Valorie Curry: Twilight to Darkness

A self-described literary nerd, political nerd, and wine connoisseur, actress Valorie Curry of the Twilight Saga and the television drama The Following, is not what you would expect of someone who grew up on the stage. However, having held back on her fated professional life until beyond college, she maintains a down-to-earth sensibility that is clear, intelligent, and adaptable.

Adaptable enough to sit on the floor in the hallway of a dirty warehouse building where we sat to conduct our interview over her generous gift of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and lukewarm coffee.

00010124-8

We can start with your background as an actress and how you really started acting, if you want to tell me a little bit. I always like to know how people really began their careers.

Well, I grew up acting and I grew up in theatre. The long story is that my parents got married when they were really young. My mom was nineteen and she didn’t go to college right away. I’m the youngest of three kids and she spent 20 years getting a degree in theatre. She was studying playwriting and costuming so she would do a class here and a class there. Because I was the youngest–instead of sending me to daycare–when I wasn’t in school, I would go and sit in on her classes and rehearsals and things. I grew up in that world and I grew up in theatre. If they needed a kid, they would throw me up on stage and I loved it. I think everybody has their moments as children when they’re like “I’m going to be a marine biologist” or whatever, but really that was all I ever wanted to do. So I went to Cal State Fullerton to study acting and, while I was in college, I did my first screen-acting job, which was a recurring guest star on Veronica Mars. And that was another thing about my parents: I grew up outside of LA and I always wanted to try to do film and TV in LA but they were pretty adamant that I had to wait until I was eighteen, that I had to do it myself.

Which grounds you a little bit.

It grounds you. And it also gave me more experience that existed outside of this sort of fishbowl of the industry. I could have that childhood and I could have that youth without it being through that frame of reference. It also is what gave me a stronger sense of self-motivation and drive because I never expected anybody to help me. It’s not that people don’t help me, but I never expected things to happen for me in that way. I always knew that I was going to have to work really hard for myself.

So, anyway, when I was eighteen, the first thing I did on my birthday was start submitting for agencies and things. I got a local agency and that’s how I got my first job. It was one of those dream scenarios that I didn’t even know was a dream scenario at the time. I got this little co-star role–less than five lines–and they ended up writing me a major recurring guest star role, which was awesome and terrifying at the same time because I had never been in front of a camera before. And I had never been on a set before. I didn’t know what anybody did. I was kind of terrified, trying not to be under foot all the time. And, you know, learning really quickly and learning by observing instead of outing myself.

After college, I took a couple of years away because I wasn’t sure about the industry. I had a kind of trying experience in college that—for me—wasn’t the best in terms of cultivating art. It wasn’t necessarily a safe place to make mistakes. For me, as a perfectionist, it really fed into that inability to make a mistake, that needing to be right all the time, which wasn’t great for me in terms of developing my voice. So, I left my program in college after three years. I thought I would work more in the industry and then the writer’s strike happened in 2008. So, I went back to school and I studied scenic design until I finished.

00010099-12

How did you get back into it after all of that?

I took a couple years off. I did other things. I worked as a nanny for a minute. I worked as a grassroots organizer for a peace lobby, for the Peace Action West in LA. After a couple of years, I missed it (acting) a lot and I decided to dip my toe back in the water and just submit myself. I didn’t have representation or anything anymore but I was submitting myself for short films and things like that in the area. Just to see if I still liked it- to see if I could still have fun. And I found that I did. I did a short film called “I Love You Like Crazy” and it was eight days. It was a big deal, I remember, to take a week away from my job waiting tables. But I took like eight days and it was that feeling of everything falling into place. Because we would shoot for 15-16 hours and it was that deep understanding that there was nowhere else that I wanted to be. And this idea of–after those eight days–going back to the life before was unfathomable. There kind of was no turning back. But then things moved pretty quickly. I ended up getting representation and then within six months, I booked Twilight which was my first feature film and it’s kind of just been moving ever since.

Tell me about The Following and how you got involved in the show?

The Following was wining the lottery for me. It really was. I remember when I read the script; I loved it. I’d never read anything like it. I remember reading the pilot script like, “What part am I reading for?” Because my character’s barely in it! You don’t realize who she is until the end.

Valorie Curry 2

Your role is a very complex female character with all of her strength and her sexuality, yet her hopeless devotion to this man. She’s like an anti-feminist, but a feminist.

She is and she isn’t. And that’s the thing that infuriates me and compels me to keep exploring her and I want to explore her. That’s what would kill me if she died. I want to know because the thing about Emma–and people call her a “strong female character”–whatever that means. Obviously, she is a strong person. She’s capable of anything and not just in a negative sense. She is so capable and so resourceful and so intelligent and so powerful but at her center she’s completely defined by this man. She doesn’t exist for herself. She doesn’t have a sense of self. She doesn’t have her own motivations. It is like the ultimate anti-feminist character. So that’s what I live for: for circumstances to arise where she is forced to find that sense of self. I want to know who she is because her center is Joe. She is an accessory to him essentially.

She’s carved out her own personal center and replaced it with this man, so she’s completely consumed by this obsession that actually allows her to demonstrate her own strength.

He empowers her, but at the same time it’s not empowering if she is so dependent on him. It’s weirdly paradoxical. I think of her as Joe’s greatest victim. I’m the greatest Emma apologist in the world.

You have to be both at the same time.

You have to be both. And you can’t judge your character but to me, it’s like she’s so much more tragic in a lot of ways than the nameless faceless people that have died at his hands because-

She’s being strung along.

He didn’t just take her; he took her life. Without ending it. He took her whole life and her whole being and her past and her childhood and her love and uses her like a weapon. She loves him so much and she allows him to use her like this tool.

I think I’m supposed to ask you what we can expect next. People ask you that question a lot, don’t they?

Yeah, everyone wants to know where the story’s going to go because it’s such a surprising plot. I know I’m always surprised, but that’s one of the things I love and trust about Kevin Williamson so much. He never makes the obvious choice. He’ll set the audience up–and even us sometimes–to expect a certain outcome. And, still, he never does what you expect him to do, which I think is wonderful because he continually challenges the audience.

Can I ask you what your WILD wish is?

Well, in the very general sense, I want to make good art. I want to have the opportunity to play characters that are challenging and not just to me but to audiences. I would also really love to make films at some point, to produce as well.

Photography by Joe Jagos

text by: Hillary Sproul










Don't yet have an account? now!

Order The Radiant Issue Today

Order The Radiant Issue Today

Order The Radiant Issue Today

Order The Radiant Issue Today