Born in the San Francisco Bay Area and now calling Atlanta home, actress and producer Deanna Rashell has filled just about every on-camera role there is. Besides acting in films, she’s done commercials, conducted interviews, hosted and emceed events, done product and film reviews, and been a presenter at trade shows. As for her behind-camera work, Deanna runs Outlook Productions, the film production company she founded in 2008, where she personally sees all of the projects through from beginning to end.
To say Deanna will be busy going into 2020 is an understatement. As this goes to press, she is producing and starring in a pilot which begins filming in February and she just completed a supporting role in a SAG feature film. She also tells me that she’s now on that production team and they are working on the next feature film in which she is slated to be one of the leads and a co-producer. She went on to add that she has two trailers for two projects she currently has in post production. Lean more on her past and recent projects, as well as how Deanna got to the level she is now, in the following interview she gave exclusively to Idol Features. Above left photo of Deanna at the November 2019 Pryor Cashman American Film Market red carpet event, and all following photos, courtesy of Deanna herself.
DEANNA RASHELL: I don’t miss the Bay Area at all! I actually feel like New Orleans is where I found myself and that I feel like was probably more like a true home for me. I do miss New Orleans; the people, the energy, the culture, and of course the food! Atlanta is great too, it’s just very big with lots of traffic. I’m still finding my footing here in Atlanta and making some great friends and connections along the way.
CHRIS: I see you’re credited as Deanna Rashell in some of your works and as Deanna Meske in others. There are also separate IMDb pages for you under each of those names. I also see that some of your roles are listed at one of those pages or the other, while some of your roles are listed at both pages. That seems very unusual, as most actresses have just one IMDb page with all their credits and if they were credited under a different name for certain films or shows, it will be annotated; “credited as…” It’s the first time I’ve seen someone listed twice at IMDb, almost as if you’re two different people. So my question is; how did that come about?
DEANNA: Rashell is my middle name actually and I decided to use that as my stage name. Almost all of my credits have been transferred to Deanna Rashell (on IMDb) and this is where all of my new credits are going, even though some of my more prestigious work didn’t make it over to Deanna Rashell, that is the only IMDb page I am using now.
CHRIS: Besides acting in films, you’ve done commercials, hosted shows, conducted live interviews, done product and movie reviews, and that’s just to name a few things. Is there anything you’d consider your specialty?
CHRIS: Growing up with four brothers and no sisters, you did a lot tomboyish things as a kid, such as riding a dirt motorcycle. Do you still ride?
DEANNA: Yes, four brothers. I had my own Yamaha 80 and loved it. We used to go dirt bike riding every weekend. It was a blast. I also learned to four-wheel drive in the rough terrain, drive boats, drive the stand-up Jet Skis, snowmobiles, snow ski, and I can single ski and wakeboard too.
CHRIS: You’ve done comedy, drama, horror, and more. Do you have a favorite genre or feel there is a genre that you’re best suited for?
DEANNA: That’s tough. I love comedy the most, but if I get to play a bad guy or a really badass character, then drama may come out on top!
CHRIS: As for your behind-camera roles, I assume you’ve pretty much ran the gamut there, as well?
DEANNA: Well, I have produced 28 short films and I directed about 16 of those. Some of them are micro-shorts anywhere between three and five minutes and some of them were a bit longer between eight and ten minutes. I’ve operated camera, edited, some basic lights, set design, shot lists, and writing. When I shoot business videos, I am a one-woman band, so I do it all and sometimes even make an appearance as a host in the videos. Honestly, when you are a content creator, sometimes you just have to do whatever needs to be done. I may be directing and starring, but you are likely to find me feeding the DP, taking out the trash, fixing someone’s costume amongst many other little things that may need to get done “now” in order to move things along.
DEANNA: Yes, we had a film called Sunset Ship Crime and we won in two categories and were nominated in four. I actually won Best Actress in that film.
CHRIS: How big a team does Outlook Productions have?
DEANNA: It varies. When it comes to my business videos, it’s often just myself. I will run camera, do all of the editing, and do all of the set-ups. Sometimes I’ll have an assistant. On short film sets there could be anywhere from six to fifteen crew members.
CHRIS: Since you began your acting career, who have been some of your favorite people to work with on either side of the camera?
DEANNA: I really enjoyed working with Scott Bakula. He was not only a great actor, he was a really nice person and he was looking out for me in one scene and actually helped me a lot. It was a little intimidating being with so many stars for the first time and he helped me out. Recently I worked with a friend of mine; Joy Villa. I really enjoyed working with her as well. There have been a lot of great actors and actresses and a few good directors too.
CHRIS: You seem to travel a lot. You were in Edinburgh, Scotland for an awards event in September and in Washington DC just last month. Is traveling often the norm for you these days?
CHRIS: Do you have more episodes of your web series Government Lies in the works?
DEANNA: I have episode five right now with a new editor, and episode six was shot, but has not been edited or released. Once those two episodes get done, I do plan to write more episodes. A lot of people seem to really like that series. It’s just a matter of getting these episodes done. Unfortunately, I cannot finish off episode five because I don’t have the program that’s required. I had another editor who did most of the work and he used different software than I use.
CHRIS: Yes, I can relate to that. So, what other upcoming projects from you can we look forward to in the near future?
DEANNA: I’m in pre-production on a pilot called Soul Wars. I will be producing and starring in that film. I may actually direct it and find a main producer to take my place. We shoot that in February 2020. I’m also in production on a new romantic comedy that I will costar in with Joy Villa. We will be the main leads and that is called Hot Sauce. I just wrapped up a strong supporting role in a feature film called The Contrast, that should be out around April 2020.
CHRIS: I see you have several upcoming films that are currently in various stages of production. Do you know which ones will be released soon?
CHRIS: You’ve done a Southern belle accent for a few of your roles. What other accents have you done?
DEANNA: Russian and British. I don’t do them very often so they’re a little rusty, but I can get into them when I need to.
CHRIS: Are you really a cigar smoker?
DEANNA: (Laughs) Yes. I have enjoyed cigars for quite some time now, I don’t smoke them regularly, probably once every month or two to three months. Really just depends on what I’m doing. When I’m out and about, I do enjoy having a cigar with friends.
CHRIS: What’s been the most challenging skill you’ve had to learn to perform for a film or video?
DEANNA: Two. My ear prompter skill was a bit challenging, and playing a really emotionally fragile female is a bit challenging for me. I fit right into very strong, aggressive, and assertive roles or very comedic and ridiculous roles, but the victim roles require a bit more work.
CHRIS: Have you ever taken a role that you later on wish you hadn’t?
DEANNA: Hahahha, yes and I won’t tell you the movie because I actually made them change my name (smiles). Only one movie that I really regretted doing. There have also been some films recently where I just was helping out a friend or volunteering my time for a few hours and the quality wasn’t very good so I’m really trying to steer away from lower quality at this point.
CHRIS: Do you have any interests or hobbies most people don’t know about?
CHRIS: With that, I’ll thank you again for doing this with me, Deanna. In closing, any shout-outs to anyone?
DEANNA: Thank you. I would like to give a big shout-out to everyone who has ever helped me on any of my film projects and anyone who has supported the various fundraising activities for these projects. Without you, none of this would have been possible. I couldn’t have made any of them without their help! A few projects haven’t been finished, but they are still on the burner and they will get done. I’ve just been very grateful to have help when I needed it! There are some people that really help me in the beginning when I was trying to become a filmmaker! I would have to say my friend Paul, he’s from New Orleans, when I wrote my first web series called New Orleans Pie, he really made that happen. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and he showed up with his camera and his gear and he helped me create that story even though I had the script written, and the casting, locations, he really taught me a lot about filmmaking.
Deanna’s most recent dramatic reel