Cali T. Rossen is an incredible woman and amazing actress that I have been fortunate enough to know since 2001. I recently asked Cali (formerly known as Carrie Rossen) to do an interview with me about her acting experience, Hollywood and her life in general. Cali opened up more than I could have asked for, letting fans and other readers into her world of love and light.
Candy Cain : How long have you been acting?
Cali Rossen: Since the mid 90’s when I was discovered by a casting director, CJ from Shirley Abrams casting while cleaning her teeth. I’m a Registered Dental Hygienist, and extremely grateful for this “survival job” until I become a “professional actress”. I remembered really loving performing in high school as a dancer on the drill team at half time shows & shot several commercials for a local dental office. When CJ introduced me to my first agent Tommy @ Marquee Talent in Dallas I was off & running. In 1996 I was hit from behind in my car, and because of two ribs popping out all the time & 2 bulging discs C5 & C6 I was unable to work as a dental hygienist for quite some time, so I registered for art & theatre classes at University of N. Texas & took improv classes at The Actor’s Place, and did showcases at Pazzomente in Deep Ellum. Then in 2001 I made the move to Los Angeles while shooting a pilot, “TheActor’s Reel World”.
CC : You were hit by a car? Please tell me they got the driver!
CR: It wasn’t really his fault, as it was raining quite heavily. . .and I believe it to be an act of God. His insurance paid for most of my medical expenses, and I was out of pocket $3000.00 & had chronic pain for over 10 years. While rehearsing for the play, The Man Who Came to Dinner in 2007, I discover the man who was cast as my father in the play, David Neff, is a chiropractor. So one night after rehearsal my rib was giving me terrible pain & David asks if I would like an adjustment. I say Yes, and right then & there on the floor of the library, David puts his fist on the floor & rolls me back onto it. . .and VOILA! My rib was adjusted into it’s rightful place & has stayed there ever since & my chronic pain has gone away. Praise God!!!! The play was performed at the Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church. . .there are no accidents. If that car accident had not caused me so much pain & prevented me from practicing as a dental hygienist, I’m not sure I would have pursued a career as an actress. I tried to be a house wife, but only after 2 weeks of shopping & having luncheons with girlfriends I went absolutely stir crazy. My husband suggested I enroll in classes at the University & discover my passion. . .which is exactly what happened.
CC : Many people think that being a “successful actor” is the same as being a famous celebrity. You and I both know that isn’t the case. What is your definition of being a successful actor?
CR: My definition of a “successful actor”, is one who takes on a character to such depth they become the role, and the audience is moved, touched & inspired by the performance. It’s been quite a journey, and it seems it’s just the beginning. . .and I’m looking forward to the day I become a “professional actress”, which is one who makes a living at as an actor.
CC : What is the worst job you ever took on your journey to your success?
CR: The worst job does not come to my mind, but I can think of the worst audition on my journey. . .it was for the role of a super heroine, and when I arrived there were many other girls walking around, so I felt comfortable. Then I was asked to put on this outfit, which consisted of a fur coat, a v-shaped metal bikini bottom held on by string, and thigh high boots. Once I put the costume on I was asked to hold a rifle & do some poses. . .I had skin colored panties on, and was asked if I would remove them. . .so I went back into the room & removed them. . .then after I returned I was again asked to do some poses. . .and realized this person could see “everything”. . .and I said, “sorry I’m not comfortable” and ran back and put my panties back on. . .but getting them on and off over the thigh high boots and such. . .if there was a video taping all this. . .they sure did get an eye full. God I hope NOT!!!! Hahahahahaa!! The casting person supposedly from XYZ Studio taking pix of me during the audition was a fashion designer (he mentioned that the 5 or so manikins were dressed with his current creations), and gave me a tour of his Hollywood home, pointing out over the pool that Brad Pitt’s home was there in the distance. I remember him having a huge collection of large sea shells and I mentioned that I too loved shells. As I departed his home he picked up this magnificent shell & gave it to me. That shell sits in my side garden as a reminder to stop for a moment and evaluate the situation before diving in to an action that could potentially be harmful.
CC : Well, gee, Cali… I never pegged you for a metal-thong-wearing super heroine, but you’re a pretty versatile actress. Speaking of versatility, you played Ensign Juvenia on “Star Trek New Voyages”, which seemed to be a pretty far stretch for an actress. What was that experience like?
CR : Playing the role of a super heroine is one of my dreams. . .that’s the closest I’ve come to playing one so far. Neil Gaiman, where ever you are. . .hear my call!!! Congratulations to Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer on their wedded bliss! (They were married Jan. 3, 2011) The episode is titled, “Star Trek New Voyages: World Enough & Time”…it won a TV Guide award & was nominated for a Nebula Award. The story was written for the original Star Trek series 30 years prior, but the show was cancelled. It’s incredible that the character Sulu, played by George Takei was written to age 30 years in the episode, and 30 years later he signed on to play the role. George is one of the most genuine & kind actors I’ve ever had the delight to work with. My experience playing Ensign Juvenia felt like an out of body experience. . .the character had a life of her own and she was on a mission to keep the gravity of the crew and Enterprise intact. We shot that scene on the 10th & last day of shooting at 5:30am. . .I had been on the set from 10am to approx. 5 to 6am for a total of 10 days straight. I still had to go back to the house we were staying at & make sure all was put back the way it was, and depart for the airport at 8am.
CC : Aside from appearing as a receptionist on the short-lived series “Baby Bob” with yours truly, what is the best project that you have ever worked on?
CR : Yeah know, I never saw that episode of “Baby Bob”, but remember the day we shot it quite fondly because that’s where we met. That was the day I met Gary Coleman too, rest his soul. I have been so lucky to work on so many wonderful projects, but the best project I have worked on is tv comedy pilot, “The Hollywood Quad”, guest starring Bryan Cranston. I had loads of fun, grew so much as an actor & we’re still hoping the show get’s picked up. You can view the entire episode on imdb.
CC : I was fortunate enough to work with Bryan Cranston on” Malcolm in the Middle”. He’s a terrific guy. Bryan and myself aside, who is the best actor that you have worked with on-screen?
CR : The best actor I’ve been lucky enough to work with on-screen is Multi-Award winning actor, Edward Asner in “The Sand Castle”. Ed plays my father in this touching tale of letting go of emotions, people & things. Ed is such a talent & extremely generous, and I’m thankful for the time he gave us. My husband Chris & I executive produced the short film.
CC : What is the biggest struggle that you have faced in Hollywood?
CR : The biggest struggle that I have faced in Hollywood is with my inner SELF. . .getting out of my way. I struggle with letting go of frustration. I struggle with the “image” of where I think I should be by now. . .that image is of me being on the cover of Vogue & Vanity Fair with an interview inside covering my leading role in an Oscar nominated film.
CC : A lot of parents are terrified that their child is going to end up pursuing a job as an actor. Who does your support system consist of?
CR : I think if I was a child pursuing an acting career my parents would be terrified, but I began my pursuit after college, a career as a dental hygienist and being married for a couple of years. My support system is my entire family, including my husband’s side and many, many friends, fellow actors and colleagues in the entertainment business. If I was the only one who thought I had talent. . .I would have given up a long time ago. My family, friends and colleagues are extraordinary. . .and I thank each and everyone of you for your love and support!
CC : Do you have any advice for people that would like to pursue a career as an actor?
CR : My advice for people who would like to pursue an acting career is. . .P U R S U E * Y O U R * D R E A M S. . .and never, never, never, EVER give up!!! The best advice I’ve ever received is from my friend/mentor Willy Boroski. . .he once asked me, “What’s the difference between some who makes it, and someone who doesn’t?” I replied, “I don’t know”. . .his answer still rings in my mind: “One gave up & the other didn’t.” Oooh, and an Elvis Presley quote: “If you let your head get too big, it’ll break your neck.”
CC : Let’s do some favorite facts. Favorite movie?
CR : Hmmm, can’t just pick one: “Rain Maker”, with Burt Lancaster & Katherine Hepburn, “Tommy Boy” with Chris Farley, and “Black”, a Bollywood FIlm, with Amitabh Bachchan & Rani Mukherjee . These films depict HOPE in profoundly different ways.
CC : I think you may be the only person in the world who says that “Tommy Boy” depicts hope. Favorite food?
CR : Yummy & flavor filled food. . .I listen to my body to see what it hankers for.
CC : If I listened to what my body hankered for, I’d live on moon pies and RC Cola. Favorite color?
CR : Sk y blue around 3:00pm on a sunny day.
CC : Favorite TV show?
CR : Currently addicted to “Entourage”, get a kick out of “Two and a Half Men”, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, “Seinfeld” and loved “Dharma & Greg”.
CC : Favorite actor?
CR : Not necessarily in this order: Annette Bening, Judi Dench, Rachel Weisz, Jennifer Connolly, Julienne Moore, Meryl Streep, Tilda Swinton, Ashley Judd, Sandra Bullock, Drew Barrymore, Jody Foster , Anne Hathaway , Natalie Portman , Patricia Heaton, Debbie Reynolds, Audrey Hepburn, Katherine Hepburn, Veronica Lake, Peter Faulk, David Paymer, Bryan Cranston, George Takei, Ed Asner, Shia LaBeouf, Matt Damon, Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford , Michael Douglas , John Wayne, Clint Eastwood , Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Rock Hudson…
CC : Favorite author?
CR : CS Lewis, Charlotte Bronte, Judy Blume, Louisa May Alcott, Maya Angelou, Jane Austen, Don Miguel Ruiz, Neale Donald Walsh, William P. Young, Deepak Chopra, Shakespeare and Mark Twain.
CC : Favorite song?
CR : ” You Are My Sunshine” and “All You Need Is Love”.
You can learn more about Cali T. Rossen on her official website.