Our interview with talented actress Carollani Sandberg who can be seen on Syfy’s “Z Nation”. The series is set in a virus-caused zombie apocalypse, with only one known immune survivor: Murphy. His blood contains antibodies that are mankind’s last and best hope for a vaccine, however, Murphy harbors a dark secret that threatens them all. Sandberg plays Anderson, a former Army drill sergeant. Since the Zombie virus spread, Anderson has managed to thrive as an Upcycler (somebody who can make anything out of nothing).

Sandberg’s upcoming feature film, “Second Nature”, has been described as “‘Freaky Friday’ if women ran the patriarchy”. Sandberg plays Nat, lead character Amanda’s best friend. The film tackles gender equality and examines how society’s views and social structures have negative effects on both men and women. “Second Nature” premieres at the Napa Valley Film Festival on November 10, 2016.

“Brides To Be” began as a short called “Together Forever” that went viral on YouTube and currently has over 2.5 million hits. “Together Forever” told the story of Jenna (Sandberg) and Robin’s engagement; “Brides To Be” is the story of the night before their wedding. The psychological, paranormal thriller, set in a haunted mansion, is about love overcoming all odds and doubts. “Brides To Be” is available now for download online platforms including iTunes, YouTube Red and fios by Verzion.

Sandberg supports The Pride Foundation, HRC and ASPCA. She supports causes including Black Lives Matter, trans rights, Indigenous rights and disability rights. In her spare time she enjoys being a ski instructor, riding her solowheel, painting and photography.

Hi Carollani, please tell us a little about yourself?

I’m adventurous and a little mischievous. I push boundaries and limits and am always looking for something new to try. I’m also a homebody; I love spending time at home relaxing with my family.

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Tenacious, cunning, goofy.

How did you get started in acting?

When I was 11-years-old and terminally shy, I was cast – alongside two of my real sisters – to play Jeff Corbett’s sister in a baseball film called “Talent For The Game” which starred Edward James Olmos and Lorraine Bracco. I was absolutely terrible, even as a featured extra. I had NO idea what to do, and finally somebody was like, “hey, kid, don’t look at the camera!”

I caught the acting bug on that set and always knew I wanted to be an artist or performer, but I was scared to admit my passion for acting for a long time. Instead I studied web design, which I believed to be a practical way to pursue art making but my heart was never truly in it. After surviving a near fatal car accident in my early 20s and working through years of physical and mental therapies to heal, I had to reevaluate my life’s priorities. Did I survive a perspective-shifting trauma and learn first-hand the preciousness of life just to slog through a 9-5 job I didn’t love?

Once I had that awakening, I jumped right into industry networking events and auditioning for gigs advertised on Craigslist, performers call boards, and elsewhere. I did anything and everything I could to gain experience and learn from those around me. That was the beginning of my new life as an actor!

Did you go to acting school?

No, I did most of my foundational learning on the job, but ongoing study is really important to me and formative to my work. I currently study with Steven Anderson in his Actorswork workshops.

What’s the best part of being an actress? And the worst?

The best part is getting to play in a special pretend bubble with other interesting people who love playing for work as much as I do.

The worst part is the energy shift at a project’s end. I love how present I feel when I’m acting, but when I have to stop it’s back to the real world and I have to start worrying about real world problems again!

Do you have any other family members in the business?

Not yet!

What inspired you to become an actor?

Growing up, I was a closeted lesbian Mormon in a small town which, as you can imagine, made me feel very conflicted and lonely. I sought escape from movies and TV (especially movies). I watched characters express all the passion and angst I felt, which was a form of emotional release for me. I felt their pain and their joy; I cried their tears. Once I realized how powerful that was in my young life, I wanted to become a part of it.

How did get your role on Syfy’s “Z Nation”? What the series is about?

Z Nation is a post-apocalyptic zombie dramedy in its third season. It follows a group of survivors, including one (known as The Murphy) who has been vaccinated to some very interesting effects and becomes a post-apocalyptic leader.

I’d been auditioning for the show since the pilot but the character of Anderson and I were ultimately meant to be. I got the part when I was on vacation in Hawaii which was pretty dope!

Tell us a bit about your character Anderson.

Anderson quickly finds a place in Murphy’s crew due to her badassery. She’s a former drill sergeant and, since the zombie apocalypse, has thrived as an upcycler. She can make something out of nothing, kind of like MacGyver. With the zombie inoculation, I think she will be unstoppable.

What other projects you have been part of?

I have a short film “ I, Charon” that played at Cannes Film Festival and won Best Acting Ensemble and several other awards at Filmapalooza.

“Brides To Be” is a supernatural romantic thriller about a lesbian couple the night before their wedding. It’s available for rent or purchase on several platforms that are listed on BridesToBeMovie.com.

My latest, “Simple Creature”, is a futuristic feature about the dangers of pushing biotechnology too far. It will be released in 2017 and the trailer can be seen on SimpleCreatureMovie.com

What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?

SUNDAY FUNDAY! I usually wake up early, so on a perfect Sunday I would definitely sleep in. My wife and I would go to my favorite French bakery in Seattle that makes everything from scratch and by hand. We’d take our dog to the dog park where it wouldn’t be muddy because this is a  perfect Sunday. We’d pick up fresh groceries at the farmer’s market, a slice of Veraci pizza, and head home to watch the Seahawks win!

What do you do in your free time?

I ski, Solowheel, write raps, travel, work on home improvement projects, watch a lot of TV and movies, and enjoy legal weed (thanks Washington!).

What do you like to watch on TV?

Where to begin?! Blackish, Fresh Off The Boat, Lady Dynamite, The Goldbergs, The Get Down, Master of None, Bob’s Burgers, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Modern Family, Masters of Sex, Shameless, Pitch, Grey’s Anatomy, The Voice, Transparent, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Haters Back Off and, my current guilty pleasure, Love & Hip Hop Hollywood.

What are 3 things you can’t leave your house without?

Sunglasses, my phone and headphones.

What music do you like?

I love rap! Tupac is my all-time favorite, but I think Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper, and Wiz Khalifa are brilliant. Lately I’ve been exploring country and I always love pop music. I also love a singer/songwriter who can deliver a good folksy, indie rock song.

What is your favorite song? Why?

“Panda” by Desiigner is on heavy rotation because the attitude is so relaxed swag. I can hardly handle it! I’ve always loved “Watershed” by the Indigo Girls because it’s forever poignant. “Wild Things” by Alessia Cara makes me feel like my heart wrote the song. And I like Demi Lovato’s “Body Say” because it makes me feel sexy!

Who you would love to work with?

The list is a mile long, but includes directors Lynn Shelton, Ava DuVernay, Jill Soloway, Megan Griffiths, Derek Cianfrance, Joe Swanberg. I would be head over heels delighted to work with Melanie Lynskey, Jake Gyllenhaal, Betty White, Carol Burnett, Molly Shannon, Amy Poehler, Pharrell Williams, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, The Roots and Kehinde Wiley.

Who is your favorite actor/actress and why?

I worship at the feet of the goddesses Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Can you tell I have a hard time picking favorites?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

In five years, my wife and I will have adopted a couple of kiddos. We’ll take wonderful, enriching trips to interesting places all over the world in between my shooting schedule for the Emmy award-winning TV show I imagine myself in. My dog will have become very chill and will have stopped barking at every moving thing. It will be a magical time in my life.

Do you support any charities?

I volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, a fantastic mentorship program with proven results. Lately, I’ve been supporting the Sacred Stone Camp at Standing Rock where indigenous water protectors are being harassed on their own tribal land by corporate interests trying to take away land and water rights using militarized local law enforcement. It’s horrifying what’s going on there. If you can, send a few bucks over to the  Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund. I also support the Human Rights Campaign and the Pride Foundation.

How important is social media for you?

Very! I love getting direct feedback from audiences I wouldn’t otherwise hear from. I love being able to interact with fans, especially young fans, e specially young LGBTQ fans. I find that very rewarding.

Where we can follow you?

I’ll be at Starbucks tomorrow morning if you wanna creep on me stalker-style. Online, you can find me as “Carollani” on most major social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Favorite quote:

It’s too long to quote, but what Ira Glass has to say about “The Taste Gap” is incredibly soothing and inspiring to me. The Taste Gap for creative professionals is the space between the art you currently make and the art you aspire to make, and it closes with enough time and effort. Reading that helps keep me going if I’m feeling down about a project.

I recently broke two arms and a knee, so my personal quote lately has been “Sticks and stones may break my bones but, f*$k it, I’ve got shit to do!”

Favorite food: Warm bread with Irish butter. Or popsicles!

Favorite movie: Great Expectations (1997) directed by Alfonso Cuarón. It had an enormous influence on me and helped me understand the kind of art I’m drawn to creating. I’m infatuated with Francesco Clemente, the painter whose work is used in the film. I love that everybody in the film wears green. The performances are electric. I love everything about it.

Favorite sport team: I don’t keep track of too many sports teams but I love my Seattle Storm and Seattle Seahawks!

Favorite restaurant: There’s this little family-run Ethiopian place in Seattle called Meskel. I always get their vegetarian platter even though I’m not vegetarian. Delicious foods you eat with your hands? Hell yeah.

Favorite travel destination: I once visited Puerto Viejo on the east coast of Costa Rica, and it was all Caribbean blue waters, hammocks, chill people, and delicious cheap food. I’m sure a lot has changed since I last visited several years ago, but it was pretty perfect.

Photo Credit: Ryan West