IN CONVERSATION WITH FIONA VROOM
Interview by Jana Letonja
Actress Fiona Vroom can currently be seen in Paramount+’s series ‘Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies’ as Tippy, an uptight 1950s housewife who would go to any lengths to ensure her daughter’s popularity. Fiona has appeared in numerous television productions, including TNT’s ‘Snowpiercer’, Fox’s ‘The X-Files’, The CW’s ‘Supernatural’ and ‘iZombie’, as well as in feature films such as ‘Power Rangers’ and ‘Star Trek Beyond’.
Fiona, we’re currently able to watch you in Paramount+’s ‘Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies’ as Tippy, an uptight 1950s housewife who would go to any lengths to ensure her daughter’s popularity. What is the most exciting thing about this series for you?
I’d say the most exciting part of this show is all the big showstopping musical numbers. Also playing in the period of the 50s is really fun.
In the series you get to sing and dance a lot. Is this something that is in your comfort zone or has made you stepped out of it?
I love singing and dancing and I actually feel very comfortable in that area. I trained in musical theatre and studied ballet for 20 years, so that part of the show was right in my wheelhouse and I was very happy to get to exercise those muscles.
You have appeared in many TV productions, as well as feature films. Which role has so far left the biggest impact on you personally and career wise?
I think it was Tim Burton’s ‘Big Eyes’ that had the biggest impact on my career at the time. Working alongside Christoph Waltz was a very important moment. I remember him telling me, or maybe he was warning me, but he looked me in the eye right before we started the scene and said very clearly “Tim likes to shoot the rehearsal”. I think what he wanted to say to me was “Don’t screw it up”, but he was being kind. I was grateful for the advance notice. And personally, I think every character I get to play is a life lesson. I always learn something about myself or of the moment, and I take that with me and it helps me with the next character.
You have made a name for yourself in the entertainment industry for the diverse and engaging characters youbring to life on screen. What excites you the most about being able to portray so many different characters, with such diverse stories and personalities?
Well, it isn’t always easy. Some roles come a lot more naturally than others, but I believe as humans we have many sides to us. If we know ourselves well enough, then we can explore those different sides safely, respectfully and honestly, and hopefully tap into a version of our personality when we need it. Sometimes it works great, other times you need to go back into the personality rolodex and investigate the other side.
You’ve been able to work with many successful people from the industry. Working with whom has really made a huge impression on you?
Elizabeth Banks was a huge inspiration. When we worked together on ‘The Power Rangers’ she was such a boss. She asked for what she needed in the scene, she was ready and willing to improv, which we did a lot of and she didn’t back down. Vera Farmiga was another amazing actress I had the pleasure to work with. When we did ‘Bates Motel’ together she was such a gracious scene partner. She welcomed me to the set, asked if I wanted to rehearse the lines in between set ups and even stayed on set the whole day chatting with the crew, working on the next scene and just being an all around normal, nice human. It’s simple, but sometimes rare in the industry. Vera is one of the rare gems. I hope I get to work with her again.
You have also tried your hand at producing. What do you love the most about producing?
Producing is a whole different ball game. It’s business. I like the business side of things. I look at it like planning a wedding. I’ve never actually planned a wedding, but imagine it’s similar. There are many moving parts, many operations to oversee with tight precise timelines and you do the best you can to delegate and make sure your departments have what they need on the day, so everything can run smoothly. And if you can stay positive throughout the whole process, then you’re a legend.
In 2017, your first short film ‘Mi Madre, My Father‘ was selected by Telefilm for the ‘Not Short on Talent at Cannes‘ for the Cannes Film Festival short film corner. How proud do such accomplishments make you feel?
I was like a proud mama. Bringing a film to life is no easy feat. To have a film play at festivals is also challenging. So when you get a win, it’s a big deal. I was very happy and proud of that film. Michelle Morgan, the star and director, was a super producer on that film as well. We made a great team.
Tell us more about how your career in acting began? What ignited your passion for it?
Acting chose me. I didn’t choose it. I was interested in dancing ballet. I wanted to be a ballerina. Then I eventually started to do every musical theatre show that came to town. And after a 10-year career on stage, I wanted to try film. I miss the stage, but every now and then I get to incorporate dancing and singing. And that’s magic.
Fiona, tell us more about your exciting future projects.
I’m developing a film with a studio, but it’s too early to talk about. I’m very much enjoying the creative process of storytelling and I can’t wait to see where this next chapter leads.
photographer FARRAH AVIVA