Curtain Call: Climbing the ladder pays off for persistent Chattanooga actress

Curtain Call: Climbing the ladder pays off for persistent Chattanooga actress

October 27th, 2011 by Barry Courter in Life Entertainment

Shown on the set of "The Great Divide" are Chattanooga resident Victoria Galen and Rob Pralgo. The two star as husband and wife in the film, which was shot partially in New Orleans.

Shown on the set of "The Great Divide"...


Hometown: Atlanta.

Education: University of Georgia.

Family: Husband, Mick Kwasnick; son, Forrest Willing.

Vocation: Development coordinator at Chattanooga Room in the Inn.


Favorite movies: "Gone With the Wind," "Fargo," "Get Him to the Greek."

Favorite book: "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," by Felicia Bond.

First professional voiceover: "Lights Out in Fifteen Minutes," recorded for the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta.

First big break: Went to an open casting call for extras and scored a lead role in the romantic comedy "Southern Heart." Played opposite Peter DeLuise.

Hobby: "I have a 75-gallon saltwater living reef, corals and fish."

Quote: "You can't win if you don't play."

When Victoria Galen got the part as one of the leading characters in a new film project called "The Great Divide," it meant that she had reached a new level in her 15-year acting career.

"I feel like I'm on a whole new plateau, but I'm at the bottom of that level," she said.

For the last decade and a half, Galen has been pursuing acting, traveling all over the South to audition for everything from voiceover work to small parts in television commercials. She's done corporate films and some bigger movies, including "The Retirement Party" and "Thick as Thieves."

Her day job as the development coordinator with Chattanooga Room in the Inn allows her to be fairly flexible with her schedule. She said being able to load up the car and travel to an audition or a callback with little advance warning is the key to being successful as an actress not living in New York or Los Angeles.

Q: I know you are hesitant to talk about the new movie because things can change, but can you share any information?

A: It's a comedy called "The Great Divide." It's my first leading role. I knew when I got there that the level of people's acting ability was high and that these were people with extensive resumes. You can just know pretty quickly when you are around somebody who's had a role that allows them a lot of camera time.

I was there for a week. I play Andrea O'Neil, a lead role. Rob Pralgo is my husband and I'm nine months pregnant with twins. This is actually my eighth film, but my first lead in a SAG [Screen Actors Guild] film. I had a lot of lines. It was a big project.

Q: How do you make this work, with your job and living in Chattanooga?

A: Fifteen years ago, it was drive for everything, even voice-over work. Technology has fixed that. Plus, I'm represented by Talent Track in Knoxville, so living here is a great setup because it's a couple of hours drive to almost anywhere I need to be. I've even flown out of Chattanooga on USAir to Charlotte and been back in time for lunch.

It's a lot of driving. I've gotten really comfortable in my car. I spent a lot of time broken down on I-75. About the time I started getting jobs, I got an on-air gig with 96.5 The Mountain, so I tried to stay local. I did a lot of industrial tapes with Shaw and things like that.

Today I work 20 hours a week for Room at the Inn, so it's perfect. And, now technology is so great. I do audition tapes for voice-overs at the radio station and send MP3s. I have a room set up with a camera and light boxes, so now I can audition from home. You can live a lot of places and be a working actor.

Being able to self-tape is not hard. You have to be able to use some edit software, but if I can do it, anybody can. It's great because you can do multiple takes. If you don't like the shirt your wearing. Do it over.

Q: Where would you say you are on your career path?

A: I feel like I'm on a whole new plateau, and I'm at the bottom. ... With this film, I got to show I could carry a lead and I got some notice for that and that lends itself to a new level of audition. The more you work in front of the camera, the better you get in front of the camera. For me, I've noticed this happens about every three years. I get to where I feel like super competitive going to auditions and I get a good part that is above my level and think, "Oh my gosh, I'm in over my head."

Now I'm up to working union gigs and in a whole new pool. I feel so blessed to even be at this level and to get to play with them. After a couple of years, they bring you up to their level and then it starts all over.

Q: What is your goal?

A: I don't have an answer for that. I want to get better but I want to put my kid through college so he doesn't have any loans, and once a year I take my husband on a killer vacation out of the country. So far, it's working out.

I'd love to do a period piece. Maybe something with some historical background, but my main goal is to keep working.