3 minute read

Audrey Rising

Internationally-acclaimed actor, singer, director, writer and producer and Sarasota’s own Audrey Landers starred in last month’s Hallmark premiere of Love at Sea, the first of three movies she has made just this year.

Although Love at Sea has nothing to do with The Love Boat, one of her former television shows, it does take place on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas and is a romance. Audrey plays the lead character’s mom. When we speak about her role as a mother in film, she refers to it as “graduation.” She enjoys her fabulous hair changes, from the maternal-shoulder length and tousled, then back to long and sexy for her Vegas performances.

Her next new film in which she plays a widowed matriarch, Murder at the Mansion, follows Love at Sea, and will air near Halloween in late October on Lifetime. The film will get theatrical distribution worldwide. Finally, Audrey’s been keeping busy filming The Fifth Borough with Tara Reid, slated for release the beginning of 2019. The story is based on Staten Island and Landers plays a surgeon and oncologist. She describes her role as “powerful, yet compassionate.”

In her free time, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family and is a very private person. Her mother, Ruth, is her best friend, mentor and business partner. Both of her sons and her husband live in New York. “I spend a great deal of time on airplanes, between traveling to see my family, as well as for business. It can be challenging and exhausting at times for all of us, but we are a very close-knit family so we do whatever it takes.”

She is a self-described workaholic, and credits her work for satisfaction and self-fulfillment. Her son, Daniel, is following in her footsteps. Daniel is currently starring in a television pilot, as well as a movie and both are filmed in New York City. For the past year, she has pursued a project with Daniel, also a talented musician, composer, performer and singer. Mother and son are collaborating on a dark-pop musical film they’ve been writing and producing. The film takes you from a century ago to modern times and is a love story. The screenplay is written and the music is produced, and the project is currently in the development phase with the goal of securing financing for it to film in Sarasota. There is also a tremendous amount of interest from New York.

I asked Audrey what Florida can be doing differently to get film projects off the ground in a better and faster way. She believes the challenge is bringing in other interested parties, citing a film she did in Louisville, Kentucky for which the state offered thirty percent incentives to filmmakers, but she’s not familiar with any incentives Florida offers that are comparable.

Audrey advises up-and-coming actors to be grounded and to keep their personal and family values at the top of the list along with their education. “I always told my son Daniel when he chose to pursue a career in entertainment that you can’t rock n’ roll unless you honor roll. A lot of people think there is a shortcut by skipping education, but that is not true.”

Audrey knows this better than anyone. She started acting in school plays by age nine and her first soap opera, The Secret Storm, at age 12. “Success in show business is not a given so you must make sure you have your education as a backup.”

She attended Juilliard and simultaneously attended Barnard/Columbia for premedicine courses. When she was not studying on her days off, she starred on her second soap opera, Somerset, leaving very little time for friends. She loved the academics and wanted to learn as much as she could. She just loved to learn and it was her own personality that motivated her – nobody drove her.

If her acting career had not happened, Audrey says she would have been an interior designer. She loves furniture refinishing and even the smell when you walk into Home Depot! She is also an animal advocate supporting rescue animals and is involved with the Humane Society.

Fortunately for us, Audrey does not see herself retiring any time soon and enjoys the different roles she gets now because of her age and her “mom stage.”

“At this stage of my career, the depth of the character I portray goes beyond physical appearances. I am excited to be working in an industry that is moving forward toward empowering all females.”

BY ANNE WEINTRAUB