(All Exclusive Photos by John Collazos)
Sarah Halstead is an actress who is authentically inspiring. I admire her — both as a person and an artist. We met at a fashion show (5 years ago?!?) by chance and have kept the connection strong. She’s kind, beautiful, smart, and genuinely funny. As an actress and comedian, Halstead is talented, quite the chameleon, and seamless in her delivery. Sarah J. Halstead is rare and we love that about her. Recently, Gemma was lucky enough to catch her for a photo shoot and an interview. She definitely has that “girl-next-door” look in regards to certain aspects of her personality. However, there are many layers to Halstead and that’s where it gets interesting. We loved that Sarah could pull off the sultry 1940’/50’s “Old Hollywood Glamour look” at the shoot, and yet, speak about her craft corporately. Halstead is the ultimate multi-tasker and has a sharp business sense. I interviewed her a few years prior and she’s busier than ever — blending all her creative talents into one beautiful brand: Sarah J. Halstead — Actress and Comedian!
Sarah J. Halstead is an actress, comedian, and writer from Flint, Michigan who decided to follow her dream. Sarah started her training in NYC and eventually made her way to Los Angeles. Personally, nothing inspires Gemma Magazine more than meeting someone who takes on the challenges that come with fulfilling one’s purpose. Halstead is also an incredibly passionate person who brings a fire to every creative endeavor that she is working on. We have enjoyed watching her star rise. Sarah can be both sarcastic and forthright within one setting. She is versatile in her craft and never misses an opportunity for growth as an actress or comedian. Her late mother was the biggest supporter of her acting and I’m sure she is proudly watching.
Sarah is currently doing standup comedy, producing a comedy show, hosting a podcast, filming a lot of commercials and auditioning for television. Sarah is quite busy, so we really appreciate her taking the time to speak with Gemma.
What is a new project that you are working on?
Currently, I’m co-producing a comedy show titled Casual Monday Comedy and Champers. The lovely Allegra Riggio (who is a talented TV Host/Comic), produces with me. It’s a two-hour show and we hand-pick the comics who we feel would be a great fit. Our debut was amazing with a crowd of creative luminaries! And unlike a lot of popular comedy clubs in Los Angeles, we treat the comics with respect and don’t require them to each bring “eight people or more”. Ultimately, it should be the producer’s job to fill the room and the comics should only be responsible for being funny.
Do you still film a lot of commercials?
I do! I have booked 89 commercials to date (this includes infomercials). It consists of a bit of everything: hair, skin, makeup, a national car commercial, and some banks. It’s gone well, and I’m very grateful for this.
You are so busy, productive, and creative. Do you ever miss corporate life?
I do. I miss the structure and consistency. It’s nice to get up in the morning, go to work, come home, and play. I’m a very structured person and miss doing just one thing. I currently feel a bit all over the place. Previously, I worked for sixteen years at a wine and champagne company. Ultimately, my dream would be to have one job where I can work hard, get creative, and know my daily tasks. My life might not be the exact schedule I desire at the moment. However, I’m still thrilled about all the creative projects that I have going on.
You do so much performing and auditioning (even though you have only been in the business 3 1/2 years. Do you ever still get nervous?
I get butterflies and a sense of excitement. In the beginning, I was way more nervous. Now, I love a “flutter” and the sense that you “Don’t know if you’re going to sink or swim,” says Halstead. However, I think that I thrive upon that.
Do you feel Hollywood is embracing older women in terms of acting roles?
No. It’s been my experience that there’s a lot of ageism and the roles for older actresses really emphasize the fact that they’re older. I am working, but I’m booking role descriptions such as “former town beauty who’s best days are behind her.” Or “tired mom of young adults”! I’ve even been offered Grandma roles, which I suppose is possible if I had kids at 15. It’s actually funny and I use it in my bit. The badass roles for older women go to the very established A-list actresses and it doesn’t appear that any network would consider a new face for that role. I shall remain optimistic though because there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing and I’m simply grateful for any work.
Tell me a bit about your new podcast
It’s called Jimmy and Sarah on the Sunset Strip. Previously I tested the waters with a smaller podcast titled “Drinking During Business Hours.” It was received well. Recently, The Comedy Store approached me about this exciting project. My co-host is Jimmy Shin, and we have a good vibe, so it works well. The format is fantastic because all production elements are already in place. It airs every Monday on iTunes and Stitcher. We feature established comics, comedic actors, comedy writers, comedic voiceover stars and talk about their underdog moments. It’s an exciting look into the comedic world.
In terms of acting, what have you worked on recently?
It’s called “I am The Night” for TNT and it’s produced by Patty Jenkins. I play a scantily clad chain-smoking working girl in Episode 1. It stars Chris Pine and takes place in the late 40’s/50’s, which I seem to book that particular time period quite often. The series is based on “The Black Dahlia,” a murder mystery in LA, which has still not been solved. I’ve also just completed a pilot called Broken Somm. It’s a talk show about wine and I play the transgressive, irreverent host while interviewing high profile winemakers. We’re pitching to networks now.
I Love the way you function famous authors’ books on your Instagram with a selfie of you holding the book. It’s such a savvy idea. How did that come about?
At first, I just wanted to give a shout-out to my favorite authors, and then it took off. Individual authors have messaged me or sent me autographed copies of their books. I genuinely love to read and don’t have the time for it anymore (in the capacity I used to). When I do have a free moment, one of my favorite things is to curl up and dive into a good book.
Do you feel you do get typecast a lot (outside of the comedy circuit)?
It’s funny you ask because I was just interviewing John Pirruccello on my podcast and he said: “being typecast’ can be a good thing because that means people see you as something”. John is the quintessential working actor so I’m going to follow this advice.
Who is your favorite actress/comedian?
I love Tig Notaro and saw her recently at Largo. She’s funny, smart, and such a confident performer with a slow and precise delivery. I also find her very honest and vulnerable which is the recipe of any great comic.
On behalf of Gemma, I appreciate Sarah speaking with us. It was a creative collaboration with a talented woman who we will continue to keep up with. She’s a “gem” in every sense.
All Photos: John Collazos: https://www.instagram.com/john_collazos/
Hair and Makeup: Ash Ortiz: https://www.instagram.com/mua_ortiz/
You can follow Sarah on the following social media platforms!
as well as catch her new comedy show (information below)…