She keeps us up to date on her future project and what song she loves to sing while in her car.
We would like to thank Adria for taking the time to sit down and talk to us.
1. So tell us, who is Adria Tennor?
I’m an actress and a writer and a restaurant owner. I’m from the suburbs of Detroit, but moved to New York City for college, where I studied directing. As a directing student, I had to take all the classes that the actors had to take PLUS my directing classes. I actually really wanted to be an actor, but they’d asked me to stop in the middle of my audition monologue because I was so bad, and they talked to me about my directing that I had done in high school and that’s how I was accepted to NYU. So I was happy to get to take the acting classes and that is really where I excelled. My first role in a film (and how I got my SAG card) was Hal Hartley’s Amateur in which I play a 12 yo boy. And with that debut, my body of work has been pretty eclectic and eccentric. I’ve played a Hooters waitress (Boy Meets World), a murderer (Trooper - a pilot with Mira Sorvino), a doomed-to-die cancer victim in the ‘60s (Mad Men) and an impish assistant in the Academy Award winning film The Artist - a silent movie set in the ‘20s - to name a few favorites!
1. Why did you want to become an actor? What inspired you?
My late grandmother took me to see Annie at the Fisher Theater in Detroit and I was hooked. I loved feeling so engaged and excited and empathetic to what was going on onstage. Growing up in school, I always found it so difficult to retain information and facts to which I had no emotional connection. When I was reading historical facts about the Civil War, the words just went in one eye and out the other, but when I got to watch Gone with the Wind I suddenly that event had life and meaning to me. I felt emotionally connected to this devastating change our country underwent, how it impacted the South, the African Americans living in our country and the whole economic system we had set up as a nation. I cared about it and so I understood it so much better. I decided that communicating with an audience by moving them emotionally was the most powerful way to relay thoughts and ideas and literally move our world to progress, and that’s what I set out to do. I love films like, Fair Game or 12 Years a Slave or Michael Clayton, films that expose the truth about the world and get people riled up about something that happened and could happen again. And hopefully effect a change, no matter how simple and small. Even an awareness can make the smallest, but most important shift in how we live our lives.
1. Can you tell us about your role in D- Train. Or too early to say?
Jack Black plays a guy named Dan who is on the planning committee for his high school reunion. Dan was a little under the radar in high school and has spent the better part of his adult life trying to be popular and cool even though high school is long over. The rsvp list for the reunion is looking a little slim, so Dan has an idea to lure the most popular guy in his graduating class (Marsden) to the reunion so everyone else will want to come, and he will be a hero. I play Wendy Fleur, the most popular girl in the class, and when I see Dan and his wife Stacy (Kathryn Hahn) at the reunion, I remember Stacy very well, but Dan, well, that’s another story....I’m witness to the insanely hilarious and horrifying events that unfold with Dan’s plan.
1. How was it working with big-guns Jack Black and James Marsden?
They were so terrific and generous and warm and so TALENTED! I actually know Kathryn Hahn from Los Angeles. She’s a regular at our two restaurants, barbrix and Cooks County so when we saw each other in the make up chair (we all got cast pretty last minute because indie film is that way) we were both so excited. So that made playing the scenes extra fun. Jack stepped right up to me and introduced himself and I told him I was playing Wendy and said, “I don’t know who you are.” I meant in the scene, my character doesn’t know who your character is, but he thought I, Adria didn’t know who he, Jack Black was, so he said very humbly, “I’m Jack Black. I’m playing Dan.” I laughed and said, “No, silly! My character doesn’t know who you are!” He looked askance and said in his funny voice, “Awkward.....” It was really fun. The script is a genius and brilliant and hilarious and outrageously awkward comedy by Andrew Mogel and Jarad Paul (Yes Man) and these two are also making their directorial debut.
1. Can you tell us about your time on Mad Men? Has that concluded for you?
I’m not allowed to talk about unaired shows/seasons so I can’t tell you if my time on Mad Men has concluded, but I can tell you that Mad Men is one of the credits I am most proud of on my resume. I was invited to audition for the show before any of the episodes had aired by Laura Schiff, the casting director. She had come to see me in my one-woman show, StripSearch, and become familiar with my work so when Matthew Weiner was looking for a group of actors to play Don & Betty Draper’s core group of friends, she thought of me. Weiner wanted to make sure that, even though we may not have a lot to do in that first episode we appear (1.3 Marriage of Figaro), we were all still very capable actors because he wanted to know he could write subsequent story lines that included us with more to do, and that we could pull it off. That is indeed what happened. I only had a few lines here and there in prior episodes, but in season 5, I got to come back as a guest lead with a really moving storyline involving Betty’s scare with cancer. That episode was actually directed by Jon Hamm, and he was terrific. Actors always make great directors. I really love the show, so it was really gratifying to be involved in a production with which I had so much admiration and respect. Matthew Weiner is a stickler for details, and that is what makes the show truly great. He’s very thorough and demanding in the best possible way. I pushes people to reach out of their comfort zone to be just a little bit greater than they might have been had they not been gently shoved into excellence.
1. Anything interesting you can tell us about working on the series?
Oops! I think I just did that! But here’s a sweet bit of info. The day we shot the scene where Betty and I have tea at the Roosevelt, we actually shot that in the Biltmore in downtown Los Angeles. At lunch, Mari Weiss (who played Cecilia, the Fortuneteller) and I went through the lunch line and found a table to eat together. We had bonded as guest cast often does because we’re usually the only ones who don’t know anyone else on set because we’re guests! That day Jon Hamm went through the lunch line with the rest of the crew and made a point of joining Mari and I for lunch. We both thought that was pretty cool of him. I think he enjoyed talking shop with a couple of down-to-earth, work-a-day actors, and he preferred hanging out with us to having someone bring him lunch in his trailer.
1. A curve ball : what is your go-to song while driving in the car. The song you just can’t stop signing?
I love Jason Isbell and I think his newest album Southeastern, is genius and brilliant. You’re going to think I’m crazy, but one of the things I usually need to do in the car is prep for whatever audition I’m on my way to. One of the ways I like to prepare is by making sure I’m in touch with my feelings, which I definitely need to be in order to act! So, my go-to song is this gorgeous, intense ballad he wrote about a friend’s bout with cancer called Elephant. I sing it really loudly and fully until I can’t sing it anymore because I’m totally choking up. I know, I’m a weirdo.
1. What or where should we be on the look out for you? Any upcoming projects?
Last summer I got a little frustrated with my career as an actor. It’s so hard to have so little control of your own fate, waiting for an audition and waiting for someone to pick you to be in their thing can be so difficult and dispiriting. I decided I wanted to learn how to make my own thing! So I called a friend I’d made while I was doing red carpet stuff for The Artist, Doug Blake. He produced The Sessions with John Hawkes and Helen Hunt, and was on his way to Baton Rouge to produce John Schneider’s (Bo Duke from The Dukes of Hazzard) writing and directorial debut, Smothered. I asked if I could go along and shadow him so I could learn about producing, and he said yes. But once I got there, I didn’t do a whole lot of shadowing. They just threw me into the mix and I ended up with an associate producer credit on the film, which stars five horror icons playing themselves, only in Smothered it is the horror icons who are being haunted. I also have a couple scenes in the movie, which just premiere to rave reviews at The Mad Monster Party in Charlotte, NC. Doug is working on setting up distribution for the film now so hopefully it won’t be long now until it gets a wide release.
Using what I learned in Baton Rouge, and guided by David Dwiggins, the Co-Producer and First AD I met on Smothered, I also just completed production on a short film that I wrote, directed and produced called Cracked, starring Marguerite Moreau (Queen of the Damned, Grey’s Anatomy) and Talyan Wright (Two and a Half Men). I’m about to start post-production - editing, sound mixing, color correcting, etc. And hopefully, it will be in festivals before the year ends. Short films need love and support so if your readers would like to follow our progress they can do so here:
And actors also need love and support! So here is how to stay in touch with what I’m up to!
Please Leave A Comment-