by canonical authors, such as Anton Chekhov and Tennessee Williams. What is the secret to innovate and create your own interpretation of a text hugely explored?

I love this question. The first secret is in the research. I love to learn as much as I possibly can about the character and the playwright and the worlds they live in. I’ll learn about them through the words the playwright has written, dissecting what the character says about themselves or about how they view the world and the actions that they take to get what they want. I also learn through myself and how my experiences of the world can uniquely color a role that has been done before and will be done again. The second secret is in forgetting. Forget it all and let it go because you will never do it the way it’s been done before.

I once worked on a play caller “Miss Julie” when I was 17 years old. That role is technically for a 25 year old. I fell in love with the story written by the playwright Augustine Strindberg. I read a couple different translations of the script because it was originally written in Swedish. It wasn’t until I finished working on it that I watch the film adaptation with Jessica Chastain and Collin Farrell. I admire them and was in awe. I was inspired, but at the same time grateful I hadn’t seen their performances before I worked on it because I probably would’ve tried to mimic her. Instead, I got the opportunity to find myself inside the role as authentically as I could. The most beautiful full circle moment of that experience was being 25 in New York City watching Jessica Chastain perform on stage in a production of “A Doll’s House” and then later going backstage and meeting with her after the show. It was really special getting to connect with someone who played the same character. She was really specially. I’ll never forget it.

The language of theater and cinema are completely different. From one side there is the ephemeral result of a live experience and from the other the possibilities to build emotion through framing and editing. Which scenario excites you the most and why?

Theater and film are equally exciting. They work different muscles for the actor. With theater, you have to run it through from the beginning to the end without stopping in chronological order, but when you’re filming a movie, it’s often out of order and there’s a lot of downtime in between takes.

You have produced The Peace Between (2019), a documentary on refugees. Why is this matter relevant for audiences all over the world and what did you learn with this project?

I was 19 when I helped to produce that short film. I met the other female filmmakers at a charity event for Save the Children. I was inspired by them and the documentary and wanted to help them get it into festivals. The documentary takes a step back from the social and political rhetoric surrounding the word “refugee” by exploring authentic friendships forged between people who were once worlds apart.

What was the most valuable advice or insightful suggestion that a director gave you? Would you ever consider stepping behind the camera to direct projects?

The most valuable advice a director has given me was probably just a reminder to listen. Active listening is a big part of acting. Fifty percent of acting is reacting. I do think about directing. I don’t think I’m ready yet, but someday I’d like to direct as well.

How do you have a preferred method to prepare for acting roles or does it change depending on the character and project?

The approach is always different for me because each character requires something different. That kind of circles back to what we were talking about before. It depends if the character is based on a real person, living or dead, or someone who is fictional.

Do you fully release a character after a production is over or do you keep a piece of them in you? Which character has left a special mark on you and why?

Oddly, I think I feel the most prepared for a character once the production has wrapped. It’s usually a week later, once everything been said and done, when I realize that there was so much more to that one line that I was struggling with during filming. I did an ULB movie during the SAG strike here in LA called “Double Exposure” and I only had a week to prep the role. I had to learn how to knit for my character, but I only vaguely remembered how to crochet from when I was a kid. I wish we could go back and film the first day over again because my knitting skills improved tremendously throughout the course of production along with my understanding of my character.

You are very vocal about sustainable fashion. How did you enter that journey and what are the fashion decisions that everyone can make on a daily basis to support this cause?

Sustainability in the fashion and food industry go hand in hand. We must be thoughtful about what we put into and onto our bodies. A lot of what we wear here in America ends up in a landfill so it’s important to be mindful when we shop and to pick things that aren’t just a trend but will last a long time.

What films or pieces of art have transformed you recently and why?

I recently read a book called the Bella Jar by Sylvia Plath. I can’t stop thinking about it. I would like to make a movie about a girl like Esther Greenwood.

This issue’s theme is Awakening, we would love to know what this word means to you.

Awakening means, to me, to become aware of something that was once subconsciously understood and bring it to the forefront of your consciousness. To recognize it. To understand it. To feel it.

Caylee Cowan @cayleecowan

Photography Isabela Costa @isa.chromatic

Photo/Creative Assistant Anna Dória @_______elcosmosyanna

Styling Nzinga Watts-Harper @nzingawattsharper

MakeUp Daniele Piersons @danielepiersonsbeauty

Hair Caitlin Krenz @caitlinkrenzbeauty

Production + Creative Director Isabela Costa @isa.chromatic

Interview Isabela Costa @isa.chromatic

production + Location @bellomediagroup x @maisonpriveepr_la


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