Meet Cassidy, a.k.a. "Skye" (CNM #3)

 Upper Right: Abigail Duhon ("Elle") Lower Right: Nick Arnold (onset Photog) and George Kosturos ("Galen")

Upper Right: Abigail Duhon ("Elle") Lower Right: Nick Arnold (onset Photog) and George Kosturos ("Galen")

Booger Crying. It’s not something we aim to do in public. Ever. It’s just too messy, especially for girls. At the very best, you end up with red, puffy eyes and snot leaking out, no matter how many times you dab. And at the very worst…wow…we’re talking a full-fledged Tammy Faye spectacle. Raccoon eyes, lines of tear tracks streaking down your cheeks, and random splotches of dried mascara that somehow ended up in the middle of your forehead and on the tip of your nose. And do I even need to bring up the awkward hiccuping and occasional snorts?

It’s a difficult thing to allow yourself to be that vulnerable in any space other than the privacy of your own bedroom. Under the covers. Face down in a pillow. So with that said, can you imagine having to open yourself up like this on a movie set? In front of a lot of people? Take after take?

Most actresses are unwilling to put themselves out there like that. A true booger cry is ugly, and no actress went into movies so she could look ugly in a close up on a 30 foot screen. It takes a very secure woman to do that. Or maybe one who is passionate about a cause. In our case, we got both in Cassidy Gifford, who played “Skye” in Caged No More.

I didn’t get to spend any time talking with Cassidy before we started filming her scenes, so I had no idea what to expect when I came to the set that day. As I watched her first scene as “Skye” with “Galen” (played by George Kosturos, whom I blogged about in my previous entry), I couldn’t seem to keep my mouth closed. I had that classic OMG bug-eyed, jaw-dropped expression as she and George connected immediately in such an intimate way. It was beautiful. She was beautiful…even with all the booger crying.

But to truly understand her brilliance, we need to go a little deeper. Cassidy hardly had any lines! It’s challenging enough to “get there” as an actor when you have a ton of emotionally charged words to pave the way…but to just pull that kind of response out of thin air is no less magical than David Copperfield on his best day. And then…AND THEN…(this is the point, if we were sitting at a table, I’d be talking really loud and leaning way too far into your space bubble) There is this climactic moment in the movie when she’s running and she bumps into **BEEEP** (sensor, so as to not spoil) and HER FACE as she expresses a windfall of different emotions…in a matter of, like, a second. How does she DO that?! 

There are no words. I mean, by now, I’ve seen the movie more times than I can count, and I am moved every single time by Cassidy’s performance. 

And yet…I still need to go on. When I spent time with this young woman, I was blown away by her kindness, humility, and grace. Kind to every single person on the set. Humility as she would get up early at the dinner tables so she could serve people by gathering their empty plates. Grace as she exudes that super quiet strength. The kind that at first seems fragile and then after a few minutes of real conversation, you realize there is an undercurrent of fierce strength in her character.

Maybe the thing I love the most is that Cassidy didn’t do Caged just because it was a cool gig. Cassidy and her mom, Kathie Lee Gifford, are freedom fighters. They’ve been involved in the fight against human trafficking for years, using their platforms to bring awareness and to end this horrific crime. On the final night of filming in Louisiana, she handed me the sweetest note, thanking me for writing Caged and for helping to create a project that was aimed at fighting for a cause she held so dear. She wrote that she considered it an honor to play “Skye.” Well, I’m sure I speak on behalf of all the producers and director when I say, “The honor was ours.”

Posted on January 24, 2016 .