Kira Reed Lorsch is a force! She's accomplished, strong, and knows her craft. She can definitely hold her own as an actress and producer. Kira was born in the San Francisco Bay area and has always known that she wanted to be in the entertainment industry since she was a young girl. She starred in the kids' show Romper Room, leading to modeling and commercials. She has studied her craft and has taken the right steps. However, the little girl who started working at age 4 has a lot to do with the professional actress that Kira is today. Her positivity is contagious and she has played a wide range of characters. She recently was awarded (as in 2 days ago) Best Actress for playing "Linda Valentine" in Crystal: The Interview. Kira has an affinity for being attracted to complex characters and puts everything into it.
Kira Reed Lorsch is an actress and Emmy® award-winning, p.g.a producer. After graduating from the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, and Television, Kira enjoyed a prolific on-camera career, including a 10-year stint as a reporter/producer for Playboy. She previously starred in Amazon Prime’s The Bay as “Jo Connors” for which she received a Daytime Emmy® acting nomination. Her latest feature films are Acts of Desperation, Beckman, Amityville Witches, and Love on the Rock. She can also be seen in the drama series Rumors and Wild Wild Yogis's streaming comedy. Kira spends her time giving back to numerous charitable organizations through the Robert H. Lorsch Foundation and is a member of the Board of Trustees of California Science Center home of the Lorsch Family Pavilion. Kira also currently serves on the Board of Governors (BOG) of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and contributes to Shelter Hope Pet Shop, Television Academy Foundation, and Academy Museum Foundation.
When Kira had a moment to stop, she spoke with Gemma Magazine about her acting career, various characters she has played, and her production work. So let's get into it!
How did you get started in the entertainment industry? Did someone inspire you?
Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to be on TV. Rather in TV. At four years old, I asked my mom, "How do I get inside the television?" I wanted to be on the children's show Romper Room. So my mother, my hero, looked into it, sent in a JC Penny studio portrait of me, and got me an audition for the Oakland, California-based program. I booked the role, "Cute-kid-with-gumption Kira," and my show business career was born. I went on to do local catalog modeling, TV commercials, and whatever was available in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I was born and raised. I was mesmerized watching reruns of Burns and Allen, and I Love Lucy on Nick at Night. Relatively young, my imagination and sense of style were inspired by the glam-action 70's Charlie's Angels. I would enlist the neighborhood girls to re-enact storylines complete with feathered hair, tight jeans, and squirt guns. Later my babysitter would sit me in front of her TV, and I got hooked on early "Luke & Laura" from General Hospital and "Bo & Hope" of Days of Our Lives, sparking my romance with Daytime Dramas. When we moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where my stepdad was, I auditioned for and attended the Youth Performing Arts High School. I studied dance and drama. From there, I moved back to California, got a scholarship to UCLA, started working while getting my degree, and earned my SAG card being bumped up from an extra on the original 90210.
I am sure the film and theatre department at UCLA was incredible regarding formal training. Can you please expand?
I was always an honors student and expected to go to college. I had my eye on UCLA and wanted to get back to California. I made the most of my time in Louisville and stayed on even past my family moving back west, as I was cast as "Scout" in To Kill a Mockingbird in the YPAS play. I made money as a hostess at my friend's family's restaurant and worked the phones at Actors Theatre of Louisville - where I got to watch the productions for free if I ushered. I also finished my college credit classes at the University of Louisville's so my application would look enticing to the UC system. I wanted to swim with the big fish in an enormous pond, but with no money and no connections; a scholarship to UCLA was my only hope at a ticket to Hollywood. I am blessed to have been accepted to their Theatre, Film, and Television Department that provided, (at least in the '90s,) a well-rounded liberal arts education. I had electives in literature, history, psychology, and more, beyond the dramatic arts.
Artistically, It was safe to experiment, fall, and get back up. I dabbled in playwriting, directing, stage-managing, film editing, costume design set decorating, and lighting. At one point I thought I might want to go into fashion. I learned a little of everything, which helped me appreciate all the specializations that make up a production. However, you don't need a degree to be an actor or a filmmaker. You can take a class or workshop, write your own screenplay, make a movie on a digital camera, or collaborate with others with skills in areas you don't. Join a casting service. Audition for acting roles. Work your way up through experience and networking. You can't just dream about it, though. You have to put yourself out there and do it.
I have to ask -- How did you like being a reporter/producer for Playboy?
While finishing up UCLA, Playboy gave me a launchpad to a 25-year, so far career. I will be forever grateful. My very first, more than a "couple of lines role" was a Playboy co-production: Maui Heat Swimsuit Edition. Director Mike Marvin and EP Richard Bencivengo cheerled me to be hired in a supporting role: "Make-up artist to the Swimsuit Models." I was the accessible, girl-next-door sidekick character to the tall, blonde Playboy girls.
I could not believe my luck. I was getting paid to shoot on location in Maui for three weeks. I had a blast and made friends on that film that I still know today. Zalman King saw me in a rough movie cut through a shared editor, Curtis Edge, and came after me for his Red Shoe Diaries series. In 1996 I was featured in Playboy magazine for another Showtime series I'd done, the Elisa Rothstein led, Women Stories of Passion. I went from college co-ed to sex symbol starlet in two short years. I embraced the power of that persona and owned it. For the next couple of years, I was offered leading roles in R-rated erotic thrillers like Price of Desire, Secrets of a Chambermaid, and Losing Control, to name a few.
In the mix of the Playboy Mansion and yacht parties, Dick Rosetti then VP of Playboy Entertainment, introduced me to Frank Martin, EP of Sexcetera Playboy TV's news magazine show. They were looking for a reporter who could memorize a lot of copy, improvise, be comfortable with nudity, get embedded in sexy situations, and have the potential to write and produce. That person was me – "Hi, I'm Kira Reed and tonight on Sexcetera…." It was a dream job that I held for over a decade. I became the face for the 60 Minutes of sex. "From the erotic to the downright bizarre was the tag line." Before writing my segments and producing other reporters, I traveled from Australia to the Czech Republic. That led Playboy to trust me to show-run more of their programs. 69 Sexy Things to Do Before You Die was Christie Hefner's favorite. We prided ourselves in being inclusive and female-friendly on Naked Happy Girls New York and San Francisco. I cast new series' for them, including E-Rotic.
I loved Playboy and found it a liberating, female-empowering environment. I never had a casting couch situation there. I was respected, valued, and paid well for a specific set of skills I brought to the table. I went on to use what I learned there and brought it to jobs at E!, Travel Channel, and Associated Television International. My late husband Bob's friend David McKenzie, CEO of Associated, gave me the Daytime Emmys CBS "Backstage Reporter" gig, knowing me from my work at Playboy. The Bay's offices were in the same building as ATI. My friend Devin Devasquez, a former Playmate friend, and her husband Ronn Moss, of Player and Bold and The Beautiful fame, were involved in the show and there to vouch for me when I first met with Gregori J. Martin and Kristos Andrews about being on their digital drama series. A lot of people ask: "Was working for Playboy a hard hurdle to overcome?" I found the opposite to be true. My work with "The Bunny" led me to almost everything good in my career, including The Emmys and The Bay.
How would you describe "Jo Connors" from The Bay? You also received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for this role, which is fantastic.
"Jo Connors" is the vixen madam of Bay City's underworld. She is not a pure villain, though, as she is fierce about empowering and protecting her ladies. Her downfall is having poor taste in men and being led by ego and ambition over what is right. Her story is a cautionary tale of revenge and lust for power. She is not like the "Lady Macbeth" I portrayed in my theatre days.
Though initially, I came on as a guest star, fans liked the character, and my storyline ran for three seasons. I am grateful to have won a couple of Emmys with them as a producer and had the opportunity to act with many of my daytime idols, including Matthew Ashford, Nicolas Coster, Kate Linder, Marybeth Evans, Patrika Darbo, Lane Davies, Jackie Zeman, A. Martinez, Brandon Beemer, Thomas Calabro, and my friend Ronn Moss. Receiving a Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress was just the cherry on top of a rewarding collaborative experience.
Do you ever get nervous when auditioning or reading for a part? You have so much experience, so that must be helpful.
I used to dread auditions. Having to prove myself worthy so I could win the part was exhausting. Rejection sucks. I beat myself up a lot. I didn't feel good enough, pretty enough, whatever they wanted enough. To get better, I had to change my attitude. I began to view auditions as a chance to do what I love: act if I got the part – great! If not - I had a good time playing. I began to detach from the result. When I flipped that switch and stopped worrying about the outcome, I started booking more …as you can tell from my 100 + on-camera credits on IMDb. Now I primarily work because people know me and offer me a role. Or, my production company, The RHL Group, is sent a script and, if it's something I believe in, I help develop it and take an acting part if there is a good one for me.
When I audition these days (primarily online for years now - even pre-pandemic), it can be less stressful than the days of driving all over town to casting calls hoping to be chosen.
You can stop and start again, edit and send in your favorite takes. The downside is that you now have to be your one-man-tech savvy-show, hire a production studio, or rope in a friend to help shoot and read with you. You have to make your movie to land a part in another film. Auditioning is, and always will be, just plain weird. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0715529
You have worked on quite a several feature films lately. How did you like playing "Morgan" in Acts of Desperation? Also, can you tell us about the film as well?
"Morgan" is a manic-depressive, suicidal, sometimes lesbian, wanna-be bank robber and the catalyst to the action of Acts of Desperation. She was a juicy character. My long-time friend actor/producer Vince Lozano sent me the script. It was gritty, funny, and scary all at the same time. AOD, from first-time screenwriter Nathan Illsley, was an opportunity to be a raw open wound. I am not pretty in it. I have lots of no make-up crying scenes. It came to me at the right time, and I enjoyed collaborating with everyone, especially my leading man, British actor, Treva Etienne. I wrangled Paul Sorvino to join our project, and his name helped sell the film. Our little character-driven movie won several festival awards and got worldwide distribution. Intersecting stories of desperate people doing desperate things in desperate times is something everyone can relate to these days. It is a reminder that you're not alone if you're barely hanging on by a thread. We are all a bit broken. You can get it everywhere, streaming VOD and DVD. https://www.amazon.com/Acts-Desperation-Paul-Sorvino/dp/B07PQVCPW9/
Tell us a bit about your character, "Janice" in Beckman?
In the David A.R. White-led revenge-action film, Janice is a book club mom by day and a human trafficking assassin at night for her cult leader boss William Baldwin. As you can tell, I crave complex characters. I also served as an Executive Producer in association with The RHL Group. I was impressed with the Pure Flix/Universal distribution model of releasing different film versions—one aimed toward a built-in faith-based audience and geared more mainstream. I loved what writer/director/cinematographer Gabriel Sobloff accomplished from the page to the final cut. The movie was bigger and better than I had initially imagined, and I was excited to share it with the world. Because of COVID, movie premiers were becoming seemingly impossible. So, I connected Pure Flix to my PR and event producer Roger Neal to create outdoor big-screen movie premieres for Beckman and beyond.
I shot another movie with David A. R. White during the pandemic: Love On The Rock. https://www.amazon.com/Beckman-David-R-White/dp/B08H549WKD/
How do you like your work in production?
I like production, being a producer, in that I enjoy organizing, problem-solving, and creating something I believe in as part of a team. It's a good juxtaposition to being an actor. They are totally different skill sets but both are all about preparation - just completely different types.
Did you enjoy filming Love On The Rock in Malta?
"Want to come to Malta and shoot a movie starting in 3 days?" was the question. "Yes, please.
Thank you!" was my answer. Pure Flix, now under the new banner Pinnacle Peak, a division of Sony, was shooting a feature in Malta - a small country between Sicily in Morocco in the fall of 2020.
It sounded like an exotic adventure to me. I did not ask a lot of questions or make any diva demands. I just wanted to get off of my quarantine couch and do something. I took a couple of COVID tests and filled out a lot of international visa paperwork over a sleepless 72 hours before ending up on a movie set in Malta - the rock of Christian civilization. It was a whirlwind blur. I was thrown into the role of Emily "Stoll": a leather-clad Girl-Friday/henchwoman to the terrible lead guy played, much to my surprise, by my friend Steven Bauer. I barely knew director Matt Shapira, having met him only briefly with David. However, I respected his work and, unbeknownst to him, I was already championing his Finding Love in Quarantine to The Family Film Awards.
With a minor supporting role, I had plenty of time to sight-see Malta's ancient cities, wander edge-of-the-world beach cliffs and make friends with the locals. Love on the Rock is a beautiful movie seeped in the magic of its epic location. I will never complain about being typecast as the bad girl in these good-guy-God movies. So far, it's been a wild ride. https://www.instagram.com/loveontherockmovie/.
Please tell us a bit about Rumors. With Rumors, was it enjoyable to play an acting teacher?
I was attracted to Rumors from the get-go and immediately clicked with creator/star Nicole Vernarec and director Matthew Viera's vision. Anyone who titles their project in reverence of Fleetwood Mac's masterpiece, with the episodes named after the songs of one of the greatest albums of all time, is alright with me. I sought them out and wanted to be of service to their project. RHL joined forces with V Squared to green-light principal photography, and I took on the role of "Ellen," a Hollywood acting teacher. We didn't want her to be a caricature, whacky, over-the-top drama coach.
Everything about Rumors was intended to be naturalistic and restrained. So 'Ellen" became more of a genuinely nurturing mother figure to the leading young ladies: Nicole Vernarec, Ashley St. George, and Jodi Moore Lewis. Ellen guides them to work hard, respect their craft, and be kind to one another to survive and thrive in Hollywood. The story conveys love with LGBTQ, anti-bullying, friendship, and forgiveness themes. 20-somethings Nicole and Matt did all the heavy lifting. The series and stand-alone feature, beautifully shot by AFI MFA Cinematographer Edward Salerno, has production value way above our ultra-low budget. Rumors premiered in New York at Bushwick Film Festival in October 2021, receiving the IndieFEST Film Awards "LGBTQ+ Winner of Excellence" prize. It will be available in more comprehensive releases in the year to come. https://www.facebook.com/rumorstheseries/
You also are an animal activist through your work with 'Shelter Hope Pet Shop. Do you enjoy your work there?
Kim Sill is a real animal activist. I met through Playboy as the star of my first film Maui Heat; she is another beautiful person. In support of her rescue and re-home non-profit Shelter Hope Pet Shop, I wrote the Dog of the Week column for the Beverly Hills Courier and was the Pets to Love lady on CBS LA morning news for many years. I now mostly stick to writing checks from the Robert H. Lorsch Foundation and underwriting spay/neuter events. I'm a sucker for a stray. At one point, Lorschville housed three rescue dogs, 4 street cats, and a rotating array of foster animals. Since then, my life has downsized to my 1 Shelter Hope pup Missy and a couple of former feral cats. You can donate and volunteer at www.shelterhopepetshop.org.
What is your favorite downtime way to relax?
I like hiking in the Hollywood Hills, above the ocean in Malibu and Laguna Beach, and venturing out into the nearby deserts. Last year, I did a Rim-to-Rim Grand Canyon trek and had a 5-Star Montana ranch resort and Glacier National Park expedition planned for this summer. I'm a big fan of luxury destination spas and yoga retreats. You can read all about my wellness travel adventures on my syndicated blog: https://kirareedlorsch.com/blog/
How do you balance it all...?
A lot of the time, I don't. If the balance is the goal, I haven't mastered it yet. I'm typically 100% in or not interested at all. Moderation is not my thing. I've never been particularly fond of an even-paced life.
The nature of production is to work hard and fast in spurts. Then you recover from the chaos of the storm after wrap. Perhaps that's why I'm drawn to it. I like losing myself in whatever I am passionate about in the moment. Staying busy keeps me out of my head. I do not do well left alone with idol hands. As I get older and wiser, I am learning to appreciate the little things more and am constantly curating a healthier downtime routine. It doesn't come naturally to me to relax. I am a doer. I need purpose. I like having a project. That's why I am always creating new side hustles like my latest signature Kira Reed Lorsch lip-gloss and sheet masks. https://kirareedlorsch.com/shop/
What are you currently working on now?
There is a sequel in the works to last year's sleeper horror hit, Amityville Witches, that I shot in England with producing partners Donna Spangler and Brittan Taylor. Also slated to shoot is Roasted, a romantic comedy starring Jillian Clare, created by Susan Bernhardt and written and directed by Robert Hensley. I am cast as, not shockingly, the loveable, libido-driven "Laura Wilde." Also, look for me as one of the talking head subjects in Anthony Penta's documentary, We Kill For Love, about the lost genre of the 90's erotic thriller. So far, in upcoming 2022 movies, I play a witch, a cougar, and myself. That sounds just about right.
Gemma Magazine is grateful to have had the opportunity to interview Kira Reed Lorsch! We thank her for speaking with us about her exciting projects! You can keep up with Kira on the following platforms: