Actor Veronica Roy Channels Elijah Wood and Starts Her Own Casting Campaign
There’s a common idea amongst actors that creating their own work is a smart route to take, but Veronica Roy took that notion one step further. Upon hearing that her favorite novel series had been optioned by Amazon Studios, the actor took initiative, creating a teaser trailer of herself playing the lead role and kicking off a social media campaign to boot. Keep reading to find out what motivated Roy’s quest to play the lead in an onscreen adaption of Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson novel series — including the inspiration she found from the casting story of a certain Lord of the Rings actor — as well as a window into how she did it.
It’s great to see you, Veronica, and I’m looking forward to hearing all about this casting campaign you have going. Let’s start with the role. How do you personally connect with the character of Mercy Thompson?
I’ve been a huge fan of the series since I discovered it years ago, and it’s been so special to get to read about a heroine who is mixed like me — she's half White and half Blackfoot Native American — and who just so happens to have the ability to turn into a coyote. Mercy fights incredibly hard to protect those she loves as the lead character of the series. She’s fighting alongside these superhuman-type creatures — like werewolves and vampires — who have the ability to heal themselves super fast. Mercy doesn’t possess that trait, which I think makes her braver than anyone else in the series. She goes into each fight knowing that she could easily die. But, Mercy puts that aside and does what she needs to do in order to help stop the big bad guy boss.
She sounds like a special character.
I have always loved the overall idea of who she is — I mean, Mercy is everybody’s 2 a.m. phone call. You know what I mean? If something goes wrong in the middle of the night, she’s the one people call for help. That’s the type of person I strive to be, as well. And I feel connected to the character because of her heritage, too. I’m Black, White and Native American, and we’re both from the same tribe on our fathers’ sides. I can relate to Mercy’s struggle with identity, including the experience of growing up feeling like you don’t quite fit in anywhere. She’s a fully-written and complete person — I love that you’re able to see both her strengths and weaknesses portrayed in the series. Mercy has a large heart and is incredibly brave, but she also can be stubborn and has a hard time showing vulnerability. I’ve gone on my own journey with the latter, which is just one of the many ways I relate to the character.
So, how did the campaign to play Mercy Thompson come to fruition?
I follow Patricia Briggs on Instagram and saw her announcement that the Mercy Thompson series got optioned by Amazon Prime Video. I started jumping and screaming with excitement because the character has always been such a core part of me. You know that actor exercise where you write the breakdown of the perfect character for yourself? Whenever I’ve done it in the past, I would always start with Mercy. But, the actual role didn’t exist until now. And then I found this interview where Elijah Wood tells the story of how he became Frodo in The Lord of the Rings. He got an audition for the role and became so enamored with the story and the script that he couldn’t just let it go after leaving the casting room. He got a writer friend to draft three scenes from the source material for him and worked with a dialect coach to get the character’s accent down. Then Elijah Wood took a director friend and a camera to Griffith Park to shoot those three scenes, which were sent to The Lord of the Rings casting director and eventually Peter Jackson. When it came to playing Frodo, he didn’t wait around for the phone to ring. Elijah Wood got the role on his own accord. After hearing that story, I thought, “Done and done.” So, I followed the same steps. I reread the Mercy Thompson novel series and started pulling scenes. I had people from my actor business community vote to help me select the top three that would best highlight me while showing different sides of the character. I adapted those for the screen, and from there, I went into producer mode.
I started pulling the filmmakers for shooting the Mercy Thompson trailer. Then I went on to location scouting, lining up the shoot dates and casting. I started wearing all those different hats and just jumped in because it was my passion project. I was training with my friend Terence Rotolo, who’s a fight coordinator/choreographer and is also one of the actors in the trailer’s fight scenes. He and the director, Dan Southworth, built the fight that you see in it. I also got coaching for the scenes from my business coach, Farah Merani, who’s a phenomenal actress, as well. And after we shot the trailer, my DP [director of photography], Landis Aponte, also edited it and put all the scenes together.
And that’s how you started the campaign?
The original plan was to shoot the three scenes and then send them to some Amazon execs via some connections I had. But, I was telling a producer friend of mine about it, and she suggested doing a social media campaign to get fans of the Mercy Thompson novel series on my side. She said I could get a bit of a following with what I was doing, which would add more weight to pitching myself to Amazon execs. So, that’s honestly what started the campaign. I said, “Let’s do this thing.”
Wow! What have you learned in the process?
People are amazing. [Laughs] I mean, so many people have been reaching out to offer their assistance and expertise to help me create this campaign and roll it out over a span of three months. It’s really happening because of all the wonderful people who’ve supported me with their different skill sets and abilities. For example, the fact that these two people named David Snyder and Tevita Hala’ufia created original music for my trailer — and did such a bomb job of it — just blows my mind. So, my big takeaway from this process was the importance of sharing your dreams and goals with other people, as well as allowing them to come alongside you in pursuing them. It’s amazing how willing people are to help, but you’ll never know what they have to offer if you don’t share about your plans and what you’re doing to make them happen. I’m just overwhelmed with gratitude for all the huge ways in which people have shown up to help and support me in this campaign to play Mercy Thompson.
That’s lovely to hear. Before we wrap, I’d love to know if the campaign has drawn attention to your work as an actor, in general.
It’s really opened my eyes once again to all the different platforms and opportunities for putting my work and creativity out there. Different interviews, like this one, have come from the campaign. I can feel that doors are opening for something to happen, whether that be getting cast as Mercy or getting cast in other future work. I’m in a season of expectation, and I believe something cool is going to come out of all this hard work. On social media, I’ve already seen my following grow, as well as my views and engagements increase. The campaign is leveling me up to a place where I can keep the momentum going with future projects long after it’s over.
Leading up to this moment in her career, Roy’s résumé included titles like CBS’ Criminal Minds, NBC’s Days of Our Lives, a horror film that parodies the Grinch entitled The Mean One and a Star Wars fan film called Balance of the Force. Those interested in keeping up with the actor’s career journey — and particularly, this part of it with her casting campaign to play Mercy Thompson — can find Roy on Instagram as @iamveronicaroy.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Looking to get your big break? Sign up or login to Casting Networks and land your next acting role today!
How to Become an Actor in Las Vegas
Get to Know the Filmmaker: Anthony Fabian Talks ‘Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris’
Success Story: Ktborderline on Power Book III: Raising Kanan