One of my favorite things about watching movies is discovering new actors. When reviewing Mattie: The Discovery, I already knew B.J. and Cameron Arnett as well as Breanna Hope Beaton, and they all did a great job, as I knew they would. But my favorite character in the movie was Betty Jean, and so I had to learn more about Cynthia D. Perry, the actress portraying her.

Cynthia D. Perry - ActressWhen did you first discover a love of acting?
My love for acting began early in my childhood. I watched movies, admiring a number of young actresses like Vivian Lee, Susan Haywood, Dianna Carroll, Ann-Margaret, Tamara Dotson, Pam Grier and the actress that played “Christie Love”  Teresa Graves just to name a few. I would see a favorite film several times and would know the dialogue, storyline, the works about that film. So, I would talk about characters to my playmates and mimic scenes from those films. Sometimes they thought I was weird, but usually just a funny kid.

What was your first role?
I actually took theatre arts in high school and my first real lead role was “Mother mouse” in the play The Mouse that Didn’t  Believe in Christmas. We traveled around many school districts and performed our play in their auditoriums. We were well received and by then I was pretty much hooked. I continued to study the arts in college at Austin Peay University in Clarksville Tn., but it was secondary to nursing. I followed in my mom’s footsteps because she wanted to be a nurse.

What led to your involvement in film acting?
After my mom passed in 2013, and I had just about decided that I wasn’t going back into the medical field, I thought,…what was it that I really wanted to do to be really happy? I felt like I didn’t want to be lying on my death bed and have any regrets about what I didn’t get a chance to do in this life.

Almost immediately my passion for acting starting talking to me. I called my best friend and said “What would you say if I decided to start acting again? I’m gonna start taking acting classes.”  Mattie, ( Cawl, my best friend for over 40 yrs now!), said Girl, that’s the Best thing I’ve heard you say in a long time! So, I prayed on it, asking God if this was my purpose because I really wanted it. The next thing I knew, as of April 2015, I started taking classes again, doing student films, plays, indies…whatever I could to get some experience and something on my resume!

In honor of my mother, my stage name is always Cynthia “D.” Perry, because Delores is her first name and my middle name. She knew my heart’s dream, and I’m sure that with every step I make in my career, from above she sees it, celebrates it and says,…”Alright now, that’s my Baby!”

Tell us about your role as Betty Jean in Mattie: The Discovery.
It was such a blessing to be a part of this project. I was told that Camy (Arnett) looked at quite a few actresses before he settled on me. He has said that he loved my audition so much.

In what ways are you like Betty Jean? In what ways are you different?
My character Betty Jean and I are very similar in our outspokenness. We both have a kind of hidden strength and yes, our strong belief in the Lord. She can be ruthless, but very tender when needed. We differ in the fact that I don’t have any children. She’s a really good cook, but I’m sorry to admit…those are skills I lack a bit. I can do a mean breakfast though..LOL!!

What do you do to prepare for your acting roles?
You know, when I prepare for my roles, if I don’t have a backstory, I tend to create one that helps me “feel” or relate to the character more. I try to put some heart or “meat” into the character that sets them apart from the same characters everyone plays in common situations. I try to create a specific point of view that my character would have towards conflict or joyful situations. But most of all, I just try to be real.

Cynthia D. Perry as Betty Jean in Mattie: The DiscoveryWhat advice would you offer to anyone wanting to break into acting?
The first thing I can say to anyone wanting to get into acting is, you really gotta love it, want it, and know as they say that this is a MARATHON…not a SPRINT.  Some people get a huge blessing and are super successful in no time. But truthfully, most actors have to “Pay Those Dues” for years before that big break hits. There are gonna be days of doubt and periods that your heart aches to be working. It is in those times that your faith has to be strong in God, your skills, your grind and your understanding that as I say …what’s for you is for you…so HOLD ON it’s coming!

Anything else?
Again, thank you for this time to share with you, the me that I am. I feel like my breakthrough is just around the corner. I’ve got lots of work to do to be ready when it hits. But, Mattie: the Discovery has been the sneaky blessing that keeps giving.

I did want to mention that on Sunday, July 29th at Atlantic Station in the Regal Cinema, my short film 15 Minutes will premiere with 8:30 & 9:30 showings. Anyone needing tickets can go to http://15minutesfilm.eventbrite.com

Written by Sharon Wilharm

Sharon Wilharm is a female filmmaker, blogger, and speaker with over a decade of industry experience. She and her husband, Fred, just released SUMMER OF '67, their seventh feature film. Their movies have screened in theaters, festivals, and churches around the globe as well as multiple television networks. They've accumulated dozens of festival accolades including many Best of Fest awards and 4 ICVM Crown Awards. Sharon is passionate about visual storytelling, branding, and marketing and would love to speak at your upcoming event.

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