Samantha Gutstadt: A Toronto-To-LA Success Story
Samantha Gutstadt has a busy schedule – she's producing and appearing in a new web-series pilot called "Connections" (also starring Vik Sahay of "Chuck" fame), she's the creator and producer of the short comedy "Shiva" as well as the co-creator and co-producer of "Brooklyn Silvergold," a comedy currently being developed into a web series. She's also an on-camera host for Canadians Abroad (interviewing Canadian celebs in LA), she is the spokesmodel and host for Grey Goose Vodka for all USTA tennis events that they sponsor in California, she is the face of Sony in the U.S., and she recently shot an ad for Toyota Prius. This home-grown girl is definitely a Toronto-to-LA success story.
Gutstadt dished on some of her ongoing projects, her teenage years being a top-ranked tennis player, and her hopeless addiction to espresso.
CraveOnline: What are you working on right now?
Samantha Gutstadt: First and foremost I love comedy and since moving to LA I've been focusing on 1) hosting on-camera and covering events but in a different way, so being an on-camera host, and 2) doing comedy – not stand-up but improv. Something I'm most proud of is that I recently came up with an idea for a web series we're going to pitch in LA – I got together with my partner and we produced a pilot presentation, we had 12 episodes written by a big writer, we shot our pilot, and there's been a lot of good buzz and big comedy show runners who have been behind it and helping us. So hopefully we have something good on our hands. I'm co-creator, producer, and one of the lead actresses in the show.
I also do commercials – one is airing nationally right now and the other will be airing in the coming month for Toyota Prius. It's a very big campaign – we shot for eight days at Universal Studios and it was a blast.
CraveOnline: I understand you were a top-ranking tennis player when you were a teenager – do you think a career in tennis would have been something you would have considered had you not gotten into the acting game?
Samantha Gutstadt: When I moved out to LA tennis had never been far behind in my life, and I coached at a club – some of the best contacts I made was because of the tennis club. It was a posh tennis club and the people that I met were fantastic – they're still really good friends. It helped me find a community in LA right away.
I would have loved to have been a tennis pro – it was a dream when I was a kid, but I learned I was no Martina Hingis (laughs).
CraveOnline: How is producing and being behind the camera different from being in front of it?
Samantha Gutstadt: It's very different – I started producing for the first time in film school because I thought it would be cool to learn the other side. Out of all the roles we got to try in film school I loved producing the most. "Producer" is a wide term – it could mean you're finding financing, making connections, being on set, or doing casting, etc. I think I'm a combo of making relationships and I also like the creative side. I like figuring out what talent should be in a project and what festivals we should try and submit for, or what tone the project should have, so I guess I'm a creative producer mixed with the producer who likes to connect people.
CraveOnline: You've dabbled in a lot of things – anything you haven't tried yet?
Samantha Gutstadt: Right now I feel like I'm getting to do everything I love – I do some modeling still, which I love, I'm acting and performing, and I love producing. It's been such a joy to think of an idea and actually carry it through – it gives me a real sense of pride.
CraveOnline: Are you going to TIFF? Do you like big events like that?
Samantha Gutstadt: Yes I am, and it's a real blast. I just got into Toronto and will be here for eight days. I'll be talking to all the A-list celebs that come through and the filmmakers and anyone involved with TIFF. And I'm also here to support my brother who has two movies in the festival.
CraveOnline: What do you think of Toronto becoming a hub for TV and films?
Samantha Gutstadt: I'm such a fan of Toronto – in LA I work with and go to a lot of Canadian abroad events and keep connected with my Canadian friends, peers, and actors. I still have an agent in Toronto and Vancouver.
Toronto is an encouraging community of artists and there really is this energy where it's busy again and people are working. There is a voice that Canada has that is emerging now with TV shows and movies.
CraveOnline: Who are your role models in the industry?
Samantha Gutstadt: Actress Zooey Deschanel – I've loved her forever. I saw "All the Real Girls" and I wanted to be like her. I also love Rachel McAdams, who is kicking ass – she got to work with Woody Allen. That's unbelievable.
I really look up to young directors too even though I'm not a director.
CraveOnline: Is there a certain actor you'd love to work with?
Samantha Gutstadt: Dustin Hoffman – I would love to work with a legend like that and I would love a minute to share on-screen with him. And of course the great comedians like Will Ferrell – I would do anything to work with him. And I think I'd be honoured to share a minute of screen time with Tina Fey.
CraveOnline: What's something people would be surprised to know about you?
Samantha Gutstadt: I love espresso to the point that when I wake up, after every meal, and before bed I need an espresso. Only a few select people in my life know that. It's become a joke – at the end of the night we'll be out for a drink in LA and I'll order an espresso. If you know me you know that I have a passion for espresso.