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A Little Mighty

I recently booked and shot a feature role in a short independent film about a very current political/social issue; the Iraq war.

I never thought I'd be cast in a role like this; a female war veteran having returned home with post traumatic stress disorder trying to re-civilize herself, kind of awesome.

I have a feeling many more roles for woman are going to start showing up in war movies. I believe in this  project, its message and I believe in the people involved. The director/writer/producer is a Vietnam War veteran himself.

In doing my research for this story, there are a few things I've found out; the Iraq war is the first war in history where female and male American soldiers are fighting alongside in ground combat.

Unfortunately,around 40% of the female American soldiers out there are raped or attacked by their own comrade soldiers; not by the enemy. Seriously.

Our female vets are coming home with post traumatic stress disorder as a result of being raped and attacked from their own fellow American soldiers.

This project runs along the lines of stories that raise our social/political consciousness; where art meets education meets current events; a little mighty.

PTSD2 Until this project, I hadn't had an opportunity to perform an emotionally dramatic piece on film, only in theater.

The trick in film acting, as opposed to theater, is that you have to wait. You wait, breathe, meditate, prep; while everyone else's work is being set; lights, camera, sound, etc.

And when someone says 'Action', you go.

You just do it, you catapult yourself to wherever you have to be, no matter how high the stakes are in that moment. It's a different beast. 

In theater, you and the director and the rest of your cast get to build up to those climactic moments in the play because you're doing it every night, eight shows a week; events in sequence. Acting, really, is physical labor.

Ironically, my favorite work days in theater were 'tech'. I loved seeing other people's work. I loved sitting in the middle of the stage watching everyone else loom around the actors with their instruments, cues, lights, costumes. Like a film set.

But getting back to the little mighty. Post traumatic stress disorder is inevitable for veterans of war. The government is now realizing that female vets coming back from war are a little more dangerous than male vets returning being that most women tend to be the center of the home.

However, the government is also finding out that female American soldiers have more of a chance at being attacked by their own than by the enemy. What gives?

My entire transition to Los Angeles from New York was worth doing this little indie short.

When it came time for my scene, and granted, it's a short, so every scene counts; the director had the camera so close-up to my face in the beginning I thought my forehead must be the only thing in frame.

I don't know how I did it. And I guess I had forgotten how I can do it. Sometimes you forget that you don't have to work so hard, because time invested in the acting craft makes certain things second nature. Trust that second nature.

It was great. It was challenging and a huge exercise of trust. It was every bit the 'Ann' I knew on stage, only now, it will last forever on film.

That's the thing; in film, anyone's performance can continue to inspire even when they are not there. The beauty about theater though is best stated by Patrick Stewart when he addressed the National Press about his production of "Othello", 'because the actors and the audience are breathing the same air.'

I"ll take forever. I'm liking forever, 'ever-last acting'; a little mighty, that will last forever. 

(photos courtesy of Ava Violette Laurel and HS Productions)

Yours Truly -- Ann Hu

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