COVER STORY

Christy Scott Cashman:
The Actress Behind The Cover

by Holly Madden


Christy Scott Cashman during
her January 1999 cover shoot for
Imagine Magazine. An Imagine photo
by Michael Naimo

Bring up the subject of her three consecutive Imagine covers, and Christy Scott Cashman becomes a bit uneasy. To borrow a catch phrase from WAYNE'S WORLD, the up and coming Boston actress feels "she's not worthy." Cashman explains, "I was flattered when Carol Patton asked me to pose for the past three January covers, but I also felt like I didn't deserve it as far as what merits being on the cover of a magazine. I don't feel as though I've done enough yet in this industry; I'm still in the process of achieving my goals."

Although Cashman feels she hasn't "done enough," she certainly has done a lot over the past decade to become the who she is today: A sought-after local feature film actress who also managed to squeeze in time to get married and have a baby.

Born and raised in North Carolina with nine brothers and sisters, Cashman began her journey in the entertainment business when she was 19 years old. Like so many other starry-eyed young women with cover girl looks, she packed up, headed off to Hollywood and eventually got into modeling. "I was approached by a few modeling agencies who helped me put a portfolio together, but nothing really panned out. A year later, I went to a convention where I was approached by two modeling agents - one from Germany and one from New York," said Cashman. The German agent insisted that working in Germany was the best way to get jobs in New York. "The New York agent said, 'If you want to model in New York, the best way is to go straight to New York.' He offered to represent me and pay to put me up in an apartment on Madison Avenue."

Christy and son Jay Michael.

With this carrot dangling, Cashman headed off to New York, where she was shocked to find that her Madison Avenue apartment wasn't exactly Madison Avenue chic. "I walked in and was horrified. The apartment was filthy and extremely tiny, with a narrow hallway, one bedroom and a 'living area' with two sets of bunkbeds." To make matters worse, she had to share the small space with four male models. The scene that summer was straight out of MODELS INC. - 16 year-old models coming and going, staying out all hours, being propositioned by older men, drugs at their beckoned call. "There were guys offering to take me to Paris and drugs were everywhere," says Cashman. "You end up becoming jaded because nothing surprises you anymore."

Despite the temptations, Cashman managed to stay focused. "If you get sucked into it, I think it's because you have a tremendous void in your life. Luckily, I was in observing mode and my void was being filled with daily adventures of my life." She ended up modeling in New York for a successful three-year run. Her highlights included working as the "house model" for Vera Wang for a few seasons; doing fashion shows on the Geraldo show and Good Morning America; and appearing on the cover of Women's Wear Daily, the industry's premier pub.

Christy outside her home
in Boston's Back Bay.

Her career path took an unexpected turn when she attended a party for the King of Sweden in Manhattan. "I met some Hollywood people who encouraged me to move to L.A. and try my hand at acting. They suggested I start out by reading scripts and gave me some leads into Paramount." She took their advice, packed up once again and headed back to the West Coast. Once she arrived, she took odd modeling jobs and began her foray into acting. She enrolled at Janet Alhanti acting studios and landed a job as a script reader at Paramount studios. "I read scripts like THE PHANTOM, THE SAINT, JADE and SHOWGIRLS. It was interesting to see the scripts I had read go from paper to screen; it taught me a lot about what works and what doesn't. At this point, I had the acting bug full force, but I didn't know how to follow through on it."

Although she never got her big break in Hollywood, Cashman did manage to get some acting experience under her belt by doing extra work on films and commercials. But after two and half years, she "got tired of the whole L.A. thing" and headed back to New York.

There her life took another unexpected turn. She met her now husband Jay Cashman who is in the construction business. "We were in the throes of dating; I was doing odd jobs here and there, not really looking hard for anything. It was then that Jay said to me, 'If acting is what you want, then do something with it.' So I went ahead an wrote a short called THE LITTLE THINGS." The film ended up being her baptism-by-fire film school. With no technical film knowledge whatsoever, Cashman threw herself into the project and shot the film in six days using New York actors, a Boston crew, and her husband's apartment. "I had no idea what I was doing," explains Cashman. "I was cavalier about it; just going through the paces as if 'anybody can do this.' I learned so much about the anatomy of film. You start out thinking it's art, but it's really such a technical business." The film, which focuses on the little, annoying day-to-day things that can break up an otherwise solid relationship, screened at 20 festivals and won a merit award at the Long Island film festival.

Christy and her dog Gracie.

After this first taste of filmmaking, Cashman partnered up with Ed Slattery to produce and star in THE CARRIE WHITE SHOW, a television pilot along the lines of Saturday Night Live and Gary Shandling. The pair shot three episodes in East Boston and took it on the road looking for distributors and financing. She got some interest from a studio in New York who promised to help finance the show and air it in the tri-state area. However, every time she was told the show would air, it never did. Cashman eventually found out that evangelists owned the studio and that the show was much too racy for their tastes. She decided to shelve the project, but is happy to report that there has been renewed interest in the project.

Nowadays Cashman is focusing her time on being an actress because, as she explains, "if I'm ever going to do it, now's the time. As far as age goes in this business, I can't really afford to wait ten years." Fortunately for Cashman, she's had no trouble keeping busy. She started with NIGHT DEPOSIT, a short film directed by fellow North Carolinian Monica Mitchell in 1999. According to Cashman, "Monica is one of those people who sets her mind on doing something and then does it. This was a refreshing change from L.A., where a lot of people sit around coffee shops talking about what films they're going to write or make, but never actually do anything."

In the film, Cashman plays the lead role of Claire, a woman who secretly saves sperm from her various lovers and sells it to female buyers. The film won the audience award at Slamdance and screened at festivals around the country, including last year's Nantucket festival.

According to Cashman, "It's a great piece for my reel because I look different in every scene. I don't have a lot of dialogue, which was a great lesson for me. If you can make your movie more interesting by having the actors be silent, then you know it's a good movie." Cashman received a lot of positive feedback on the film from festival-goers, although she believes it's difficult to develop a character in a short film. "In a short film, people tend to look at the concept of the film more than the actor; it's more of a director's calling card."

This past year Cashman played a small speaking part in the Hollywood film WHAT'S THE WORSE THAT COULD HAPPEN, starring Danny DeVito. The scene she was in was shot in her and her husband's house in the Back Bay. The film is set for release June 1, 2001.

Her first opportunity to play the lead in a feature film happened when Cashman was 5 months pregnant on SERIAL INTENTIONS. The thriller was written Mark Grant, a first time filmmaker and full-time software reseller, and directed by Brad Jacques who shot the film on a 13-day schedule last September. According to Cashman, "Grant is another person who sets his mind to doing something and gets it done. Just being around these type of people is an inspiration." Cashman plays a police rookie who gets the chance to partner up with a more seasoned FBI agent on a serial killer case. Post-production just wrapped and the film screened locally on May 15th. Currently, Grant is seeking distribution.

And as if that role and being pregnant wasn't enough, Cashman managed to simultaneously work in a lead role in BARSTOW 2008, a comedy directed by Bob Morrow. She played the role of a daughter who never wanted to marry a dreamer like her mother did and instead dated men who have life "figured out" - namely, men of nursing home age. The film co-stars Mindy Sterling (the German frau from AUSTIN POWERS) and Paul Wilson (CHEERS), who was awarded Best Actor honors by Billy Crystal at the Aspen Comedy Film Festival.

Cashman followed up this performance with a lead role in a series of shorts called STOCKING STUFFERS, directed by Angel Connell. She refers to the project as "the hardest job she's ever done because we rehearsed the heck out of every scene. It's really a testament to Angel, because he took his job very seriously and encouraged me to stretch as an actor and look for subtext." The project allowed Cashman to play a Marilyn Monroe-type character, as well as the female lead in a "silly" love scene and a murder scene.

In between projects, Cashman managed to take time out to have her first child who is now 3 1/2 months old. And without skipping a beat, she's back on the set playing a reporter on THE STRANGLER'S WIFE, a murder mystery/thriller, executive-produced by Roger Corman in conjunction with CityScape studios.

Cashman manages to keep her prolific film career going by having a full-time babysitter and the attitude that "if I keep pursuing what makes me happy, I'll be a happier person and a better mom. The truth is I have 12 fewer hours in a day than I need. I'm juggling it all, but not exceptionally well," she explains. And through all the twists and turns that have led her to now, Cashman has learned to accept one thing: "Whenever there's a transition in my life, often what I get out of the transition is not what I expected at all. I never thought that I'd be married or have a baby right now. I never thought I'd be working more as an actor here in Boston than in L.A. So now when I feel a transition coming on, I say 'Okay, I'll hang on for the ride.' If I open up and allow it to happen, I can end up going down a much more interesting and successful path."

As for the future, Cashman hopes to tap into her physical comedy skills and play the female version of Jim Carrey. "In general, I love being in front of the camera because every time it's a challenge. I'm not a Meryl Streep/method acting type performer. Instead, I'm usually just being me, but another part of me. And I'm always working on how to stretch those different parts of who I am."


Holly Madden is the creative director of Nitrogen Marketing, a new advertising and branding agency. When she's not writing for print, broadcast and the Web, she's working on her various screenplay drafts.

Photos by Gretje Ferguson Photography.