Last month, Atlanta Film and TV was fortunate to have a conversation with Actress, Coach, Producer, Coach, and one of the leaders of Latina's in Media, Viviana "Vivi" Chavez.
Atlanta Film and TV: Can you give us some background about who you are, and what you do in the Atlanta Film and TV industry?
Viviana Chavez: “I am a bit of a renaissance woman, and have worked professionally in Atlanta since 2010. I started in the acting realm and worked mainly in Producing, Assistant Directing, Photography, and Coaching.”
Atlanta Film and TV: Can you take us on your journey of how you got your start in acting to how you began your career in film and television, to where you are now?
Viviana Chavez: “Growing up, I never thought about acting until high school and was cast in our one-act play by accident. I auditioned for our school plays as a part of our curriculum. A friend of mine was Cast for what I auditioned for but decided not to do it. Eventually, I was asked if I wanted to be a part, and I thought it would be fun! After performing, I immediately fell in love with Acting, and since then, I took drama classes, and in college, majored in Theater, with an emphasis on Acting. I also became interested in working behind the camera, so I double-majored in Telecommunication (Mass Media Arts.)
During my senior year in college, I was fortunate to sign with The People Store Talent Agency and have been with them since 2010. Signing with the People Store has led to opportunities to audition for many projects. One project, in particular, was the first season of The Walking Dead, which opened doors for other projects filming in Atlanta. Through the acting world, I discovered I also had a love for producing, which I went back and forth on in the indie and commercial levels. Later, I realized a need to coach actors in the Atlanta film industry, especially with newer talent, because Atlanta’s quickly become a hub for new people who want to get involved with acting. And, I wanted to be sure people had correct information by going down the right path.”
Atlanta Film and TV: What was the career you were interested in before acting?
“ I always loved drawing, photography, and singing! But, I am NOT a good singer, and singing is the one thing that gives me stage fright! On the flip side, I loved archeology and history, and when I was younger wanted to be an archeologist. When I think about it now, what I see is a love of storytelling and people. I love archeology for discovering the history and the stories of the people - and telling and keeping them alive, which is what our industry does, to a certain degree. The stories open others' eyes to people they might not know.”
- Viviana Chavez
Atlanta Film and TV: Once you did your high school production, how did your parents facilitate your growth in the arts?
Viviana Chavez: “I honestly do not remember telling my parents about acting. But, they were supportive, only if I continually educated myself. As a daughter of immigrants, I don’t believe they understood acting because our parents focused more on job security. However, my mother was supportive in everything I did, and I found out later she too had a love for acting and drawing when she was younger.”
Atlanta Film and T V: Which one is your favorite. Acting on stage, or for film and television?
Viviana Chavez: “That is hard to answer because the two are very different. There is nothing like acting on stage and the audience reacting in real-time, and the rush of having to complete an entire story from beginning to end, with no breaks in between. Because it’s a world happening in front of the audience, and the audience reacting in real-time fuels everything, and it’s different every night.
On the other hand, I love film and television, because you can do things you can’t do on stage! The movie magic and togetherness of it all, which is what I love about working both on-camera and on stage. But, it’s fun in film knowing the secret behind how a project got done and being in on the magic.”
Atlanta Film and TV: You’re one of the leaders in the Latinas in Media. Can you share with us about that, and if someone is Latina and in the film and tv industry, how can they join?
“Latinas in Media is a group of Latina talent advocating for representation in the industry. The way we’ve done that in the past is through a series of One-Act Plays we’ve produced. We also host meet-ups and Zoom events, and anyone who identifies as Latina can join. You pretty much can “like” our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram, which is how we keep in touch with everyone.”
Atlanta Film and TV: You've worked on a few big projects such as Baby Driver and WandaVision, just to name a few. Can you talk to us about that and what those experiences were like?
Viviana Chavez: I had a blast working on Baby Driver, and by the way, it is one of my favorite projects! Not only did I never think I would ever work with Edgar Wright, but we got to do things I hadn’t done until that point in my career. I honestly loved working on the Walking Dead because it was the first thing I did. But I love horror movies, and it was exciting to live in a post-apocalyptic world and seeing the movie magic of how it gets done! I remember one of the characters got her arm bitten off, and you watch the prosthetics, the blood, and how it all happens, which was interesting!
The movie magic aspect of WandaVision was when we’re behind the scenes while filming, and you see the world coming to life. But, you don’t get to see the product until it comes out, with all the added CGI effects and how important it is to the story. I didn’t realize how pivotal of a scene I was in until I watched the show!"
Atlanta Film and TV: You’re a career coach who helps up and coming actors. Can you share with us about that?
Viviana Chavez: “I love coaching actors new to the industry because you do not know something until someone lets you in on how it works. If you do not go to school for acting, you might get caught up in a scam or stuff that does not help you achieve your goals. I talk with newer actors to find out what they are trying to achieve and why they are trying to do this. I will ask my clients what their definition of success is. It is a lot of introspection to be an actor. There is a lot of figuring out who you are. How you are and how you work with other people because this industry is collaborative.
You need to know how you work, so you know how you can best work with others and why you want to act in the first place! I love walking newer actors through the process because sometimes what you see with all the magic is what you think you will get. And, it is not! Someone has to be the person to let newer actors know that this is what it is going to be. For instance, you might not work for a year. Or, you might spend a lot of money taking classes. The beauty of this industry is that it is unpredictable, and I think people can get caught up in making it a negative perspective versus a positive one. But, it is also unpredictable that it could happen tomorrow! It is also great for newer actors to get different perspectives from people who have worked in the industry for years because it will help them in the long run.”
Atlanta Film and TV: Can you talk to us about how networking and building relationships is important in the film and tv industry?
Viviana Chavez: “Our industry is made up of networking. I think most people see networking as “schmoozing”- which it’s not! Networking is finding the people you connect with because you want to work with people. I like to equate networking to sports, because it’s a collaborative effort and you and your teammates need to be able to work together, in order to reach the end goal. For instance, the people you work with on set, are your teammates. And the end goal is creating a film or television show. Networking will allow you to find the people who you work well with, and the only way you will be able to do that is by attending networking events or attending classes.”
Atlanta Film and TV: If I could travel back in time, and interview eighteen-year-old Viviana, and tell her all the things she would become, what would you least likely believe to be true?
Viviana Chavez: “I don't think I would believe I would become a producer or a leader in some capacity. I am not a shy person. But, when I was eighteen, I was insecure and would never think I could lead people. Now, I am more confident and know I am capable. Now, if I feel like I cannot do something, then I will figure it out. Or, I will ask others.”
Atlanta Film and TV: Where do you see the Atlanta Film and TV industry, within the next five years?
Viviana Chavez: It’s hard to tell where the Atlanta Film and TV industry will be within the next five years. Who would’ve thought this is where we’d be, like meeting with people and auditions are now via Zoom? It’s such a different world from where we were in 2019. But, what I would like to happen is for the industry to remain in Georgia and continue to grow to the point where people have their foundation start here. It would be great if Georgia had film distributors and people who bookend on the production side. In five years, I’d love to see more traction on all the different sides of production and people who stay in Georgia, house it and grow it from here.”
Atlanta Film and TV: What is a piece of advice you would give someone who wants a career in film and television?
Viviana Chavez: “Be patient. Patience is a trait for anyone working in this industry because it’s unpredictable, and you need to have a level of patience with outcomes. We work in a business that relies on other people to cast you in projects or send you auditions. Be patient and know that your time will come. It’s just a matter of when. I also tell my clients not to take things personally, when in reality it has nothing to do with you.”
Atlanta Film and TV: How can people connect with you?
Click here for part I of our conversation.