Glenda Pannell stars in “Shotgun Stories,” an independent film that took the top prize at this year’s Seattle Film Festival. The film hits theaters across the country in a typical, gradual independent film release schedule. You know, the one that is likely to follow with “˜sleeper hit of the summer’ title attached to it.
SheKnows had the opportunity to speak to an actress on the cusp of full-fledged celebrity stardom. In this deeply emotional tale, Pannell portrays Annie Hayes, a single mom raising children in a world of instant gratification. With her struggling to pay the bills, the demands of the materialistic world around her cause a stress with her kids.
Pannell’s character is also in the middle of two sets of brothers who are on the verge of complete family disruption after their father dies.
After charming as the neighbor of Johnny Cash in “Walk the Line,” Glenda tackled another Southern-based yarn and produced a performance sure to continue her current Hollywood rise.
Take me home, country road
SheKnows: Hi Glenda, thanks for visiting with SheKnows.
Glenda Pannell: Thank you for your interest.
SheKnows: I see you were born and raised in Memphis, how did your Tennessee experience shape you?
Glenda Pannell: I think what is so amazing about Tennessee is you are grounded in family, which was my experience. Family is most important. I had these mantras growing up: ‘never forget where you came from,’ ‘think of people other than yourself,’ just to be good selfless people who think of the bigger picture. I think that is the secret of success is I’ve never forgotten where I’ve come from.
SheKnows: Once you headed out to LA, were you personally drawn to others who shared that kind of view of the world?
Glenda Pannell: Yeah, actually, I have a good girlfriend out here, Claire Grant. We went to college and worked together. Our lives seem to be paralleling in terms of our game plan, moving to California, you know. I think we kept each other going. We’re so excited about the move. In terms of moving up in pictures, this is the land of opportunity.
Also there is some great independent work going on down South and I was able to build up a reel that I’m really proud of with independent films – “Shotgun Stories” included.
A story of the south
SheKnows: What was it about “Shotgun Stories” that drew you to it first, and secondly your character, what aspect of her was really difficult for you to wrap yourself around?
Glenda Pannell: The script in general, obviously you’re looking at something that is white paper with black writing on it and you have to visualize in your head what that story’s going to look like. But this flowed so wonderfully. Jeff (Nichols) is such a great writer and narrator of the South. He’s from Little Rock, Arkansas and lives in Austin, Texas at the moment. I think I really related to the story he was telling.
I knew people like the characters in the film. When specific characters would come into play on whatever page I was on I’d think ‘that reminds me of so-and-so.’ When it came to my character, Annie Hayes, I think it came down to the usual, emphasizing with your character, in terms of being a mom in a small town where you really just get by on what you make. There aren’t a lot of big jobs with huge salaries there. There are jobs that let you get by and being satisfied with that. I found a lot of strength in her. There were moments I saw myself in her. Being from the South, I could very well be in her shoes. How would you raise your son in environment like that when you get by when other kids are getting the latest games and things like that? These moms can’t buy things like that. They bring values to the table raising a child knowing that you can’t provide that for them. So, I tried to bring as much strength and dignity to her as possible.
A mom for today’s moms
SheKnows: It is a very powerful message, especially in the world currently. It is a very insightful film into the inner-workings of the modern American family, really as we know it.
Glenda Pannell: Oh, absolutely. My mom is raising three girls at the moment on her own. It’s difficult. She does the best she can with what she has, but “no” comes in to play quite often. You have to accept that word. It’s difficult when your kid goes to school with kids who get everything they want. As a mom, you have to sit down and explain those values.
SheKnows: For you as an actress so much of what you are playing involves what you are playing off of, how was working with Mike Shannon?
Glenda Pannell: He was great. Mike was very intense. I had never been on a set where you’re dealing with such method acting and I was so flustered anyway just to be on a set wanting to do a good job and bring justice to what Jeff wrote. He was quiet at first and I should have known he was just getting into character. But I thought he doesn’t like me, oh no! (Laughs) I’m not doing a good job. It’s funny, after our first take, he winked at me and it really set me at ease.
SheKnows: I can imagine.
Glenda Pannell: I’m so glad he did that in the beginning. (Laughs) I was so paranoid about doing a bad job.
SheKnows: Well, speaking of high expectations, you opened “Shotgun Stories” at the Tribeca Film Festival?
Glenda Pannell: Yes, how about that. It was my first time in New York.
SheKnows: What was that like, I mean, it’s Tribeca? That festival has not been around very long but it sure is becoming a storied fest.
Glenda Pannell: It was just great. First of all, you have the energy of New York. You step off the sidewalk and feel the energy in the air. People were generally interested in how a movie is made. It made you think about the choices you made after you did it, which is great because then I learn from what I did this time and bring it to the table next time I get a great part. It was great to have a discussion about moviemaking.
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