Always Be Present

Katie Holmes interviews Eve Lindley, the star of her latest directorial effort, All We Had.

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After working in the entertainment industry for more than twenty years, spending so much of my life on set, and learning from amazing producers and directors, it felt like fate that day I found Annie Weatherwax's novel among the pile of books at my agency. I knew this story was something special and couldn't wait to bring it to the big screen as my feature directorial debut. One of the greatest honors I had in helping steer our team to success was working with our casting director to help find our Peter Pam. The lovely and magnetic Eve Lindley drew us in from her first audition, and similar to my character in All We Had, I quickly realized just how genuinely inspiring she is.

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Katie Holmes: What inspired you to become an actress?

Eve Lindley: When I was really young, I remember going to see a lot of Broadway musicals. The one that really did it for me was Hairspray.

KH: Which I think is coming back ...

EL: Yes. They're doing the live version of it, which is so cool. It's got an amazing cast. I think when I saw Hairspray, that's when I first caught the bug. But truthfully it was something that I always did even before I had the vocabulary for it. I was kind of a ham and a performer in my family, and then as I got older, I was like, "There are no trans actresses in Hollywood, this is not something that is realistic," and then when Laverne Cox joined the scene, that changed everything for me and I was suddenly able to pursue this dream.

Then, I guess about two years later, I met you and we made this movie together and it was like a dream come true.

KH: Well, it's a dream come true for me to work with you. I think that is what is so exciting about you, is that you're so naturally gifted and you listen as an actor, and I think that's one of the more challenging parts about being an actor, you really have to be present.

Are you happy with the character of Peter Pam? What was the poetry of the character that you wanted to reveal?

EL: Yes, I love Pam. She loves people, and people seem to really love her. There are some nasty things that happen to her throughout the film, but for the most part, it feels like she is very well-respected in her little community. I think it was important to show that this person might feel like an outcast, but the people around this person don't see her as an outcast. She is a valued member of this family, and that was something that was really great and something that I really related to in my own family.

One of the things that I've realized about this business is directors aren't always willing to find a character with you, to really sit and talk about the feelings and the thoughts and the little intricate parts of a character, and that was something that you were always willing to do. Was it hard for you to change hats, to suddenly have more on your shoulders as director, to really be carrying the film?

KH: It was challenging because you have to get into the mind-set of all the characters and understand them, but also be open to what the actors are bringing and their insights. You brought so much to Pam, and it revealed things that I didn't know. That was really, really exciting, and it actually took a lot of pressure off of me. I was just more inspired every day because everybody was bringing something new and different than I anticipated.

In terms of doing both acting and directing in this film, I really liked it because I could be there for the performances, but also experience them on my own. I think I would've been sad if I had just been behind the camera the whole time.

One of the reasons that I was drawn to this book [the movie is based on] was this sense of healing that can happen between people that not long ago were strangers, and I thought that was pretty powerful. And then when you filmed that scene, it was just so exciting to watch because it was that sort of same feeling in action. What are you working on right now?

EL: I'm currently in an Off Broadway play called Street Children. It's about homeless queer and trans youths in the '80s, and how they formed their own bonds and families within the Harlem Ballroom scene and the Christopher Street piers. It's a lot. It's a very rich culture that is very deserving of being talked about, so I feel really great to be here.

KH: That's amazing. Are you inspired to tell stories of your own now?

EL: Yes. I write in my spare time, and I've been working on a pilot. As an actor, I very much identify with the title of "storyteller," which is really cheesy but also very real for me. When I was a kid, I used to make up fanciful crazy stories, and then I realized, "Oh, I'm living a great story." So it's something that I've definitely been excited to explore.

KH: With the success of Laverne Cox and yourself, do you feel that there are more roles for transgender performers, and do you envision a world where you can play anything?

EL: Yes, yes. That is something that I think we're not too far away from hopefully, because as much as it is cathartic and lovely to portray a role that has something very big in common with who I am, there are also so many more facets to who I am. I think one day I would love to portray a role where maybe it's just undisclosed. The people in my life, it's not like we all sit around and talk about how transgender I am.

KH: That's also what you and I talked about with Pam.

EL: Yes, absolutely. These people know her and they don't feel the need to qualify her as any one thing except for who she is. The people around her really knew her, and that was what felt the most real.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Katie Holmes is an actress and director who has received critical acclaim for a spectrum of diversified roles on stage and screen. All We Had, which premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, was her directorial debut. It was released on December 9.

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