In 2017, I had the great pleasure of interviewing the versatile Debra Lamb about her career from the 80s to now. Our first interview concentrated more on films early in her career. Debra has done so much work throughout the years that, in this second interview, I wanted to focus on her more recent works. We spoke recently about the many fascinating directions her career has taken over the course of the past few years.
Say hello again to Debra Lamb!
Debra: Hi, Johnny!
Johnny: Hi, Debra. It’s so good to be interviewing you again. You’ve had a lot going on recently, and I look forward to recapping it.
Debra: Yes. How are you this morning?
Johnny: Afternoon here in New York, actually. I’m doing good. I do have my questions ready to go, starting with this: What have your roles in The New 10s and The New 20s provided you that your 80s and 90s roles did not?
Debra: Now that’s a good question! As much as I loved the films I was in earlier in my career in the 80s and 90s, and there were some standout roles that I had back then, the biggest difference is that, now that I’m more mature, I feel that I’m coming into my own as an actress because I’m playing roles that are more substantial. I’m playing more mature roles. When I was starting out in acting, I really always felt myself to be a character actor, but when I was younger, I wasn’t getting those character actor roles. Now that I’m older, I’m getting the type of roles that I’ve always wanted.
Johnny: To go to my next question: One of your upcoming projects is Teacher Shortage, which I backed on Kickstarter. How did you get involved in that project?
Debra: Well, first of all, thank you very much for your support. When I first connected with director Troy Escamilla, I was in Vienna as I had been there for a few months working on some projects. I don’t remember exactly how we connected, but we had a lot of mutual friends. We got to talking, and he had this film that he was going to do, Teacher Shortage. He talked about the characters in the film, and he had me specifically in mind for the role of Sue Steel. I read the script and I really, really liked it. It was different because I really enjoyed the fact it wasn’t a bunch of kids running around getting killed. You had a very eclectic group of teachers, and the role he had in mind for me, Sue Steel, was the head of the English department. I really gravitated towards that because it was a good, meaty authoritarian role. The film is complete and will be going out on the festival circuit soon.
Johnny: Alright. As you did play a teacher in the movie, that leads me to ask: With the many talents you have, have you ever taught others in real life, whether it’s acting, dancing or writing?
Debra: Earlier in my career, I was a choreographer on a short film which was really fun to do. I did get to teach a small group of women a dance routine that was a flapper-style 1920s theme, and that was a lot of fun. I haven’t been in an official teacher position, but I do get asked for advice quite often, which I’m always happy to give, especially with actors just starting out in their careers, but it hasn’t been in an official capacity.
Johnny: Alright. To go to my next question: You recently played The Mother in the short film Frenzy 3. What made that role so unique for you?
Debra: I really enjoyed that role because it has a nice arc for the character. She goes into a situation where she’s a grief-stricken mother, and she feels like she has a chance to get some type of closure on her son’s murder. She goes in to meet the title character of Frenzy, and her character goes from being a grief-stricken mother to a woman full of rage, wanting to get revenge.
Johnny: What did you do to get into that mindset? What did the acting process for that role entail?
Debra: My process with this role was the same as I do with any role I take on, which is to really get inside the head and the motivation of the character, going back into their history, where that character is at emotionally and what they’ve been through that led up to this moment in their life.
Johnny: So you create a backstory for your character?
Debra: Yes. It’s essential to create a backstory for your character so you know what they’ve been through and know what they want. Every role you play, whatever character you’re playing, that person needs something. They want something, so leading up to that point in the story of that character’s life, you have to know this in your mind. The audience may never know this, but in your mind, you need to know how the character got to where they are now. The pain that the mother in this story is feeling is revealed in the film, but leading up to this point in time in this mother’s life, I go back to put together all the pieces that lead to that point.
Johnny: I’ll go to another recent role of yours’ with Lake Of Shadows, where you played the character of Madame Vera. How did you get involved in Lake Of Shadows?
Debra: I’m good friends with director Michael S. Rodriguez. I had seen a couple of his previous films, and when he contacted me, it sounded like it was just going to be a little cameo role, but then he described the scene that he wanted me for, and I was really intrigued. It sounded very interesting, and I was looking forward to working with him, so when I came out to Fresno to shoot, I was very impressed with the set for that particular scene in the film. I was really happy because I was going to get to work with my friend, Elissa Dowling, again. It’s the opening of the film, and it was done so artistically. I don’t want to give anything away because the film’s about to be released, but I was very pleased with how it turned out. I happened to see Michael recently, and he showed me the scene, and it was really beautiful. Again, I don’t want to give anything away so I don’t want to describe it, but I love that scene and I can’t wait for everybody to see it.
Johnny: Alright. I’m glad it worked out so well for you.
Debra: Yes, and I’m looking forward to working with Michael again.
Johnny: Alright. To go to my next question, you’ll soon be playing the Ghost in an upcoming feature called Interview. A film with a writing theme to it, as you’re a writer yourself, were you considered to help with the writing of it, or were you hired exclusively in an acting capacity?
Debra: Actually, I came onto the project as the assistant director. Reyna Young and I have been friends for many years, and we were looking forward to working together again, so she contacted me with this project, Interview. I came on strictly as a producer and assistant director, so while we were shooting, she needed someone to play a Ghost. There’s a couple of ghosts in this story, so since I was there on set, working behind the scenes, I said, “I’m here. You might as well use me as the ghost” (laughing). It’s actually just a little cameo, but I was doing a lot of jobs on that film, so why not do a cameo? She’s informed me that the film is almost completely finished with post-production. Since we shot the film, Reyna and her husband John became pregnant, she had her baby, and she’s been very busy with life, so she’s finishing up all these other film projects that she was doing, but she’s finishing up Interview now, and I can’t wait to see it. She told me it looks great.
Johnny: Fantastic to hear. Speaking of good roles, between our first interview in 2017 and the second one we’re doing now, you played Abigail Tall, ZIA in There’s No Such Thing As Zombies, a role that won you Best Actress honors at the 2019 Los Angeles Nollywood Film Awards. When filming that movie, did you have any idea it would lead to the success of an award for your acting?
Debra: No, I didn’t. I was so thrilled about it! While we were filming in London, it was just a really fun project to work on. I loved the character and I loved her dry humor. The writer, Michael Haberfener, who is one of my dearest friends, he and I had been writing together for years. We actually co-wrote a couple of scripts, and he was really hoping to be able to bring me out to London to work together. It finally happened! We were just having such a good time, and I really loved working with director Eddie Bammeke on TNSTAZ. Michael was there, and he also played a role in the film, but he was primarily the writer and producer of the project. When I was informed that I was nominated for Best Actress In A Horror Comedy at the Los Angeles Nollywood Film Awards, I was extremely flattered.
Johnny: Well, I’m glad you got that award. You are very talented. To go to my next question: To jump back a few years to 2015, you played Elizabeth Bathory in A Blood Story. What research went into playing such an infamous murderer?
Debra: Well, I’m a big history buff, so I’ve known about Elizabeth Bathory for as long as I can remember. I was really excited to play such an infamous character, so when I was cast as Elizabeth Bathory, I delved into a lot of research. I read many, many articles and looked up all the images I could find of her. I discussed the character in-depth with director Joe Hollow. We went through a lot of the history, and I bought books, so I really did do a lot of research on that character.
Johnny: She definitely was quite scary. I mean, bathing in the blood of virgins, that’s just scary stuff.
Debra: Yes. I also studied the madness behind her actions, the type of person who could do these evil deeds, and what mental state she must have been in to relish killing young girls, and the narcissist she must have been. She was completely psychotic, and so I did a lot of research on those types of personalities.
Johnny: …And it worked out well. You did a great job in that movie.
Debra: Thank you!
Johnny: To go to my next question: Going forward to 2018, you played Jane Royce in the series Gold Mountain. As an actress of Asian descent, what did it mean to work on that project?
Debra: I was thrilled to work on Gold Mountain. That series has won many awards. I watched all of Season 1, and I was so impressed by the writing and the cast and the execution of the production. When I had the opportunity to audition for one of the roles, director Kerwin Burk and the producers really liked my audition. I actually auditioned for another role in the series, and then they offered me the role of Jane Royce, the police captain, and I was thrilled about that.
I was really happy to be on a series where the main focus is on a Chinese Mafia family. It takes place in Chinatown in San Francisco. I was very excited to be part of this series because Asians in Hollywood are extremely underrepresented. I’m very happy to see that more and more hit films that have come out within the last few years are changing things where we’re seeing Asians being represented more and more. I just saw the film Parasite. That’s a Korean film, and it’s one of the best films I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing. I also recently watched The Farewell, which is also so, so good. My ethnic background is more European than Asian, but I’m proud to be a part of something that is contributing to increased Asian representation in Hollywood.
Johnny: To go to my next question, you’re currently working on Albert Pyun’s newest Cyborg movie, Cyborg: Rise Of The Flesh Eaters, which is also known as Badass Angels And Demons. Had you seen the earlier Cyborg films before signing on for this project, and if so, how did they influence your work as the character of Rakshesha? Were there certain character archetypes in Albert’s earlier films that you worked into your character?
Debra: I’m so excited to be a part of Albert Pyun’s film, which is a direct sequel to Cyborg. When I first came onto this project, it wasn’t originally written as the sequel to Cyborg with Jean-Claude Van Damme. I had been cast when it was originally called Bad Ass Angels And Demons, and then it was announced to the cast that it was going to be developed into a direct sequel to Cyborg. I immediately watched Cyborg and a couple of his other earlier films like Nemesis. I really love those action/martial arts/post-apocalyptic films. Those are some of my favorite genres, so I was definitely inspired by the female characters, and they helped hone my character of Rakshesha.
Johnny: Alright. To jump back to 2014, you played Marishka in the horror film Disciples. That movie had some major horror names in it, including Brinke Stevens, my former interview subject Linnea Quigley, and the late Angus Scrimm. What stood out most about that movie for you?
Debra: Well, for one, the cast, which was amazing. It had, as you said, Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, Debbie Rochon, myself, Tony Todd, Angus Scrimm, Camden Toy, Bill Moseley…The cast itself is a big standout for the film. I really loved the character of Marishka. The thing about my character that stands out the most is the fact that, as with all the characters in the film, they were all once humans who became possessed by demons. My character, Marishka, is a little different because she was a vampire who was possessed by a demon spirit, so she has three layers, the human layer before she became a vampire, the vampire, and then on top of that, the demon that she’s possessed by, Astarte. I’m Marishka the vampire, and also Astarte, the demon that possesses me, so I thought that was really an interesting and complex role to play, and I really loved it.
Johnny: Very cool. To jump forward to 2019, you played Iris De’Bloome in Horrors Of The PNW VI. As there’s no plot description for it on IMDB, can you elaborate on the character of Iris and what she does in the movie?
Debra: Iris De’Bloome is the mother of Lily and Rose. At the beginning of the story, we see them celebrating Lily’s birthday, and she gives them a trip to Las Vegas as a surprise birthday gift. On this trip, they have a paranormal experience. The story goes back and forth between the girls’ trip to Las Vegas and Iris, back at home, who is pleading over social media to find her daughters.
Johnny: It sounds like a very intriguing role. Keeping with the horror theme, earlier this year, you hosted The Rocky Mountain Horror Fest. How did you land that gig, and what does hosting a festival entail?
Debra: About a year ago, I worked on a project in Grand Junction, Colorado with director Todd Ernest Braley. One of the actresses whom I had worked with, Heather Carson, recommended me to the film festival coordinator, Christopher Michael, to co-host the event. I really wanted to come out and support all my actor and filmmaker friends in Grand Junction’s indie film community. I was more than happy to come out and host the festival, and it was a lot of fun. As far as preparation, I watched a handful of the short films that were going to be shown that night, and I acquainted myself with who would be there among the filmmakers. Of course, there was a lot of promotion for The Rocky Mountain Horror Fest, and so it was a great success. Everyone had a lot of fun, and I really loved the venue. I’m looking forward to doing it again next year.
Johnny: Very cool. Speaking of things along those lines, in addition to your entertainment work and your writing, you’re also a psychic. How did you get into doing that?
Debra: When I was a child, I had numerous paranormal experiences, so in my teen years, I started studying about poltergeists, ghosts, paranormal activity, anything I could get my hands on. In my early 20s, I took a Tarot card class, and I immediately began giving readings. I found that I was very good at it, and people were really impressed with the information I was giving them. I would also give psychic readings without Tarot cards. I got very busy with my acting career, so I took an extended break. Eventually, I started to miss it, so when I got back into it, I created a website. You can find it online at Debra Lamb Psychic. I don’t really advertise it much because my focus is on my acting career, but I’m available to give psychic readings for people. I have a handful of regular clients for whom I’m their spiritual adviser, and so it’s still very much a part of my life.
Johnny: Alright. I’m glad that’s worked out well for you. To go away from matters of the psychic, and back to the physical, two years ago you competed in the Living Art America body-painting competition as one of the models. What led to your involvement in that competition?
Debra: I was first made aware of Living Art America through mutual friends, friends who are both body-painting artists and models, and it was something I really admired. The body-painting was so beautiful, and so a couple of years ago, I just really wanted to be a part of it, so I applied to be a model. I was so thrilled to be accepted. The next step was to be matched up with a body-painting artist. I was thrilled to have body-painting artist Angela Rene Roberts want me as her model, along with her partner Cully Firmin. I was extremely excited about that because Angela is one of the top champion body-painting artists out there. She’s a multi-award-winning artist, and she also does fine art. She’s amazing and so talented.
Debra: When I went out to North Carolina to participate in the championships, it was so exciting to be among all the artists and models. I was so honored and privileged to be a part of that, and it was a great opportunity to do something I had never done before. Each model walked the catwalk to show the judges the body-painting, and then we were all brought back again, one by one, to do a one-minute performance. I actually have a phone-recorded video on my YouTube channel of my performance, and it was really one of the highlights of my life, I have to say.
Johnny: I have seen that video and it is a fantastic one. It’s proof that you’re still a great dancer after all these years, and I’m glad you had a lot of fun with it. What’s coming up next immediately for you in terms of film work?
Debra: I just completed working on director Chris R. Notarile’s Psycho fan film, Mother. It was an honor to play such an iconic character as the title role of Mother.
Debra: I previously worked with Chris on his film Frenzy 3, and I’m so happy I had the opportunity to work with him again. Mother can be seen on YouTube now.
Debra: I’m also really excited to be working with my long-time friend, director Mark Pirro, on The Deceased Won’t Desist. Mark Pirro and I go way back to 1987 when I was in his film Deathrow Gameshow. I played Shanna Shallow, the game show hostess, who was basically a Vanna White-type character. I’m really excited to be working with him on this new project, which is currently filming in Los Angeles. It’s a murder-mystery comedy, and the script is really hilarious, so I’m really excited about it. I’ll be working with director Colten Reed Dietz on Exposure, coming up in a couple of months. Another film I’m really excited about is director Michael Moutsatsos’ film The Butcher II. His film, The Butcher, has won several awards, and The Butcher II has an amazing cast. I’ll get to work with several of my good friends, so I’m really happy about that. We’ll be filming that in a few months. I’ll be working with director Chase Dudley on his film Overdue in the near future. I’m really looking forward to working with my friend David E. McMahon again, who I worked with last year on Teacher Shortage. Speaking of Teacher Shortage, I just saw a preview of it, and it’s very good. I can’t wait for everyone to see it. I have a lot of other projects I’ll be working on throughout the year, so I consider myself very lucky.
Johnny: Very cool. Really a lot of great roles to look forward to. That loops back to my final question: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Debra: I’m very excited, not only about what’s happening currently, but also what’s going to be happening in the future. In the next few years, I have several projects I’ll be working on with different filmmakers. Of course, I can’t say too much about them because they are still in development. I definitely see myself continuing to act, produce and write. I see a great future ahead. There are filmmaker friends of mine with whom I’ve been in talks for years about projects, and it looks like a lot of these are coming to fruition. Five years from now, I see myself honing my craft, just enjoying life, keeping a passion for film-making alive, supporting all my acting and filmmaker friends, and just keeping it going.
Johnny: Very cool. I’m glad you have all this going on. It was an honor to speak to you again. I’m glad you’ve had such success, and I look forward to what this decade will bring for you.
Debra: Thank you so much, Johnny. It was such a pleasure being interviewed by you again. You’re such a dear friend. I really appreciate all your love and support and, of course, I’m very blessed and grateful for all the love and support of my fans and friends. As you know, this is a tough business, and we all need to support each other and give each other our love. I really appreciate you, and I’m so happy you’re doing what you’re doing. You’re doing a great job.
Johnny: Thank you very much. That means a lot to me.
Debra: I really liked your questions. You came up with some great ones. You did a very good job. I’m really happy we got together to do this again. It was great.
Johnny: It definitely was. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you.
I would again like to thank Debra Lamb for taking the time out of her schedule to speak to me. She’s a great talent and a dear friend.
Coming soon to the Flashback Interview will be conversations with actress Sondra Currie, whom I met at the Chiller Theatre convention in October of 2019, and Jeana Keough, actress, former Playboy Playmate, and current real estate agent. Stay tuned, and thank you as always for your support of my writing.