Interview With Actress Becca Buckalew, “Medinah”

By Ruth on May 3, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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Because of my affiliation with Rick Ravanello, I happened to notice that he was filming a new series in the nation of Qatar entitled Medinah. In an effort to support as many of his projects as I can to the fullest extent  possible, I made the conscious decision to connect with as many of the cast and crew as I could. It just so happens that I had the opportunity to interact more personally with one of the cast members, Becca Buckalew, and she eagerly agreed to an interview in which she discussed her entrance into this industry, her vast assortment of roles she has performed within her chosen profession, and, of course, a more detailed discussion of her current project, Medinah.

RH: What inspired you to pursue a career in the entertainment industry? What kind of training have you had?

BB: Initially entertainment was never on my radar. In college, I studied English and Criminal Justice, not necessarily a direct connection into the acting world. However, once out of college and after looking into working with a police department, I realized that I had always been drawn to acting. Growing up, I read all the time, and in reading I was able to transport myself completely into the world of the characters in the story. I love the idea that you can make believe and be anything you want for a short amount of time. Also, I think that in the entertainment industry you have a profound ability to affect people and change the way they see the world. I want to do that.

Growing up, I was involved in minor plays and pageants, and once moving to LA, I sought out any and all training I could get. I studied improv at UCB and Groundlings. I experienced a few different acting teachers in LA (none of which were good experiences so I won’t mention them). I have been studying exclusively at Anthony Meindl’s Actors Workshop for the past three years and it is phenomenal!

What was your first professional job in this industry? What are your memories of this experience? 

The first professional job in this industry was as an actor with a Director named Elliot Rausch. For a first experience, I think I completely lucked out. It was a re-branding done for a car company, but Elliot’s take on it was anything but basic or straightforward. The majority was unscripted and I had the unique opportunity to play and bring everything to the project I thought it needed. I learned a lot from working with Elliot; I realize now that he is the exception to the rule when it comes to Hollywood. To work with someone who had such a vision and was so dedicated to his actors and telling a story was incredible. I think that first experience set the bar high when it comes to what I equate with an excellent production.

You have done other jobs in the industry as well as acting. What are the benefits to having skills other than acting? What do you enjoy about those other jobs?

Ahhh, yes, I have spent a lot of time in supporting roles in the film industry. Mainly, I have worked as a PA {Production Assistant}, but when it comes to film, anything can happen. So I have gotten my hands dirty helping out the camera crew, sound, and art department. I sought out working as a PA specifically because I wanted to know how to do my job better in front of the camera. The worlds are wide apart when it comes to in-front and behind-the-camera, but knowing how the whole machine works has really helped me to help the rest of the crew when I’m the one with my face on the screen. Things as simple as knowing your lines, hitting your marks, being aware of using your right hand instead of your left between takes all help to keep the ball rolling when trying to get a scene. The biggest thing is compassion; when I am on set, I realize that everyone is on the same team. No one is above anyone else in my world because really without each and every person there doing their job, you don’t have a production.

You have worked on several indie film projects. What are the benefits and challenges of indie film? What are your most recognized indie films? 

Working on indie films is a run-and-gun operation. You usually have a small budget and not a lot of wiggle room when it comes to locations. Everything is fast-paced–which is great; there is this momentum that you can tangibly feel running through the crew. This also means that there’s less room for error; sometimes you may literally only get one or two takes so you have to bring your “A game.” Challenging…well oftentimes with indie films, you may have actors or directors who lack in experience, myself included. So it’s a learning process for everyone. My most recognized indie film is probably One Last High, but I don’t think that it has been released to festivals yet.

Your first series appears to be Medinah.  How did you land your role in the series? What can you tell us about your character in relation to the series without revealing too much?

Last year, my manager spoke with me about the project Medinah. He told me that the director was interested in me for a role. I had never even heard of Qatar before–I literally had to look it up on a map–so I was shocked to say the least. Well I booked the role and here we are now. I absolutely love my character, I have had roles that I have been less enthusiastic about, but this one is just great. So Quinn is the name of my character and she works as a secretary in a company called Quantcom. The series is one in which you don’t know everything about the characters in the first episode. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can get fully into Quinn without giving away the story too much. I will say that she is smart, calculated, not easily pushed around, and a ball buster.

How are you like Quinn and how are you different?  

 You know, I feel like I’m a lot like Quinn. The first time I was working in Qatar, I had a different role. This year, the creator Ahmed Al Baker wrote in Quinn specially for me, so with that in mind, personality-wise, we are not too far apart. I haven’t lived the same life that Quinn has or worked in the same jobs, but fundamentally me in different circumstances wouldn’t be far off from who she is as a character.

What has it been like filming in Qatar? Is this the first time you have been to the Middle East?  

Qatar is wild. I remember getting off the plane for the first time and just wondering, “Where am I?” I had never been to the Middle East before and everything about the place, the customs, the driving, the food, the people just blew my mind. Filming in Qatar for one is hot, but also lacks the infrastructure that you find in LA. Knowing that, it is truly incredible what they have done to film this series. They really have made it happen and are not lacking at all when it comes to providing the best of the best for filming.

The cast appears to be having a lot of fun. Any stories you can share behind the scenes? Did you know any of the cast members before this? With whom have you bonded the most?

We sure do have a lot of fun ! The top thing I am so so grateful for about this whole experience is the fact that everyone I get to work with are just really the best people. We’re a group of about fourteen, give or take, and we all have bonded like a little family. There are only five girls, so I have bonded with them as we do “girl things” together, but everyone is great. We usually do breakfast together in the morning, depending on call times, and on days off, we play basketball or go on adventures to the museums around town. Guaranteed at night you will find the boys playing cards downstairs in the lobby. I can’t say enough times how special the people are we work with in the area–just top notch all the way.

As a woman filming in a Middle Eastern country, have there been any cultural issues? 

Yes and no. So there are not any official rules on dress codes, but there are things you do and don’t wear. It’s generally understood that when you leave the hotel (unless your going to a night club), then you don’t wear short shorts and you don’t wear a top with your shoulders and boobs out. This has been a challenge–minor, but still a challenge–because I have never lived in a place where I have to think about what I’m wearing before I walk out the door. Biggest issue for me is that many gyms don’t allow men and women to workout together. I love to box and trying to find a gym that offers that to women has been impossible in Qatar. I miss that, but for a short time I can do anything!

Do you know when you’ll be done filming?  Do you have any idea when this is scheduled to air? Will it be in English all the way through or is it multi-lingual?

We are scheduled to finish filming in June, and release of the first season is scheduled after summer, I believe, but I am not a hundred percent sure. The series will be multi-lingual, which I am really looking forward to!

Any other upcoming works?

I am fully committed to this project and contracted for two seasons, so nothing as of right now!

Do you have plans to eventually write/direct?

As an English major, I really learned to write. I love writing, I do it in my spare time and yes I would definitely be interested. As of right now, I like where I’m at. Directing…maybe in years to come, but I want to learn as much as I can before I take on that challenge.

In your free time, what do you like to do?

A shorter question would be–what don’t I like to do? I really have way too many hobbies, I mentioned boxing…before I left for Qatar, I had my first amateur fight, so that was an experience. Skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding, hunting, horseback riding, swimming… Really anything that is in the outdoors or an adventure is what I love doing.

Some may argue that Becca’s lack of experience as an actress within the world of entertainment does not adequately qualify her to be considered a performer of any merit, but if you have followed my blog for some time, you will know that my response to that is simply, “What utter rubbish!” (Yes, I actually do talk like that–very “old school” or “British,” I suppose.) The number of credits one boasts on IMDB or the conglomeration of “big names” with whom one has been privileged to work may equal more name recognition and possibly even more exposure within the industry–that is an indisputable fact. It’s still a world of politics out there, just like any business.

However, I have discovered in my time of interviewing and interacting with people in this business that experience does not always equal talent, longevity, nor even job security. Furthermore, it certainly does not automatically correspond with humility, patience, nor any other redeeming qualities. On the contrary, all too often, early success (even perceived success) can reveal what lurks beneath the surface, and if the actor is already a fool or a numskull, that is exactly what will emerge. Oh, the person may get work for a while and even have a triumphant career. But it probably means that this person’s name will appear regularly in the tabloids, thus attaining celebrity status, albeit, incredibly short-lived.

On the other hand, when I have the opportunity to interview a woman like Becca, who is young, vivacious, and proficient in the business, in addition to being well aware of the amount of laborious sweat and sheer luck that figures into this profession, I am ecstatic to feature her. Some actors would consider other jobs in the business to be beneath their capabilities, and others would not be willing to make the sacrifices to spend months in a foreign country filming something completely out of one’s comfort zone. And a strong, independent, beautiful, and vigorous Western woman like Becca might find it too cumbersome to make the necessary accommodations so as not to offend the people there.

As a woman who has herself spent some time in the Middle East (yes, I did go to Yemen for three weeks many years ago, but that’s another story), I applaud Becca’s willingness to practice cultural tolerance, and I also celebrate her dedication to invest the time and resources needed to film a series that is quite possibly like nothing this world has ever seen.  While I’m sure there have been days that the exhaustion in addition to the heat and lack of Western comforts has fatigued her to a degree, as the end is in sight, I have no doubt that Becca will be praised for her tireless work (along with the other fine actors and crew) who gave of themselves so unselfishly to create a tour de force. I greatly anticipate seeing this series when it finally does arrive on Netflix, and I can safely say it’s not only because of Rick. It is everyone involved in the production who is bringing this show to life, and I am convinced that Becca’s warmth, talent, and inner beauty will illuminate that screen in a very real way.  Be sure to follow Becca via social media below so that you do not miss out on Medinah when it hits Netflix. Moreover, a true beauty like Becca who radiates joy, effervescence and benevolence is one who deserves as much support as we can muster!

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

2 Comments

  1. Linda Manns Linneman May 6, 2017 Reply

    She is such a beautiful young lady. It sounds like she has many talents. I am so happy you got to interview her and share this with us. Thank you so much

    • Author
      Ruth May 6, 2017 Reply

      Linda, thank you for your continued support. I loved sharing.

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