While most high school graduates enroll in college before entering the workforce through a 9 to 5 job, actress Vada Callisto took a road less travelled. Fascinated by the arts at a young age, she saw the country in a few short years while touring with rock band Battery who opened for Metallica in ’98. Living the rock and roll lifestyle, Vada learned the business of band management before life lead her to Troma Entertainment, the creators behind the timeless classic The Toxic Avenger. I recently had the pleasure of speaking to Vada about her love for the arts, what lead her to Troma and her experience on the indie production studio’s upcoming feature film #Shakespeare’s Sh*tstorm.
SCIFI.radio: Hi Vada! Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. When did you first realize film was a career you wanted to pursue?
Vada Callisto: As a kid, I moved around quite a bit so I didn’t have many friends. The majority of my time was spent bonding with television and films, studying stories and characters. When I got a little older, I was the weird kid and I was outed at school, which wasn’t a fun experience. Someone yelled out that I liked girls while I was giving my speech to become Class President. LGBTQ wasn’t as accepted back then as it is now. I also had a teacher who encouraged me to enroll in a performing arts high school. My parents weren’t too hip to that idea and it cost quite a bit of extra money. So, that dream was killed at a younger age.
After high school, I hooked up with a band called Battery who toured with Metallica in ’98. I toured the United States for a bunch of years helping with stage setup, tear down and managerial responsibilities – basically living a rock n’ roll lifestyle. Some kids go to college after high school. My college was rock & roll. But as I got older, I got sober, and my physical and mental health went into a decline. I began having autoimmune issues and I was in bed all the time not knowing what to do with myself. What do you do when you’re stuck in bed and you’re not feeling well? You go back to what you know. And, for me, that was the creative process of filmmaking.
SCIFI.radio: I’m aware this lead to your role in Troma’s upcoming film #Shakespeare’s Sh*tstorm! How did you first get involved with this iconic indie studio prior to this production?
Vada Callisto: I remember watching the Troma film Tales from the Crapper years ago. I don’t remember much from the film other than Lloyd wearing a trash bag. (laughs) Which I thought was the weirdest thing! I also knew some people who worked for Troma and I saw an invite for one of their events. I went to the event and became involved doing volunteer stuff at their booth. I met Troma fans from around the world as well as various aspiring filmmakers. It was a great opportunity and it was so fun! I did that for a number of years before submitting my audition tape for a Troma casting call. When I linked up with Troma for this project, Lloyd Kaufman encouraged me to participate more on the acting side of the camera. I was hesitant, but I ended up with a part in #Shakespeare’s Sh*tstorm.
SCIFI.radio: #Shakespeare Sh*tstorm is the latest splatter-fest Troma film that’s currently hitting the film festival circuit. And from what I understand, it’s a pretty wild feature! How did you get involved in this production?
Vada Callisto: After I submitted my audition tape for their casting call, Lloyd asked me what I wanted to do for the film. I wrote some ideas and comedy gags. He didn’t use any of it for me, but some of it was used for other characters. But Lloyd found a place for me that worked! I wanted to help in the background doing some of the artistic stuff and I ended up doing some acting. I learned so much and I’m so grateful for the opportunity!
SCIFI.radio: Could you tell me a little about your character?
Vada Callisto: I play Puck who is a magical character and she is one of the bad girls. I assist Ariel who’s a wheelchair bound crackhead lady of the evening. And, to avoid giving away any spoilers, let’s just say that we help certain plans move along for an evil takeover.
SCIFI.radio: What was it like working on such a crazy project?
Vada Callisto: It was unlike anything I had ever done! The hours were long! Even though he’s an independent filmmaker, Lloyd does things on a larger scale. There were some 20 hour days! (laughs) It was interesting. There also wasn’t much personal space and it forced me out of my comfort zone quick. There were so many personalities on set and behind the scenes, Troma fans, different PAs, actors … (laughs) and here I am wandering around in lingerie. We also had to be ready for quick change and surprises that could happen at any moment.
SCIFI.radio: What was your favorite part about working on set with #Shakespeare’s Sh*tstorm?
Vada Callisto: That’s a good question! I would say that my favorite part was working with a very incredible, talented group of individuals. And this type of opportunity may or may not come along again. Even if it does, it won’t be the same because the people will be different. What each individual brought to this film was unique and incredible.
SCIFI.radio: What was the most challenging part about working on set of #Shakespeare’s Sh*tstorm?
Vada Callisto: I would say that would be standing in heels under the lights. (laughs) That day was pretty rough. It was incredibly hot with goopy makeup all over my face and I need to stay on your mark without fidgeting. That was a challenge, but the payoff was worth it!
SCIFI.radio: When might we see a release for the film?
Vada Callisto: That’s a very good question! They already had the world premiere at Fantasia Fest in Montreal, but I believe there’s an Australian premiere coming up this month and I think some other smaller festivals have picked it up. But the Covid-19 pandemic is continuing to shut down events, so I think things are kind of on pause right now. I’m sure it will resume when things are more safe for festival attendees.
SCIFI.radio: Are there any upcoming projects you would like to tell us about?
Vada Callisto: I’m actually in another upcoming Troma film called Divide & Conquer directed by Mercedes the Muse! This one is currently delayed in production due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But this film is going to be very interesting! It’s a different take on feminism and, based on what they’ve filmed so far, this one is wild! It’s about some tough ladies and how they’re going to kick some butt!
SCIFI.radio: That sounds like another great Troma production to keep an eye on! Thank you, Vada, for taking the time to speak with me.
Vada Callisto: Of Course! Thank you for the opportunity.
While Vada continues her exciting work with Troma, we look forward to seeing her on-screen artistry as she explores this new chapter in her life. And we have another treat on the horizon that Tromaville fans will NOT want to miss! Stay tuned!