May 9

What is LA life really like for a striving, talented, Almost-Faymis Aussie actress? Ever wanted to try the move and find your luck in Hollywood but don’t know what to expect? Will your daily routine be a $30 green smoothie by day and $30 cocktails schmoozing directors at premiers by night? Are you better off behind the camera, making your own films? And if you do make something of note, how to you get visibility and traction without selling out?

Few people are better equipped to answer this than Chantelle James – an Actors Centre graduate and creator, producer, and leading cast member of such viral, hilarious and thought provoking web satires as Faymis and Strange LA.

 Life in LA is fun and clearly worth satirising. However this year, Chantelle took a brave turn producing a more serious, partially crowdfunded film about the stigmatised mental illness schizophrenia called ‘Ordinary’.

If you think Hollywood should have more female driven characters and produce more stories of depth and substance, then you will love this woman.

Ok, so first, the fluff. What is your LA day really like? 

I really love life in LA. It is an inspiring place to live as an actor and filmmaker. But if you are going over there to create a career for yourself in the entertainment industry you have to be ready to work your ass off. It’s not all glitz and glam. Far from it really. And the overnight success stories we here of are not that at all. Those actors have been working hard for the past 10 years and then suddenly ‘success’ happens.

How do you get by in moments of shallowness or disappointment? 

Typical daily LA life varies day to day. Some days I will have three auditions and be schlepping over the city and some weeks there will be no auditions. Some weeks I will be working on set and some weeks there is no work at all. There is a lot of down time and in that down time it is important to busy yourself with something productive so you feel like you have control over your career. I choose to write and create my own content. 

So you actually produce your own films…

In 2013 my best friend Alexandra Grossi and I created a production company Kid Sister Collective with a focus of creating and producing strong female character driven stories that make a difference. Our mission is to challenge the role of women in the industry and tell the stories that aren’t being told. We strive to work with female writers and directors, highlighting social injustices hoping to change people’s perspective of the world & give a voice to the voiceless.

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Which voice concerns you the most? 

So many, but there are not enough stories being told by women, about women and for women. Only 4% of the highest grossing films between 2007-2014 were directed by women and women make up only 1/3 of speaking characters in films, most of which have been sexualised with nudity or revealing clothing. Kid Sister strives to be a part of the much-needed change and hire mostly female teams creating more work for women in film.

Ordinary. Tell me more.

Our short film ‘Ordinary’ is a story of a young women’s recent diagnosis with schizophrenia and her journey of acceptance. There are so many homeless people living on the streets of LA and so many of those are suffering from schizophrenia. It was a jarring experience moving to LA from Sydney and seeing this. I wrote this short film to inspire change and educate people that not everyone suffering from schizophrenia is a danger to society, most are ordinary people like you and me.

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What do you need to get the story told?

This is our fist film project and we are currently raising money through a crowdfunding site Seed&Spark as well as applying for film grants. The process of fundraising is tiresome but one that filmmakers have to get good at. It has really taught me to fight for the making of ‘Ordinary’ and strengthened our reason for creating the film.

Check out Kid Sister Collective’s crowdfunding campaign and share with your friends via social media:


Watch our video interview for extras: