Tonight, Lifetime premieres the film Soccer Mom Madam
as part of its “Summer of Secrets.” The movie, which stars Jana Kramer, was inspired by true events. The film follows Anna (Kramer) who goes to work at a massage parlor for her cousin but soon moves out to create her own high-end escort service in New York that caters to the rich and powerful. Anna keeps her operation and success hidden from her family and friends, until the FBI begins to investigate and her double life is revealed.
Recently Kramer and Orly Adelson, who served as executive producer on the film, took part in a junket with journalists to promote the movie.
Kramer talked to Jamie Ruby of SciFi Vision about some of the challenges she faced making the film. She wanted to make sure people saw the positives in Anna. “Once I got the idea out of my head that, ‘Okay, I don't have to portray this person exactly’…I wanted people to see that she was just doing the best that she could [and had] that likability too. As a mom, as a single mom, it's like I'm going to do what I have to do to support my kids, and it may not be what you like, but I have to do what I have to do. So, my biggest challenge, I guess, was just making sure that I kept her focus on the kids…and it was hard, because you'll see in the storyline, that she kind of gets a little bit lost, but [I wanted to bring] it back to the heart of why she worked so hard.”
For Adelson, it was about balancing authenticity while telling the story. “For me it was really, ‘How can we make it authentic? How can we really tell this story?’ So, it's not something you've seen in another movie, because Anna Gristina had a different journey, and that journey is important to tell in the way that it was inspired by her, not by other characters before that. I think our writer, Barbara Marshall, did an incredible job immediately by tying everything together through a narrative of girls that care about each other, family that cares about each other, so the disappointments were much harder at the end…That last scene of Jana in the movie, while she was filming it, I cried, and then, when we were editing, I cried, because it was true to the losses, the ups and downs and at the end of the day, the price you pay.”
For more of the interview, be sure to check out the full transcript below.
Summer of Secrets Video Conference
Soccer Mom Madam
Star Jana Kramer and Executive Producer Orly Adelson
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Orly, knowing that this is inspired by a true story, what made you want to turn it into a film? ORLY ADELSON:
I was compelled by the idea of a mother by day and a Madam by night,
and how those two lives ultimately are going to collide, and that journey is what intrigued me about it. And it's about human things.It's about betrayal. It's about family. It's about love. It's all the things that we encounter every day, and she encountered it differently. QUESTION:
Jana…You've done so many heartwarming projects in recent years, but those who know you from your earlier acting years remember how sassy you were, as it were, on One Tree Hill
. Is it particularly pleasurable for you to return to this type of character now? JANA KRAMER:
I couldn't tell you how happy I was to read this script and talk to Orly. I mean, I pretty much begged her. I was like I'll do whatever; this script is so amazing. It's fun, and it's sassy, and there's depth to it, and it just made me feel excited. Not that I don't love, you know, the sweet Christmas movies and stuff, but there's something about really going there vulnerably and emotionally, and just, you know, remembering why I love acting so much. Because you can just bring in so much of your personal life and you know it’s just - it's fun. And there were some really heavy days on set, because I had to get super emotional, but, I was like, “Oh, this is the best day.” So, I was thrilled that I got it, and yeah, I was very happy. QUESTION:
Jana, what were some of your favorite moments from filming this? Was there a particular scene that stands out to you that was really challenging or something that really was interesting that you felt you worked on for this particular one? JANA KRAMER:
I personally enjoyed the time that I spent [with] the girls. They were family to this - the woman that it was inspired by, and just the camaraderie that all of us girls had filming together - the fun that we had. There's a scene in particular where we went to this event, and I'm basically trying to pick out the millionaires in the room, and just like, us going in there, as strong women and just, again, the fun that we had together. It was really nice to feel empowered and also have the support, women supporting each other. Yeah, I just loved the girls so much in this movie, and they've stayed friends. So, I think that was the kind of silver lining with doing this film, just having that friendship. QUESTION:
Jana, I'm just curious. These films are ripped from the headlines, so from an acting perspective, do you look at that and go, “Great I can find some source material to help me build a character,” or do you go, “Oh crap, people know this story; what am I going to do differently?”
Yeah sure, and Orly and I had a conversation about that, because I was fortunate to talk to the woman that this movie is portrayed about. I was kind of talking to Orly, and I'm like, “Man, you know she's got a little bit of an accent.” So, I started freaking out as an actor, because I'm like, “What if I don't live up to who she is and how she actually had her mannerisms?” And Orlyreally let me just take on the role. She reminded me that, yes, it's based on a true story, but to bring my story into it, and I think that the marriage of both of those worked really well. Don't you agree, Orly? ORLY ADELSON:
Yeah, because it was inspired by her. So, the authenticity of the movie is because we have the access to stories, to the journey, but yet you have to embark and embody that character in your own way. JANA KRAMER:
And Jana did it brilliantly, by the way. How many actresses had this ability to show vulnerability and strength? Be likable? Because that's so important for this character, [to also] be tough; that's a challenge. Sitting there and watching her film every day was really thrilling, to see how she could move quickly between all of these mine fields. JANA KRAMER:
Thanks, Orly. SCIFI VISION:
Jana, and, I don’t know, Orly may have just mentioned some of these things just now, but I was wondering if you couldtalk about some of the things that you found most challenging. JANA KRAMER:
…Once I got the idea out of my head that, “Okay I don't have to portray this person exactly,” I think kind of what Orly mentioned was what was challenging, making sure that - I didn't want people to - because like when you hear something like, “Oh, Madam; oh, what's wrong with her?” I wanted people to see that she was just doing the best that she could - and to have that likability too. As a mom, as a single mom, it's like I'm going to do what I have to do to support my kids, and it may not be what you like, but I have to do what I have to do. So, my biggest challenge, I guess, was just making sure that I kept her focus on the kids, and it started to - and it was hard, because you'll see in the storyline, that she kind of gets a little bit lost, but bringing it back to the heart of why she worked so hard. SCIFI VISION:
Orly, What about you? What did you find the hardest thing? ORLY ADELSON:
For me it was really, “How can we make it authentic? How can we really tell this story?” So, it's not something you've seen in another movie, because Anna Gristina had a different journey, and that journey is important to tell in the way that it was inspired by her, not by other characters before that. I think our writer, Barbara Marshall, did an incredible job immediately by tying everything together through a narrative of girls that care about each other, family that cares about each other, so the disappointments were much harder at the end. And I don't know how many of you saw the end, and I won't give it up, but for me, that last scene of Jana in the movie, while she was filming it, I cried, and then, when we were editing, I cried, because it was true to the losses, the ups and downs and at the end of the day, the price you pay. QUESTION:
Yeah, I'm sorry Orly, I just want to get a little clarification here. You've mentioned the term authentic, and you also talked about inspired by. When you're dealing with a story like this, what is the benefit of just basing a story on a real event and not just saying, “I'm just going to create this fictional story about a soccer mom,” where you don't have to worry about how authentic you stay and how much you can sway from that original story? ORLY ADELSON:
I think it's a very thin line here between taking the heart of a story and telling it, versus [having] every moment to verify, “Oh, this happened that way?” Now I have three people that I have to verify that it happened this way. Was this the girl? Now I need to make sure that the girl was portrayed exactly correctly, versus I spoke to two girls, never met them, spoke to them anonymously. So, it's a little different than having to have then all the rights to that girl and mak[ing] sure that she said that wordversus didn't say that word. It's just the nuance between inspired to telling the story as a true story, because even when you tell itfrom the point of view of Anna, it's her POV that's already a skewed POV. JANA KRAMER:
But that's the point of view that was interesting to us.
I was wondering, Orly, if you could tell us what you think might have happened either from the real story or from whatyou would do if you say had a sequel. What happened in your mind after that last scene? Does she stay on the pig farm? Does she get back together? Does her daughter forgive her? Does she get her life back together? What do you think?JANA KRAMER:
You want the perfect bow, don't you? Like what happens, it's like, “Oh, if I could always ask that question.” QUESTION:
I'm like, “What happened?” ORLY ADELSON:
You know, here it is. She will never do it again. She has gotten married. And she still has all the pigs, and she raises pigs and sends me pictures. She's a unique character, really unique, and Jana got an opportunity to talk to her. She's very unique, very honest, and very unique. QUESTION:
Jana, what was it like for you working with the kids on the show? JANA KRAMER:
Oh, they were so sweet. Every age with them. The younger kids were so sweet. Then, the girl who played Mia, I mean, she's a doll, and I still text with her. I kind of felt like her mom when I left, because I was giving her tips about, you know, “Don't take anything from bullies,” and like, “You're beautiful,” and like, “Believe in yourself.” And it was cool, because I was able to help her in one of the scenes that we did. She was wanting to use some teardrops, and I remember this one actor, actually, Austin Nichols, I was having a hard time crying on the set of One Tree Hill
, because I was just blocked emotionally, and he held my hands and I just started crying. So, I said to her, I was like, “You don't need that tear stick, because I know you know the stuff that you've told me. You've got a lot in in your heart,” and I was like, “You need to use it.” So, in the middle of the scene, I just held her hands,and I was like, “Just look at me,” and then she just starts crying, and I'm like, “Yes!” It just feels good to help and give back to someone like Austin did for me and just like to tap into those emotions, and yeah, they were great. It was so fun.