Starring: Susan Hess Logeais | Sherilyn Lawson | Betty Moyer
Also Featuring: David Ogden Stiers | Seymour Cassel | Jill Andre | Patricia Ferguson | Alexander Blaise | Allen Nause | Ryan Findlay
“If somebody doesn’t want to put me in front of the camera, I’ll get behind it,” says Susan Hess Logeais, the writer, producer and co-star of NOT DEAD YET. That’s exactly what happened when this Portland, OR, former Hollywood actress, age 51, decided to give it another shot.
Prior to leaving the entertainment industry in 1990, Logeais had accomplished in 15 years what few people achieve in a lifetime. Beginning at the age of 17, the classically-trained ballerina spent a year performing with the San Francisco Ballet under Artistic Director Michael Smuin.
Then, in 1978, the lanky teen began a seven-year stint that would make her one of Europe’s most successful fashion models. She would ultimately grace over a dozen major magazine covers – including Italian, English, and German versions of Vogue, Marie Claire, and Elle; glide down the runways in Paris, Milan and New York for such designers as Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, and Gianni Versace; star in countless fashion spreads; and appear as the face of Karl Lagerfeld perfume, among other exclusive brands.
In 1984, Logeais scaled back her modeling to pursue her passion: acting. During the years that followed, she co-starred in four network television movies, a Sidney Sheldon mini-series for CBS, and episodes of Miami Vice, Knightwatch, Spencer: For Hire, and Christine Cromwell.
Logeais grew up just outside Seattle, the daughter of a Washington State Legislator and a public school nurse. She began studying dance at the age of seven. By the time she was 15, Logeais was practicing up to four hours a day, five days a week. At the age of 16, she was awarded a Ford Foundation Scholarship and the honor of participating in the School of American Ballet’s summer program. It was after an exhilarating, but grueling season with the San Francisco Ballet that included 28 “Nutcrackers,” two intensive tours, and some serious physical injuries, Logeais called a halt to her dance career.
Not sure what to do next, Logeais headed back to Seattle, and began modeling for Nordstrom’s. There, she tested with a Seattle photographer, who sent her pictures to the Wilhelmina agency in New York. They invited her to fly back for an interview, signed her on the spot, and Logeais had her first assignment two days later – as a runway model doing as many as ten shows a day during show season.
Finally, after years of being in front of audiences and the camera, Logeais decided to step behind the lens, and began learning the craft of screenplay writing. At the same time, she formed her own production company, Two Chicks with Cameras, and co-directed and produced a series of short films.
Then, in 1992, Logeais moved to France, where she met her husband, Olivier. She had her first child at the age of 38, and second at 40. In 1998, they moved to Southern Oregon, then relocated in Portland in 2003.
“’When is it going to be my turn?’ is kind of Michelle’s theme,” says Lawson of her character – a former actress who teams up with her friends in a desperate attempt to revive their careers.
Like her character, Lawson opted to table her acting career to raise a family, beginning at age of 37. “I was pretty much in suburbia mommy mode for the first few years,” she says. “I tried to continue to work after my son was born, but it was a little difficult because I never got any sleep for the first eight months – making it almost impossible to memorize anything, not to mention that I looked like dust,” she says with a laugh.
Lawson gave birth to her daughter at 40, but didn’t try to get back in the game until her youngest was four. “Meantime, reality TV hit, all of the movies-of-the-week had gone to Canada, and all the local commercial companies were being purchased by out-of-state conglomerates. So we lost some of our biggest accounts, as well as a lot of training and educational videos. It just all dried up,” she says of the drop in major productions in Portland, OR. That has made it doubly-difficult for female actresses in their upper 40’s to score good roles.
Ironically, after graduating from the University of Oregon with a B.A. in Theater, it took Lawson a decade to work up the courage to pursue a career – the result of an insensitive remark by a professor who carelessly blurted out that she didn’t have what it takes. “ It didn’t just hurt me, it screwed up my ability to judge myself,” she relates. So she began entering competitions sponsored by the International Modeling Talent Association, and won four awards – including for first runner-up as “Female Talent of the Year.” “I came back from that going, ‘Okay, I can do this.’ And that’s when I got a local agent and started doing more theatre. Then I got real busy and did a lot.”
Lawson immediately scored a supporting part in the TV movie, Perfect Family, starring Bruce Boxleitner, Jennifer O’Neill and Joanna Cassidy. Then came a recurring role in the CBS crime series, Under Suspicion. While continuing to live in Portland, she appeared in such visiting productions as Ann Rule’s Dead by Sunset with Ken Olin and Annette O’Toole, Lifetime’s Fifteen and Pregnant, the Disney Channel’s Halloweentown, Gus Van Sant’s feature film Elephant, the hit indie documentary What the Bleep Do I Know?, Thumbsucker with Keanu Reeves, and Feast of Love with Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear.
Her fondest memory, however, is as a featured extra in Animal House with John Belushi. Just weeks after she started her freshman year at the U of O, Lawson showed up for the call for extras. “I was in a tight pink sweater with black pants, and I remember standing around having these men start pointing in my direction. I’m looking all around, and they’re saying, ‘You. You. You in the pink sweater,” she laughs. "The next thing I know they’re taking my measurements.... and Playboy Magazine is there – and I was cast as this ‘busty’ co-ed.” The pillow fight scene will forever stay in her memory.
“Cindy is the type of person who doesn’t just wipe off the countertop, she rubs it until it shines,” says Betty Moyer, who plays her in “Not Dead Yet.” “She’s the kind of complex personality I’ve been waiting my whole career to play!”
Born on an army base in Taipei, Taiwan, Moyer grew up on a chicken ranch in Smiley, Texas (population: 500), about 60 miles southeast of San Antonio. Starting at the age of five, she helped her family gather some 15,000 eggs a day. It was about the same time that she began telling people she wanted to be an actress. “I lived in front of the TV set, absorbing everything, just knowing there was another world out there,” she says with a laugh.
By the 3rd grade, Moyer knew her destiny was not in Smiley. “I remember sitting on the bus with my girlfriend, and she looks at this house and says, ‘I’m going to live there when I grow up.’ I thought she was completely insane!”
By her senior year, Moyer began appearing in school plays, which brought her a regional title in a statewide competition. Following graduation, Moyer paid her own way through several years of college at Southwest Texas State in San Marcos, where she majored in drama. She then spent eight years in Dallas, working in regional theater, while supporting herself appearing in commercials and industrials. As time passed and her career failed to ignite, Moyer found herself doing odd jobs backstage to cover expenses. One day, while working in the prop department, a man who analyzes handwriting asked her to write down her name. “He looked at it, and he looked at me, and he goes, ‘Why have you given up?’ It was like ‘Oh! Wow!’” she says of the light bulb moment.
Moyer’s roommate, who was also an aspiring actress, suggested they move to Los Angeles. Within two months of landing in Southern California, Moyer had scored an agent, a part in a play, and a day job as a desk clerk at the Hyatt Hotel on Sunset (which was also known at the time as the “Riot House” for its popularity among touring rock bands).
Moyer finally seemed to be on the right track, when fate interceded, sending her in an entirely different direction. One day, J. Isaac, the manager of the band Quarterflash, checked into the hotel. They married in 1986, settled in his hometown of Portland, OR, and had a son. Today, Isaac is a member of the senior management team for the Portland Trailblazers.
While raising her son, Moyer was finally able to launch her career. To date, she has appeared in nine films, including Untraceable, The Postman, and The Temp; eleven network movies; and two television series, UPN’s Nowhere Man and CBS’ Under Suspicion. Betty’s favorite experience on a film to date was as “Ada Reynolds” on the Hallmark film, The Valley of Light. She has also performed extensively on stage, in such productions as Distracted at the Artist’s Repertory Theatre, in Portland.
An accomplished actor of stage, film, and television, Stier’s career has spanned over 30 years. Born in Peoria, Illinois, he began his acting career in Northern California, then moved to New York City, where he studied drama at Juilliard and joined Houseman Acting Company at its outset. A three-time Emmy-award nominated actor, Stiers has appeared in a multitude of both television films and series. On the big screen, Stiers’ list of credits includes The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Oh, God, The Accidental Tourist, and The Majestic. Stiers has also lent his voice to several animated films. As a conductor, Stiers has appeared with 70 orchestras in both the United States and Canada. He maintains a repertoire of 50 orchestral works including concertos, and is the principal guest conductor of the Yaquina Chamber Orchestra in Newport, Oregon.
Seymour Cassel began making film and TV appearances in the 1960s. He studied at the American Theatre Wing and the Actor’s Studio before making his film debut in John Cassevete’s first film, Shadows (1959), for which he also served as associate producer. He was Oscar-nominated for his portrayal of an aging hippie in Faces (1968). In the ‘90s, he played Sam Catchem in Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy, dog sled adventurer Skunker in the Disney classic White Fang, and a chauffer in Indecent Proposal. His role as the shyster, Joe, in the black comedy In the Soup also earned special recognition at Sundance Film Festival. Cassel then appeared in two romantic comedies with director Andrew Bergman: It Could Happen to You and Honeymoon in Vegas. During this period, he developed a rapport with filmmaker Wes Anderson, who cast him as Max Fisher’s barber in Rushmore and Royal’s friend Dusty in The Royal Tenebaums.
A producer, director, and an actress, Jill Andre was also co-founder of the Pleiades Theatre Group, a non-profit organization created to develop playwrights in LA, as well as a co-founder of the American Renaissance Theatre in NYC. As an actress, some of Andre’s Broadway performances include Children of a Lesser God, The Trip Back Down, and The Great White Hope. She also has many credits that include Off Broadway and regional productions. Some of her film and television credits include Twin Falls Idaho, And the Band Played On, Ghosts of Mississippi, Cold Case, The Practice, NYPD Blue, as well as several soaps including Dallas and Dynasty. A recent highlight was the lead role in a short film, The Moor, story by Russell Banks, directed and adapted by Caerthan Banks
Growing up in Augusta, GA, Patricia Ferguson discovered her passion for acting after winning Best Talent in the Junior Miss Scholarship Program for her interpretive Gone with the Wind monologue. She received a BA from Augusta State University and then moved to Austin, TX where she completed her MFA in Acting at The University of Texas. Ferguson then headed to Seattle, WA where she met her husband and gave birth to her two children, all the while working as a professional theatrical actor. Four years ago her family moved to the Portland area where she has added film, commercial, and radio acting to her resume. Ferguson is a leading player in the Oregon Public Broadcasting radio show Live Wire! She has been apart of numerous award-winning short films and has even been seen at the Cannes Film Festival. Other credits include national and regional commercials. NOT DEAD YET marks Ferguson’s first feature film.
Born in Paris, France, Alexander Blaise began acting as a teen in a neighborhood theatre company. His parents, both artists, traveled with the family a great deal, choosing the famed artist haunt Hotel Chelsea as their first home in the U.S. Blaise’s burgeoning interest in acting was stimulated by acting teacher Uta Hagen among others. His first big break came when he was cast as an officer in Return from the River Kwai, a WWII film shot on location in the Philippines. He has since had the opportunity to play parts on numerous television shows including HBO’s The Sopranos, NBC’s Law and Order, and the CBS’s daytime drama As the World Turns.
Allen Nause, Artists Repertory Theatre’s Artistic Director, was a recipient of the 2003 Oregon Governor’s Arts Award. He first came to Oregon in 1975 to act with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Nause joined Artists Rep as the company’s first Artistic Director in 1989 and has directed many of its most popular productions. Under his artistic leadership, A.R.T. was selected in 2004 by the National Endowment of the Arts as one of only six theater companies nationally to participate in their “Shakespeare in American Communities” program, the largest-ever tour of Shakespeare’s plays in the United States. As an actor, Nause has performed at many Northwest theaters and in the feature films The River Why, The Valley of Light, Frances, The Runner Stumbles, Without Evidence and Kate’s Smile. He also directed the feature film ZigZag.
Ryan Findley is Oregon born and raised. Although he has traveled around the world, he lives with his wife and two kids about 11 miles from where he grew up just outside the Portland area. Findley attended George Fox University where he studied video production and played collegiate baseball. He has studied with several acting coaches including Gary Austin. Findley has a full resume that includes work in feature films, numerous shorts and over 10 national and regional commercials. He has been seen in several print campaigns as well, with clients such as Men’s Health and Logitech. NOT DEAD YET is Findley’s first production with Hot Flash Films PDX.
Alexander Blaise | Herve
Allen Nause | Robert
Spencer Conway | Casting Director
Gilberto Martin Del Campo | Paul
Michael Mendelson | David
Michele Mariana | Theater Director
Bert Matias | Frank
Connor Daliposon | Kevin
Holly Matthews | Sarah
Ellery Abel | Audrey
Elijah Nelson | Theo