Charlene Amoia – Her Own One Woman Show
By Bridget Brady
Bubbly, busy and beautiful, Charlene Amoia shares her thoughts on acting, humanitarianism, getting older in a youth-obsessed industry, and even tells us about her one-eyed dog. A hard lady to get a hold of, we finally catch up while she’s in her car between auditions; proving that even over her blue-tooth headset, her charm can survive L.A. traffic.
We'll dive right in! What is your favorite part about playing Wendy the waitress on How I Met Your Mother?
Everybody’s having a good time, so it feels like home. Whenever I come back to do another episode, the director will say, “Welcome home,” and it really kind of just has that vibe.
Obviously, I'm catching you between appointments. What else do you have in the works?
I started recurring on ABC Family's Switched at Birth. I've done two episodes of that show, so that's pretty exciting. I'm looking forward to coming back again, and I just found out I got cast in a Lifetime pilot called HR with Alicia Silverstone, and that looks like it's a recurring role as well. I actually go out to film that this weekend in Atlanta, so those are the most exciting things I've got going on right now.
So what is your big dream? If you could wave a magic wand and have the career of your dreams, what would that look like?
I like the stability of being on a show. I think I would be on a show for several years and do movies on my hiatuses. I love movies, and if I could have a great movie career, I definitely would do that as well. But you know, from one movie to the next there's definitely a lot of downtime and waiting, so I think starting out I'd like to just book my own show, and then launch that into a movie career.
The acting industry and the entire entertainment industry can be very difficult. Have you ever wanted to quit and do something else? And why haven’t you?
I think that there's so much disappointment in this career, and there's just time that I've felt defeated, but I've never really wanted to quit because it's my passion, and during those times often I'll do a play or get back into class or something because acting is just a fueling for me. I love doing it more than anything else, so I guess I wouldn't really consider quitting unless I wasn't making enough money to sustain myself, and I haven't had that happen. I've definitely been disappointed . . . but I've been able to maintain this life without having to get another job, so I take that as a sign to stay in it, you know?
I like that. RevUp Ezine is definitely very supportive of the industry and the arts, so I would love to know what has worked for you to support and build your career. What are some of the tricks you have up your sleeve, or in your pocket; people or things that support you?
I definitely I spend a lot of time in nature. I try to get away from all of the business part of it. I just moved a little closer to the beach, so I run on the beach and spend time very close to nature as much as possible, and that really grounds me, and I think that's sort of a spiritual practice. I meditate and I also do yoga, but for me, getting out of work and into nature is the most extreme grounding force and supportive force that I have.
You touched on this, and I'm sure our readers would love to know how you stay so beautiful and in shape. What's your ritual? What's your routine?
Thank you for saying that. You know, that's interesting because you never really have that kind of image about yourself. I appreciate it. I work out regularly, and I do it mostly because there's a lot of instability in this career. The workout for me is something very consistent, and it's also really good for my mind. I think the physical aspect has been a side benefit of it, but the workout is also part of the spiritual experience that we were talking about. In addition to that, I do eat very healthy and drink a lot of water. I don't drink alcohol very much or do any drugs, so I think that makes a big difference for my skin. I really feel like you can tell when you're not eating badly or drinking too much—your skin just glows a little bit more.
Any industry tips for your fellow actors?
My experience of auditioning the first few years, with not a lot of successes, one little trick for me was just a mind shift really. Going into the audition room, I treat it now not as an opportunity to get a job so much as an opportunity to share an experience the way I would doing a play. So it's basically a one-show play for me, and I'm not looking for approval or looking for somebody else’s opinion. It's more like, “This is my take on this role and this story, and I'm sharing this story” and I think shifting from “Please give me this job” to “I'm doing a performance for you.” When I leave it's just like having done a show. It's made it a lot more fun. I know a lot of actors who don't like auditioning, but I think maybe because I’ve done that, I actually feel fulfilled to some extent just from auditioning.
I love that! All right . . . so if you absolutely had to pick another career, what would you do with your life?
I would definitely do humanitarian work. It's something I try to do a little of when I have the time now, but I want to expand into doing more of it. I love the stuff that Angelina Jolie has done, and I think that's really commendable. But more than anything, I just don't think there's a better feeling than when you actually give or help somebody else. I feel like that's the gift that you get, and you hear people say that, but when you do it and you experience it, it's like it's more pleasurable than anything else really. So that is what I would do full time, and hopefully I'll be able to combine that with my career as much as possible too.
Do you have a favorite philanthropic organization or political/social cause that you're really passionate about?
I've worked recently doing some reading for the blind and dyslexic. I've done Food on Foot, which is feeding the homeless and a great organization for women. There's an organization called Linens for Women International that really helps women, and I find that to be a really legitimate organization. I became aware of it because I saw a program on 60 Minutes.
Dream film or television job, who would is the co-star and director you’re dying to work with?
I would love to work with Woody Allen. That would be incredible and amazing. I don't feel like I get starstruck, but it would be like, “Whoa, yeah!” I've also been a fan of Johnny Depp since I was a little girl, so it would probably be him.
Do you have any odd talents? Is there anything that you do that's a little out of the box?
I can make funny noises. Kids like it at birthday parties.
So you're a big hit at birthday parties, and you could always use those skills for voice-overs, right?
That's true actually; I do a lot of voice-over work. I hadn't even thought of that, so maybe that's true.
You’ve monetized your strange skill. That's awesome! So what's the worst reaction that you’ve personally had to being rejected from a role?
You know, it's interesting because I feel like it had to do more with my agent experience in this business. But I was up for a job. It was a huge commercial campaign that really would have made a lot of money. It was for a bank, and I had a credit-union commercial already running. They wanted to make sure it was okay to do both, and in the time that they were trying to get in touch with them, they got a backup actress just in case I wasn’t allowed to do it and hired the other actress. The next morning, the bank said it was fine, but I’d already lost the job. I was in bed for three days. But it was very early in my career, and I think that was it, because I definitely had bigger disappointments. I tested for the lead of a pilot and that would have completely changed my life, but I think I had been in this business long enough at that point to not allow myself to lie in bed for three days and just think that was the end of my career.
Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals that you do either before an audition or before shooting?
I'm not superstitious, and I don’t do anything for an audition other than prepare as much as I can, like put it up as if I was putting up a play. I spend hours working on it as soon as I get it. I really spend the whole night. A lot of people could probably work a couple of hours; I really just keep investigating and keep working. Then I treat myself. I will usually go to the spa and get myself a massage and a scrub and all that fun stuff, and sometimes I'll make a lot of soup and I'll do a little bit of a soup cleanse. Pure veggie soup and puree it. It's really good for the skin, so sometimes I'll do that if I have time.
I like it, celebrating your win, treating yourself inside and out. What is your greatest challenge in the industry, or what do you struggle with the most?
I think my one struggle with auditioning is when I have to memorize like 10 pages for the next day. Some people memorize very quickly, and I don't feel like I'm one of those people, and that's a struggle for me. That's why I work really hard. I can be a little bit obsessive in it, where I would spend so much time on the material just going over it and over it. And let’s see . . . I think that aging in this business as a woman is just scary because there are all those things about, “If you don't make it by time you’re 25” or something like that, you know it's just ingrained. I don't find it to be true; I see a lot of women working in their 30s, and I just read an article where someone said they made it when they were 40. It's not the same as men. With men I don't feel like there is a timeline. So there is that, that kind of undercurrent that you think about.
We know what you're good at . . . what are you terrible at?
I'm not a great speller, but it doesn't really matter because there's spell check on our phones now, but I feel like I was just never a good speller. When I was younger I was shy to read in front of people, and luckily, somehow I grew out of it.
We talked about your dream of having your own show and doing films when you’re on hiatus. Do you have a dream or desire to be uber, uber famous like Angelina Jolie, like “you can't go to the grocery store” famous?
No, I think that's more of a hindrance. Obviously I went into this career and that may happen, and you know a lot of people want that. I would prefer to be a working actor where people in the business know me so I could work forever. But you know, when you become this superstar like that, your life changes so much and you don’t get to live like a normal person anymore, and that's not fun. I don't do it for the attention; I do it because I really love what I do. Maybe for other people that would be fun for a while, but I think not to be able to walk out your door and go walking on the beach or go to the grocery store, I think that would be extremely uncomfortable actually.
What would you consider your greatest accomplishment in the industry to date?
I don't think I'm alone in this, but I've been told that I'm not pretty enough or not whatever enough. I think we're all told that, but I think the fact that I don't take that in. I think the biggest accomplishment honestly is when I hear no's for any reason, it really pushes me to find a side way in or a side door; okay, this person is blocking the door here, but I know there's another way. I really feel that completely and fully, I know that there's another way. Just because whoever it is that's telling me no, it's that person or that group's opinion, but that doesn't really mean anything. I think all these years, that has given me continual success, where I think with some people it would just discourage them.
Let’s get a little personal . . . Do you have a boyfriend? Can you give us a snippet of your personal life?
Sure. I currently have a boyfriend. We just moved in together, and it's someone who I am crazy about. I actually have never wanted to get married, and you know, things with him were just a little bit different and felt much more magical, and not that I'm jumping in that direction, but I'm very happy. And actually, we’re starting to work together —he writes. We just did a little project of our own because we have a one-eyed dog at home, and it's about the impact of rescuing animals. If anybody wants to watch it, it's on my website under the producing link. It's a really cute story about a woman who's depressed and can't really leave her house and runs into this one-eyed dog that follows her home and kind of changes her life and reminds her of love.
Is there anything that we haven’t covered, or anything that you would like to add?
I just completed a website, and if anybody wants to find out anything else about me, you can find it at CharleneAmoia.net. You can catch up with what I'm doing and see some of my reels and stuff like that. It's kind of a one-stop shop.
We finished our chat just as Charlene was pulling into the parking lot of her next audition. Far more than “pretty enough,” doing her own little one-woman show, and not willing to be bothered by no’s. I’m sure she nailed it!