THE MIDNIGHT SWIM - Interview with Actress Beth Grant

Several years ago, I was fortunate to meet and interview wickedly humorous and talented actress Beth Grant while she was in Austin supporting the quirky comedy, HERPES BOY. Her passion and enthusiasm was so infectious that we bonded immediately, and to date our time together is my most memorable interview in my film criticism career.

We've stayed in touch over the years as she continues to work hard in television and film. Just a few of her projects include THE BLUES FOR WILLADEAN, the film adaptation of Del Shore's award-winning dramatic play, James Franco's AS I LAY DYING, and THE MINDY PROJECT in which she portrays regular Beverly, an eccentric nurse-turned-receptionist. 

Although Beth's screen time in the upcoming film THE MIDNIGHT SWIM is rather brief, her character Amelia Brooks drives so much of the story between the female cast that I felt it imperative to have her perspective on this film as well as her advice for filmmakers.

Here's what she had to say via our email interview:

What's your favorite science fiction movie?  

Well, I'm prejudiced, I know, but I'm very proud to be in DONNIE DARKO, a film that I consider a masterpiece.  Second to that I'd say EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.  

What attracted you to the THE MIDNIGHT SWIM script?  

The strong women's narrative!  I loved the intimate story of these three sisters and I was proud to play their mother who had such a big impact on their lives.

Beth Grant as Cousin Ruthie with daughter Mary Chieffo as Wonder Woman

Beth Grant as Cousin Ruthie with daughter Mary Chieffo as Wonder Woman

How could you relate to your character?  

I am a mom!  And it is my favorite job, my highest calling.  I have not been a perfect mom, but the love I have felt for my daughter has been one of the most intense, profound experiences of my life from the moment I found out I was pregnant.  It is beyond any kind of love I have ever known, it is spiritual, emotional, and physical.  

I believe so deeply in a higher power guiding us, taking care of us, this friendly Universe. The older I get the fewer answers I have, but conversely the more I sure I am that there is far more to this life than we can possibly imagine.  And I trust that power, and I love that power.  

I am also very concerned about the environment as is Amelia Brooks, the mother in the film.  I haven't dedicated my life to the environment as she has but I definitely do what I can everyday -- recycling of course, cutting back on water usage, we recently had our backyard redone with drought resistant plants and it feels so great to be doing something.  And I "vote green!"

Also I believe and am enthralled by the mystical aspects of the film. 

THE MIDNIGHT SWIM writer/director Sarah Adina Smith

THE MIDNIGHT SWIM writer/director Sarah Adina Smith

What was it like working with writer and director Sarah Adina Smith for her feature directorial debut?

Sarah is going to have a wonderful career, I say this unequivocally.  She is strong, smart, quick, has a vision and has a powerful message about what it is to be human.  I especially love that she can express her ideas often without words, only visually. Her ability to communicate her inner life on such a personal level is thrilling.  I adore her and hope to work with her again very soon!

Most female film professionals want to be recognized simply as a great filmmakers, and not as a great FEMALE filmmaker -- what are the challenges and benefits of being a female in this industry, and have you seen that culture change significantly?

 We made so much headway in the 60's and 70's -- what the heck happened?  But I am encouraged that we seem to be back on track.  Included in this push for more diversity is a push for women.  I don't worry about statistics or I would never have made it!  Best for me to just concentrate on the work, support as many women as possible, create my own projects.

I love working for my boss on the series THE MINDY PROJECT.  Mindy is a genius and she is extremely feminine, so beautiful, a fashionista, but boy she gets the job done!  She created the show, stars, produces, promotes, assembled an incredible group of writers, actors, crew.  We have many women directors. I mean, she is the show runner!  She has really inspired me to work harder on my own projects.

Over the years I've worked with MANY women directors, writers and producers.  Now that I think of it, perhaps that's of of the things that draws me to certain projects!  But I love men too, especially men who are in touch with their feminine side and who celebrate us. And there are many men who do.

What advice would you offer to inexperienced filmmakers?

Grab a camera or your iPhone and start shooting!  Create, create, create!  You will learn as you go.  Do NOT be defensive, keep an open mind, be curious, ask questions then listen, listen, listen.  Don't let pride or envy or jealousy get in the way of supporting others.  Honestly? Practice love, all day, every day.  You can't go wrong!

Any other thoughts that you'd like to share?

I'm very proud of THE MIDNIGHT SWIM, producer Jonako Donley who brought me the project, Sarah and her whole team.  It's absolutely amazing what they were able to do. The cast is so wonderful, it's such an intimate experience!  Bless them for revealing their souls.

To see Beth Grant in a special Austin screening of THE MIDNIGHT SWIM (Thursday, July 9th) click here for tickets and more info.