Meet our Memphis Belle, Actress & Producer, CLARE GRANT. She’s a creative MUSE with an adventurous spirit and a laugh that is highly contagious. Find out how being the eldest of 8 siblings shaped her into the person she is today, what fuels her creative engine and how she turned her love of acting and animation into a blooming career. #CHECKIT #HAUTESTREET #theMUSEdiaries
Photographer: Easton Schirra
Fashion Director: Joey Tierney
Make-up: Jadyn Ngo
Hair: Gabby Mitry
Interviewed by: Cheryl Aldip
HAUTE STREET: Tell us where you are from, and how you ended up in Los Angeles.
CLARE GRANT: Mostly I lived in Memphis until I was twenty five, when a local film director I worked with, Craig Brewer, urged me to pursue acting professionally in Los Angeles. One of my brothers was living in Los Angeles, which made the transition easier.
HS: What was your favorite part of growing up with so many siblings, and how have things changed as you have all grown?
CG: Growing up the oldest of eight siblings is one of my greatest life treasures. All but one of them are ten to eighteen years younger than me, which pretty much means I got to extend my youthful indulgences in their name. But I was also responsible for them, which, as a teenager, I both loved and hated. Being the oldest had it’s perks though, I got to be the fun big sister who took them to midnight premieres of the Star Wars prequels and check them in to school late the next day. Fun things like that, that your parents don’t want to do. Now that most of them are adults, I finally get to be friends with them, which provides a wealth of love and enjoyment.
HS: What is your favorite family tradition, and what would you like to carry on with your own family?
CG: I think cooking together and shared meals between a family are really important, and that is something I want to have with my own family.
HS: Tell us about a moment that changed your outlook on life and why?
CG: Working opposite Christina Ricci in Black Snake Moan, I saw how hard she fought for her role, how hard she worked and how completely she embodied her character. I knew then that’s what being a professional looked like. She also helped me understand that the actor’s job is not just thinking about your own character’s role, but to think about every character and every single detail of the production and how it relates to your character.
HS: Can you tell us about your greatest heartbreak? Your greatest love?
CG: When I was in the fifth grade, my mom wanted to throw me a surprise birthday party. Unbeknownst to her that I was bullied and picked on by most of my school, she called every single kid in my fifth grade class to invite them to the surprise. When the ringleader of the popular kids got the call, she decided to throw her own pool party on the exact day and time of the party my mom was planning. I was clueless about it, and a fair amount of kids showed up to my party. I was overjoyed with surprise and excitement. Until one of the boys came up to me and said: “Yeah, “Ringleader” threw a party today too because she didn’t want anyone to come over to your house, but I felt guilty about it so I came here instead”. That crushed me and broke my heart. I had been thinking-“these kids actually like me!”, but really they just pitied me. It felt like something I would never get over, but the truth is, I did, and I was stronger for it. It made me realize that what other people think of me doesn’t really matter. You can take the ways other people hurt you, or bad things that happen to you, and really let it stunt you, or you can brush it off and be stronger for it.
My greatest love is my husband, Seth. Never have I known someone who loves me so completely, who believes in me, champions me, pushes me to be a better person or who makes me so unbelievable happy. He would never judge me, and understands me more than anyone. We laugh together all day and can talk about anything for for hours at a time. It’s truly the definition of a partner.
HS: Can you share with us a time of hardship and how you overcame?
CG: When I came to LA, I had a nice bit of momentum booking acting jobs and within six months was able to quit my waiting tables job. Everything slowed down for me during the writer’s strike. Dramatically. Emotionally, that was a really tough time for me because I was scared it wasn’t ever going to pick back up for me. That’s when I decided it was important for me to start generating my own work, which has been an incredible experience.
HS: What advice has someone given you to keep you going and growing, and what advice would you give your 23 year old self?
CG: The best advice I’ve ever heard was from the Genie in Aladdin: “Bee yourself”. Being true to yourself is immeasurably valuable. My advice to young me would be: “Move to Los Angeles sooner. Like, yesterday.” Ha!
HS: Which superhero would you be and why?
CG: I believe it’s important for each of us to be our own superhero. No one is going to care about you more than you. No one is going to save you but you. As soon as you accept that, you stop waiting for some exterior person or force to get you through whatever hardships life sets before you.
HS: If you could have any 1 super power. What would it be and why?
CG: Super strength. Then I could move my furniture around whenever I’d like.
HS: What do you think that someone in your position can do to help the planet?
CG: I think it’s important to spread a message of love and tolerance everyday.
HS: Where is your favorite place that you’ve traveled to and why?
CG: When I was sixteen, I traveled to Belize with my boyfriend and his parents to visit the Mayan ruins of Caracol. What happened on our journey through the rainforest to Caracol is a story in itself, but what that trip sparked in me, is a deep love and fascination with ancient civilizations and ruined cultures. Since then, I have explored the ruins of Greece, Peru, England, Palau and Yap. I have a list of countries whose cultures I want to experience and wander through their ancient ruins.
HS: What hotel would you move into if you could?
CG: Last summer, my husband and I stayed at this place called Lords of the Manor in Upper Slaughter, Gloucester. It was peaceful, charming and serene. It’s amazing to think you could make a life there.
HS: Can you tell us about your time modeling?
CG: I found modeling to be challenging in ways I never expected. Traveling all over the world by myself helped to grow my independence and self reliance. I learned how to better communicate with people speaking a language I don’t understand. I learned how to communicate better with my eyes and develop a relationship with the camera. I learned that shooting with a good photographer will physically pain you, but the shots are always worth it. I learned that as much as I enjoyed traveling, meeting new people and experiencing art through fashion, I loved being an actor more. And if I wanted to pursue acting as a career, I needed to focus on that and leave modeling behind.
CG: What is the most difficult thing about being in the entertainment business?
HS: If you let it, never knowing how long it will be in between jobs can be torture. You are not right for at least 90% of your auditions, so you have to be able to stomach a lot of rejection.
HS: Tell us about your passion project, Team Unicorn.
CG: Team Unicorn started out as a passion project in the form of a parody music video of Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” called “G33K & G4M3R Girls”. It’s a love letter, really, to all the geeky things that brought me and three of my girlfriends together. Now it’s evolved to being a geek-girl production company and fashion project. Through my & fellow unicorn, Rileah Vanderbilt’s production company Danger Maiden Productions, there are now several Team Unicorn comedic music videos and shorts, and is currently being developed as an animated/live-action television pilot. We also design geek inspired clothes for WeLoveFine. Together, me, Rileah Vanderbilt, Alison Haislip and Milynn Sarley are Team Unicorn.
HS: When did you discover your love for animation?
CG: Animation is one of my earliest loves. In fact, some of my first crushes were on cartoon characters. As a kid, I grew up on animation and dreamed of doing voice over. Doing voice over as an adult, on childhood loves like Star Wars and Marvel shows, is especially fulfilling.
HS: How has being of southern roots influenced your creative engine?
CG: Being from Memphis, music has always been massively influential in my life. I feel so lucky to have grown up in a city with as rich of a musical history and culture as Memphis. Creatively, music elevates me as both an actor and a creator.
HS: How do you manage to preserve your creativity?
CG: I preserve my creativity by surrounding myself with creative people. Working with other creative people is when I feel like I am at my best, which is why I love collaborating with other artists.
HS: Who is an influential woman in your life and why?
CG: My Mom taught me how to be strong, independent & compassionate. I also inherited her creativity, which she encouraged me to explore throughout childhood.
HS: What would you ask our next MUSE?
CG: What does being a Haute Street MUSE mean to you?