Sometimes in Hollywood, you can’t wait for opportunities to present themselves; you need to make things happen on your own. That is exactly what actor, writer and producer Christina Wren has done. With her husband Demetrius Wren, they formed the production company Two Kids with a Camera.
Together, they have produced several documentaries, shorts and webseries and continue to bring their own vision to life on camera. Their most recent project, LUSA is a science fiction webseries that follows a female warrior who is in exile and must take an epic journey in order to prevent a civil war.
Christina is definitely carving out her own space in Hollywood as well. She’s appeared in the critically acclaimed Crackle series Sequestered and will reprise her role as Carrie Farris in the upcoming feature film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. She will also be seen in the upcoming comedy Discount Fitness opposite Damon Wayans, Jr.
Today, we sit down with Christina to talk about how she decided to become an actor, how Two Kids with a Camera began and what advice she would give to upcoming actors and producers.
Pop Culture Principle – What put you on your path to become an actor and be in show business?
Christina Wren – I started doing children’s theater when I was about eight years old and I just loved it. I remember when I was around six, the first show I ever saw was a high school production of Godspell and I thought it was so cool. I was so jealous of the kids on stage and thought it was the coolest thing ever but thought little kids didn’t get to do that.
The next year, I saw a kid’s production of Godspell and I remember holding onto the seat to keep myself down because I really wanted to run up on stage and be with them even though I didn’t know what they were doing. Thankfully, my mom noticed and after the show she asked me if I wanted to do that next year and I got to be a part of a children’s theater program.
I didn’t think of acting as a career option ever. When I grew up in Pittsburgh, there was no film industry there at all and it seemed really far away. I had only been to New York once when I was 16, so I didn’t grow up seeing a lot of Broadway shows and again, it just seemed so far away and such a lofty goal. I eventually got into a summer program called the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts and that was where I started to realize I could do this in a more serious way.
My mom came into my room one night when I was gearing up to apply for colleges and she said told me she thought I had a gift and that I shouldn’t bury my talents. It seemed that acting was the only thing that was sticking, other things were coming and going, but acting was always a constant. So, I started applying to school to be a drama major and that’s how it happened.
Pop Culture Principle – What made you and your husband Demetrius Wren decide to start your own production company called Two Kids with a Camera?
Christina Wren – At the time it was somewhat just practicality. We had made a documentary together and we had done work together for other companies. We had some clients who wanted to work for us, but they needed to pay a company and not just individuals. So, we started an LLC and the first year it was one or two gigs on the side, but we were able to grow over time due to word of mouth.
Pop Culture Principle – You recently premiered your new indie web series LUSA. Can you tell us how you came up with the idea for the series?
Christina Wren – A little over a year ago, we were talking about the vision for our company. We had sort of organically grown and jobs had come our way. We were somewhat taking whatever came our way, but not feeling like there was a specific Two Kids with a Camera brand. We decided to step back and thought about what we wanted to make and what did we want to be known for.
If we are talking all of our favorite films and our dream jobs, what would that be? We realized some of our favorite films were Children of Men, The Matrix and Elysium. We loved dark, gritty, futuristic, science fiction types of projects. We looked at our body of work and had nothing remotely like that so why would anyone trust us to make such a thing?
So, we were on a road trip shortly after and I pulled out my laptop and we had six hours in the car and dreamed up something that we could pull off. It was also sort of a test for us to see if we could do it and would we do an ok job.
We packed up a bunch of friends in a car, got a permit for Joshua Tree and went and did some filming. It was a pretty low key thing as far as our process went. Demetrius did all the post production, figured out how to make spaceships and alien creatures and he also wrote the music. It was all in house which was a lot of fun.
Pop Culture Principle – You also helped create the webseries Half Sisters. Can you tell us about that project?
Christina Wren – Half Sisters I co-wrote with two women that I was in an improv class with at the time. We decided we wanted to make something together, so we wrote it and Demetrius came in and directed it. He added the visual style, the music and the more whimsical qualities that I think it really needed. It was a pretty collaborative process once we had the script, we started bringing him in. He led the visual style and took us through the journey which was great.
It’s so funny, when you do comedy, it’s so hard to tell if something will be funny to other people or will it just be weird and not funny. So, it’s nice to hear when people like something that you do and think it’s funny.
Pop Culture Principle – You played Major Carrie Farris in the big budget film Man of Steel. What was your experience like with that film?
Christina Wren – It was amazing! It was such a dream come true for me in so many ways. I grew up being obsessed with the Christopher Reeves’ movies and my brother and I would play Superman all the time. My mom would sing the theme song and we would run around the backyard with towels pinned to our shirts as capes. It was really surreal in sort of this childhood dreams coming to life kind of way.
Also, they were such great people and a great team. Zack couldn’t be a more wonderful director. He’s so warm and creates such a pleasant environment to work in. He’s great with his actors and his crew is made up largely of a group of people he’s worked with on the majority of his films-some of whom he even went to college with.
There is such a tightknit, family vibe and I think that energy of his trickles down. It was a lovely environment to work in, really fun and really collaborative. They are such creative people and I think that for a first experience, it was a dream. On the one hand, I couldn’t believe it because it was such a huge set, but also it was such a warm environment that I felt very welcomed.
Pop Culture Principle – You will also revisit that character in the upcoming film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. What can you tell us about this new project?
Christina Wren – Yes, my character comes back which is awesome and I am very happy about that. I was saying to my husband the other day, I feel they are really bringing together the Justice League of filmmakers. Zack is obviously amazing, especially when it comes to action and doing beautiful sequences and adventure.
You are bringing in Chris Terrio who is an amazing writer and storyteller and you also have Larry Fong who is an incredible cinematographer, just to name a few. It really does feel like you are bringing in the best of the best to collaborate on this as far as their areas of expertise. It’s just going to be awesome and I think it will live up to the hype.
Pop Culture Principle – Your character’s name Carrie Ferris is very similar to Green Lantern’s love interest Carol Ferris who becomes Star Sapphire. Is there a possibility that you may play Star Sapphire in the future?
Christina Wren – I would love to play Star Sapphire, but I have no idea if it would happen and no one has said anything to me about it.
Pop Culture Principle – You also starred in the Crackle webseries Sequestered starring Patrick Warburton, Dina Myer and Summer Glau. What was your experience like working on that project?
Christina Wren – That was such a neat one and I really enjoyed being part of that project. They did a great job with the mystery and bringing in some intense elements, but keeping it focused on the story. I enjoyed working with the directors and the other people in the cast. It was also my first time playing a mom which was pretty cool. It was a great experience and such a neat piece in the end.
Pop Culture Principle – You’ve worked on big budget and low budget projects. Besides the obvious, what are the major differences?
Christina Wren – I think the way it translates for an actor is really the amount of involvement I have. On Man Of Steel or the new Batman v Superman film, I’m just an actor and they just bring me in when they need me. I have a stand-in, I have places to be when I’m not working, so it’s very focused on my just being there to do my job.
When I am doing work on our projects, sometimes I am wearing multiple hats. I might be moving equipment and then looking at the script and talking to one of the actors and then talking to Demetrius about the shot and then playing my role in the project while simultaneously putting tattoos or make-up on people.
When it’s not my own project, but still a pretty low budget indie, I still tend to be somewhat involved. That may be because I’ve worked a lot with people that I already know and they are aware that I do work in production. I find that it ends up being a little more collaborative where we are all wearing multiple hats.
Pop Culture Principle – What do you think has been some of the biggest changes in the film and television industry in the last decade?
Christina Wren – Technology is the biggest thing and I think the reason that technology has changed so much is that it simultaneously has opened the doors for pretty much anyone to be a filmmaker because you can make a film off your phone and your laptop, so it has completely democratized the film industry.
On the flip side of that, it has simultaneously oversaturated the industry so we get content all the time from everywhere and it can be really hard to get your work to stand out and build an audience. Younger audiences in particular don’t really differentiate much anymore. They can view a Youtube video of someone falling off a bike, a reality television program and a movie all from their telephones and kind of see it as the same as far as value goes. I really think that the line is becoming a bit blurry.
It also has allowed little film industries to grow all over the place and not just in Los Angeles. It has opened doors elsewhere while at the same time, some people in Los Angeles are having a harder time finding the kind of consistent work like they once did. It’s an interesting thing to watch doors be opened and closed and I am interested to see how that shakes out.
Also, a lot of the Youtube channels that were independent are now being bought by major production companies and distribution companies and again, those lines are being blurred where the internet is now becoming kind of the new network television. Indie festivals are now a place where Hollywood directors are premiering films that aren’t big blockbuster films and aren’t necessarily as homemade as they once were.
So, I think it’s probably just about how you build and audience and build opportunities in a landscape where there are so many because it can be a double edge sword.
Pop Culture Principle – What advice would you give to upcoming actors and producers?
Christina Wren – Yea, I think it’s twofold. My first bit of advice would be to start making your own projects because you can from anywhere. Just get some friends together and start making something with what you have. I think a big mistake a lot of people make is to say you don’t have the money or the right type of equipment. Just go make something with your friends and your phone even, and learn about the process. Find out if you actually love this and want to do it and also work out the kinks on lower profile projects.
If it then moves into a professional arena, really know that this is what you want to do. I don’t think it’s enough to just say it would be cool to be an actor. It’s an incredibly challenging industry and kind of life to pull off. If it’s not what you feel you have to do or what you are meant for, I would say there are other ways to be involved in creative communities. If you truly feel that acting professionally is for you, then go for it. Go train, learn and build relationships and build your network.
We would like to thank Christina Wren for taking time from her schedule to talk with us. You can keep up to date with all of Christina’s latest news and projects by visiting her official website here. You can also learn more about her production company Two Kids with a Camera and their latest projects here. Also, you can follow Christina on Twitter @ChristinaSWren and on Instagram @christinawren.
**All photos provided courtesy of Christina Wren and Christinawren.com**