From stuntwoman to writer to producer, Grilli has taken Los Angeles by storm. With her original pilot, "Broken Things," completed and in marketing stages, Grilli is ready for the big time.
Q: What have you been up to since graduating from Auburn?
A: After I graduated from Auburn in 2010, I moved to Detroit and worked as an intern for the Jewish Ensemble Theatre for a year. Then I worked at the Birmingham Children's Theatre for a year, and then I traveled for about a year doing work in Florida, New Orleans and Seattle before settling in Los Angeles. I was working in Seattle doing stunt training, and I decided that it was time to try the LA market.
Q: What lessons from your time at AU have helped you transition to life as a working actor and writer?
A: The first and most important lesson probably came from Dan LaRocque, which was every time you walk into a room to pitch yourself as an actor, as a stunt person, as a writer, as a producer, whatever, you need to take a deep breath and say to yourself, "I am damn good." Be confident, know what you want and be willing to work hard for it.
Q: Did you expect you would be doing stunt work?
A: I had no idea I would be doing stunt work, but last January, I started training for a 10K and hitting the gym a lot harder than I used to, mostly to work out some stress in my personal life. All of a sudden, I was running six to 10 miles a day and had these crazy muscles popping out all over the place. I've always been a really physical person, and I'm dumb enough that I'm not scared of much. So, I just figured, hell, why not try it?
Q: What are some really cool stunts you know how to do now?
A: Well, there's nothing cooler than being on fire. Seriously. I would be on fire all the time if I could. I love being on fire. They call it a body burn--you can do an arm burn, a partial body burn or a full body burn. I love the sound it makes. It's like standing next to a campfire.
Q: Do you know how to perform a convincing death scene?
A: Yes, and the secret is to die comfortably. If you die in a really awkward position, then you have to hold it for the entire scene, and you have to do it a bunch of times until the director gets all the takes he or she needs.
Q: Have you been involved in other film projects? Any background work we can spot you in? Stunted for anyone famous yet?
A: You can catch some of my stunt work in a TV movie called "Preying for Mercy" that should be coming up soon. I play a cop in that one. I may be in an episode of HBO's "Treme" this season, but I have no idea if my scene made it in the final cut or not. I've gotten to work with some pretty awesome people. The stunt coordinator for that project was this guy, Kofi Elam, who has done stunts for pretty much everything, and he's a blast to hang out with on set--which is important when it's 3 a.m. and you've been working for nine hours already.
Q: Have you run into other AU students in LA?
A: Yes. There's a bar called Big Wangs in Hollywood where everyone from Auburn goes to watch football games. It's hard to feel homesick when you're packed shoulder-to-shoulder with some of your old classmates screaming the fight song at the top of your lungs.
Q: Do you work other jobs?
A: I have jobs as a stunt person, jobs as a writer, jobs as an actress, jobs in production. I do nanny. That's one job I never turn down if I have time.
Q: So, you wrote a movie and then you created a production company to produce it. How did you do that?
A: There's mountains and mountains of paperwork--a really sad amount of paperwork for someone who hates paperwork as much as I do. But it helps to have experienced people on your team. I was working with three producers, all of whom have produced film and television before, and they believed in the project, and--luckily--they really believed in me. They answered so many of my "how the hell do I do this?" questions, and they all happen to be friends of mine as well as really professional and talented artists. I couldn't have been luckier in my team.
Q: What is "Broken Things" [Grilli's pilot] about?
A: We filmed this as an introduction to the series. Annie is a detective. She and her little sister Chase go for a run in the woods one morning, and something terrible happens to Chase. How Annie copes with it, and who the culprit is, that's what the whole series is about.
Q: So, what happens now?
A: Now, we're in the marketing stages. So we're being very picky about who we're letting see it. I actually saw the final draft of it this morning.