Teri Reeves is an immensely talented actress. I first noticed her at the "Dances With Films" Film Festival in I Miss You Like A Little Kid. The range of her character (Clarissa) is fascinating, and she creates an effect in the independent film. For a short synopsis, isolated and depressed during the lockdown, Jason rushes headlong into a relationship with a decade older woman (Clarissa) who becomes psychologically abusive. As she gaslights and manipulates him, he tries to find a way to survive because he still has hope she will change.
Who Is Teri Reeves
Teri is a Northern California native but has lived in Houston, Texas, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and now resides in Los Angeles, California. Teri is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Professor Romulo Barral. She is also a certified personal trainer and loves black coffee and early morning weight lifting.
In terms of acting, she studied to be an actress in the BFA theater program at UC Santa Barbara and the MFA theater program at UC San Diego. Teri knew she wanted to be an actress when she watched Katherine Hepburn in "The Philadelphia Story" with her dad. "She was amazing. She played such a strong and intelligent female. It was inspiring. I wanted to inspire other women someday as she had inspired me," said Teri Reeves.
Teri recurs as Marlena in Ssn 2 of Netflix's The Punisher, as Dorothy in ABC's Once Upon a Time, was series regular Dr. Hallie Casey opposite Jesse Spencer in the NBC's Chicago Fire, and starred as KJ Jameson in Hulu's first original scripted show Battleground. She has numerous recurring and guest star credits and has appeared in several independent films.
When Teri had a moment to stop, she chatted with "Gemma Magazine "about the industry, various roles she has played, and career aspirations. I met her on the red carpet and she is one of the kindest artists that I have interviewed. So let's get into it!
You have lived in a lot of locations. What was it like moving around so much?
As a kid, it was hard to leave friends, especially my boyfriend in high school during my sophomore year. I would write long letters to the people I spent time with and how much they meant to me, and then I would cry alone in my room. Arriving in a new town, being the "new girl," was awkward. I always dressed wrong (like in the city I had come from) and had to figure out what was cool and not in my new hometown and who I could trust. Sometimes people are drawn to the new person just because they are unknown, but their interest eventually disappears. It was the drama club folks that were usually the ones that ended up being my real friends.
I did get close to my mom and sister since we were all each other had when we were moving (dad was always at work at his new job), which I'm forever grateful for. We are all four of us still very close. Looking back, I love that I learned how to adapt to new situations, study people (good for acting), and accept people regardless of how they dress (haha!) or who they are. There are many different kinds of people, and they all have beauty.
What inspired you to become an actress?
I watched Katherine Hepburn in "The Philadelphia Story" with my dad. She was amazing. She played such a strong and intelligent female. It was inspiring. I wanted to inspire other women someday as she had inspired me.
How did you enjoy your training at UCSB and UCSD as well?
UCSB was fun. We had to audition to get into the program, so the people took it very seriously. We were encouraged to be creative and experiment with creating our work in addition to learning how to play characters with various approaches, from a purely physical place to a deep script analysis technique. We were allowed to fall on our faces and make mistakes in class while experimenting with characters and scripts outside the box. It expanded me as a human. It was also nerve-wracking. They made cuts to the students every quarter, so you never knew if you would make it through the next round!
At UCSD, I felt more pressure. It was graduate school, so it was more competitive, and the actors were serious about making acting their career. The challenge was good for me. I had to work hard to improve my vocal and physical skills for the stage.
The hours were long and what we were learning and practicing was demanding. The graduate acting students were in school morning to night five days a week and in rehearsals six days a week at night. Theater work is physically and emotionally taxing if you are doing it right. You are giving all of yourself as an actor; your body, mind, and soul. I am grateful for every minute I spent there, but I slept A LOT right after graduating! The relationships I formed there are for a lifetime. We were "in the trenches" together and made it through a lot of hard work.
Are you still in theatre productions?
I wish! They are harder to come by in LA than I thought they'd be. I did start a theater company with some of the women I graduated from UCSD with. It was so rewarding, and we produced site-specific plays around Los Angeles. I loved performing with them. But after Covid hit, everything in the theater felt like it came to a standstill, and I haven't found my way back in since it started opening up.
What was it like to play Hallie Casey on "Chicago Fire?"
It was a dream. Hallie was a kind and warm character. I also understood her struggle between dedication to her love and her career and wishing to have them both. Jesse Spencer was so easy to play opposite. He is a generous and very talented actor. Everyone on that set was unique. It felt like we were away at camp together, all living in Chicago. We spent a lot of fun time together outside of work. It was one of the favorite times of my life.
Also, how would you describe the character Dorothy Gale from "Once Upon a Time?"
Playing Dorothy was perhaps one of the most fun things I've done. She was a BADASS. She was the grown-up version of Dorothy from the "Wizard of Oz." The writers imagined she suffered from the loss of her grandmother, being ostracized from society, and having to live in and rough it out in the forest. In the show, she was a survivor, a warrior, with a sensitive heart that she hid until she fell in love with Red. It was a sweet transition for me to play Dorothy, from surviving alone and on her own to finding someone she can be vulnerable with and trust.
The show is based on the Wizard of Oz," correct?
My character was based on Dorothy from the "Wizard of Oz." However, "Once" is based on all of the Disney storybook characters.
Who are some actresses that you respect and admire their body of work?
Gosh, that is a tricky question for me to answer. Every actress that studies and works hard to maintain their commitment to their characters and the story they are telling is an actress I admire, whether she is doing it in a local acting class, at an audition, or on set. I know many amazing actresses who have never gotten work the public would recognize. I hope that answers your question ;).
How does acting sustain you?
It requires me to leave my analytical mind (which can be loud and overwhelming) and step into my creativity, imagination, and other parts of me that would otherwise be neglected. Acting sustains me by connecting me to other humans. You have to learn about and pay close attention to humans that are both similar and different from you. It expands me to understand someone else's life experience.
I am also sustained by the teamwork required to make a television show, film, or play come to life. I love the camaraderie involved and our dependence on one another to do our best at our respective jobs to see it completed. It always feels like magic to me when we come out with any product for the public to see.
What was it like to be directed by Ben Hosking in "And I Miss You Like Little Kid?"
It was a gift. Ben is so sensitive to actors and what they need. We all needed something different on set, and he changed how he communicated depending on who he was directing. He had a clear vision for the piece, which goes a long way for everyone on set all be on the same page. Ben also has a strong leadership presence, so we can all trust him and relax and focus on what we are doing in our different jobs. And he was kind and intelligent and wise about humans, especially the particular characters in this film. He shared many things from his personal life that allowed me to connect with the feeling I was playing more authentically. He and I talked a lot about her, where she came from, and why she was the way she was. Ben is also willing to have hard and long conversations. And he trusted me and was complimentary as we worked. That goes a long way too. It felt like a true collaboration in a safe space.
I know that you have a beauty blog. Can you tell us what is about?
Well, I started it because of the stories I was hearing on set and as a personal trainer, of women not feeling beautiful, either physically or emotionally or both. I wanted to examine why and what relationship women from all walks of life and backgrounds have to that word to try and facilitate a conversation that might offer healing. It is called embraceyourbeautyblog.com
Are you currently working on an upcoming project?
I just shot an episode on a television show for ABC. I play the bad guy, but you don't know it first! I don't think I'm supposed to say what it is yet.
To keep up with Teri and all her inspiring projects, you can follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/terireeves/