Interview with Paying Mr. McGetty star Anita Clay
After the success of their 2015 film The Martial Arts Kid Don “The Dragon” Wilson, James Wilson and director Michael Baumgarten reteamed for the action comedy Paying Mr. McGetty starring R. Marcus Taylor (Straight Out of Compton). I had the chance to sit down and speak with his co-star stunt woman and actress Anita Clay about her role of Meena and working on the film.
Bobby: How did you get involved with Paying Mr. McGetty?
Anita: I was involved with the Urban Action Showcase Festival that is sponsored by Cinemax and HBO and I was at a party where I met James and Don Wilson. They liked my look and James wanted to put me in his next film.
Bobby: I know you have a stunt background and being involved with that festival do you have a martial arts background yourself?
Anita: I do. One of my Sensei’s is one of the directors of the festival, but I actually fell into stunts. No pun intended. I guess my look makes it seem like I should be doing some kind of action since those are the types of roles I usually get. When I met Demetrius he started training me in martial arts as well as stunt and action. From there I just kept working and training to get work in that genre.
Bobby: Your role as Meena in this film was not an action heavy role. Do you approach this kind of part differently?
Anita: It all honestly depends of the demands of the character. As far as this role I just wanted to work with the director and his vision to try and come to middle ground to keep that vision and your idea of the character.
Bobby: I know you have worked on both big productions as well as the smaller independent films like this one. Do you approach them all the same or do you have a different way of going in depending on the production itself?
Anita: With an independent film it feels more like a family. It’s a little more of an intimate setting where you have more opportunity to actually converse and get to know the director more. On a bigger set there is so much happening it often times seems a little more impersonal, but the approach is pretty much the same. Just show up on set and be ready to deliver what is expected of you and not cause a big commotion.
Bobby: How much input did you get to have to create the persona of Meena to fit you?
Anita: It’s a funny story because this was kind of a fly by your seat kind of films where I got to put a lot of input in because Michael Baumgarten is such a good director with actors. He might write something, but will also tell them to say it how they want to get it different ways. He kind of just wrote the character for me and based it on my personality so it was easier to just walk onto set and be a straight forward and natural instead of a bunch of new character work. As an actor the more natural you can be then typically the better it is. When they are writing a character for you then you don’t have to worry about a special accent or anything. It allows you to just focus on the script and the scenes to bring them to life in a realistic way.
Bobby: While it used to be the norm to hire multiple people to cover stunts and the acting it is more common now to hire stunt people that can act to get better production value and performances. Is it hard for you to switch between those two worlds when working on a film like having to do a fight scene and then shift into a heartfelt sequence of dialogue?
Anita: I have over 20 years of experience as an actor and only really started training with the stunts around 6 years ago so for me the action is still a little bit more work trying to get it right. The transition between the two though I think the acting part is a little easier, but to be both the stunt person and actor it minimizes those extra steps of having to mimic the actress that I am doubling and just focus on both sides myself.
Bobby: In reference to stunts in general are you able to adapt to whatever the film needs now or do you have a specific style you typically try to stick to?
Anita: I am adaptable. Based on my skill set I might step in when it’s something that I am not quite to that level to do yet, but let them know what I can do. It really varies from project to project because you work with some people that are more adaptable, but then you have others that it is their vision and all they want. The challenge is to feel out the kind of set you are working on and realize what you are allowed to adapt or have to just get it right the way they want it.
Bobby: Makes total sense. Do you have any other projects coming up that you can tell us about or would like to promote?
Anita: Obviously we got Paying Mr. McGetty coming soon, but I am also going to be working on The Martial Arts Kid 2: Payback that just finished its campaign. I am really excited for that one and that is really all I can talk about at the moment.
Bobby: I think you did a great job in the film and I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me.
Anita: Thank you for talking to me.
Be on the lookout for Paying Mr. McGetty coming soon and you can check out our review of the film here now.