Actress Courtney Baxter (20), grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and joined SAG and AFTRA at the tender and impressionable age of 11. She found her passion after a fifth grade play. She’s the youngest of four kids. Currently, she attends PACE University in New York City as a double major in Film Studies and Economics. She’s taking Economics because her Professor Shostya made her fall in love with it. She’s a really proactive, smart young woman, and if you don’t mind my bragging I learned a little about Economics too through our conversation. Specifically, what I learned it was about a course she took called “Green Economics” for which she did a project on Waste Management in New York. She says what she found was “baffling”. It breaks down how much trash we’ve generated, what we recycle, where it goes, and how it can be reduced. Did I already say she is really smart?
In traditional Cake Girl fashion, our features get dolled up for the occasion. This time, we teamed up with Angelo David Salon and the following brands (Level 99, Milk the Goat, Slater Zorn) to make this feature as special as the others.
On Donny Brook, and the pre-production
So right now, we still have a couple of people that we’re casting. It’s been nice for me. I don’t have to do the paperwork and a lot of the groundwork on this, in which was I very lucky because I’m a co-producer. My job is just more to make connections, introduce people to other people. Kind of help how to best promote the film, and all that sort of stuff and I’m also acting in it. I’m the lead character’s love interest. “It’s pretty fun. It’s cool because it’s a very male-dominated cast and I kind of have this unique badass female character which I‘m very excited about. It’s going wonderfuland right now, we’re looking at going and shooting in mid-November. We’re going to shoot in New York. Some in Philadelphia, and I think we’re going to make a pretty cool film. It’s nice, because it’s something that I’ve never done before. The kind of one-line, plot line. Our lead character Franny comes home from the war in Iraq. He lives in a very poor neighborhood in Queens, and it’s gang-ridden. I It’s a struggle when he gets back to try to keep on the straight and narrow and not get involved with the gangs. But they kind of come to him and he doesn’t have a choice. It’s a very interesting story. It really is very honest and like I said, it incorporates a lot of different things. There’s like a Fight Club element to it, and of course there’s also Michael Imperioli who plays a big drug lord. It’s a really great script.
Wow, I’m from Queens so that’s very interesting to hear. Well, I can’t wait to see it. That’ll be cool.
Tell me a little bit about Sharknado, did you audition for it? How were you casted?
I did. I did. A lot of their key cast are all from Los Angeles. The only people actually from New York were Dante Palminteri, who plays my brother and myself.
Courtney auditioned for Sharknado 2 in New York, and within a half an hour of taping, she received a call from her agent. She thought it was a call with good news about landing the role but it wasn’t. It was actually a call about the tape running out whilst they were shooting her. Eventually, she did get the call back.
“It was a very quick process. Everything about it was crazy, very fast-paced and kind of odd. It was one of the first times I’ve ever been on a film where we did one take and they’ll say, ‘OK, we got it’ and I’ll say, ‘Are you sure it wasn’t terrible because we haven’t got any back up!’ But luckily, you just had to establish that trust with Anthony [Ferrante], our director, from the the second you stepped on set because he always had so many things going on. We had so many different cameos that while we’re filming and we’d say, “OK, we need to take a ten minute break so Anthony can talk to Biz Markie on the phone to see if he’s confirmed. It was really bad and insane. I don’t how they kept their sanity. Maybe they didn’t,” Courtney poked fun.
“But it definitely was a crazy couple of weeks there. It was brutally, brutally cold and I’m fine with the cold. I shot a horror film. It was all night shoots in the middle of November and that didn’t even compare to this. One day we were on set, the scene where we’re running from the Statue of Liberty, and it was literally 5 degrees.
5 degrees. I would much rather film in the cold than the heat because I’d sweat like a crazy person.. I’d rather be cold than hot. It got to this point where I’m wearing these Inka shoes, kind of like Converse with patterns, a pair of tights and a skirt and a sweater and a little jacket. I was just so cold. I always tried very hard to not complain on set because just from having that producer mindset and understanding that’s the last thing they need on the set is an actress complaining about something.
I understand that they just really need you to cooperate. So I always try very hard not to complain. But there were sometimes that I was like, ‘Guys, I just gotta say: I’m really really cold. But we had some really huge warming jackets and they were really good about giving them to us. As soon as we weren’t filming, we were bundled up. It was pretty cool.
Nice. Well, I think that’s a very good tip. No complaining.
“I think what I was known for onset was everyday that I filmed, I actually brought different Sharknado themed desserts. The first day I did these cupcakes that were red inside, had the blue icing and a shark fin on top. They were great. We made 100.”
Made some yummy #sharknado cupcakes for my first day on set! #sharknado2 #sharks #cupcakes #sharkfin #redcupcakes @verngio @linnybax
Did you bake them?
I made them for the whole crew with the help of my roommate, my sister and my mom. The second day I was like, ‘Oh, I should make something again. I can’t remember the order it was in but I made Rice Krispy treats in the form of shark teeth, shark tornadoes. On day four, I was like, ‘Wow, I really shouldn’t have committed to doing this because now, I’m so tired. Luckily, my mom and my roommate really helped me and they kind of took over for me on the latter days but it was to the point where I’d walk on set and everybody would be like ‘Courtney, what did you bring for dessert?’ Actually before our L.A. premiere, the whole casting crew went to dinner and when I walked into the restaurant our director Anthony was like, ‘Oh well, I guess we’re going to have to get dessert. I was thinking Courtney was going to bring something.’
That’s very nice of you. I think that speaks alot about your character.
I usually joke but there’s some crewmembers who usually don’t want any part of the actors, and I always say you can make friends with a keygrip on set or the gaffer or something and then, you’re doing good because they’re so focused and in their own worlds. I always try to make a distinct effort to make friends and make connections, network. You never know who’s going to direct the next project you’re on. It can be the PA. It could be the guy getting you your coffee.
True. This is true. Good lessons. Do you have any words of inspiration for young women or men who want to get into film? Is there anything that you can tell them?
I think that you have to put in a lot, a lot, a lot to even get out a little bit. I think that’s the biggest thing to go for. You can go on a 100 auditions, book 1 of them and it’s totally fine. It’s not even abnormal. Never take things personally. You could have a great read on the audition but if you’re not the right look then, you’re not the right look. My biggest thing is when I go into an audition, I really don’t get nervous I think because I’m just used to it. There’s no reason to be nervous. They want you to do well. It’s not like you’re going in and they want you to be terrible. They want you to do well so they can cap the project and move on. Just stay calm and then when you come out, just forget about it. Don’t think, ‘Oh well, I wonder if I’m going to get a call back on that.’ Just move onto the next thing and always give everything the proper amount of time. If you put effort in, eventually it will work out. But if you take time, it it does not necessarily mean that you’re going to start acting and in one year you’re going to have a big movie. For me, sometimes I wonder why we torture ourselves into this thing year after year, trying to I guess “make it.”. It really does come down to that passion and that love. You gotta be willing to do the things that aren’t as fun so that you can do the fun things. You gotta do the smaller projects so that eventually you can do the bigger projects. Just in life, everything happens for a reason and if you try to waste your time questioning it, then that’s the reason, you know? It’s important to stay grounded as well. I’m kind of talking all over the place…
No, you’re doing great. This is great!
Stay grounded and stay honest. Don’t lose sight of the people that were there for you before anything. Don’t ever think you’re better than somebody. Never talk down to anybody on set. I think the worst thing you can see is when you’re on set and somebody who blatantly thinks they deserve they can have a big attitude because they’re all excited and on set and they’re doing a movie, you know and give everyone an attitude. It’s silly. It doesn’t make any sense. Be a nice person, I mean it’s really all of the simple things but if you stay true to them and you stay honest then, you’ll do well. And it does take time, and that’s the point I’ll emphasis because I’ve been doing this since I was 11-years-old. It’s a lot of work and nobody’s going to work harder for your career than yourself. Don’t expect others to do stuff for you. It’s all about the hard work just as it is in any profession. Sometimes, this profession can be particularly very brutal and hard because your self-image matters a lot but that’s where you just have to stay true to yourself more than anything.
When you first hear GrungeCake, what comes to mind?
To be honest, I kind of pictured like a hipster in like Brooklyn eating like a really trendy piece of cake. I don’t know if that’s the common answer or not. I think because in New York, the hipsters are a big thing so all of these trendy cupcakes are a big industry now. But that’s what I think. Maybe a guy with a beard and glasses, and super grungy. You’re not sure if he’s homeless or super hipster. You don’t know if his jeans cost one dollar or $500. You know, those types of people but then, he’s eating like a hot pink piece of cake that probably has flowers and it’s really nice and the guy from the Cake Boss made it. So, that’s what I think.
I laughed, and told her that her response was perfect. “That was awesome. We get a lot of different answers but that one right there is really, really cool. You painted a picture for sure. I could see that guy. He’s like sitting at a wooden table at the back of a restaurant in Williamsburg.”
Oh, you totally can!
Are there any misconceptions about you that you want to set straight?
I guess the one thing I’d say for misconceptions… I don’t think enough people know who I am to have misconceptions yet but if they come one day, I’ll welcome them. I mean, at least people will be talking about me. An article came out and said that I was a former singer before I did Sharknado, which I’m not. I am really good in the shower, like an impeccable shower singer but that’s really as far as I go, you know? I used to take voice lessons and maybe I’ll get back into it one day. That was really the only false claim. There haven’t been many claims out there to be false yet but one day they will come.
We both laughed, and replied, “We look forward to the false claims.”
Courtney will appear in a MTV show called “One Bad Choice” this Winter. She’s graduating next Summer, and there’s also a chance of her joining the cast of Sharknado 3. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. For more about our Cake Girl Courtney Baxter, please visit her IMDb via this link.