The Fearless Rosanna Arquette
The Outspoken Actor and Activist is Coming to the AJFF

By Lee Valentine Smith

Since the '80s, one of the most interesting and challenging actors in film and television has been Rosanna Arquette. A member of the acting and activism dynasty of Arquettes, she actually began her film career in the Georgia-made summer-camp comedy called "Gorp."

Since then, her roles have been consistently interesting and delightfully offbeat.

Arquette returns to the Peach State this month as a special guest of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival to introduce and discuss her role in "Holy Lands," also starring James Caan.

Just back from an empowering visit to the Sundance Film Festival, the actress spoke with INsite by phone from the Los Angeles airport.

I spoke with Dennis Quaid last month who reminded me that his first movie was also your first film, made here in Georgia.

Oh my God! "Gorp!" I'd forgotten about that. I think I was 19. Then we worked together a few years later on a movie called "Johnny Belinda." But, yeah.

Have you worked in Georgia since then? They're making a movie around every corner these days.

I haven't, but I'd love to. But I have been there a couple times for the [GCAP] foundation Jane Fonda has. I was there last year for a big celebration for her birthday.

It's great you're coming back this year for the AJFF. "Holy Lands" looks like a wonderful film.

A lot of people truly love it. It's a beautiful story, about family and how they communicate. My character is trying to find a way to make peace with everybody in her life. So I'm going down there to honor this movie. I'm glad they invited us.

You've always chosen interesting roles, but it seems your recent projects are more challenging than ever. You've made some particularly fearless choices lately.

Well I try. I'm up against a lot, the way the world is changing, but I'm fortunate in that I was such an ingenue for so many years and doing young roles. So this is actually an exciting time for me to be able to play my age and be in situations that are more age-appropriate. The roles are much more interesting to me now, I have to say.

There're so many great platforms for actors now. More than ever before.

Yeah, like Amazon - they're doing such great work, and Hulu and all of them.

You had a thought-provoking new series on You Tube last year. What's the status of Sideswiped?

Yeah, from You Tube Originals. It got great reviews. I don't know what happened, but they didn't bring it back. I just found out yesterday.

It's definitely time for more female-centric shows such as that - and on a content-hungry platform like You Tube, why would they not renew it?

I don't know, it doesn't make sense to me. Maybe it's some internal thing where they're figuring out who they are and how they want to go about it. They're not Hulu or Amazon or Netflix yet. But there's just so many people doing original content now. I think even Facebook is doing original content. But we never really got a real explanation as to why they didn't renew it.

You were just at Sundance for "Untouchable," a very different film than "Holy Lands."

Yeah, it's a documentary on Harvey Weinstein. It's compelling and hard to watch and it really explains the impact he had on so many women and their lives - including me - for many years. I'm fortunate that I wasn't raped. And we have to say alleged, but I know all the women it happened to. It truly knocked their lives into another stratosphere, where you spend everyday just trying to figure out how to deal with the trauma and grief and PTSD that it causes in people's lives and relationships. People don't realize what it does to somebody. For the victims and survivors of rape, a piece of you dies. You can do a lot of work on yourself, and I've seen people who've really turned their lives around [from the trauma]. People like Oprah and Maya Angelou and [Me Too Movement founder] Tarana Burke. She took her rage and pain and turned it into a whole movement.

It's good that film premiered at Sundance for the industry movers and shakers and buyers, it's like that film was holding up a mirror to some of the people who are still in power.

Yeah it is and it's opened up an awareness of something that now people are really conscious of - and there's also very many men who are angry this happened and they have to change their behavior. They're forced to look at themselves and change their shitty behavior. We're just saying stop that, it's not working. Also there are so many wonderful men who are afraid it's a male-bashing thing. But it's not. We're calling out people who have done terrible, terrible things to other people. But there are some wonderful men who are willing to change and heal and help other men.

And you've put a good face to the act of simply standing up for yourself. Probably much more than a regular activist, due to your profile and history.

I get a call or somebody reaches out to me everyday in some way shape or form, who is a survivor. But we need the men to also step up.

It was so bold of you to simply speak your truth.

Thank you. But there's a price to be paid either way, for either saying no to him or for speaking out. It's a big price a lot of us have had to pay. But we keep going.

The reward is so much greater than the price that's paid, though.

What the great reward to me is, now there's a sisterhood that is so powerful. I'm so honored to be a part of it. We're all connected in some way because of this experience. Now it's a time for healing and that's a big part of the work Tarana does. Her whole work is about healing the trauma. But when one person speaks out, it helps another person to be able to speak out and as you see all across the world now.

I've learned from speaking to so many female artists over the years that the 'old boy network' is still very much alive. Unfortunately, that mindset is a part of everything. It affects every walk of life, every profession, every level of income.

It's everywhere and now we have to be conscious because there's an awakening going on for the human race. It's not ok to be abusive to people. And as much as we're seeing a rise in the consciousness, we're also seeing a rise in the racism and misogyny and homophobia. But on the other side, we're seeing powerful women who are getting into office. That's what's going to happen. Someday the old boys club is going to be as ancient as an 8-track tape.

It's a human rights issue and simply a humane gesture to stand up to it all.

Right, the uprising of hatred is so awful that we have to fight against it, we have to stand up to hatred as human beings - or else we're not human.

But with all the craziness it does remind me of the '60s. From that upheaval came so much great art - great films, great music, just an exciting explosion of creativity in the middle of the insanity.

I'm so lucky that I got to be a kid in that time. I remember marching with Martin Luther King with my parents when I was six-years-old for an anti-war peace demonstration in Chicago. I remember Love-Ins and Peace-Ins and Woodstock. And that's still my favorite period of music. Now, because of social media, we can see the new movements and the kids who are really making a change. The kids from Florida, those Parkland students, are the most inspiring group I've ever seen in my life. They are fueling trauma into good and they really have a voice. They're our future and I just bow down to them. It makes me feel hopeful that maybe are gonna be ok. We are witnessing an incredible time, even thought part of it just so horrendous.

And you're also making some great art in the middle of all this crazy stuff.

I'm trying. You know, it's really hard some days to be positive. My husband is really good at reminding me to stay in the zone of positivity. But I also know that being an artist, and most artists I know, part of our life is angst. But you have to be really careful and work and give. We have the Alexis Arquette Family Foundation in support of the LGBTQIA community (www.alexisarquette.com) and Patricia has her Give Love Organization (GiveLove.Org).

She's doing some of her best work right now as well.

Oh my gosh, yes. She's gotten all these awards and accolades for Escape At Dennemora. I even said, I forgot she was my sister!

For more information, tickets and schedules for Festival events and screenings, visit AJFF.Org.

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