Interview with Scream Princess Jonni Shandor
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In this interview, get to know Jonni Shandor, a young actress in the horror genre, as she shares her journey into the world of acting, her love for horror, and her passion for acting. At the age of 6, Jonni began acting. She discovered her love for horror after conquering her fear of the game series Five Nights at Freddy’s [FNAF]. Since then, she has pursued acting and performed in several low-budget films and community theater productions. She also talks about her love for conventions and cosplaying as her favorite horror characters. Read on to learn more.
GeekPost: How did your passion for horror begin, and what inspired you to pursue a career in acting?
Jonni S: It’s actually a very funny story! Let me set the scene, I’m around 5 or 6 years old, my parents are celebrity handlers at horror conventions (so I was already around famous people). My brother liked this game series called FNAF. I walked in while he got jump scared, and being a small child, I was terrified. I had nightmares until I decided to conquer my fear. I asked him what game he was playing, and he introduced me to it. A few months later I started getting into more horror things, started cosplaying at the horror conventions, and would perform Alice Copper and KISS songs on stage.
When I was 6, I actually started doing community theater because, 1. My mom wanted me to learn a valuable life lesson, how to accept rejection, or accept acceptance, along with the other things theater teaches you. 2. The auditions were open for Annie, and she noticed me wanting to be on stage more and thought why not watch my cute daughter possibly be in one of my favorite plays. So, I auditioned. Turns out I loved theater. That really helped me with getting into acting. Anyway, so at the conventions some people saw me perform and (probably) thought “Woah, she’s good at performing, we need a little girl for our film”. So, that really worked itself out for me.
GeekPost: Can you tell us about your first acting experience in the horror genre and what your ambitions are?
Jonni S: My first acting experience was a film titled “The Embalmers”. It was a really low budget film. It was my first ever film acting experience and I am a little embarrassed for my acting because I had no training back then. It was good for THEATRE acting but, film and theater acting are to one another like water and fire–pretty much opposites.
My ambitions for acting are generally to reach as many people as possible. I see acting as telling a story. My job is to tell the story and make it exciting. So, reaching as many people as possible with a touching story is what I love. As a younger child before I started really acting, I read a lot (I still do) I would pretend the books are like movies.
GeekPost: How do you balance your love for acting in horror films with your everyday life, school, and family commitments?
Jonni S: So, I’ve been doing auditions and films for so long now that it is my everyday life (XD). I’m home schooled so it never really bothers me with school. If I get an audition I drop everything, memorize it real quick and submit it as fast as I can. If I get hired and I must be on set tomorrow at noon, we quickly book a hotel and rush there, sleep, and work. I just make up for school by doing extra school. For my family sometimes I do have to cancel plans, but they understand.
GeekPost: Are there any specific horror shows or movies that have significantly impacted you and your acting?
Jonni S: Yes. There are 2 films that have absolutely been life changing. As you read earlier my main inspiration for my acting and loving horror is FNAF. I’m obsessed! They came into the works of a FNAF film and decided they were going to throw away the script. Someone took that script and made it into the Banana Splits! I loved that movie! I watched It every day! The other one which affected me more than the other, and that’s Willy’s Wonderland. Same as last time it’s the thrown away script, but this one is more styled to fit the FNAFverse (See what I did there). It’s again, animatronics being crazy and attacking. This one I watched so much. I loved it. It is the biggest reason for my love of Nicholas Cage! He basically plays the Janitor.
GeekPost: How do you approach preparing for a role in a horror project, especially considering your age and potentially intense content?
Jonni S: So first, I memorize the script. Then, when on set I just really come into those circumstances. I use the Meisner technique and it’s all about “Living truthfully in an imaginary circumstance.” I live truthfully by it.
GeekPost: Can you share any memorable experiences you’ve had on set?
Jonni S: I have had so many! Sometimes when working on set for many days you get to really become a family with the other cast and crew! Two movies that were actually not horror related, one was sci-fi, and one was a family film. The family film “The Rose Wagon”, I was working for three weeks, and I got to meet so many amazing people that we really became a family. There was a dog on set I got to work with named Dixie the Praying Dog, and she was the coolest dog and so so sweet. She was a great actress! And the sci-fi film “Oregonda” was so fun. This was one day of filming in Illinois, and I got to work with Leanne Johnson who is the coolest, and she taught me how to climb rocks and we had the best time!! I scaled a rock wall and in the entire scene I did, I portrayed an alien girl who spoke an alien language. It was a blast! I got to do my own stunts and learn a made-up language!
GeekPost: How have your family and friends supported your journey as a young actress?
Jonni S: Yes! Very much! Especially my parents. I owe about everything to them. I would not have a career without their supportiveness. My mom helps out on set by being a PA and on an upcoming set a PM (Production Manager for A Good Girls Guide to Murder) and my dad makes props and does SFX. Earlier I was talking about how my brother introduced me to FNAF, but I really do owe a lot to him. He got me into horror. The upcoming movie we are filming (AGGG2M) we are spending 10 days with the entire family working on the set and this film OH WOW! The script is incredible, it’s one of the films I’m really looking forward to filming.
GeekPost: How do you maintain a sense of safety and well-being on set while working in the horror genre?
Jonni S: My mom is with me everywhere. She’s always there but usually helping out but not far enough to where she can’t see me and often my dad is there too helping in some capacity. My mom calls him the MacGyver on film sets. Anytime there’s an issue of any kind, even if it’s getting the right rocks skipped across the water (that was one thing he did) he can do it. My dad can do just about anything.
MIt GeekPost: Are there any actors, directors, or other professionals you look up to or would like to work with in the future?
Jonni S: Jordan Peele is one of them. I’m a huge fan of his work and him on one of my favorite shows Key & Peele! Another person is Ryan Reynolds. I think he is funny.
GeekPost: Do you have any pets? Tell us about them.
Jonni S: Yes! I live on a farm, and I have 14 cats, a dog, chickens, and we’re getting some goats soon.
GeekPost: Have you ever cosplayed as any of your favorite horror characters? Tell us all about your experiences in cosplay.
Jonni S: OH YES! Many times. Last month I won a year as a student at the Stan Winston School of Character Arts, and I worked so hard on that cosplay. I learned how to sew by hand and sewed sleeves on my dress and many more things, we worked really hard on this Art the Clown and Pale Girl cosplay, and it was so fun! I used to do different variations of Alice Cooper and Gene Simmons and have even combined them to make Alyss Simmons! I’ve done Pale Man and have won several cosplay contests. I don’t enter the kids contests anymore but often I will host them and have been a judge on cosplay contests many times.
GeekPost: Do you attend any conventions? What is your favorite thing about them?
Jonni S: My mom and dad and I love conventions and our favorite ones are Days of the Dead and Evansville Raptor Con, also, Raptor Con made a horror version and it’s called Evansville Horror Con, and we love going there!! Night risers Con in Elizabethtown Kentucky is one that we love too. My favorite thing about conventions is how much fun they are, I love meeting new people, seeing people I always see at conventions, doing cosplay and I also love being a guest at conventions.
GeekPost: As a young actress in the horror genre, have you had the opportunity to learn about special effects makeup and techniques? If so, can you share some of your experiences?
Jonni S: Yes! I love SFX! My favorite technique to get burns and road rash is to put some lotion on your skin where you will be applying your makeup then, apply some latex and layer on toilet paper and latex one by one until you reach like 5 or 6 layers then, absolutely coat the area with latex and like mesh it around until the area is looking beat up. Once it dries apply bruise color and red color, stipple on with one of those sponges with the holes everywhere black, and use scab blood in the areas with like deepness. Then, put on some liquid blood and BAM! You got yourself a burn/road rash.
GeekPost: What advice would you give to other young aspiring actors who want to break into the industry?
Jonni S: NEVER GIVE UP! This industry is tough. WILL break you down and build you back up. Let things roll off your back. Imagine a duck. Ducks are waterproof, water just rolls down their back. Now become that duck. Let water just roll down your back. (My mommy always tells me that 😊 and it works!!)
The Geek Post would like to thank Jonni as well as her parents for taking the time to answer our questions. Make sure to follow Jonni to keep up with the Scream Princess’s Career.
Yay! This was so fun to do! Thanks for having me!