Photo Credit: Philippe McClelland
Adam Ambruso plays in the recent Video on Demand film Butterfly Caught. Ambruso discusses the film and why it feels like a great depiction of a “Hollywood Cautionary Tale”.
AA: I’m very happy to be talking with you and honored to be talking with you on the phone and have this conversation with you this morning.
ATM: Thank you. Explain your perspective on the film.
AA: This is what I like to call the “Hollywood Cautionary Tale”. It is based on three female actresses who come from different parts of life. They are hoping to pursue careers as actresses. This is the real story. I have read a lot of “Hollywood” stories in the past, and they did not ring true. I have never been a fan of “Hollywood” stories because people never nailed it. This one does. When reading the script, I was like, “Wow, this really rings true.” There is an underbelly to Hollywood. I’ve had a lot of friends get caught up in it. This is telling their story. This is a story about what could happen if you make a few wrong decisions. It is still a lot more than three actress pursing their career. Many lives are being affected. It is an ensemble cast.
ATM: How does the title “Butterfly Caught” fit into this scenario? Butterfly? Caught?
AA: Good question. “Butterfly” comes from the fact that the lead characters in many ways act like a butterfly. You start out as this monarch, which is before it becomes a butterfly. It has to undergo great, pressure, pain, and change before it turns into this beautiful butterfly. The director was trying to show the parallel between us as human beings having to go through great pain, pressure, change, and growth before we can be able to spread our wings and become this beautiful butterfly that succeeds in life. “Caught” means she is caught in a very different set of circumstances she has to overcome and get through. Through the story she is sort of “caught” and this is where this comes from.
ATM: Whether it is you or the characters, how could an actor use acting as a way to maneuver through their insecurities?
AA: I love this. This is a good question. Acting should be a requirement or a required course growing up. For me, it was very therapeutic. I came to LA and Hollywood emotionally unhealthy. I grew up with a single mom. I was alone a lot. I was raised in Texas. As a Texas male, you have to not show emotion. Acting made me get in touch with what makes me emotional. What situations are appropriate to be emotional in? What is the appropriate response? It helped me get through speaking in public and on the stage. Even going through dark places in front of people. You have to really face your insecurities and shyness. You have to work on your voice and movement. Acting helps you deal with all these insecurities and really pulls you out of your shell. It was transformational for me and helped me become a better human.
ATM: When did you find out the industry was tenacious, serious, and rigorous on a different level than other jobs?
AA: I was aware that I was going into the “major leagues” before leaving Texas for LA. I had a feeling it was not going to be an easy path. I found out it was much more difficult than I anticipated. This happened right away. People are not necessarily out to get you. People are coming here to get their pot of gold. A lot of them get focused on going after what they want in life. They are thinking about what the impact is to other people. Others can get caught in their pursuit. They do not do this intentionally, but they hurt people along the way. I realized this right away. You have to really take care of “you.” Do not take anything personally. I had my own #Metoo moment with a very powerful male producer. I realized he was not out to hurt me, but this is how he gets love and this is how things are done. I felt sorry for people who did not get it. If you find your tribe out here, there is a lot of people who do not do this, then there is a lot of people that do. You have to be ready for this and aware of this. You are right. It is a more serious game out here. I became aware of it right away.
ATM: How did coming from a world of 9 to 5 and then jump into this world of not being 9 to 5 make you mature or grew you up?
AA: This is another great question. I worked a full year after college, before coming here. The interesting thing about this professional job as opposed to a regular job is that I spent all my time focusing on the job. I was a financial analyst for Dell computers. My energy was put on this thing other than me. It is very easy to not grow that much. You can spend 10 to 12 hours a day focusing on a spreadsheet. It allows you to not think about yourself. Now, my entire job is “me” and working on “me” and how to make “me” more marketable. It is very interesting on how this job as an actor makes you focus on becoming a better person.
ATM: Would you advise any aspiring actor or person coming into the industry to watch this film?
AA: Yes, I do. This is a good film for anyone coming into the industry to watch. This is a good “Cautionary Tale.” It is like saying, “Hey, listen watch out and be careful in the decisions you make.” You do not need to sell your soul or give up the integrity of who you are to get where you want to go. It usually will not lead there. It will only lead to hard ache and destruction. This film scares people into making better decisions.
ATM: Would you agree that a lot of emerging actors get into this industry because of fame, importance, and recognition, instead of it being their passion?
Additionally, how could a person who gets in this business for the wrong reason damage them as a person?
AA: Do I think a lot of people come to Hollywood for fame? Yes, they probably do. It does not matter what your reason is for becoming an actor. I do not judge. You can have success no matter what. Those people who come for fame, end up not lasting long. It is not a big motivational factor to take you through the hard times. It takes a lot of work. There is a lot of hard ache, strife, and pain along the way. If you do not really want this and do not love what you are doing, then your desire will not be strong enough to last you through hard times. Wanting fame to a certain degree is not a bad thing. To some degree, you need fame, not in terms of being liked by people, but it allows you to bankroll a film and choose projects. This is hard to do without notoriety and some degree of fame. You have to really love this art and craft, than just wanting fame. Those that come looking for fame, there is a very destructive path way they fall into. Those people will end of going to parties and going to the club scene quite a bit, making decisions that do not lead to quality work. Those paths can be destructive to a lot of people. I know some people like this who ended up leaving and going home broke. They got stuck into the party or drug scene. They ended up 20 years later still not making it in the job they are in. They have never gone anywhere because they realize they did not put in the appropriate work because they were making “fame” based decisions.
ATM: Wouldn’t this hurt them mentally? This is a person that is coming out of a world that has a minimum of 12 hours. The minimum.
They are now coming back into the “normal” world that is 9 to 5 or corporate America. For so long, they were institutionalized in the entertainment. Institutionalized in a good way.
AA: It messes with people for sure. It may mess with some people. Acting is a great equalizer. A lot of people come into a film and think this is fun. There are different levels of desire. Life has an interesting way of finding people who have the serious desire. This is similar to any hard career going after. This is either professional schooling like acting or becoming a political career. This career is going to find out who really wants it.
In some people, it is not their goal to be great at something. This is not what they are looking for. Maybe they want a family or br happy with having an easier life where they do not have to work hard. These people who try, find it is harder than they thought it would be. They do not want to spend all their life working. I want to travel a bunch. I do not think it messes them up mentally. The people that want it and then go into a mediocre job and give up, this could be very destructive and damaging. They feel like they failed, and they did not give it their all. This is why it is important that if you really want something, and you decide this, then you should give it your all and do not give up. If you do find this was going to be fun and something you want to fight your life for, then this is healthy to acknowledge up front. You should get out while you can before wasting a lot of time. You should go do something that goes with your personality. So, it depends. It depends on if you really wanted it and gave up. Or if you realized it would be fun and it is more work.
ATM: Describe yourself as an actor.
AA: This is a loaded question. Describe myself as an actor? The best way for me to do this is for me to just tell you what I want to do and what is important to me in this business. What is important to me in this business is to work with the most talented people that I can. People who have extremely high commitment levels and who are passionate about this business. I would like to do some of those impacting films in the world. So, of the biggest films in the world. If so, then I would like to impact the world in a positive way and entertain them. I want to do quality work. I want to do a high quality of film-making and storytelling.
ATM: How do you get through a stressful day as an actor?
AA: The way I get through my stressful days as an actor is to stop, slow down, and remind myself that I chose this life; God has allowed me to pursue my dreams and pursue what makes me happy and that completes me as a person. When I am present to this realization, problems and stress really don’t seem to matter nearly as much.
ATM: What does it even mean to be an asset or a part of Hollywood in today’s modern culture?
AA: I think what it means to be an asset or part of Hollywood in today’s modern culture is what it has always meant for the most part; which is to be a person or entity who impacts the world and is quite possibly a force for change either locally or globally. This is done by giving of oneself wholly, truthfully, courageously, and unabashedly to the collective consciousness of what Hollywood is and represents. It means adding value and pushing the Hollywood machine forward, not by criticizing but instead by giving of your sweat equity.
Nice job on finding some creative questions to ask. Your name is Gabrielle. It was really nice meeting you. I hope to meet you in person one day. I really enjoyed our conversation.
ATM: Thank you.
AA: My pleasure.