Mary Rachel Gardner: Making her mark in the Film Industry
USC Alumni, Mary Rachel Gardner aka “MayRay” gives us an inside look on being an artist, an Entrepreneur, and on the woman who has inspired her to "fight on." Gardner says, "Kalliste Zoe in Greek means, “It’s a Beautiful Life.” I am a creative, visual artist who is inspired to further explore, capture and share this beautiful journey we call “life” through film and storytelling. I studied Acting and Film Business at the University of Southern California, and while there I discovered so much about myself as an artist and an entrepreneurial business woman.
I had an inspirational acting coach at USC tell me that if projects aren’t landing for you, go out there and start making your own. Everything today is DIY, “do it yourself”, so there really are no excuses anymore as to why an actor or actress can’t start writing and sharing their own experiences. You don’t need millions of dollars to create and share a compelling story. In fact, I often find that lower budget films are better than “A-listing” blockbuster movies.
While theatre and film were significant passions in my life, I was always curious and intrigued by the “behind the scenes” aspects of entertainment. I also felt like it would be essential for me as an actress to understand how film and TV really operates. I am that audience member at the end of a movie who sits there and reads the hundreds of credits that scroll up for what seems like days. It blows my mind to see how many talented people it really takes to make a successful production. Which is why I wanted to explore and collaborate more with these kinds of creative, business minds. I took on several internships at production companies, such as Zucker Productions and Steve Carell’s Carousel Productions. I also worked in the Business Affairs department at William Morris Endeavor, which led me to my amazing production job at The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where I learned about the creation and operation elements of running a live television show.
These experiences further fueled my dedication to the arts, therefore I started creating my own opportunities in L.A. by founding Kalliste Zoe Productions. There truly is something special about being involved with a project from start to finish; mapping out the story, characters, world and then collaborating with brilliant filmmakers to make the vision come to life. I truly am beyond happy that I have taken matters into my own hands and started collaborating independently with others and making movie magic.
I am constantly collaborating with other visual artists and developing several of my own independent projects; including music videos, parodies, comedic sketches, documentaries, shorts and feature films. I have several passion projects in the works, including a short film right now called Alleys, a short dramatic story about two recently torn apart lovers, Josh & Lani, spending their day contemplating the question...is love truly worth fighting for? We have an active campaign currently raising funds for post production and greatly appreciate any support! I am beyond eager and ready to keep contributing my talents and collaborating professionally with others in the entertainment industry."
Gardner says her mother, "Sia Glafkides is a true example of a Greek Warrior Woman as she has persevered and overcome so many unexpected life obstacles while pursuing many of her own entrepreneurial business dreams. She comes from wholesome, passionate and pure energy/light that I admire and plan to incorporate with any endeavors I pursue."