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- Interview by Thief12 (Carlo Giovannetti)
Kya Garwood is an English actress who worked as a stand-in for actresses Yvonne Strahovski, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Kim Raver during the filming of 24: Live Another Day. Garwood also worked as a body double for Strahovski. Interested in acting from an early age, Garwood hit the spotlight when she won the title of Miss Sheffield in 1998. Her time as a beauty queen eventually led to a career in hosting and acting.
After working as a stand-in for actress Michelle Pfeiffer in 2007, Garwood has also found success in that field. Through her career, she has worked as a stand-in for actresses like Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Stiles, Diane Kruger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Rachel Weisz, among others. A "stand-in" is a person who substitutes for a specific actor before filming, for technical purposes such as lighting. In 2014, Garwood was contacted to work on 24: Live Another Day, as a stand-in for most of the lead female actresses. Wiki 24 interviewed Garwood to know about her life and career, her experience filming 24, and what is in store for her.
The following session of questions and answers was done by email and Twitter. The interview was posted on January 1, 2015.
Wiki 24: First, some biographical information. I understand you were born in Yorkshire, England. How would you describe your childhood?
Kya Garwood: I wouldn't say I had the happiest of childhoods. What I can say is that I don't think I'd be the person I am today if I didn't go through what i did.
W24: IMDb lists your birth name as Julie-Ann Melvin. Where does the name "Kya Garwood" comes from?
KG: I changed my name to Garwood as it's from my mother's side, and thought it had a better ring to it than Melvin. So I extended Julie-Ann to Julianna, and Kya means "Diamonds in the Sky". I wanted a name that was different so people could remember me.
W24: It says in your website that you started dancing when you were a child (tap and ballet). How did you become interested in entertainment and show business?
KG: Yes, I danced when I was very young, and I guess I knew even then that I had an entertaining streak in me; especially when my teacher said she would see my name up in lights. I remember from the age of 14 writing letters to Dance and Drama schools. At 17, I got my first main job working on the touring production of Noel's Garden Party. That's when I knew where my career path was going.
W24: In 1998, you won the Miss Sheffield beauty pageant, then ended up as finalist in Miss United Kingdom, and second runner-up in Miss Europe. What was it like to be in the world of beauty pageants?
KG: It was bizarre, from being constantly bullied at school and not feeling the prettiest of girls, to then have 3 pageants in a year; to me was a major confidence builder. I didn't like the competing. I was more interested on how I could get a job at hosting them, and I traveled the world. It was an ex boyfriend who entered me in Miss Sheffield at the time; I could have killed him. I remember crying backstage dreading it.
W24: You've been working as a stand-in for several years now. How would you describe the work of a stand-in for those who aren't familiar with it?
KG: A stand-in is a person who helps the director of photography and the lighting crew get the set ready for when the actors step on. Some directors also like you to run the dialogue and scene, so they can get an image of how it will look on camera. So the stand-in needs to be the closest match as possible with regards to hair and skin tones. It's a great way for new actors to gain real "on the job" training.
W24: How is it like mixing your work as a stand-in with your career as an actress?
KG: It's been amazing. As well as doing courses in performing arts, I can honestly say my best training is from standing in. It has helped me tremendously with audition confidence and awareness of what is required on set. Also, it gets you in front of the people who matter, and 24 was my breakthrough as I've secured 11 acting parts in features since i did 24.
KG: Without sounding big headed, I got 24 through production contacts and, I guess, my reputation. I've never gone through an agent. It has always been direct, so that says I must be good ;-)
W24: Were you a fan of 24 before working on it?
KG: I'll be totally honest. I'd never watched 24 until i started working on it. Now I'm hooked.
W24: You also worked as a body double for Yvonne [Strahovski]. Do you remember any specific scenes you doubled in? Was there any scene that was particularly challenging or notable for you to work in?
KG: I had long hair when I started 24. There is a press clip with me and Yvonne on the second day filming. I had my hair cut off specifically for doubling her. My first doubling were the shooting scenes. It was freezing and raining heavy, and as my hair had just been bleached, it went all stiff and weird. I'd never held a real gun before, and i remember loads of people watching me do the scene. It was great, but intense as I had to match her moves precisely.
W24: How would you describe the overall experience of filming 24? Any particular cast/crew members that you became close friends with during filming?
KG: I feel like one of the luckiest stand-ins to have had that opportunity to work on a major US drama. It became a huge family and I became very close to Jeff Mygatt and his wife, as well as Mary Lynn [Rajskub] and the other stand-ins. We laughed everyday, which was great.
W24: Any funny anecdote or memorable moment during filming?
W24: Other than 24, you’ve worked as a stand-in to actresses like Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Rachel Weisz, among others. How has it been working for stars of such caliber?
KG: I am extremely lucky. Michelle Pfeiffer opened the door for me in 2005, and I have been fortunate enough to learn from the best talent in the world. Most recently, I also worked with Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt [for Into the Woods].
W24: What is the next step in your career? What projects do you have in the near future?
KG: Hopefully filming one of the eleven films I am attached to. Ten are with the same production company, Thunderball Films. I've also recently just been asked to stand-in on Tim Burton's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which is very exciting. Even though I have so many acting parts, I will never refuse a Tim Burton production. Once again, I get to practice my craft.
W24: Finally, any particular director, actor or actress that you dream of working with?
KG: I would love to work alongside Emma Thompson in a really powerful scene. As with directors, I've been lucky enough to have already worked with the best: Stephen Daldry, Rob Marshall, Tim Burton, and not forgetting the one and only Jon Cassar.
W24: We'd like to thank you for your time, and wish you lots of success in your career.
KG: Merry Xmas!