Born and raised in Southern California, Tracey Birdsall has lived all over the US, but now calls Malibu home. She began her show biz career modeling and doing TV commercials, and also sang with bands in clubs during her early 20s. Since those times, Tracey has pretty much covered the full spectrum of acting throughout her career, from daytime soaps and sitcoms on television, to comedies and dramas on the big screen.
Tracey’s latest starring role is in Neil Johnson’s sci-fi action film, Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter, which earned her the Female Action Performer of the Year award at the 2016 Action on Film Festival. Also, a TV Series based on Rogue Warrior, entitled The Gods of War, is currently in development, in which Tracey will be reprising her role as Sienna.
Since Rogue Warrior began screening on the film festival circuit last year, Tracey has been pretty busy with appearances at promo events and granting interviews. Even though this exclusive interview is hardly the only one she’s done as of late, there are some areas we touch on here that will give some more insight into Tracey’s background and her love for all things sci-fi. Above photo courtesy of Tracey, herself.
TRACEY BIRDSALL: I was born and raised in SoCal. However, I’ve followed jobs and relocated many times! From Alaska to New York to Utah and the East Bay (Northern California). Holding still is not exactly my specialty! I do seem to always move back to Southern California. I’ve traveled extensively and there are several places I could entertain the thought of enjoying living there, but I do have this career to focus on, and being near Los Angeles seems to be an omniscient decision. I’ve entertained the thoughts of living in Antibes in the south of France, London, and many more places.
CHRIS: I understand you were a cheerleader in school?
TRACEY: Oh, you did do your research! Yes, I was. I adored it. It incorporated so many things that I enjoyed.
CHRIS: I also understand you were going to study robotics before deciding on a career in show biz?
TRACEY: My career was already long underway when I studied the prerequisites for computer science, which was a prerequisite for robotics. My fascination in robotics came from being immersed in Power Electronics as a child, as my father ran PowerCon, at the time the largest Power Electronics convention in the world. I was exposed to robotics and computers long before much of the world even knew that they existed. I never thought much of a career besides in the entertainment industry. However, I was fascinated by learning more about robotics. That’s actually what led to my excitement about bringing Rogue Warrior to life!
CHRIS: Besides acting in films, you’ve appeared in several TV series throughout your career. Soaps, dramas, comedies. Do you have any preferences?
TRACEY: I like characters, to bring a complex soul to life. I love anything that’s challenging and takes a ton of preparation, so I’m guessing that mostly happens in film and mostly with drama. Doing science fiction with Neil Johnson was the best, as these last two films were a genre within a genre; character driven sci-fi, which is the most challenging, albeit the most rewarding, I’ve ever done. Comedy is fantastic in between those roles as it’s a relief, a dance, a chance for the soul to breath.
CHRIS: Your peers speak very highly of you. Who have been some of your favorite actresses to work with?
TRACEY: Thank you! I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of very talented and successful actors, but since I’m often the lead, I haven’t worked as much with other actresses of the same caliber. Marilyn Ghiglioti is one of the few females that was a real pleasure to work with. She’s just a really top-rate human being that happens to also be a brilliant actress. Some of my favorite actors I’ve worked with include Dennis Hopper, Garry Pastore, Barry Corbin, William Kircher, Bill Sorvino, Daz Crawford, Joe D’Onofrio, Stephen Manley, Leigh McCloskey and James Van Patten. Although kind of like the science fiction films question; if you’re not mentioned …I just had to get onto the next question!
CHRIS: How about your favorite people behind the camera to work with?
CHRIS: Currently, you’ve been doing a lot of promoting for your film, Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter. In fact, as I ask you this, you were at the film’s screening at the 50th Annual WorldFest Houston Film Festival last night. What was it like for you there?
TRACEY: I absolutely adore the screenings! We had a packed theater in Houston, and a producer friend of mine, Kevin Coleman, came with his brother and some friends, which was awesome! I worked with Kevin on Dawn of the Crescent Moon several years ago and hadn’t seen him since that film came out. We also had quite a nice turnout from the press, which is always nice, and did post-screening interviews into the wee hours of the morning. It’s always nice when you get to share your hard work with viewers. It’s the icing on the cake.
CHRIS: I know you put a lot of hard work and long hours in Rogue Warrior. Tell me what you’re particularly proud of about the film.
TRACEY: Anything you pour your heart and soul into makes you proud when it’s a finished product. All of the preparation, the training, the hard work, the emotional turmoil, the bruises and the injuries, the choices ….when other people see and appreciate it, it humbles me.
CHRIS: What did you have to learn and how did you train to play Sienna?
TRACEY: There were several “firsts” in becoming Sienna, and they all took careful planning, preparation, and training. Having my companion throughout a portion of the movie as a robot, that was a tough one for me at first! I kept Hoagland in my office (the actual model of the robot) for months prior, making him real to me by constantly cajoling and remembering to greet him, etc. He had to be real to me for him to be real to the audience. Spending extra hours at the gym with my trainer Diamond, and working on fight sequences with my other trainer Manny, in addition to creating the character, it was an all-consuming project for well over a year.
CHRIS: What did you find to be the most challenging thing about the role?
CHRIS: Did you spend much time in front of a green screen while shooting it?
TRACEY: Some things had to be done on a green screen, but the director wanted most of it practical. We shot as much “real” as we could, which was the majority of the film.
CHRIS: I’ve read that a TV Series based on Rogue Warrior, entitled The Gods of War, is currently in development, and you’ll be reprising your role of Sienna in that?
TRACEY: This is true!
CHRIS: Are you often in the gym, even when you’re not preparing for a role?
TRACEY: I think that to live a healthy and long life, the gym is just an element of what we have to want to do. Depending on a role, I either work out more, or lay off it by a bit. In The Time War, much of it was to be set during World War II, so being super ripped wouldn’t really be appropriate, so I backed off a bit. In my normal life, yes, the gym is a constant element.
CHRIS: If you were offered a good part in a good film, but it included a nude scene, would you consider it?
TRACEY: I’ve been offered roles before that had nudity in them, which I haven’t done. However, it was the script and the role, not the nudity, why I chose to not do them. I’ve also had roles that I’ve signed on to do which suddenly got a nude scene in them, gratuitous even, in a re-write. That’s not cool. When choosing a role, we need to be presented with the whole of the choice to consider it. Was that vague enough?!
CHRIS: (Wondering if she did or didn’t stay on with the film that got the nude scene added in the re-write, but deciding she probably didn’t and if she did, I’ll be sure to see it later, and moving on.) Before you were approached about and later took the role as Jenna Casey, the Jenna Jameson look-alike in Who’s Jenna…?, had anyone ever told you that you looked like (porn star) Jenna Jameson?
TRACEY: When she was younger, there were some similarities, but this is Southern California! The casting caveat, from what the director had told me, was finding someone that had resembled her at some point in time, who was also a talented actress. The project had been on hold for a while. I met Thomas Baldinger, the director of the film, at an awards show where I was receiving an honorary award for the conglomerate of my work and they were showing scenes from various projects. He immediately approached me after the show, and a project was born.
TRACEY: Most definitely, although I did start eating dairy and fish again as a way to get enough calories and protein. I was hungry.
CHRIS: You have some professional experience singing, and did you own singing in 1998’s I Might Even Love You. What are some other works you’ve put your voice to?
TRACEY: I sang in clubs in my early 20s, because again, I was hungry. I’ve also recently found out that I’ll be singing in an upcoming project as part of the character, so stay tuned!
CHRIS: Have you ever had any ambitions to have a regular gig singing in a band?
TRACEY: I’ve sang with bands on and off before, but mostly as one-offs. I’ve never really had singing ambitions. I grew up training and excessively singing in musical theater and I simply love to sing. For some reason, I mostly sing in the kitchen.
CHRIS: Do you have any hobbies or interests that most people don’t know about?
TRACEY: I was raised the daughter of an avid sailor, so I love anything boating or in/on the ocean. On a more personal note, as an avid user of skin care/hair care products, and makeup, I’ve been on a personal quest to either find or to develop the very best products imaginable. I started with lip gloss, which for anyone who knows me, I’m constantly using, as I could never find the perfect product. After two years of formulating, I’ve just released the most perfect lip gloss imaginable for softness, plumping, and non-sticky lips. I’ve branded and released it as ManGloss, since there’s such a growing marketplace for men to treat themselves as well as women do, and you can now read about it and buy it at ManGloss.com and at Amazon! We have a new six pack coming out in a few weeks, a mind the play on words, and I’m super excited about it! I’m in the middle of product-testing hair care formulations now. It’s my most recent hobby!
CHRIS: With that, I’ll thank you so much for taking the time to do this, Tracey. In closing, any shout-outs to anyone?
TRACEY: The best publicist in the world; Clint Morris of October Coast PR. We’ve been working together for three years now, and he’s such an integral part of my team. I can’t say enough nice things about him and how much I appreciate him. My middle of the night emergency texts, my last-minute, this-has-to-go-out-before-tomorrows, my insistence that everyone play by the rules, usually having to do with Youtube copyrights. Clint, thank you. You are truly the best.
Left: Tracey with her Best Actress award at 2014 LATCA Awards (Los Angeles Theatrical
Release Competition & Awards). Right: At the 2016 San Diego International Comic Con
for the Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter cast signing.
Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter official trailer
Insight into the making of Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter