One of the reasons for the success of the film is the work of lead actress Tasha Guevara who plays Melissa in the short.
Born in Trinidad and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Tasha has been carving out her own path in the entertainment industry. Not only is she an actor, but she’s also a very successful DJ as well as a model.
We had a chance to talk with the multi-talented Tasha Guevara about the film Reklaw, working with legendary actor Lance Henriksen and what it means to her to be a working actor.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you talk a little bit about how you became involved with this project?
Tasha Guevara – This all went through my agent. I was in Tunisia at the time for work as a DJ. My friend who is also from Tunisia and works for the BBC and is a producer helped me with the audition. We had scenes, we had locations and costume changes and we had fun with it. I didn’t think I would get the role because I was so far away. I actually auditioned for two roles and it was just a lot of fun. When I got the call that I got the role, I was really excited. It was a nice welcome home because I was on my way home at the time.
Tasha Guevara – This movie is out there, and I mean that in a good way. Personally, I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s a short and it’s hard to build your backstory when there isn’t that much information. The film is all about helping people and my character Melissa is a bit crazy. She roofies herself and brings her lover back to her house? Who does that?
Pop Culture Principle – What kind of discussions, if any, did you have with the director Polaris Banks about your character?
Tasha Guevara – Well, I spoke with Polaris a couple of times to get a feel of what the character might be about. He was very engaging and wanted to see what I would do with the character. He gave me some direction, but he really left it up to me to see what I would do with the character. As an actor, you try to bring a piece of yourself to any role you do, and this was a hard one. There really wasn’t anything that I had in common with this character except for when she felt the fear and confusion of what had happened to her.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us what it was like to work with director Polaris Banks?
Tasha Guevara – Working with Polaris was great. There were certain things that he would want specifically, but he was very understanding. When we arrived, the set was still being worked on and he tried his best to make us as comfortable as we possibly could be. He was very collaborative. He knew what he wanted, but he wasn’t tough about it.
He was very calming on set. I never felt that I wasn’t giving him what he wanted and if there was something more that he wanted, he knew how to speak to us. Sometimes a director will come in with an attitude and everyone is supposed to fear them because they are famous, or they had that one film that got a lot of attention and that just shuts you down as an artist because they are not giving you a chance to play. That is how I approach acting; it is play for me. It’s fun for me to play these different characters and I try not to take myself to seriously because I am very grateful for the opportunity to do that. So, to be able to work with someone who is on the same page was very cool.
Pop Culture Principle – The film stars acting legend Lance Henriksen. Can you talk about what it was like working with him and did you get to pick his brain about the business?
Tasha Guevara – Let me tell you, first of all, I don’t get starstruck, but I’ve watched this man since I was young. It was always his voice. He has an amazing voice. I remember, right before I arrived to shoot the film, I had watched his movie Hard Target with Jean Claude Van Damme and I was hoping that he would be cool. This man was amazing. He was humble, kind and had the most terrific stories about his career and all he went through when he was a struggling actor up until his bigger roles. He was always helpful to us.
You never felt that you were in the room with someone who was famous. The minute that camera came on, he was on. As soon as the scene cut, he was this great guy again. We didn’t want him to go. It was just so cool to be around him. He always gave all of us support. I adore him and I think he is fantastic. He said to me that I was a good actress and to keep going and to get a statement like that from someone who has been in the business that long was amazing.
Pop Culture Principle – We read that all of the cast, including Lance Henriksen, shared an Airbnb? Did that help the cast get to know each other and gel even more?
Tasha Guevara – Yes! They had a private space for him and then we thought how cool it would be if he stayed with us, but we were nervous to ask. I ended up asking him if he would stay with us and he said yes. We drank wine, we watched vintage war movies and we watched one of his recent films Gone Are The Days. At the end, he gave all of us a bottle of wine that he signed, and I still have the bottle of wine.
When you meet someone who you respect and who has been in the business that long and was so giving about the business and work, it just makes you respect them even more. He even does amazing pottery. I have always been a fan of his and I was just glowing being around him.
Pop Culture Principle – Your character has some very emotionally charged moments in Reklaw. As an actor, how are you able to pull off these tough and emotional scenes?
Tasha Guevara – Honestly, I zone out and in my mind, I’m not seeing cameras or hearing anyone. I am that person at that moment. Let’s take my character Melissa for example. She wakes up with a dead man in her house and there is blood everywhere and now there are these strange people in her house all dressed alike. That is enough to send anyone over the deep end. Not to mention that she has a lot of guilt about the situation. I was thinking, if I were in a situation like that, I would be a hot mess.
You have to learn how to pull yourself back. My trick is, the moment they yell cut, I know it sounds crazy, but I just snap out of it. If it is a scene that was really intense, I ask for a moment to go off by myself and take a moment. In order to give a performance that is real will come across the screen as real, you have to go to that dark place.
Pop Culture Principle – The film is getting a lot of positive and rave reviews. How does it feel to be a part of a project that is so different, yet is connecting with critics and audiences?
Tasha Guevara – It is amazing! I am excited and I am grateful beyond means. Like I said, for me it’s play so I never go into it thinking I’m going to get reviews, so to have this attention for this project, I feel very blessed. I hope this project leads to more work for all of us. I mean, we are living in a time right now where you just don’t know. I love to work. I enjoy it and I love the fact that I am able to do what I love to do and make a living doing it. I can only say that I am humbled, grateful and so happy for everyone involved.
Pop Culture Principle – In a recent interview, director Polaris Banks was talking about making Reklaw into a feature length film. Can you see that happening and would you want to be a part of it if possible?
Tasha Guevara – You know, I told Polaris that Melissa better make a comeback if it becomes a feature length film! 😊
Pop Culture Principle – What message, if any, would you like the viewer to take away from Reklaw after watching the film?
Tasha Guevara – I don’t know if there is a message, but I guess what I really want people to take away from this film is just that I hope they like it and I hope they enjoyed it and thank you for watching. You really didn’t know what to expect with the pandemic now and the fact that the film is getting attention and some great reviews is just amazing. There are some great films in the SXSW festival and the fact that we are in the conversation is truly amazing.
Pop Culture Principle – For you, what does it mean to be an actor?
Tasha Guevara – When I think of myself as an actor, I don’t have a method. I’ve never really studied acting. I mean, I’ve taken some classes here and there, but nothing serious. I pull from studying people and watching people and also from my experiences as a teacher and working as a case worker for many years. Also, from watching television as a kid and wanting to be these characters. People think acting is glamorous and it can be, but it’s a lot of work.
A huge thank you to Tasha Guevara for taking the time to talk with us about her new film Reklaw! If you would like to keep up with all her latest news and projects, you can visit her official website for all the information and her social media platforms. You can visit her official site here.
**Main photo courtesy of John Walder**
**Reklaw stills courtesy of Polaris Banks**