mercredi 16 septembre 2009


After playing an American housewife turned Super Villainess in the Fox Kids television show “Masked Rider” while still a teenager, actress and model Candace Kita quickly moved on to sexier characters in movies (“Barb Wire”, “I now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry”) and television (“Complete Savages”, “Son of the Beach”, “Two and a Half Men”, “Nip/Tuck”).

Candace is also a women’s safety advocate and created a weekly radio show in L.A. called Hottie Help with Candace Kita in October 2008. This year she will publish The Hottie Handbook: A Girl's Guide to Safety. She also recently inspired an action comic book, Kyu-Shin, closed a deal with iPhone, is appearing in a 2010 calendar and is launching a cosmetics line for Asian women. Before you read about Candace’s future projects, please enjoy this first part of her interview in which she discusses her modeling and acting careers….

Frédéric Ambroisine: Kita is not your real last name. Why did you change it?

Candace Kita: I changed my last name several years ago after “Masked Rider” when I joined a new agency. People at the agency thought Candace Bender (my real name) varied by only a few letters to the actress Candice Bergen. So it was changed on their advice. Kita means "north" in Japanese. Many times actors change their names because their real names are too close or exactly the same to someone who is already famous. Funny, huh?

FA: You are Japanese-American. Were you born in Japan or in the US?

CK: I was born in the United States and was raised all over including California, Texas, Florida, Belgium and England.

FA: Do you speak Japanese?

CK: I speak very little Japanese unfortunately. I was primarily raised in areas where there weren’t a lot of Japanese-speaking people and didn’t have the opportunity to go to Japanese school on the weekends like a lot of Japanese Americans. Sometimes I watch the Japanese soaps and game shows on TV and can sort of make out what is going on.

FA: How often do you go to Japan?

CK: I’ve actually only been to Japan once; it was a great experience and one of my goals is to go back very soon.

FA: How long did you live in Belgium and England before moving to Texas?

CK: I was in England for two years and I was in Belgium for a year.

FA: Why did you choose to study philosophy and religion in college?

CK: I have always been interested in philosophy. Where I went to school, the philosophy and religion departments were tied together so I ended up double majoring in both. I also have an equivalent to an art minor. After college I pursued a Master’s degree in sociology. But I am lacking my thesis because I got bitten by the acting bug and quit to pursue a career in the dramatic arts.

FA: You started your artistic activities as a flautist. When was that?

CK: I started playing the flute when I was 11 years old. I love music and was interested in a woodwind instrument in particular. I ended up playing in the Palm Beach Symphony Orchestra and had many wonderful experiences because of it.

FA: You also studied sign language. When and why?

CK: I studied American Sign Language in college because I had always been interested in it as a language. It is a conceptual language and the signs really correspond to their meaning. Because of this, I felt like it would be an easy language to pick up. It has actually really helped in acting as I’ve booked quite a few roles doing sign language over the years. I can be seen doing sign language in the movie “VIP” with Pamela Anderson.

FA: How did you get the opportunity to start modeling?

CK: One day I walked into a hair salon with a girlfriend of mine. She was going to get her haircut and I was just along for the ride. I have very long hair and was sitting in the foyer waiting for her. The owner of the salon asked if I would appear in an advertisement for the salon. That was my first job and it sort of went from there. I didn’t initially pursue it at all, but opportunities began to present themselves when I was out and about. I was eventually with the Wilhelmina Agency in Los Angeles for five years.

FA: What did you learn from the agency?

CK: I learned the importance of keeping your book fresh with new pictures all of the time. It is really important to shoot often to get new looks. And it is important to build good relations with clients so they will ask you back each year.

FA: What kind of work did they give you?

CK: I had campaigns for Nordstrom, Marshall Fields, Neiman Marcus, The Little Book, XOXO, Diesel, Chinese Laundry, Brighton Shoes and Accessories, Life Stride. These and others were my main clients that I worked with each year.

FA: When and how did you make the transition into acting? And where did you study?

CK: Modeling opportunities may have presented themselves to me, but beginning to act was a concerted effort. I first had to move to Los Angeles in the 90’s and then began pounding the pavement just like every other actor out there. I have always had a private coach whom I’ve worked with for years and hire him for every theatrical audition. But I’ve also studied with some great commercial and theatrical teachers in Los Angeles. Most recently, I’m taking a comedy class that will begin next month. So it is never-ending studying in a nutshell.

FA: Did you move to L.A. specifically to become an actress?

CK: Yes, I moved to L.A. with the express interest in being an actor. Good thing I didn't know how difficult it would be until I got here or I might have never moved!

FA: Your first movie appearance was in the 1991 film “Stealth Hunters”. How did this opportunity happen? Were you still living in Texas at that time?

CK: Yes, this is a great question. Sometimes things literally fall into your lap. I was living in Texas at the time and was in graduate school. A friend of mine was a special effects makeup artist and considered the best in Texas. His friend did all of the special effects weaponry on “Robocop” which was filmed in Dallas. He had a friend who was directing a film and needed a newscaster. I came in and got the part. Ironically, they changed the end of the film at the last minute and I got cut out.

FA: How easy or difficult is it to work with the right people when you’re a beginner?

CK: I was lucky; within two weeks of moving to L.A. I had both a commercial and theatrical agent. But I also didn't sit around either. I immediately found a bookstore that catered to actors, found an agent and managers book, and made over 80 submissions by mail. I'll never forget. I received calls within a week and had met with over twelve agencies within the next two weeks, and chose my agent and manager then.

FA: "Masked Rider" was your first major role. How did you get the part?

CK: I auditioned five times for the part. This took place over the course of a month. Usually you find out quickly if you’ve landed a role. For this part, every time I went to a callback, I thought that was it and moved on. Then, a week later, I’d get a call to go back again. I was much younger than the role so at first this was a problem for them. At the 4th audition, they paired me up with a few people to see who I looked right with. And the 5th I finally went to network. And after I got the part they had me come in a few times so hair and makeup could play with my look to get it just right for actual shooting.

Candace Kita in Saban's "Mask Rider" (1995)

FA: Can you describe your character in "Masked Rider"?

CK: My character, Barbara Stewart, was married to Hal Stewart. They were the typical American couple, but I was Asian and we had two adopted children, one Caucasian and one African American. We were FOX-KIDS’ first multi-racial family. Our family adopts another son who is from a far-away planet. We don’t know this and all sorts of funny things start to happen because of this. My character was kidnapped to Spider Base in outer space and becomes a villain, Barbaria. She then fights the Masked Rider.

Candace Kita as Barbaria on the set of "Mask Rider" (1995)

FA: After playing the calm, soft, typical housewife Barbara, you go to the dark side as Barbaria. It seems that you had a lot of fun playing the bad girl. How did you prepare yourself to play Barbaria?

CK: Barbara Stewart and Barbaria are two completely different characters, to say the least. I basically prepared myself by getting into the costume. I remember a quote from Jimmy Stewart; he said if he got into the shoes of his character he would become the person. Getting into the costume, which is quite elaborate, helped immensely. Also, as a sidenote, becoming Barbara Stewart was no easy task either. I don't look like Barbara, and was always the first one in the makeup chair at 5:45 a.m. each day. It involved heavy makeup and a laquered hairdo. It looked very simple on camera, but was actually not. A few times we rehearsed a scene early on set before going into makeup. The crew with whom I had worked for over a year did not recognize me.

FA: “Masked Rider” is basically an Americanized version of "Kamen Rider", right?

CK: Yes, the American version took pre-existing footage of “Kamen Rider” in Japan and used it in the new series here in the States. We did three seasons and 40 episodes, including one episode, “Ferbus’ First Christmas”, that won the Film Advisory Board Award for Excellence in Portraying Family Values. The concept was basically an alien from a distant planet, Edenoi, is marooned on earth. While on earth, he is adopted by a kind family, the Stewarts, and learns about life on earth while fighting the evil Count Dregon and his minions. The villains were great on the show and were my favorite to watch.

FA: Were you familiar with "Kamen Rider" before working on "Masked Rider"?

CK: No I was not, and researched as soon as I was told I got the part. It is funny, last July I was a guest at Comicon, San Diego. When I was there I was introduced to the director and producer of the new “Masked Rider” series. Many of the cast members in the new show had also not heard of “Masked Rider” and did the exact same thing I did as soon as they found out they got the part!

FA: Other than “Masked Rider”, you also appeared regularly in two other TV series between 2001 and 2004...

CK: Yes, I was a series recurring in a show for ABC called “Complete Savages”. I play Mel Gibson’s girlfriend, Misty, and die a funny death in three episodes. It is the only time Mel Gibson has acted on American television.

Candace Kita & Mel Gibson: Two Misty's deaths in "Complete Savages" (2004)

FA: You and Mel Gibson did some hilarious spoof safety videos for the series. Four years later you have your own radio show about safety, Hottie Help. Is this a coincidence?

CK: I know; it is funny. I realized that a while back too. Mel Gibson was executive producer of the series so he would cameo as Officer Steve Cox. Each week I died an unusual death like Kenny in “South Park”. So it is ironic. Mel and I actually spoke about people behaving inappropriately, but little did I know I'd write a book about it.

Mel & Candace in "Complete Savages" (2004 - Episode: "Thanksgiving with the Savages")

FA: How did you meet Mel Gibson for the first time, and how was it to work with the star of “Mad Max”, “Lethal Weapon”, “Braveheart” and

CK: Mel is a super nice, easy going, energetic person. He has more energy than almost any other person I have met. I met him the first day on set and he was full of life and made me laugh. He is actually known for being a prankster on set. He had me put on fake chest hair in the makeup department once for fun. Then in rehearsals for the hot tub scene, he told me to very casually take off my robe and get into the tub with him. The crew was so shocked for a moment no one said anything. Then, they all burst out laughing.

Candace & Mel on the set of "Complete Savages" (2004 - Episode: "Hot Water")

FA: Your “Complete Savages” safety videos are hilarious! They should have appeared more often!

CK: Mel had plans for many more episodes with me, but the series was cancelled. His next episode involved me getting attacked by giant ants at a picnic. That would have been super! And another episode where Officer Steve Cox has flashbacks and imagines me in a rice patty with a gun and huge bamboo hat on. I told him that was too stereotypical and I didn't think it would make it on air. Haha. I was also a regular on “Son of the Beach” - a spoof of “Baywatch” - on FX. I did five episodes with Tim Stack.

Candace Kita in "Son of the Beach" (2001 - Episode: "Rod Strikes Back")

FA: In the beginning of your acting career, you appeared briefly in the great erotic thriller “Wild Side” starring Christopher Walken, Anne Heche, Joan Chen and Steven Bauer...

CK: My part was cut out of “Wild Side” although I appear in the credits.

FA: Actually, you appear in the 110-minute director's cut of "Wild Side"! I read that the movie was taken from director Donald Cammel and was cut by the studio. He was so upset that he committed suicide. Four years later in 2000, the original editor restored it and made the director's cut available on DVD (Tartan UK). Did you know about that?

CK: How funny, I was cut out of one version and not the other! Yes, I knew about Donald Cammel committing suicide a few years after the fact. I knew his wife, China Kong, and felt badly for her afterwards. I don't know what she is doing now as it has been several years. Donald co-directed a very good movie starring Mick Jagger in 1970, “Performance”.

Christopher Waken, Candace Kita and Anne Heche in "Wild Side" (1996)

FA: You’re very funny as a prison convict in an episode of "Pepper Dennis" with Rebecca Romijn. What was it like shooting?

CK: It was interesting because we shot for one week in a real women's correctional facility in Los Angeles; it was high security and very interesting being in a real jail. Haha. We wore the real orange jumpsuits and were in tiny 9 x 12' cells. It made me realize you really don't want to ever go to jail; the food is just terrible!

Candace Kita and Rebecca Rominj in "Pepper Denis" (2006)

FA: You’re going to be in the very last episode of "Nip/Tuck". Can you tell me more about it?

CK: I am only allowed to say that I am a guest star on the final episode of “Nip/Tuck”. This is the very last show of the entire series, not season, and will show sometime in 2010. They said it is a "cheeky" ending to a "cheeky" series. I had actually never seen an episode until after I got the part. It is a very tongue-in-cheek show. The cast is great and Famke Janssen (“X-Men”) also has a role in the series finale.

Candace Kita on the set of "Nip/Tuck" (2009)

FA: Have you always had full control of your image as a model and actress?

CK: No and this is something that is difficult. Sometimes it is very difficult to control your image. I suggest to new models to always read the contract carefully; take the time to read it fully. And if you have any questions, ask.

End of part 1. Coming soon: Candace Kita: The Hottie Helper. In this second and final part of her interview, Candace will talk about her women’s safety radio show, Hottie Help with Candace Kita; her charity work with Hotties with a Heart; the Comic Con; the action fantasy comic book Kyu-shin, and her many other new projects!

Interview conducted by Frédéric Ambroisine in July/August 2009 and edited by Sylvia Rorem in September 2009 for Thanks to Mike Rollerson & Candace Kita.

Candace Kita Official Website
Candace's Blog (AliveNotDead)
Follow Candace on Twitter
Candace Kita on Facebook
Friend Candace on My Space
Candace’s videos on Youtube
Mike Rollerson photos on Flickr
Hottie Help Poscast (LA Talk Radio)
Hottie Help on MySpace
Hottie Help on FaceBook
Hotties with a ♥ on FaceBook

2 commentaires:

The Old Ronin a dit…

Candace is amazing! She can do anything! I hope to see her more and more in the future!

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