What does it takes to make a career in Hollywood these days? Cydne Schulte is a woman that seems to have the answer to that question. As the star of Terrence Williams’ rape/revenge flick The Hood Has Eyez, Cydne plays a girl driven to murder, and it’s definitely a role that allows her to stretch her acting muscles. Right after the film’s release, I had the chance to talk with Cyd about performing, passion and women kicking ass.
Thanks for talking with me, Cydne. Let’s start at the beginning. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the high mountains in northern New Mexico. I spent most of my time either riding horses or exploring the woods.
Have you always been interested in acting and performing?
Yes, I come from a long line of performers, artists and musicians. It has always been a natural part of life for me. I was on stage as early as four years old.
Is there any one particular moment that made you realize that acting was your destiny?
Sorta. I remember one time when I was very young, maybe five-ish, and we went to see my aunt star as Marguerite in a production of the opera Faust. Her character jumped out of a second-story window in despair, and I was in such shock because I thought it was real. At the end of the show, when everyone was meeting the cast, I went up on the stage and danced around the fabulously built set. I climbed up the stairs, looked though the window and saw a big huge mattress hidden below where you land when you jump out the window. I was so impressed! I remember jumping out the window, landing on the mattress—unscathed—and thinking that I’d found where I belonged. Such magic!
So, when did you make the jump to L.A.?
I didn’t actually move to L.A. until August 2006. But the year previous to that, I had been there at least four times for acting work.
That’s a big move, Cyd. How did you know that you were ready for such a life-changing risk?
My whole life, everybody kept telling me that in order for me to be successful as an actor, I’d have to be based either in L.A. or New York, and since I’m from New Mexico, L.A. seemed most reasonable. So I always knew it was inevitable.
I totally enjoyed your performance in The Hood Has Eyez, Cydne. Terrence Williams [the film’s writer/director] told me he wrote the role of Kimmy especially for you. You get to show quite a bit of range in this flick—it’s quite a showpiece. Is this the most challenging part you’ve got to play in a film?
Thank you, Theron, I really appreciate it. I’ve had to do a lot of challenging roles, but as far as having the opportunity to show my range, The Hood is probably on the top on the list.
How did you first meet Terrence?
A casting call in Backstage West for his film The Curse of La Llorona. We submitted and he called me in to audition for the role of Hana. He cast me as Sonia.
The Hood Has Eyez is a pretty intense flick. Did you have any reservations about taking the role of Kimmy?
Yes. Some pretty big ones, because the themes of the film are very controversial. As you probably know, Terrence set out with the intention to offend everyone. Well, this is not my style at all. I understand shock value, but I don’t necessarily agree with it. I just wasn’t into some of the actions of my character and of some of the other characters. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be responsible for such senseless violence being put out in the universe. But in the end, I decided that Kimmy was an awesome role and that it was a story worth telling, even if I didn’t agree with the execution of it—no pun intended. Terrence and [producer] Nicole [Williams] were great to work with as well as the rest of the cast and crew.
You’re a smart, strong woman, Cydne. What’s your opinion of movies like I Spit on Your Grave and The Hood Has Eyez:
(a) They Promote Female Empowerment (because, hey, the women kick ass)
(b) They Glorify Violence Against Women
(c) Sheesh, Relax, People, They’re Just Movies
My answer would be (d) all of the above, because there is a new trend in films and society of female power—portraying strong woman kicking ass. Audiences seem to be eating it up and loving it! But, I’ve always felt that violence in films only desensitizes people and gives predators ideas. But in the relevance of entertainment, it’s all just a story and meant only to be that.
You’ve done a lot of work in “genre” movies, including the remake of the J-horror favorite The Eye. Do you enjoy horror movies?
It’s funny, no. I love epic fantasy like The Lord of the Rings.
You have studied with some of the most respected people in the industry, Cydne. How do you approach a role, in general? Do you do a lot of research and preparation?
Well, it is different for every role. But I do like to do research and to be as prepared as possible. For The Hood, I researched the effect of rape. For The Eye, I chose not to see the original because I didn’t want it to affect my performance. But I tend to not like to over-rehearse because I like it raw and real. Usually before I shoot, I meditate, do some emotional preparation and then go for it.
Other than acting, what are your passions? I think I saw bass guitar and dance listed among your many talents.
I am very passionate about all the arts. I paint, dance, play bass, just to list a few.
I am also very passionate about the environment. In fact at this very moment, I am developing, producing and starring in a TV series with Blur To Focus Productions called Eco Warrior. The show is solution-oriented and addresses some of the hottest environmental issues. Because we’re still in development, I can’t divulge too much, but I can say that Eco Warrior is a cutting-edge environmental reality show, featuring celebrity guests and unscripted confrontational journalism, designed to entertain and educate.
Wow, you’re really working! I can tell you’re serious about your craft, but you’re also smart enough to know there’s more to acting than just craft. There’s business (eesh). Whose career do you admire? Is there any one actor whose career path you respect and/or would like to emulate?
Ian McKellen. Hands down. First off, he’s a Shakespearean-trained actor—I highly respect any actor that has the discipline and talent to conquer that. And it seems that anything he touches turns to gold (referring to his acting that is). He is just really passionate and his presence rocks the world! I could only ever hope to be a fraction of what he is. He truly inspires me and motivates me to follow my own passions and always give 110%.
Okay, let’s do a fun question: What you would consider to be your perfect weekend?
[Laughs] Well, to have a perfect weekend would imply that I had a perfect week—and that would consist of a full week of paid acting work! So, the perfect weekend to me would be dressing up in medieval garb and embarking on some adventure, like a scavenger hunt, in the mountains with family and friends.
You’re a rising, hard-working actress. What’s a “normal” day for you?
Well, I wake up and meditate. Then, depending on how late or early I got to sleep, have tea or coffee and figure out my game plan for the day—do any necessary correspondence, e-mails, acting submissions, etc. Then I usually have meetings with producers, directors, editors or whomever I’m working with at the time. Right now, it is my Eco Warrior producing partner Anton Kozikowski [CEO of Blur To Focus Productions]. Then, I do research, write, rehearse, edit or shoot, depending on the current project. That usually goes late. Then, depending on how late that all goes, I do any necessary correspondence, try to read either research or scripts and usually pass out before I’m ready to.
Wow, you do work hard. Thanks so much for talking with me, Cyd. Is there anything you want to touch on that we didn’t cover?
I think we covered a quite a bit, but maybe we could just remind our audience how precious life is and that it is important to live each day with gratitude and approach every situation with enthusiasm!
Well said. Finally, Cydne, I have to ask…what’s a nice, centered girl like you doing in a crazy place like Hollywood?
[Laughs] That’s almost a loaded question! I guess to make it simple, this is where the most opportunities are for an actor/producer like myself.
Living the dream…