Starburst caught up with the star of Roger Corman’s first 3D film, Attack of the 50 Ft. Cheerleader at the recent 3D Film Festival held in Los Angeles. Bright, witty and a sci-fi/horror film aficionado this upcoming, talented actress is one to watch!
Starburst: What influenced you to become an actress?
Jena Sims: When I was little, I watched soap operas with my mom. We once went to the Super Soap Weekend in Orlando and we had the opportunity to meet Susan Lucci. She was so graceful, charismatic, and beautiful - I will never forget that! I knew I wanted to be like her one day. I didn't start pursuing acting seriously until I moved out to Los Angeles in 2009. I started going to acting classes and auditioning. My first career aspiration as a child was to become an opera singer, thankfully that was just a phase!
Did you ever see any of the ‘50s science fiction films such as Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman?
I did! I watched 50ft Woman prior to working on 50ft Cheerleader. I am a nerd at heart so I get a charge out of these movies. A few of my favorite sci-fi films are: The Blob, Alien, Coneheads, The Thing - the original and John Carpenter’s version, and E.T.
So how did you end up being the 50ft cheerleader?
The short version: I auditioned fair and square! The long version: I had just signed with a new theatrical agency so maybe it was a little beginners luck! My mom was in town and she drove me to the audition after working with my coach on the scenes. I went in and read with the casting director and then she asked me a few questions about my past with cheerleading. After I performed a high kick, she invited the director, Kevin O'Neill in, and I read again, and on the spot they congratulated me giving me the role! I wish all auditions were all that pleasant of an experience!
Did you have to do a lot of training for the role; learning cheers, dance routines, etc?
I have 6 years of cheerleading experience, and 15 years of dance training. I felt prepared for that aspect of the film - but not for the fighting. My co-star and myself went through vigorous fight training by our coordinator, who happened to be one of the original Ninja Turtles! He taught us kung fu moves mixed with cheerleading that we now call Cheer-Fu! All of the cheers and dances you see me do in the film were learned about 10 minutes before the cameras started rolling. Most of the moves in that slow motion try out scene were improvised!
I have to say the FX are very impressive. What were your green screen scenes (say that three times fast!) like and how long did they take?
That was a true test of patience and energy! The green screen studio was enormous- and entirely green from floor to ceiling, wall to wall. After spending 12-14 hour days in there, once you go outside to leave, your eyes have to almost adjust to seeing colors again! It was wild! It was tough acting alone, as if the other actors were there. One scene that stood out was when I am in the gym and Kyle is working on the laptop and Jet comes in with the paint bucket. They weren't there with me so I had to remember so many different eye lines and was essentially acting to an empty room, with the exception of one of the crew guys holding tennis balls for me to speak to!
The fight scenes are great, especially the final fight which was superbly choreographed. What did your training involve for those scenes?
We had our fight training at Kevin's (O’Neill – Director) house. He has a lovely basketball court in his back yard. The fight coordinator laid out some mats, had two assistants who essentially taught myself and my co-star our "parts" like a dance routine. We filmed the guys doing it, and we had that as a reference if we ever had questions about what goes where. One wrong move and you lose an eye! Or a boob...
What are you working on next our readers can see you in?
I recently filmed a Friedberg/Seltzer Untitled Project. They are the guys behind the Scary Movie franchise. I was also in a short film coming out soon called Chocolate Milk. Other than that, I am heavily involved with my non-profit organization, “Pageant of Hope”, and auditioning!
Attack of the 50 Ft. Cheeleader is available on EPIX.
A UK release is scheduled for early 2013.
Check out our review of Attack of the 50ft Cheerleader here.