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Spoofing Twilight

CFA alum stars in new film Vampires Suck

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vampires_suck.jpg

Jenn Proske (CFA’09) falls in love with vampires in a new Twilight parody.

It takes most actors years to land a lead role in a major film, but Jenn Proske did it just one year after graduating from Boston University.

Proske (CFA’09) stars in Vampires Suck, which is being released today. The film, a parody of the hugely popular Twilight trilogy, is written and directed by the team behind the Scary Movie franchise. Proske plays the role of Becca Crane, a character based on Bella Swan, the heroine featured in the Twilight books and films.

“The experience was amazing,” she says. “I had never been on camera before, and knowing that you’re the lead of the movie was very scary. The directors and the crew welcomed me and knew how hard I was working. As I became more comfortable, it got easier.”

Even though Vampires Suck pokes fun at much of what “Twihards” (loyal fans of the Twilight saga) hold dear, Proske wants them to know she’s a Twilight devotee as well. And whether you love or loathe the original series, she says, her film has something for everyone. “We threw small details in there for fans, but we also have things about the ‘phenomenon’ that the haters will find funny.”

Asked about her fast track to success, Proske’s answer begins prosaically. After graduating from the College of Fine Arts just over a year ago, she says, she went home to Ladera Ranch, Calif. She worked several jobs, including as a floral designer and a nanny, to save money so she could move to Los Angeles. In October she began auditioning, and in February scored the audition for Vampires Suck.

At the suggestion of her manager, she originally auditioned for the supporting role of Iris, a figure inspired by the Alice Cullen character in the original series. Then came the phone call every actress dreams of. “They called me back for the lead role two weeks later,” she says. Once she had the part, the hard work began: learning to mimic Kristen Stewart, the actress who played Bella in the original films. “I think I watched the Twilight films more than 50 times, even falling asleep with them in the background, to memorize Kristen’s vocal patterns.”

The 23-year-old Proske says her performance owes a lot to the film’s screenwriter and director team, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. “They took a big risk hiring me,” she says. “Every weekend we would go over scenes for the following week. Their movies are silly and funny, but they work so hard. It has been the same crew for all of their movies, so it feels like a family.”

Proske credits CFA’s acting program with instilling a strong work ethic, something that came in handy working 18-hour days on the movie set. “It’s a small, intensive program,” she says, “and you’re with the same 30 students and teachers for four years, so you’re close to the faculty and one another. It’s a great, hard program, and the hours are pretty insane.”

Despite the program’s intensity, she was able to indulge in another passion while at BU: criminal justice. She did work toward a master’s degree in the subject, taking several classes with Thomas Nolan (SED’91,’00), a Metropolitan College associate professor of applied social sciences and criminal justice, whom she describes as a “huge mentor.”

“Jenn Proske was my first-ever CFA student, although many more would follow at her urging,” Nolan says. “As a student, Jenn was serious yet whimsical, with an infectious enthusiasm for her work. Instructors encounter students like Jenn once in a generation—I’ll cherish the role that I have had in her life as her professor; it’s been a privilege and a joy.”

For one of Nolan’s final exams, students were required to reopen a “cold” case. Proske asked if she could present hers as a play. “For subsequent classes I took with him,” she remembers, “I wrote plays almost every time, and fellow students read the parts. I think I was definitely the black sheep of the program.” She pauses. “Maybe the rainbow sheep.”

But don’t expect to see her forsaking acting for a career in criminal justice anytime soon. She is currently auditioning for more film roles and traveling with the Vampires Suck press junket. “I got my SAG card with this movie,” she says. “But right now I’m enjoying the press for the movie, interviews, photo shoots, and even appearing on MTV.”

Proske says that despite now being part of the Hollywood community, her ties remain strongest to her alma mater. “Because it’s all happened so fast, my BU community are still my closest friends,” she says. “They’ll attend the film’s premiere in Los Angeles. As for the film, I can’t believe I got paid to have a good time. This is a life-changing opportunity.”

Vampires Suck hits movie theaters today, August 18. Ticket information is available here.

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @amlaskow.

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