When I first interviewed teenager Natalie Schneider about a year and a half ago, she was just beginning her film and television career in Philadelphia. Today, she carries herself with a self-assurance of a seasoned actress —a far cry from the shy, cheerleader that I first met.
“You don’t realize how much acting changes you as a person, especially my confidence and how I carry myself in day-to-day life,” she says.
Through local acting classes, Schneider was introduced to veteran producer Suzanne DeLaurentiis. DeLaurentiis was in Philadelphia filming a television pilot entitled, “High Steaks,” a comedy about a family in a witness protection program hiding from the mob based on a true story. Schneider auditioned for a role with director Harvey Lowry through Skype and booked a small role in the pilot. She was flown to Los Angeles to film the episode.
“It really didn’t feel like I was working, and I loved all the people there. It was a huge turning point for me where I told myself - this is what I want to do,” she reminisces.
She flew back to Philly and garnered more experience on the set of a local television show called, “Certifiable,” by writer/director Jennifer M. Kay before her big theatrical break on the horror film, "D-Railed," starring Lance Henriksen.
Suzanne DeLaurentiis, who was producing "D-Railed," remembered Schneider from High Steaks and asked her to audition for a variety of roles on the feature film. She sent in a self-taped audition for two of the roles.
Schneider says that she did her best on the audition, submitted the tapes and then thought nothing of it. Two weeks later, her mother received a phone call from Suzanne DeLaurentiis herself informing her that she booked the part of “Lisa” on D-Railed. DeLaurentiis then told her that director Dale Fabrigar had written the part of Lisa with her in mind.
There was a slight problem in the scheduling though - her school finals were scheduled for the very same week that principal photography was scheduled for "D-Railed." Nevertheless, Schneider and her mom were determined to make it work. “My family is so supportive of my career and these opportunities only come once in a lifetime,” she says. They ended up taking a flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles on Sunday night, scheduled on set for a night shoot on Monday evening to Tuesday morning, and then took the red-eye on Tuesday night. Schneider went directly from the airport to her school finals on Wednesday morning.
Schneider admits that she didn’t do as well as she hoped on the finals, but laughs, “Whatever. I’m in a movie.”
Schneider says, “Most of the projects I had done before were on the small screen, but to see myself on the big screen felt crazy.” Schneider says that her mom started crying when she saw her on-screen for the first time because she was so proud. Her friends thought the movie was fun and were amazed that they have a friend in a Hollywood film.
D-Railed recently had its premiere at the NYC Horror Film Festival in December and is making its way through the film festival circuit, including the Russia International Horror Film Festival, and just picked up a nomination for Best Practical FX at the PDXtreme Fest in Portland, Oregon.
by Giovannie Espiritu