Erin Fogel, actress, film producer, yoga instructor, and proud New Yorker, who stars in the new hit comedy film “The Strike” out on all digital platforms, chats balancing yoga and acting with perfect Zen. She is receiving rave reviews for her latest performance as Molly, in “The Strike,” with critics hailing her as “an actress with great comedic timing and a joy to watch.”
Congratulations on your latest movie “The Strike.” Your performance, in the movie, is receiving rave reviews. You must be very happy with the positive response and feedback so far. Can you tell us a little about your early acting experiences, and what drove your passion for performing?
It’s funny how sometimes your destiny just shows up. This was the case with acting. As a young child, I had these visions of things I didn’t know anything about. Cameras, costumes, lights … I even had dreams at night of glamorous events. It was so strange, especially for a 3 year old who had barely left her cul-de-sac, let alone knew that acting was “a thing.”
I would tell my mom about these fantasies and she was dumb struck. She was also having these dreams of me, as an adult, making films. I longed to make everyone laugh. I knew no limits when it came to crafting accents, imitations, and my aspirations to make a difference in people’s lives, with the escape of entertainment.
The moment I could begin the pursuit, I was steadfast and never looked back. I vividly recall my first theatrical experience, (at an awesome liberal arts camp called Bucks Rock) where I was cast in a rendition of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” It encapsulated very mature elements of performance, from mask work to precise physicality, and even music. It was the perfect first sip of everything I longed to pursue. I acted in any play that would have me!
Finally, in 2007, my manifestations came full circle when I booked my first film role as Shari Rabinowitz in “27 Dresses” with Katherine Heigl. Making on-camera content has been my “everything” ever since. I had been led to the pivotal moment where I saw all of my young dreams in front of me for the very first time.
“The Strike” has been the culmination of my life up to this point and I could not be more excited at the reviews and feedback we have received so far.
Aside from acting, you own a yoga studio in Manhattan, House of Jai Yoga. Can you explain how that came about for you?
Yet again, my destiny found me. At the age of 22, I knew I needed to work on myself. I had been getting in my own way with a lack of confidence that developed throughout school. I was being bullied on a daily basis.
Though nothing could stop me from pursuing my dreams, a lot of people sure did try to stifle me with negativity. My posture showed it, and I could not get grounded and rooted. I figured after never working on myself physically, it was time to take action. Yoga seemed like a cool opportunity to make a mind, body connection.
What started as a hobby, developed into a journey that was, and continues to be, incredible. The more I practiced, the more I could manifest things. The more I manifested, the more I could progress with my acting career. What I felt was missing was a community, a place of non-judgment where people could be themselves and feel nurtured to explore and be inspired along with healing, restoring, and strengthening their mind and body.
My mother and I opened House of Jai in 2012 and it is the ideal Upper East Side escape from a sometimes-manic city! It also became one of my locations for “The Strike.” The two worlds collided in such a cool way.
We imagine filmmaking can be stressful. How does yoga help with the some of those more trying moments?
The most exciting aspect of filmmaking is also the most daunting; trying to find solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems. Yoga conditions the mind to focus, and then find ways to bring the world to you. If, when you do a forward fold, you can’t touch the floor, you don’t need to suffer, you can bring blocks under hands and let the earth rise to meet your palms.
In a way, that’s how I approach producing. If in the middle of a scene, something goes awry, we don’t sit and struggle, we take a global perspective to find how to bring the solution to us. Of course, the breath work comes in handy as well. If you can hone in the breath, you won’t hyperventilate when money and time are on the line!
One of your early break-out roles was on the blockbuster romantic comedy “27 Dresses,” starring alongside Katherine Heigl. Can you explain that whole experience?
I had gone from never even doing a student film, to walking onto a Hollywood set- surrounded by the very best of everything. It was surreal. There I was, alongside Katherine Heigl, and I got to make her laugh! With the amazing support of director Anne Fletcher, I was given the opportunity to improvise, to be myself, to showcase my real life excitement with the excitement that was felt by the character.
I was able to experience being on location, as well as film in the middle of NYC. It was a dream come to life. I sometimes feel it was “beginners luck” – where the universe brings you something you always wanted, just so you can carry it with you during the harder times when you don’t get what you want (which is most often).
Your recent movie “The Strike,” out of all digital platforms, you both star in and executive produced. Can you tell us about the movie and some of its characters?
“The Strike” was the culmination of every aspect of my life. It went beyond any type of “method acting.” The character of Molly Mirovsky lived in a world similar to mine, surrounded by my most favorite people and places, utilizing my real-life contacts and locations.
Writer, director, and friend Guillermo Ivan set a colorful cast of characters around Molly, allowing her to be the sensible stabilizer. We have Alberto, the Cuban Lothario, who lets his lack of awareness, and level of taste, get in the way of any opportunities that cross his path. The third member of the trio is the subtle, and introspective Richard. He is a writer who has encountered more than just a writer’s block. His cloudy mind has kept him from keeping a job, as well as getting in his way when pursuing his dreams.
Our rag tag team all have their own personal mentors, played by Bronson Pinchot, Lara Goldie, and Paul Calderon, who act as the voice of reason and mirror of truth that they so desperately need, in order to rise above themselves and become who they finally want to be.
The film was exclusively made in New York City. How did you find filming in New York? Were there any glitches along the way?
New York City was the absolute best location for so many reasons. Anything we needed, at all hours of the day, or night, was available to us. The one thing you can’t always count on was the cooperation of the weather. Our Walt Whitman character, played by Paul Calderon, lives outside in the park. His filming was always contingent on the cooperation of our fair mother nature, who wasn’t always fair!
You have an interesting and diverse cast in the movie. Can you explain some of your casting process for the film?
I worked in tandem with Guillermo Ivan, and Golden Ceiba Productions, a company that started in Mexico. They received their claim to fame working in the Latino film industry, something we all collectively believe we need more of in USA. With Guillermo at the helm of production, we kept diversity at the top of the list when it came to casting. It was important we kept an open mind for every single character.
When it came to auditioning, we saw so many great actors, and we were very excited to have a cast, and crew, come together from all over the world to create our New York City flavors.
When you aren’t making movies or in the yoga studio, what do you enjoy doing?
I am a tried and true New Yorker in terms of enjoying everything the city has to offer. I love shopping at one-of-a-kind boutiques, dining on every type of cuisine, catching Broadway shows, and Cirque du Soleil!
What’s next on the horizon for you?
I have two projects upcoming that I am super excited about. One is a new film, called “Daydreams” – a coming of age story about a girl, in her 30’s, who suffers from narcolepsy. She now must face her family and friends that her dreams have left behind. This film is written by the amazing Mar Morgenstern, who I am also working with on another project – a television series called “The Company” which takes a deep look into culture, race, class, and the clashing of people. We are working on “The Company” alongside Justin Ross and Amy Acosta. Lots more to come …