SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Chelsea Kwoka: My name is Chelsea Kwoka. I am an actress living in Los Angeles with my husband, primarily working in Voice Over from my home studio. I got my degree in Theatre from Florida State University and am currently producing an all female (cast & crew) short film with some of my fellow Noles. When I’m not voicing characters or portraying them on screen, I am either traveling, camping, spending time with Friends and family or attempting to bake (usually unsuccessfully).
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become an actress?
Chelsea Kwoka: My cousin, Eric, used to teach me the Dana Carvey “Church Lady” sketches from SNL when I was a toddler and I would babble them at my family. Getting those early laughs definitely hooked me! Growing up I was in school plays and danced competitively and just loved performing creatively. I started thinking about acting as a legitimate career path when I toured FSU – they have an incredible School of Theatre and world reknowned Film School that enlightened me to the potential of a life on stage and in film.
SKSM: How did you become involved in The escape room Dollar Baby film?
Chelsea Kwoka: I had worked with Mary Rachel Gardner (producer) and Jordan Tandowsky (director/writer/producer) on several projects in the past. They consistently put out quality projects and are just fantastic people to get to work with and learn from on set.
SKSM: What do you think it is about the story that attracts people so much?
Chelsea Kwoka: While (hopefully) not many people have been abducted and tortured, I think this film really speaks to people having to make difficult choices. How wrestling with yourself and struggling with your own demons affects the decisions we make and knowing that we will ultimately have to live with our choices.
SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?
Chelsea Kwoka: I play the lover, Haley, of the main character in a flashback scene. I luckily missed out on any torture! I was asked by Mary Rachel and Jordan to play Haley and was so grateful they thought of me.
SKSM: You worked with Jordan Tandowsky on this film, how was that?
Chelsea Kwoka: Jordan is always a pleasure to work with on set. He knows what he wants but is open and collaborative which is a hard balance to strike sometimes! I always felt like he was leading us but was still accesible if we had questions or opinions on things.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Chelsea Kwoka: For me, getting to work with both Mary Rachel and Jordan, who I have the utmost respect for, was the most special aspect. That, along with getting to work with new collaborators like Joe Raffa and Octavio Estrada was really wonderful. The whole team was professional and easy to work with.
SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?
Chelsea Kwoka: Well it’s tough to stay in contact with anyone during a pandemic! But I’ve stayed in touch with many of them via socials and champion their projects from 6 feet away!
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Chelsea Kwoka: I’m currently in the middle of pre-production for a short film I am producing and starring in, “The Little Things”. It’s a dramedy about a woman struggling to not let the little things keep her from experiencing joy in her daily life. I’m not used to wearing this many hats but it has been an intensely rewarding experience. I have been very diligent in expanding my network to work with as many new collaborators as posible on this one, and have been very successful in assembling a team of talented women to be both behind and in front of the camera. It’s been humbling and rewarding to bring all of these new women into my life and I’m so excited for us to get into principal photography!
I am an audiobook narrator and am currently working on a non-fiction book about the Greek Goddess archetypes and how they manifest in modern women. I love recording audiobooks for two separate reasons : with non-fiction I get to become a world expert on a very niche subject (great for trivia) and with fiction I get to cast, direct and act out an entire film exactly as I want to. It’s so much fun to step in the booth and live these full lives for a brief time.
SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?
Chelsea Kwoka: I am an unsuspecting fan of Stephen King! I have a love/hate relationship with “scary” stories but his work is always just so captivating, I can’t help but feel sucked in. Whether movies/books like “It” or “Carrie”, I want to look away but find myself peeking through my fingers because I just have to see what happens. He has a way of drawing you in to the story in a truly terrifying way.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Chelsea Kwoka: I love to hang artwork made by friends, family or that I’ve created! I have watercolors in the hallway done by nieces and nephews, art from old Friends I’ve commissioned and always have one piece of art near the entryway of wherever I live that I ask guests to “sign” – it usually has a theme, my favorite was from my Hollywood apartment. Every guest literally signed on a single line and so now it looks like a heartbeat or sound wave, with all the signatures overlapped.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Chelsea Kwoka: Thank you for supporting independent filmmakers! The team worked so hard to bring this story to life, and to do well by Stephen King fans, and we are just so appreciative of the ability to keep telling stories and sharing them with audiences.