"Dr. Mom has so much more energy than I do!" Carrie Schroeder on her character in 'I am Frankie'
Carrie always knew that she was going to pursue a career in the arts, and in addition to acting, she is also an accomplished mezzo-soprano and performs regularly
Carrie Schroeder is currently well-known for playing Dr. Sigourney Gaines, a brilliant scientist who has created Frankie, a cutting-edge, experimental android who navigates the perils and wonders of being a teenager in 'I Am Frankie,' Nickelodeon’s new serialized live-action show.
‘Dr. Mom’ (as Frankie calls her) is faced with the challenges of integrating another "daughter" into her family after helping her escape from tech company EGG Labs.
Carrie hails from the small Australian country town of Shepparton, near Melbourne, Victoria. When she wasn't riding horses, waterskiing, or camping, Carrie was at piano lessons or recitals. She began dance classes at the age six and it quickly became her passion. Her love of dance continued into high school, where she studied ballet, tap, and jazz, and choreographed many shows and festivals. Carrie always knew that she was going to pursue a career in the arts.
This took her to an university in NSW from where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Acting for the Stage and Screen. Following her graduation, Carrie toured in a production of 'And Then They Came for Me' by American author James Still, starring as Eva Schloss. To this day, one of Carrie's most humbling experiences was meeting Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss during the play’s run.
Following an injury while touring in Singapore, her professional focus shifted to the screen, and she was cast in many TV miniseries, and also guest starred in popular Australian television programs including 'H2O: Just Add Water' and 'Neighbours.'
Carrie relocated to Los Angeles in 2012 and continued to add to her film and TV resume. She also continued with theatre and her credits include playing Alison in John Osborne's 'Look Back in Anger' with the Los Angeles New Court Theatre and Sophie in Joanne Mosconi's new work for the Fringe Theatre Company, 'You Love That I'm NOT Your Wife!'
Carrie was recently thrilled to take on a period piece and revisit her British accent, playing Margot Wendice in 'Dial M For Murder,' for which she received a BroadwayWorld nomination for Best Actress. In addition to acting, Carrie is also an accomplished mezzo-soprano and performs regularly.
Meaww had a chance to catch up with Carrie and ask her a few questions. Here are excerpts from our conversation with the talented actress.
How did you land the role of Dr. Sigourney Gaines? Please walk us through the audition process?
I had read for the casting director a few times for other projects, and when this breakdown came through she thankfully remembered me and called me in. The script excerpt I was given was great copy – I had so much fun with it. I was then invited back for what in the industry is referred to as a ‘call back,’ which is when the casting team has narrowed it down to a handful of people they believe are a good fit for the role.
The next exciting step is that I was flown to Miami, where our production is based, for the producer's session. This is another audition, usually with a lot of people in the room; director, casting director, writers and producers, and I did what’s called a chemistry read. This process is to see what actors work well together, and in our case, what group of actors look like a family unit. I had a couple of different script excerpts and each time I read, it was with a different actor who was reading for the role of Mr. Gaines.
Tell us about your character. What was it like getting into the mind and skin of Dr. Mom?
Dr. Mom is a brilliant scientist. She has a doctorate in robotics, bioengineering, mathematics, physics, chemistry, to name a few. She has studied, among other things, mechatronics, psychology, cognitive science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and of course, is a master at computer science. She was a hacker in her youth!
Dr, Mom is also a loving mother to not only Frankie but her human daughter, Jenny. Keeping Jenny and her husband Will on the task at hand is a full-time job for Dr. Mom! She can also be somewhat overprotective of her creation. Though this season she does relax a little. For as far as she is concerned, WARPA (a dangerous rogue government agency) is seemingly no longer a threat to Frankie, so Dr. Mom gets to live out one of her lifelong dreams of going into space and joining the International Space Agency for a six-month research mission.
Dr. Mom has so much more energy than I do! She is passionate and constantly curious. And she talks with her hands a lot. So I do enjoy stepping into the physicality of the character, she feels very electric- always on.
Could you shed some light on the vibe on-set? Did you get along with your co-stars on the show?
The vibe on set is a fun and exciting one. It’s a dynamic place to be. I consider myself very fortunate to work with such kind, talented and calm people – from the production team to the directors to my fellow cast members. It’s always busy on set, and each and every time I step into the studio, I am excited by the thrill of lights, sets, camera, etc., all coming together to create a story. My co-stars are wonderfully entertaining people. No matter how long our days are, in between takes and setups, there is always much conversation and laughter to be had.
Did you approach the character of Dr. Mom on the go or did you prepare notes on how to go about the role?
As an actor, I always come prepared with my own research and ideas of the character. Creating Dr. Mom started with research into what schooling and training was required by someone with her expertise. I continued to create a backstory for her with consideration of her interests and passions that drove her to create a cutting-edge android. All this is what I call the technical side of a character. Then I had to find her physicality. This is one of my favorite parts of acting because this is where the collaboration and discovery starts.
Rehearsals with our on-set acting coach, the director, and fellow co-stars in pre-production is all about seeking and discovery. I could come to rehearsal with all of my notes, and then be taken by complete surprise by Dr. Mom’s reaction in a scene. I love this learning process. Dr. Mom continues to evolve and surprise me throughout performing every episode of this season, and I hope I get to continue to discover more about her if we are fortunate enough to be picked up by Nickelodeon for a third season.
If you had to play a different character on the same show, who would you ideally go for and why?
This season I would have to say, Simone. She is another android that was captured by WARPA. She and Andrew escaped their captors and has now joined Frankie’s group of friends at Sepulveda High. I love all the stunt work she gets to do, so much fun!
Can you give us a little sneak peek into what we can expect from the upcoming season of 'I am Frankie'?
The first thing that comes to mind is all the awesome action sequences! On a deeper level, Season 2 explores what it means to be different. Identifying those who stand apart from the norm, and what that means. Do you embrace their differences, or do you fear them? Do you accept people for who they are, or work hard to remove them from your community?
Though our show takes place at a fictional high school, and the two factions are ‘humans’ and ‘androids,’ I believe that our writers have done an amazing job using the ‘android’ metaphor for all people-of-uniqueness and shone a spotlight on fear, acceptance, discrimination, retaliation and other very current and topical reactions to difference.
What is your career bucket list like?
Long! A blockbuster superhero movie has always been an aspiration. The training alone would be a physical and mental challenge I would relish. I love working with accents, so a period piece, either on stage or as a feature film is something I look forward to. A series regular in a police drama is also high on my list of things to do.
If there was something that you could have done differently in your personal and/or professional career, what would it be and why?
That’s a tough question. Success or failure - There is a lesson in every outcome. To wish for something different would be to deny the progress I have made on my journey. I strive to live my life without regrets, or ‘if only’s.’ I take risks, I challenge myself, I seek out balance and self-awareness.
Have you ever had a fangirl moment on a show or appearance which has left a mark with you? Who are your idols?
Over the last few years, I have had the great opportunity to sing with Jason Alexander as a guest vocalist in his symphony show. He is one of the world’s most kind and generous human beings. Jason continues to encourage me in my career, and I always consider myself very fortunate to have his counsel.
There are so many talented actresses out there to admire! Tèa Leoni is an actress I have always enjoyed watching, both in her film and television roles. Her choices are always interesting and her acting style is very natural and honest. She has had a long and varied career and now she gets to play a strong kick-ass female lead on a successful TV series of which I am a fan, ‘Madame Secretary.’ Definitely worth fangirling over.
If you were not in showbiz, what would be the plan of action for you?
I remember going to my high school career advisor and proudly proclaiming I wanted to be an actor. Well, I may as well have said I wanted to build a human colony on the rings of Saturn. She stared at me and then smiled as she proceeded to hand me brochures and guides on nursing and dental hygiene. Both very noble and necessary professions. I read them thoroughly, threw them in the trash and went on to complete my Bachelor of Arts in performance.