"One on One" with Camille Mana
Camille Mana plays Lisa, a 19-year old, spoiled underachieving Asian girl on UPN's Hit Series "One on One". After watching an emotional episode of "My So Called Life" Camille knew she wanted to try her hand at acting. Juggling a schedule of classes at University of California's Berkeley with acting auditions she managed to graduate in only six semesters. Now she's enjoying her life pursuing her love of acting, rocking out to the indie music scene and contributing to the Asian American community. Camille sat down with ASIANCE and gave us the scoop on her life, love and pursuit of happiness.
... my kids will be able to see more Asian American actors on the screen. It's all progress. So I applaud anyone who has given their life to tell our stories.
ASIANCE: Where did you grow up?
Camille: I grew up in North Orange County, California. I lived in the United States all of my life.
ASIANCE: What about your parents?
Camille: They both were born in the Philippines. Ethnically I'm part Chinese, but culturally I'm Filipino..
ASIANCE: Give us a week in your life when you're taping your show.
Camille: Sitcom wise it is a five day work week. Actually for women it's the most ideal job, especially if you want to have kids because you don't work crazy hours. You come in day one and we have table reads. We get the script at 2am the night before. Then you read the script with the cast, crew and network producers. So you have to be funny, otherwise they start changing your jokes and butchering everything. Every night we get a new script at 2am, so the script is constantly evolving. Day 2 we have a group rehearsal and then a run through at the end of the day with the producers and writers. Day 3, we do another rehearsal and run through for the studio and network. So it's really like 3 brains that function in front of an audience.
Taking a break.
The people who are the writers and producers are completely in charge of it. Everyone has an opinion on things and then there are sensors. It's constantly evolving. You may have an awesome joke on the first day and then it's completely gone on the second day. It's all about being flexible. They change jokes. You always have to be on your toes.
On Day 4 we begin shooting. We don't have a live audience. We pre-shoot in front of laughers which are people who are paid to laugh in the audience. Day 5 - “ We have a full audience. You still get a script at 2am. There are new jokes. You have to learn to think on your feet and be flexible. You have to learn to land the jokes.
A sitcom is constantly changing. It's not like a play. It's awesome. It's kind of intimidating at first when you are not use to that format. It's a great skill to learn. Not many people get to do sitcoms and not many Asian actors do sitcoms. It's such a small category and I think I'm really blessed to do this.
We have a very crazy crowd at "One on One". We have a very supportive audience with many families and kids. They play hip-hop throughout the whole night. There's a DJ and comedian for the kids. This helps to keep the audience alive so they don't get bored. I work at Paramount. So I get to go to the lot every day and it's gorgeous. It's the best job in the world.
ASIANCE: How did you juggle your acting career and college?
Camille: It was hard because my parents weren't really supportive of me going into acting. I had to prove it to them over the years. I pretended I was still in Los Angeles, not in college. My agents thought I lived in LA. You only get overnight notice for an audition. One time I had a final. I had just flown home the week before. Then, I get a phone call for an audition. So I had to fly home for the audition and then fly back to Berkeley for the final. I ended up getting a really bad grade and not getting the part. But it was worth it. There are so few opportunities in this business especially being of Asian descent. Two weeks later I found out they wrote a part for me in an episode.
ASIANCE: Which actors would you like to work with?
Camille: Judy Greer. Everyone from "Freaks and Geeks".
ASIANCE: If you weren't acting you'd be... ?
Camille: I'd still be in the business. I wouldn't want to be an agent but I understand the business side of the industry. Maybe a talent manager? I love the industry.
ASIANCE: Any Asian American women you admire?
Camille: Any Asian American woman that is in this business and still in the game. Tamlyn Tomita. The Joy Luck Club people. Older Asian American actors who have basically stuck around over the years when there wasn't a lot for us and have still created something and still managed to make
Just an American girl that happens to be Asian.
progress so people like me can come around and have a job. Then my kids will be able to see more Asian American actors on the screen. It's all progress. So I applaud anyone who has given their life to tell our stories.
My parents did what they could to get in my way. When you're younger it's easier, especially when you can't drive or don't have money. I kept going. Eventually when I started working and making money combined with graduating early they began to support me. Now that I'm on the show my mom will introduce me as, "This is Camille, you can watch her on Monday's" not "This is Camille, she graduated Berkeley".
ASIANCE: Do you feel the Asian American media landscape is changing?
Camille: It comes in waves. This year there are many new faces. I still think there are many stereotypical roles but the more we see, the more people will be use to seeing us. I was very fortunate that that was the goal of my character on "One on One". I'm just an American girl that happens to be Asian.
ASIANCE: Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?
Camille: Have a picture of my career being balanced. I'd like to do an hour show next. Maybe teen movies? Asian American independent films? Do more theatre... and continue doing "One on One". Do it all! I'd like to do a voice over series. I want to tell important stories so I hope I can do that.
ASIANCE: Anything else you'd like to shout out to the Asian American girls?
Camille: We need more writers, producers of ethnicity then we'll start to see more Asian American's integrated into the story. Actors have no power over what happens. They are there to fill something that has been created. It's been written, somebody's approved it. Then the producers do what they do with it. We need more people like that behind the business. I'd like to be a part of it. I plan to be a part of it! Write and produce! You can hold me to it!
Check out Camille's site at www.camillemana.com