I had the privilege of having Brenda Jo Reutebuch a part of the cast of Providence. The first thing you notice about Brenda on set is her professionalism. She comes prepared, with a vision for ways to make the most of her character. She also reaches out to other actors who might not have her experience and she shepherds them, guiding them to help them perform at their best as well.
Tell us about your musical background.
Wow, I’ve been singing since I was old enough to stand on the church pew with a hymnal, but didn’t sing my first solo until 6th grade. I’m the youngest of four girls, all of whom can sing. I used to joke that by the time I came around, I just had to figure out what part was left and sing that one. I attended St. Paul Bible College (now Crown College) in Minnesota for five years, studying in the Music Education and Church Music Programs. I was blessed to have two very gifted vocal instructors along the way, too – Joseph Huffman and Leland Flickinger. I also play at the piano, guitar and clarinet, but wouldn’t say that I’m accomplished in any of them.
What are some of the groups you’ve performed with?
Regarding music groups, I’ve performed with several groups from college (Choral Club, Concert Choir, Symphonic Band, Light Shine ladies trio, Cornerstone Mixed Quartet, etc.). I have also been blessed to perform with a Contemporary Christian Band called Dove here locally for two years between my freshman & sophomore years of college (long story). Then after college, I travelled with the group Continental Singers & Orchestra. In the vocal groups, I most usually sang Lead or 1st Soprano. However, since then it seems I sing more Alto or Tenor then anything. I was able to spend a few years with a wonderful group of people in a mixed quartet we called “Bought And Paid For”. We were four people from four different denominations that never found any doctrinal issue we disagreed on. And we had so much fun together. And after our individual responsibilities caused us to end the group, I began a solo music ministry, travelling & singing all over the country in various churches until the early 90’s.
When did you first discover a love of acting?
I think I always have loved being an actor. I can remember being in the back seat of our family car on a long ride somewhere, coming up with the most imaginative dramas to play out in that car. (I’m surprised that we never got pulled over for the dramatic scenes being played out by this precocious little girl.) But I didn’t really get to act in a “real” play until I was in high school. It was the musical, Oliver, and I was the Strawberry Seller and a member of the chorus. Loved it!!! I was hooked, for sure. And thanks to Mrs. Pat Seifert, I learned a thing or two about professionalism through those experiences.
What led to your interest in film acting?
Honestly, it was a God-thing. I hadn’t been able to participate in any theater or other productions for several years, since I had to settle down and “get a real job” to pay the bills. But the Lord first rekindled this acting desire in my heart when I happened to catch a radio station I never listened to run an ad about an open audition in Lafayette, Indiana, that weekend, back in 2009. So after getting home and talking with my husband about it, I went. It turned out to be the day I met Kim Myers, of The ARTS. Wonderful godly woman. In just a few months after that, I was performing before several talent scouts and agents, attending seminars by professionals in the industry and speaking personally with several of them. That opened the door for me to start pursuing my passion again.
Shortly after that, I signed with the Helen Wells Agency, in Indianapolis, on advice from one of the casting directors from New York. I have been blessed to participate in a few commercials through them, always learning something new on every set. Then soon after signing with HWA, the Lord changed my shift at work, so that I could once again participate in the local Civic Theater group. For a while, it seemed as if I were in every play. And loved it! But with this new invention called Facebook, I started joining a lot a acting groups, and even started a couple. It was through my contacts there that the filming doors started flying open. My first encounter into the film industry, I was just supposed to be set dressing photos (of a deceased relative) for a film already underway. But after meeting the director, (Candy Beard), she decided to write flashback scenes for me, so that I was included in the film itself. After that, I was looking into every legitimate avenue for Indie Films I could find. And the rest is history.
Tell us about your role in The Promise.
The Promise is a film about a young girl trying to find true love, while still taking care of her somewhat eccentric grandfather, because of a promise she made to her dying grandmother. I play the grandmother. In this film, grandpa and I are full time caregivers for the granddaughter after her parents (our son and daughter in law) are killed. And then, at some point, grandma gets cancer and doesn’t survive. Most of the film is the comedy of errors that ensues after grandma is gone, as the granddaughter tries to have a normal life of a young woman in her twenties with a crazy grandpa that seems to be bent on ruining her dating life.
What other films have you been involved in?
I’ve been blessed to participate in a number of projects in these last three years, the first one coming in 2012 – From Ashes, in which I played the shelter administrator, Nancy. It’s a story about the very real problem of human trafficking in the USA, written & directed by a wonderful young lady, Autumn Libengood. Most of this cast & crew were under the age of twenty five, present company excluded, of course. It was premiered the summer of 2015, and is about to hit the Film Festival circuit.
After that, I had the opportunity to work with Chip Rossetti in January 2013, on the film, Homefront about three American soldiers who have been captured by the enemy. It explores their recollections of what they left behind. I play the mother (Linda Philips) of one of the captured soldiers. It went straight to DVD. We had a release event & DVD signing that summer, in Evansville, Indiana.
After Homefront, I took part in what was originally designed to be a TV Sitcom Pilot, but was later turned into a Feature Film. This film was called, Old Folks Like Us, about four senior citizen couples living out their somewhat comical lives. In this one, I died my hair blonde, because I was portraying a widow who was holding on to her youth as best she could. This film was the product of writer/director Candy Beard of Dreams Come True Films (DCTF).
In the next several months following that, I was given the opportunity to play a pioneer woman in the 1800’s, in Jovial Giants Productions, At The Foot Of The Rainbow. That was a fun character, giving me a greater appreciation for the many, many layers of clothing the pioneer women had to wear. This film is still in post production.
Then, in Dreams Come True Films’, Vanished, I played the loving, yet gullible mother of a kidnapper. It premiered in September, 2014, in Terre Haute, Indiana. This was my first Red Carpet Event. This film is now available on DVD, and has already been in some Film Festivals. Vanished stars Richard Bryant (of Army Wives) and newcomer Caitlin Smith.
Last summer, I was awarded an unexpected role in Camp Tough Love. I had signed on to this film as the still photographer, and was going to have one scene as a minor character. Then two weeks before we started filming, the lead adult actress had to drop out due to a conflict with another film, and the writer/director, Dan Parks, asked me to fill the role. We had worked together on At The Foot Of The Rainbow, so he knew my work, but that only gave me two weeks to memorize my first six scenes. But God is good! I should have known He’d get me through it. In CTL, I play the camp counselor, Carmen, to six troubled teenage girls. It is currently in post production.
Then, as you know, Sharon, I was privileged to work in a wonderful film being released to the AMC Theatres in February, 2016. This film is called, Providence by writer/director Sharon Wilharm. I had the opportunity to be in two scenes of this unique, dialogue-free film about a romance that covers forty years. I play a church member at an Easter sunrise service and a grieving woman at a cemetery. In these two scenes, I was able to play opposite the two adult leads, Juli Tapken and Rich Swingle. What a wonderful experience that was. I have long held both of these actors in high regard.
I have also had minor roles in other films/shorts/TV episodes, including Nat Geo’s How To Survive The End of The World, Smoke & Mirrors, and the still in post projects, Nouvelle Vie, The Shoes, Love Of A Lifetime, Gambling With Life, and Secret Betrayal. And I am currently filming another DCTF Feature Film called, “The Promise”, in which I play the dying grandmother, as mentioned earlier. (Note: This project is now on hold as my co-star is in need of open heart surgery. His health is definitely a priority.)
What do you enjoy the most about working as a film actress?
I guess I’m just a dreamer, and love pretending. It’s great to explore what others might be feeling or experiencing in certain situations. I’m one of those people who even come up with different scenarios for why someone just cut me off in traffic. Maybe they’ve had a bad day, or maybe they just lost their job, etc. I think it’s just part of who I am as a person. I can’t help myself.
What would be your dream role?
My first answer would be “the next one”. But honestly, I would love to do a good old fashioned musical, along the lines of Singin’ In The Rain or White Christmas. I also would love to do an accurate Biblical Epic, and a Western. I know, my dreams are very diverse.
I have made some absolutely wonderful friends through the film work. Kimberly Richardson and I first met while filming Old Folks Like Us, and became instant friends. We have worked together several times since then. She and her husband, Nate were a perfect friend fit for my husband, Dan and me. I have also been blessed to meet/work with Juli Tapken, Rich Swingle, Ken Kercheval, Richard Bryant, Drew Waters, David Ross, and so many other great actors, directors & writers.