"It was pretty scary," Negri recalls. "A bunch of improv auditions with high stakes. If you don't go full out, it's not going to be realistic or believable."
A nonunion actor who spent four years at New York University, through which she studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute and Stonestreet Screen Acting Studios, Negri is constantly checking BackStage.com, refreshing the casting calls and reading advice columns, while she sits in front of a computer all day at her job as a transcriptionist. After submitting her headshot and résumé for Poseidon Productions' "The Murders of Cane Hill" on BackStage.com, she was given three scenarios for the character Izzy Conrad that she would have to improvise, one of which involved witnessing a friend's murder.
"The real difficult part of it for me was finding a point of focus," Negri says. "I had to show these characters next to me who weren't even there and the balance of someone trying to comfort me but also watching this horrific event happen."
For writer-director T.J. Collins, improv is always part of his audition process. "It allows me to experience the full range of the actor's abilities," he says. Collins was searching for actors who could react, solve problems, and, of course, scream loudly when placed in dramatic situations, like seeing a friend violently murdered. He admired Negri's full commitment to screaming and crying during her audition.
"Finding an actor that fits the criteria is not an easy task," Collins admits, "but when it came to Victoria, she managed to balance strength and vulnerability, which is essential to her character."
Aside from the unusual audition, Negri calls "The Murders of Cane Hill" "basically just your straightforward horror movie," complete with Ouija boards, possessed spirits, murder, and a creepy abandoned house. Negri is an avid fan of horror and zombie movies, but this is her first foray into the genre. "Getting murdered sounds really fun to me," she says of the chance to experience the physicality of a thriller and her first onscreen death.
If her experience with "The Murders of Cane Hill" taught Negri anything—other than how to handle possessed spirits—it was to trust herself. "Just to go with your gut and fully commit," she says, "and have fun with it. Horror is fun."
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