On this month's Special Page:

Stephanie Charles tells us what it's like to be an actor in a horror movie



Mort Castle
Josh Darling
Ellen Datlow
Simon Clark
Trish Wilson



Stephanie Charles is a talented actor and producer known for her work in film and television. Born in Boston, Stephanie moved to Haiti to live with her grandmother before relocating to Los Angeles at the age of seven to be with her parents and siblings.

Stephanie discovered her passion for acting at an early age and started booking TV shows while still in her teens. She took a break from acting to pursue a music career in New York. After realizing that music wasn't her true calling, she returned to Los Angeles to pursue acting once again.

Stephanie's talent and hard work paid off, and she started booking roles in popular TV series like "NCIS" and "Instant Mom," as well as films like "Adulterers" and "Bound to Vengeance." Her big break came in 2018 when she landed the role of Nyla Payne in Tyler Perry's "The Paynes." She followed that up with a recurring role on "Shameless" and a series regular role on the drama series "Ruthless."

Stephanie's success continued when she landed a role on “Black-ish." In 2021, she decided to take matters into her own hands and produced and starred in a horror film, Aurora, which showcased her love for the genre.

When she's not acting, Stephanie loves inspiring people to go after their dreams and spread positivity. She is also an advocate for equality and anti-bullying and says, "I strongly believe that individuals who focus on their self-development, strive for self-growth, and learn to understand others can become better human beings, leading to positive changes in the world and making a difference for the better."


An insider's view of acting in a horror move

by Stephanie Charles


I'm Stephanie Charles, and today I want to share with you why I am truly passionate about acting in horror films.

This love for the genre has been ingrained in me since childhood, thanks to my experiences at the local laundromat. As a young girl, my siblings and I would go there to wash our clothes, and while we waited, the owner would play nothing but horror films on the TV. It was during those moments that I was introduced to classics like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and other gems like The Gate, The Ghoulies, Rawhead Rex, and Demons. Out of all these films, A Nightmare on Elm Street became my absolute favorite, solidifying my fascination with the supernatural genre.

Looking back, I never realized how much of an influence horror had on me until recent years. Reflecting on myself and my interests, I began to ask questions: What types of movies or TV shows do I naturally gravitate towards? Which ones am I genuinely excited about and can't wait to see in theaters? The answer was clear: horror movies, particularly those in the supernatural sub-genre. In fact, I've seen nearly every horror film that has been released in theaters. Recognizing this passion and connection, it only made sense for me to explore and contribute to the genre as an actor. And that's precisely why I jumped at the chance to be a part of my friend's directorial project, Aurora.

The journey of making a horror film is a complex and collaborative process, requiring the coordination of many different individuals and departments. It all starts with a script, followed by the crucial phase of pre-production. During this stage, we cast actors, a process that taught me the importance of finding the right puzzle pieces that fit together, not just in terms of talent but also in terms of chemistry and dynamic.

Another aspect of pre-production involves finding suitable locations. In our case, we had limited resources, which forced us to get creative and utilize unconventional settings like my own apartment. Time constraints also added an extra layer of challenge, pushing us to work efficiently. Additionally, pre-production involves hiring professionals such as set designers, makeup artists, special effects experts, sound mixers, gaffers, cinematographers, and assistant directors. It's during this phase that we meticulously plan the shooting schedule, ensuring that we stay on track and complete the film on time.

Now, let's delve into the process of being an actor in a horror film. While some may find the genre too scary or disturbing, I view it as an opportunity to delve into complex emotions and characters in a unique and thrilling way. Horror films often explore themes of fear, loss, and the unknown, which can be incredibly compelling for an actor. Take Aurora, for example, where I play a psychic navigating a dark and mysterious world filled with terrifying unknowns. It was a challenging role that allowed me to dig deep and bring both vulnerability and strength to the character.

When I step onto the set as an actor, my routine begins with familiarizing myself with the location and scene we'll be shooting. Immersing myself in the atmosphere helps me understand the mood and tone, allowing me to deliver a more authentic and believable performance. I then connect with the director to discuss their vision for the scene and their specific guidance for my character. This dialogue ensures that my performance aligns with their overall vision for the film.

Filming scenes in a horror film often requires multiple takes to capture different angles and performances. Depending on the scene, it may take me a couple of attempts to fully immerse myself in the moment and break free from any self-consciousness. 

Fortunately, I've had the privilege of working with co-stars who are understanding and equally dedicated to their craft. This collaborative spirit ensures that we bring out the best in each other, ultimately enhancing the overall performance and cohesion of the film.

One of the reasons I love acting in horror films is the level of collaboration involved in creating a truly terrifying experience for the audience. Directors, writers, actors, and special effects teams all work together, pooling their talents and expertise to craft a journey filled with suspense and terror. Witnessing this collective effort and seeing it come together on screen is an exhilarating and gratifying experience like no other.

As an actor, memorizing lines is a crucial part of the process. It requires dedicated time and effort. I approach it by breaking the script down into smaller sections, carefully analyzing the context and motivations behind each line. Once I grasp the intention, I repeat and practice the lines until they become second nature to me.

However, the true essence of acting lies in tapping into emotions. It demands vulnerability, empathy, and a deep understanding of the character's journey. To achieve this, I draw from personal experiences and emotions, seeking connections between my own life and the character's world. Extensive research and imagination also play a significant role in comprehending the character's background, motivations, and emotional state. It's a delicate balance between personal exploration and staying true to the truth of the character.

The job of acting is both rewarding and challenging. It requires dedication, resilience, and continuous growth as an artist. Authenticity in portraying emotions is not always easy, but that's precisely what makes it so fulfilling. Each role presents its own set of challenges, pushing me to expand my skills and explore new depths. For instance, in Aurora, I faced a climactic confrontation scene that demanded intense emotional energy and physicality. It pushed me to my limits as an actor, but the gratification that comes from pushing those boundaries is immeasurable.

Throughout my career, I've had the privilege of crossing paths with renowned actors who have left a lasting impact on me. Their talent, dedication, and unwavering commitment to their craft have been truly inspiring. I've been fortunate to learn from and collaborate with incredible individuals such as Mark Harmon, Tia Mowry, and Tyler Perry. These encounters have enriched my journey as an actor and provided invaluable insights into the art form.

For aspiring actors hoping to break into the industry, my advice is to remain passionate, dedicated, and persistent. Hone your skills through training and constant practice. Seek opportunities to perform in various settings, such as Community Theater, student films, or local productions, to gain experience and build your resume. Networking is also crucial, so attend industry events, connect with fellow artists, and explore platforms to showcase your talent. Remember that rejection is an inevitable part of the process, but it's essential to learn from setbacks and keep pushing forward. With determination, resilience, and an unwavering love for the craft, you can carve your path in the acting world.

In conclusion, I firmly believe that horror films offer a unique and thrilling genre for actors, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I've had to be a part of them. Aurora, in particular, boasts an impressive supporting cast including Kalon Jackson, Kelsey Fordham, and Chris Louis, and was skillfully directed by Dimitri Morantus. It's important for me to be a part of projects that represent diverse perspectives and amplify different voices.

So, whether you're a fan of horror or simply seeking a thrilling and unforgettable experience, I wholeheartedly recommend checking out Aurora. It showcases the dedication and collaborative effort of a talented team and promising a memorable journey into the world of horror.