In December, actress, director, and writer Heather Graham visited Ringling College of Art and Design as part of the collaboration between Ringling College and Semkhor Networks.
Graham was on campus for several days and enjoyed a campus tour, a meet-and-greet with Ringling College donors, was the first speaker in this season’s “Inside the Industry” Studio Lab series and also met with the Film Circle, a new donor group dedicated to supporting the Ringling College film program.
The glamorous 49-year-old actress, who has a 30-year career in the film industry, has credits that include License to Drive and Drugstore Cowboy, which brought her critical acclaim. Other film and television credits include Six Degrees of Separation, Swingers, the cult television show Twin Peaks, Boogie Nights and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
According to Senior Development Officer Tricia Mire, Graham commented that she wished she had a program like that at Ringling College when she was in school and just starting her career. “Everyone who met Graham said that she was genuine, candid, and warm-hearted,” Mire said. “It didn’t take long for people to fall in love with her.”
Graham was interviewed at the “Inside the Industry” event by Ringling College film instructor Patrick Alexander. The wide-ranging interview covered topics including the independent film industry (“I love independent films,” she said. “They take more risks and are less formulaic.”), sexism in Hollywood, (“Now I am an angry feminist.”), and expanding her career from just acting to include writing and directing (“Growing up it wasn’t so common to see female directors and writers.”).
She also had some advice for Ringling College’s women film students. “Your story is important to tell, in your voice,” Graham said. “Make your own content; don’t wait for someone to hire you.”
Also interviewing Graham was Kevin Moody, a senior in digital filmmaking, who interviewed the actress for the ART Network’s series, “Going Up,” during which celebrities are interviewed during an elevator ride in the Academic Center.
Moody, who also interviewed Graham as part of the media roundtable, said the actress was really nice. “She was very inspiring as a woman who’s recently written/directed her own movie, which she stars in! She was very fun and lighthearted and willing to play ball … which I always appreciate,” Moody said.
In the “Going Up” interview, Graham began by noting how fortunate Ringling College students are to have a state-of-the-art film studio on campus. “It is incredible that you get to make films, be exposed to people in Hollywood, and have this incredible soundstage. That’s just amazing,” she said. In speaking about her new film that recently premiered in Toronto, “The Rest of Us,” she said, “It’s a movie kind of about the person you hate the most suddenly becoming your best friend.” Regarding the movie “Half Magic,” which Graham wrote and directed, as well as starred in, she said that her inspiration was being a woman in Hollywood and finding humor in things that had caused her pain in her own life.