By Aaron RopTwenty-eight year old Victoria Paege is an actress living in Phoenix, but for her, living in Los Angeles isn’t the dream like it is for most in the film industry. It is just a destination in the dream she is already living and loving.
Paege was raised in Ohio by her mom and grandparents, eventually moving to Phoenix in junior high. Monetary challenges keep her from moving to L.A.
“It’s very expensive. It’s necessary, so I’m saving up for it,” she said. “But as of now, I’m fortunate enough to have friends in L.A., so I always have a place to stay. It’s only a six-hour drive so it’s not too incredibly inconvenient.”
Her most recent project was as a supporting actress in “Salvation,” and she has been involved in the movie “Piranha 3-D” and starred in an episode of the TV show “My Boys.”
Fortunately for Paege, most of the productions she’s been involved in that were L.A.-based were filmed outside the city, even in Arizona.
When she does travel to L.A., she said it’s not always a good experience.
“I drove from Phoenix to L.A. but didn’t leave until about midnight. I hit about six hours of traffic congestion so didn’t make my audition. That was definitely my worst experience,” she said. “The traffic in L.A. drives me crazy. You have to be two hours early to everything or you’ll be late.”
Paege said that on the projects she has worked on so far, she was paid per day, with the studio providing transportation to the set every day, and lodging during filming. But monetary compensation isn’t what draws her to acting; it’s about the experience with people.
“I grew up watching TV. As much as I was outside playing, which was a lot in my small town, I seem to have watched just as much TV. SNL was my favorite. I remember sitting on my mom’s lap, watching Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Steve Martin, all the greats. I never missed an episode in high school. I fell in love with the idea that someone just starting out could land an amazing platform like SNL and entertain millions. I used to put on little puppet shows for my younger cousins to make them laugh and laugh. I loved being able to make them that happy. It’s also an incredible feeling being able to bring forth a character and live in their world,” she said.One of the disadvantages of not living in L.A., Paege said, is the inability to network and attend red carpet events or be involved in local projects that happen on very short notice.
Paege has found ways to promote herself, including through her IMDb page (Internet Movie Database), multiple profiles on multiple social media platforms and by writing articles and conducted interviews for the website comicbooked.com.
It takes more than the Internet to get your name out there in the film industry though, so Paege said she takes special interest in promoting herself by attending comic conventions, modeling in fashion shows, making appearances at comic book shops, and cosplaying, which is when an actor wears a costume or accessories to represent a character from fiction.
For her, comic conventions are a great opportunity to network because they have become more and more focused on movies. In 2010 Paege was the spokesperson for the Phoenix Comic Con and was interviewing celebrities John Schneider, Felicia Day, Daniel Logan, and Wil Wheaton. She also met Mark Millar, writer for Marvel and the movie “Kick-Ass”, who she still keeps in touch with and interviewed for comicbooked.com.
Paege believes in being versatile to be a successful actress and attends acting school to improve her skills.
“I belong to an acting studio in Burbank, and they host various different classes led by casting directors. I got to be a part of an acting course led by Jason Alexander. It was an incredible experience. I believe that it’s important to go to classes, read books on the matter and to practice as much as possible. I am constantly learning new things. I love that about acting. It’s hard, it’s a challenge. It’s something that you need to put time and work into,” she said.
While on set for “Piranha 3D,” special effects consultant Donnie Dean got to know Paege. Dean has worked on special effects for the movies “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” and “The Book of Eli,” as well as television shows “Duck Dynasty” and “Deadliest Warrior” among many others.
Dean said he met Paege for the first time when she was working at Verizon Wireless and she helped him with a newly purchased phone he was having problems with.
After seeing her on set during “Piranha 3D,” Dean recommended her for “Salvation.”
“She is a successful person who has the talent to act. I feel what makes her a successful person is the strength to pursue a passion where most people would not. It takes real determination and faith in yourself to risk everything on a venture. Acting is an even riskier venture than most,” he said.
Dean is successful in his own right, having been mentored by special effects consultant Matt Kutcher who is working on the upcoming “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” sequel to “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Dean is ranked as one of the top in his field on Ranker.com.
“I have always loved the escape from reality that films provide. For me it feels great at the end of the day to have contributed to the creation of a film for others to enjoy. Special effects, to me, are the action of the movie, those ‘trailer moments’ that people always ooh and ah over,” he said.
Dean believes that L.A. has hindered its grasp on the film industry because it is now less expensive to go to other places where there are more resources for less money.
“Where you live isn’t as important as the flexibility to go where the work is,” Dean said. “I think the key to being successful is to never, ever give up and always do every job as if you are being paid millions. If a person has true passion for their life and what they do, it shows in everything.”