Sasha Kaye, one of the brilliant co-creators of the web series, Precious Cargo, sat down with us to chat about her role as Sandy in the series. We learned she isn't just an actor but a comedy writer and a producer to boot! Check out what the New York City actor has to say about working in web series, being an actual tutor to the children of New York City and more!
netTVnow: Can you give me a brief background on yourself?
Sasha Kaye: I have been an actor for awhile. I graduated from Rutgers University with my MFA in Acting in 2009. After that, I started going out for professional auditions and trying to make my living as an actor. This is actually my second web series. I made one in 2012 about waiting tables [laughs] because that’s what I was doing at the time for my survival job.
In the past couple of years I’ve started doing some producing and working as a freelancer. I’ve worked on Ink Master, Follow Your Cast, which is on the Travel Channel, and I do some casting and producing for Restaurant Redemption. So I’m moving around a lot and getting a feel for producing while using a lot of those same storytelling skills that I would acting.
netTVnow: How did you guys get involved with Precious Cargo?
SK: Lauren Singerman, my co-creator and Dano Madden, our writer, and I all went to Rutgers. I actually wasn’t there the same time Lauren was, but I overlapped by a year with Dano. Once I graduated, it somehow came up that I was trying to find tutoring jobs because I hated waiting tables so much and Dano said I should talk to Lauren who tutors. Which funny enough, I had spoken to Lauren before I graduated because her and I play similar types of characters and I wanted to hear about her acting experience after she graduated.
So I went back to her and I ended up working with her as a tutor at the same company,sometimes tutoring on students together. During that time we said, “We have to keep some kind of record of this because it’s so bananas!” Over the course of a couple years we compiled a lot of notes and stories,then eventually we decided we wanted to make it a web series and that’s what we did!
netTVnow: Why a web series and not a short or indie type film?
SK: I think the things that happened were funny partially because the timing was so short. Each tutoring session is an hour and there are so many different kids and so many different parents that the humor in it came from not just being one family but being a whole genre of New York people. I think in order to fully illustrate that and show the humor, it needed to be much shorter and quicker than a short film or a pilot. And also because we wanted to be able to actually make it ourselves. Web series because they are so quick, allows for people who don’t have a big budget to make it.
netTVnow: Where did you guys find all these kids and their absurd names? And what was it like getting to work with them?
SK: That was all Dano [laughs] and his writing. He really mined some great names. Some of it from literature and some of it came from top names or “Top bougey names of 2016 [laughs] and some of it was taken from life experience but those were really his creation.
Working with the kids was amazing. I wasn’t really expecting them to be as good and professional as they were. I think going into it I felt like I was going to have to slow down and make it as simple as possible. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play off of them the same way I would adult actors but that really wasn’t true. They were fully in it, fully committed and fully reacting to what the adult actors did. These kids were just so great. They loved it and were so playful which was super important because you can’t really fake that.
netTVnow: You have a bit of a comedic background, did you get to do any improv during the series?
SK: There were definitely moments but because our filming schedule was so tight and we needed to move things along, there wasn’t much time to do improv takes. here were moments I found myself being able to do little things that maybe the average person wouldn’t notice, but it helped me bring a different level to my character.
Another thing was that we sometimes didn’t know where we were shooting. We had a general idea but sometimes you’d get there and it’d be the first time you’re seeing it. So not knowing your set also became moments for a bit of improv too.
netTVnow: Is your character on Precious Cargo, Sandy, the typical kind of role you play?
SK: To some extent, but I think Sandy’s a bit more out there than I tend to play and for me that’s more of my ideal role. The sillier the better [laughs], I have more fun with it. But the “quirky girl” is something I’ve definitely been playing in more recent years and it actually fits a lot better than any of the other roles I may have been trying to play or audition for before. It’s where I feel my best skills lie and it’s been the most enjoyable for me.
netTVnow: What was different for you in this web series compared to your first?
SK: My first web series was done with a friend of mine that worked in the same restaurant. It was definitely very low budget [laughs]. We had the same sort of crew that we did for Precious Cargo, a DP and people around to help, but it wasn’t quite the same. And I honestly had no idea what I was doing [laughs]. Whereas now, I have more experience working in TV so I had a better sense of what needed to be done.I am glad that we did that first web series though I’m proud of the fact that we pulled it off,but I watch it now and it looks amateur because that’s what it was.
netTVnow: What do you think it is about web series that’s attracting talent and making the medium more popular?
SK: I think for people who are interested in creating content, or even those who weren’t initially interested in creating content, like actors, this is a way for them to create the kinds of things they want to see or be in. You can make a web series without network approval or a lot of funding, and you get to make it the way you want to. You might end up with a lot of crap, but you’ll end up with a lot of great stuff too and audiences really respond to that. It’s like the web series High Maintenance. If it’s good, people will find it and it has the opportunity to be really good because there weren't any restrictions placed on it
netTVnow: Any advice for someone wanting to be an actor?
SK: I would say making your own work is crucial in both a career sense and a fulfillment sense. As an actor, so much of your time is spent either not working or working on something that’s not what you want it to be. I really shied away from making my own work because in my mind it comes off like a weird one-woman show or performance piece, but your work can be anything. It can be a really quick short or a web series. There are no rules at this point so why wouldn’t you give yourself something to be excited about?Plus, it’s something to show casting directors and agents to prove that you are more than your resume and headshot.