Elizabeth: Hi, I'm Elizabeth Gracen. I played Amanda on Highlander the Series and the spin-off called Highlander: The Raven, and you are listening to Highlander Rewatched!
0:37 Keith: Hey, Rewatchers! Welcome toooo the one, the only, Highlander Rewatched Podcast! The podcast where each and every week, we take a look—a fond, loving, walk down memory lane—to visit our favorite franchise from the Eighties and Nineties! That's right, Highlander!
Keith: Today, we are joined by a VERY special guest! She has graced stage pag—
Keith and Eamon: HEYO!
Keith: Aaah, boy, guys.
1:00 Eamon: Hahahah! It's Elizabeth Gracen.
*Keith and Kyle burst out laughing*
Eamon: If you couldn't guess by that awful pun. But we are very excited that she took the time out of her busy schedule to join us—
Keith: Absolutely! And I hope she does not mind the Grace-puns. Grace stage and screen! Elizabeth Gracen! So, yeah, we recently covered the episode "Legacy", which delved deep into the backstory of Amanda Devarieux (Darieux)!
Please join us in welcoming to the show: Miss Elizabeth Gracen! Welcome to the show, Elizabeth!
1:30 Elizabeth: Oh, thank you so much! I'm happy to be a part of your show! (woof!) It's exciting! Sorry, that's my dog. My dogs are barking. As soon as I get on the phone, or anything like this, they start to bark. I have a Great Dane and he's quite loud, so you probably hear him. He's my pet dragon. So, y'all, happy to be here.
1:45 Kyle: Keith has that effect on all dogs.
Kyle: And some humans!
1:51 Elizabeth: Thank you for having me on.
Kyle: It's our pleasure! Could you just start by telling us how you initially got involved in the weird world of Highlander and this kind of... strange universe?
2:01 Elizabeth: Oh, wow! Well, you know, years ago—I don't know what the year was—whatever that first episode uh... I don't know when that was! Early Eighti—early Nineties, I guess, right? I got a call from a producer I'd worked with on, um... The Death of the Incredible Hulk. I can't remember exactly who it was who called me, but it was someone that associated with that production—and said "Are you interested in playing a character who is a jewel thief, she's immortal, she's over a thousand years old, and it shoots in Paris—" and I was like, "Uh, yeah! I will definitely love doing that!" I didn't even have to audition for it, so I was like, wow! It was like a real gift. And, I flew to Paris and did the first episode, and, I guess... you know, just like anything else, it felt like it was a one-off thing. I had a great time, of course, it was just amazing to be working in Paris and meeting everybody that was associated with Highlander. And then... I don't know how much longer it was after that, but I guess the character did well with the fan base and—the character of Amanda—and they wrote me in again! And then again and again and again, and, you know, the first thing you do when you get a Highlander script is you check the back of the script to see if your head has been cut off...! *laughter* So that's just sort of the way it goes, and I, you know, could see that she was not being decapitated, so... that's how I got involved! You know, I've always said this to everyone that it's... you know, the luckiest... luckiest opportunity for me, and it's the best acting job I've EVER had, and Raven... same thing. You know, it's just so much fun to play that character, and to work with Adrian, and with everyone else associated with Highlander in general. It's just such a blessing to me to have been part of it, and still—you know, I'm STILL part of it, and they're still my friends, and um, it just keeps going on and we keep recruiting new fans, and I hope it lives on. I always want the character of Amanda to live on in some capacity. People write novels. The Highlander Imagine series, she's alive in that. I've got the rights, actually, to create a Young Adult series, I haven't gotten around to it, but um—based on Highlander: The Raven, so—
4:07 Elizabeth: It's a wonderful world. It's a wonderful world, for sure!
Keith: Well, we just uh, recently talked about your episode, Legacy, on our previous podcast. And we were curious, um—
Keith: Did you have any um, kind of say into the development of Amanda as a character, as it progressed through the series? And like what did you lend to the character that maybe wasn't on the page?
4:26 Elizabeth: So that would have been my... third episode, I think.
Elizabeth: Not—something like that, yeah. So that's pretty early in... in her development. Uh, no. I mean, I had no say-so. At all. No, none. I mean, it just happens sometimes, when you get a character, that you really click with it. And just becomes a big mix of what they envisioned and then what I could bring to it, if that makes sense. And, um, Legacy in particular, I—I just watched a bit of it to get a reference, 'cause I actually couldn't remember which episode it was—and I had to look at it and, um, it cracked me up! Because I'm doing a Cockney accent in my flashback, which is great! *men laugh* My husband makes fun of me every time. He always goes, "Oh no! Do your Cockney accent!" 'Cause it's pretty bad! I even had a—I even had a dialect coach and, you know, that's what we came up with! *laughter* And it cracks me up! Because she's French, I think, her origins are French, and then it's like, "Why the Hell does she have a Cockney accent?" *laughter* It's very funny. Very funny, very funny. But I know we wanted to create something that was different in the flashback. So, but I think the very first episode I was on, I didn't have any accent, so... you could tell that we were kind of working it out as we went along, but um... the fans were forgiving.
Keith: You and Adrian have tons of charisma on the screen and, you know, uh, your personality, I think, is definitely one reason the character's stuck around so long was... y—you guys are always great fun to watch! Uh, whenever you're together.
5:45 Elizabeth: Oh, We did so much! We always —I can't wait to see him in Florida, because you just have so much fun! We, you know I loved all the episodes of Highlander that I worked with Adrian. We just—and we were both workhorses. We have... our work ethic is very similar, we're just, you know, churn it out. We're very hard workers so, we would, you know, go the extra mile to learn the Tango, or to learn, um, dance steps for something, I can't... the second episode I was in... It's always turning up with new ideas and uh... On camera, it was fortunate that we were relaxed enough around each just to have fun. And I think that, that does play... on—you know, you do see that, and people... you know, makes everyone feel comfortable and entertained at the same time, so... it was great fun. Thank you, I'm glad you liked it!
6:32 Keith: Was there any, uh, like special training you had to undergo? Or anything that was, like, out of your comfort zone uh, when you were performing on Highlander?
6:37 Elizabeth: Pretty much... everything! *laughter* I mean, hahah, well I mean—
Kyle: You don't do much sword-fighting in real life?
6:44 Elizabeth: No, not really. But luckily, you know, the first episode I was in I just—I pick up someone else's sword and take a... take off the head, so it's like, I didn't really have to DO anything. But by the time—uh well, the second episode then I had to do a cabaret number. I'm like, "Oh my God!" You kind of find out, not that far in advance! But, you know, when they actually finalize the script. It's not like I had a month to prepare or anything. It's like, "Alright, we're gonna do a cabaret number here, so-and-so has written a song, ah, do you think you can sing this, can you record it..." You know, and you're like, "Oh... okay..?" I mean, it's just on the fly. I knew how to sing, so that was—that part was easy, but it was just that—you know you have to just roll with it. Sword-play, however, you know... I did not start out having any training. As it went along, I started taking classes, but um... I was never very good. Um, is it any... Adrian was—is excellent—he's an excellent martial artist in general, but um, I didn't really have that training and didn't really have a big desire... I probably should have spent more time on it, but um, for some reason they didn't really require me... they didn't want me doing my own stunts; they didn't want me doing anything, so I just, you know, basically had to look good holding a sword 'n, you know. You get the basic moves. There's one episode called The Stone of Scone that, uh, I had to play golf. *Keith laughs* And I don't really play golf, so I went to... and I beat Roger Daltry in this con-game of, you know, golf, and, um... so I had to just learn how to look ...good carrying a golf club since... and SWINGING! 8:11 And I... so I took just basic, you know, lessons on golf. I never really played golf, so I was going to a country club and I had this golf-pro teaching me how to do all of it; basically I'd go, "How do I walk across the Green with a golf club?" so I look like I know what I'm doing! All the basics, so... That's the great fun of acting; it's like, you know, any of those things, you can decide well, I really like doing that! You know, chara—especially a character like Amanda who's that old. Just think of all the life experiences she's had, and... it just sort of opens up your own educational routes. You know, whatever you're interested in. What's happening historically: there's a flashback, it was a great education for me, as well. Lots of fun on top of that, so... hahah.
8:55 Kyle: And it's... pretty interesting, I think, you know, the episode we were just talking about, Legacy, is one of the episodes where your character starts to... shares a lot more personality and emotional depth in the context of that episode and,9:04 *****well we sort of like, what the... the role particularly of women in the Highlander Universe... actually is. And... your character Amanda probably IS the lead female role on the entire series. I always wondered how you kind of approached that, and how you think that changed over time.
9:20 Elizabeth: Well, I met... the Rebecca Horne character who played my mentor, um... Nadia Cameron is a fantastic actress and we became great friends after that episode—uh, and I really... I just... I loved that episode, because you get to see that mentor relationship with someone that, you know, *sounding amused* we didn't really toy around with them being lovers, or anything like that, but I mean you can just sort of project whatever you wanted to on their relationship, because they're so... they're strong, and they're willy, and they're having fun, and they're um... engaging. And, you know, I'm kind of thinking of all the female characters I've worked with, throughout TV, uh... I know even on Raven, there were not a lot of women that I played against. Uh, sorry, I'm blanking because I cannot think of all the female characters, and I...
*****10:03 Keith: Do you—
10:03 Elizabeth: I guess this is gonna sound bad, this is gonna sound terrible, but a lot of the episodes—I haven't seen a lot of Highlander episodes because I'm not in them! I sort of blocked out the ones that I'm not in! That sounds horrible, but it's kind of the truth! Hahah!
10:14 Kyle: **** something that's interesting—because there aren't really a lot of women in the Highlander episodes that you're not in. Certainly not ones playing the kind of lead roles that... that you end up playing in... in your appearances.
10:26 Elizabeth: Right. He had a lot of female come—a lot of love interests though, didn't he? I ca—you know, over the—
Eamon: Yes. *amused*
10:31 Elizabeth: Over the years. A LOT!
Kyle: There's a lot of damsels in distress and things like that. **Elizabeth: Uh, yeah.** But in terms of like, well-developed—**Elizabeth: Right.**—kind of butt-kicking women, there are not that many.
Elizabeth: Um... uh-huh.
10:41 Keith: Yeah. Do you think there's been a change, kind of in, like, the action landscape since you've, you know, worked on... the show Highlander that—I mean, I feel like we're starting to now see the emergence of, like, stronger female characters in superhero movies, and, you know I think you were part of that movement to start stronger action stars on TV.
10:59 Elizabeth: Um, God I hope they... you know, I can't wait to see the new Wonder Woman, for instance. I think that looks amazing. She's fantastic. Uh, but yeah. I mean, it's kind of a boy's world; that whole comic book world, and fantasy world, is still... Oh, Game of Thrones... I'm thinking of all the great female characters. I hope that situation in Hollywood in general, as you get older, and you're female, and you know like you've said, I've played a lot of damsels in distress. Oh my God, I've played more damsels in distress than anything else, other than the Highlander. That's sort of what you get relegated to. I mean, I'll be interested to see how—I don't act that much anymore, but...um... interesting what they would do with an older version of me, out there now, but who would she be? The mom; damsel in distress; or something. But um... I'm hoping that it changes. It should. Because women do kick ass, and I think there's some great—since the... um, uh, what was the one that Jennifer Garner was in? She was like the first, I think, really great television—
11:51 Eamon: Oh, was that Alias?
11:52 Elizabeth: Yeah. She's great in that! And she—that simply was the emergence of someone who could actually... DO martial arts and look really strong doing it and... it's progressed, but you know, it can always go further! I... I... like I said, I can't wait to see the new Wonder Woman. I hope—that looks just awesome. I hope it is.
12:08 Kyle: And another thing it kind of shares in common with Highlander, it's kind of a period-piece! You get that historical perspective that's always a lot of fun!
12:16 Elizabeth: Yes, yes, definitely. Definitely.
12:17 Keith: So—
12:18 Elizabeth: I have—I have an eleven-year old daughter, for... and she's a real—she knows all the super hero stats. She's a Harry Potter freak, I mean we flew—I see it all! And I've seen it all! *man chuckles* So, um, I enjoy it. My husband is a big, um, he likes Iron Man and all that as well, so I gotta go see everything. I love it.
Keith: Have you shared your work on Highlander with your daughter? Is she old enough for that, yet?
12:40 Elizabeth: She watches... she's watched some episodes. You know, I'm her mom, so it's not as interesting to her. *men laugh* At least not right now. She doesn't really care. I mean I... I didn't even tell her I was Miss America until a couple o' years ago, and she was like, "Huh." *laughter* She was not impressed! She was—she's not impressed, so... that's okay! You know, there's more things I'll have to tell her as time goes on, but, hahah... *Kyle laughs* At the moment she's... she might like it, because it's very... the episodes aren't that scary. I mean, she watches—if she can watch Iron Man and all that, then she can watch Highlander, for sure. I think it just may be... the storylines are just longer... they're a little bit more... adult. **Keith: Mmhm.** I don't know that she would be into it yet. But she will be eventually, I'm sure.
13:16 Eamon: I read in an interview you did, and you mentioned um, you may have channeled your grandmother a little bit into your portrayal of Amanda, and your new book, and uh... a lot of us got into Highlander because of—well, me specifically—my grandmother; and Keith and Kyle, I—their mother watched the show. I was wondering if you'd talk about your grandmother's influence a little bit.
13:35 Elizabeth: Yeah. Uh, first of all, how old are you guys? *laughs*
13:37 *men laugh* Ea Um... hahah....
13:38 Keith: Uh, I... uh, wow. We're revealing lots of stuff on this show today—
Eamon: That's right!
Keith: — we're really letting it all out! Uh....
Eamon: I'm thirty-one. *chuckles*
Keith: I'm also thirty-one. *chuckles*
Kyle: I'm the baby. I'm twenty-eight.
*Keith and Eamon chuckle*
13:49 Elizabeth: WOW! Wowwww! That's amazing that you guys like Highlander! That's fantastic!
13:53 Keith: Well we all started watching it when we were, like, in elementary school, I think.
13:57 Elizabeth: Geeze. You're making me feel SO old! *men chuckle* When I see you I'm gonna—When I see you, I'm gonna just slap you, I think. *men laugh* Just because I can!
14:06 Kyle: *cheerfully* Also... We also have that effect on people, so...!
Eamon: Yeah, yeah! *chuckles*
14:10 Elizabeth: *laughs* That's amazing. Um, yeah. So my grandmother, um, I spent a lot of time with her when I was a little kid, um, like, cuz my mom was in Nursing School, and um, my dad was working and just being a jerk in general but, um, so I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. And she was just really wily. She really loved to stir the pot, in almost any scenario. She did things like, well... She had crystal balls around the house, and palm-reading books, and you know, she would tell these outrageous stories about all these fairies at war with spiders in her attic and... *Keith laughs* she loved to tell ghost stories and to scare the crap out of me, and... you know, she was just, you know... and all of my friends. It was just, she was a real character, so when I... I saw, um, when I was working on Amanda, I just thought about her... ability, and sort of drive, to just stir it up, every time she was in—you know, with the family or, a gathering or anything like that. And I just thought, well Amanda, that's definitely her. You know she's... she really likes to stir it up. And especially for Duncan, so, YES, she was, she was a great influence. And your grandmothers rock for getting you into all of this. *laughter* **Eamon: Yeah!** That's great! That's great.
15:21 Kyle: Luckily for us, they were all really into Adrian Paul. **Eamon and Keith: Right!**
15:25 Elizabeth: Oh, I'm sure they were! *laughing* That's so funny! Are they gonna be—if they... are they gonna be at the convention?
15:32 Kyle: No, I don't think our mom's gonna make it out, though I'm sure uh... I'm sure if she did she'd be... she'd be swooning.
Eamon: Yeah, right...
15:41 Elizabeth: *chuckling* Well he... I saw him. Um, let's see, it's been about... July, I saw him. He looks good! Tell her that. Tell him that. I mean he looks really good! *laughing* He, he's aged well! *chuckling with Eamon*
15:54 Keith: So, was like, fantasy and these stories a big part of your life growing up? And like, how has that influenced you today?
16:00 Elizabeth: Well, I... you know, I've always been sort of... I'm thinking about The Death of The Incredible Hulk as well, you know. I've always played characters... I get cast as the spy, or someone that's always been a master of disguises, and I think Amanda's kind of that type of character as well, and I really am comfortable in that, that head-space, of... um, make-believe. You know, extreme make-believe. I wouldn't say that I'm a... I've always just loved fantasy... I've rea—I've just read all sorts of books, but um... I like sci-fi fantasy, and I did... as a—a student, and as an adult, I still read—I read all sorts of things, but, um... when I sat down to write my book, Shalilly, I knew I was going—wanted to write a fantasy, and I didn't know what, and then I read this article in a Scientific American about the Pythia, the Oracles in... archaic Greece, and pneuma, the gasses that tend to come out of Mount Parnassos, and it just sort of got my head spinning; this idea and, um... It took a bit of work, and I don't even know the point when I decided to send her to a parallel dimension (my character, Fippa), you know she's a misfit mystic, and she really wants to be an Oracle, but that's not in the cards for her because there's a prophecy that she has to fulfil. The hero gets, um... transported to another dimension, then she has to go rescue him and bring him back, and I don't even know when that happened in my head—*Kyle amused huff*—and I just said, "Oh yeah! And then I create this world called the Paradigm, and yeah, it's full of creatures! Mythical creatures!" And, you know, I just... my mind just exploded with possibilities and all of a sudden I was creating names for strange creatures, and... you know! How—I don't know. This must be in my DNA. And maybe that is from my grandmother's stories back in the day, and my voracious reading habits as a little kid and... I don't know. I mean it... I think it is part of me. I think I'll always write fantasies. And even like the films that I'm, that I'm working on a feature film that's set in the Loire Valley in France, and it has a... I guess it's a dark fantasy. It's not—it's not a horror script, because it's... you know nothing's that scary, but it's very spooky. Kind of a ghost... ghost, ah, story sort of element to it, where this girl is hearing spirits, so... I think it's just me! I can't help it! It's inside there! It's gotta come out! *men chuckle*
♫Princes of the Universe!♫
18:21 Keith: Hey, Rewatchers! Have you picked up YOUR copy of Elizabeth Gracen's brand new Young Adult Novel, Shalilly, yet?
In the heart of ancient Delphi, Fippa, a 16-year old misfit mystic with unusual gifts, stands at the edge of a cosmic pool, ready to drown. Her sacrifice is the only way to open the portal within the water’s black depths and the only chance she has to bring the young warrior, Ision, back to Earth before Darkness annihilates Love from the Cosmos.
Submerged in the pool, Fippa's heart stops beating and the portal opens. She finds herself unexpectedly transformed into an exotic butterfly girl—a creature of legend—the Shalilly. Resurrected into a parallel dimension—a land full of mythical creatures, talking animals, and the Pale Ones who dominate them—Fippa the Shalilly is captured and sold to the very man she came to find.
With Darkness looming ever closer, Fippa must persuade Ision to return with her to Earth by telling him a fantastic story—their story. The story of Love.
♫Princes of the Universe!♫
19:34 Keith: So you mentioned a new movie you're working on! Can you tell us about, uh, your company, Flapper Films, and what kind of projects you've worked on in the past, and what's coming up for you in the future?
19:45 Elizabeth: Yeah. Well, I'm always in a constant collaboration with a modern dance company in Pasadena, California. They... I met them—gosh, it's probably almost ten years ago, now—but I'm always adapting something of their live performances into some sort of film. Um, they've done a—I've done a lot of short films, and narrative films that are based on things that I've seen them do. Um, cur—I just finished a uh, documentary—a documentary short called "Dance For Joy", which is all about, um, it's sort of a celebration of the healing-movement classes at the Mark Morris Dance company in New York City and in—excuse me, in Brooklyn—and the Lineage Dance Company in Pasadena, they have these classes for people with Parkinson's Disease. And my grandmother had Parkinson's Disease. So, um, it was very close to my heart, and I met all the people associated with it; so I made a film about the programs, and I've just submitted it to film festivals, so we'll see what happens with that. And hopefully it'll get involved you know, with the Parkinson's community and encourage people to take these dance classes, these movement classes. People recovering from strokes, from, you know, Alzheimer's, all sorts of thing. Just dance is good, it creates a sense of community and physically it helps people. It gets their, you know, their blood flowing, and gets them unstuck from... you know, any psychological issues they might be having. It's a wonderful thing.
21:10 Elizabeth: So that film is—I finished that one. I have got a... the footage of an interview with Lee Meriwether that I just did in July... I did a—I spent a day with her. I did a day-long interview. I'm gonna be doing a documentary short on her; she's a former Miss America as well, so I met her earlier in the year with all these former Miss Americas. We had a rendezvous in the Wine Country, and I got to meet like, thirty of... you know, Miss Americas from... uh, well she's... I've forgotten her year. 1959 I think, (1955) and all the way up to uh... Miss America from a couple of years ago. So it was really interesting, so I did an interview with her. I don't know when that's going to be finished; I've gotta get a lot of footage, archival footage, and photos to, you know, make it work. And then I'm working on... a.. uh, live—an adaptation of a live performance called "Ceiling in the Floor" that Lineage does, and it will be a feature-length film. It will be probably for the educational market, but it's a story about an arc of a friendship, and it's told through original music and dance, and there's a narrator involved in it; it's a very dark piece that deals with mental health issues, body issues, and ultimately suicide and.... a really heavy piece, but it's very authentic, and raw, and interesting... so that's it. There's also this film project, and then I'm always writing something; been working primarily on my other website, which is www.flapperpress.com. When I self-published Shalilly this summer, it made sense—cuz I've already, I've written a couple of other books with other people; non-fiction and fiction. Um, it made sense to start my own publishing company, so... www.flapperpress.com will be a... um... not so much—it's a publishing company, but it's also an e-commerce site that will sell unique and one-of-a-kind merchandise: You know, everything from magic wands to paintings, to skin care, to jewelry, accessories.... I'm very excited about it, but it's been a lot of work to get it off the ground, and hopefully it'll be in full launch uh, by mid-November for the Christmas Season, so... I'm busy! I'm too busy but um, you know, whatever.
23:14 Keith: Wow!
23:15 *amused* I always tell people, "When I die, I plan to be completely exhausted." *men laugh* That's my philosophy! That's my philosophy. I think I can do it. If you can do it, do it!
Keith: You mentioned your time as Miss America. I was curious: did you always have the acting bug? Or was, kind of, the sense of pageantry in, you know, Miss America and beauty pageants, did that lead you or influence you to wanna become an actress?
23:39 Elizabeth: Uh, yyy-definitely. Because I was g—I was an Accounting major. I was going to go to Law School, I wanted to be a corporate lawyer. That was my goal when I started, when I won Miss America, but—
23:49 Kyle: It's not a bad game.*****
23:50 Elizabeth: —after a year—
23:51 Keith: Kyle's a lawyer, so....
Elizabeth: Wha-hah, *laughs* I know, I know. But after a year of performing every other day, you know, 200,000 miles, actually performing every other day somewhere, I did get the bug and it's like, "Alright." You know, when the year was over it was like, "Alright, well I have this scholarship money, I have the money I've made, you know, touring around... what am I gonna do? Do I really wanna go back to school and do accounting and, I.... You know, I didn't want to. So I took that scholarship money and moved to New York City, and that's where I studied acting. And THAT experience alone, of study—I studied at HB Studios down in Greenwich Village with a woman named Carol Rosenfeld, and I mean it just was—you know, as soon as that happened it was just like opening this Pandora's Box, *laughs* in a lot of respects, because you have to just act with all of your emotions. You know, you have to be able to call on all of that, and that's what you're sort of trained to do, and to create characters, and you know it j—it really changed my life
24:47 Elizabeth: So I don't know how far back to say "Oh, that changed my life, that changed the course," but I mean.... The Miss America Pageant, even though I'm not pro-pageants, I... I... it's interesting. I haven't been associating with the Pageant in twenty years or more, um, but I got this uh, these calls from... a former Miss America said, "We're having this rendezvous; it's the second time we've done it, we really want you to be a part of it." And I'm like, "Well I'm don't really go to the Pageant. I'm not part of it all anymore." They go, "We don't care! We just want to meet you. Come and, you know...!" So I, I met them and had such a great time, and... I still don't really want to go to the Pageant, but I just went to Arkansas last weekend, because the current Miss America is from Arkansas. There's only been three of us from the state; um, Miss America 1964, and I was '82, and then the current Miss America; her name is Savvy Shields, and she's from Arkansas as well.
25:35 Elizabeth: So, they do this big homecoming when you win—you go back to your state and they, you know, wheel out the Red Carpet, and have all these events, so I thought, "You know what? I'm gonna go back for this. Cuz it's sort of historical, and I need to be part of it, and..." It was really strange to go back into that world of... you know, I haven't been involved for so long! I don't think it's relevant anymore. I think there's an opportunity for the Pageant to harness all of that energy, and all the... cuz all the women involved in it are amazing! I mean they're just, you know, gung ho, super-focused young women who have tremendous power and I, I think to pretend that... you take all of that and you just stuff it in high heels and make it walk across a stage...
26:14 Keith: Right!
26:14 Elizabeth: You know, it's like, Dude DO something with this program! You're calling it a scholarship pageant, create—re-invent it! Make it current! Make it something that's relevant again!
26:23 Keith: What was the moment that changed your opinion of, kind of, pageantry... and what made you have that shift...?
26:28 Elizabeth: Probably when I moved to L.A. I quickly figured out that I should never put that I was Miss America on my résumé, and I never told anyone. My agent knew, of course, that I was—but that was never pushed, because... especially back then, it could have been... late 80s, um, when you go into an interview for a character, you just need to go in as the character, or as yourself, and, and then you move into the character as you're doing the audition. But if they know that Miss America's walking in... it's such an iconic—especially back then—such an iconic title that... they have to wrestle with all of that as soon as you walk in the door. If that makes sense. And so it's like, it's... it's... I'd only drop it in after I got a job and I'm in the makeup chair, maybe a week into it, I go: "Oh yeah, and I was Miss America." And then they go, "What?!" You know, and they would be very surprised. But it didn't really benefit me to tell anyone.
27:22 Elizabeth: So I think that was the brick of it, that started, and then, as time went on I... I just... I don't know, I just didn't think... I thought it was too kitchy, and kind of outdated, and... I don't know... especially, I mean, I did Playboy, and after THOSE years passed, I really... you know, I spent a lot of time... self-objectifying. I hurt myself. That didn't make sense but... You know, and I—I—I think that the Pageant um... I don't know. It's the objectification of women and I, I... you know. Being someone who—I've wasted so much time doing that, instead of just being an artist, and working.... There could be something that honors young women, and something that's creative that would be more beneficial....
28:03 Eamon: That doesn't involve a swimsuit competition, maybe? *Keith laughs softly*
28:07 Elizabeth: Yeah. You get rid of that, get rid of the silly talents, you know. Make it less uh... you know, more Ted-Talk talents. You know, where you can—really motivational and help people and help people think about things they had not considered before. I don't know. If you sing, that's great. But I mean, do you have to twirl the tongs? Do you have to tapdance? It's just like, come on!! *men chuckle Eamon says yep* But, you know, I think it's silly. But... that's just me, and I'm—you know, it's probably good I'm not involved in it cuz I would be in trouble. I—I did an interview with someone in Arkansas—and Arkansas newspaper who said, "Well you're just kind of a rebel Miss America, aren't you?" And then went, "Well... I don't know if you want to call me that, but okay!" I guess maybe so. We're in that category.
28:45 Keith: Does your daughter have aspirations to follow in your footsteps in, you know, performing arts?
28:50 Elizabeth: Ohummm... I don't know. She's just eleven. She's still figuring it out. **Keith: Right.** Definitely not pageants. She's not interested in that. She's more of a... she's not a tomboy, she's kind of a tomgirl. She likes sports, she likes all sorts of things. But... yeah, she doesn't... she gets upset like—
29:03 Keith: Cuz I know some parents are like, "No way you're getting into the entertainment business!" *men chuckle*
29:98 Elizabeth: Well I don't you can do that. She's gonna be what she wants to be. And I think the more I tell her not to do something, that's what she's... that's what she's gonna want to do, so... I'm trying to guide her without being too pushy, cuz I... she's strong-willed like I am, so it's... you know, I've got my own little battle going on there. *snorts* And I haven't even hit the difficult part yet! So, let's see how that goes!
29:27 Kyle: On the subject of special talents, at the upcoming Highlander convention, I understand you're gonna be teaching a fan-dancing class! Can you tell us some more about that?
29:36 Elizabeth: That's... yeah! It's a, the Flying... the Rainbow Flying Fan. It's a... I learned it when I was doing uh, Highlander: The Raven up in Toronto. I thought, 29:49 "Well, wouldn't it be cool if Amanda (and I) had some other sort of Martial Arts trick up her sleeve," and someone sent me a video, *I watched all these very funny videos of knives on the fans and... all of this, and it just so happened that there's a woman named Helen Wu, who was my, my teacher who taught me all of the forms. Um, she lives in Toronto; her mother invented this Tai Chi form, Martial Arts form and it's, um, I guess it's kind of like a kata, but it's using... it's like Tai Chi but you use the fans, and you pop the fans. It's quite dramatic and—but it's beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I learned a little bit of the Kung Fu Fighting Fan for the episode that I did with it, but um... she really encouraged me to do the Tai Chi, and it's so great because... cuz I do it when I practice it to be able to teach a class, I think: why am I not doing this more often? Because every time... it's been a long time since I've done one of these, uh, conventions, so... I mean you really have to learn the form and it takes a lot of work, but it's so rewarding and so relaxing and so centering... so... when they—I wasn't going to do it at this convention, but I guess it was requested by somebody, so I said, "All right, well... I'll pull out the fans, here we go again!" Um, but it's quite a... it's a beautiful form of Tai Chi. But... are you gonna take the sword class, with Adrian?
31:08 Keith: I think we're gonna be, maybe in ALL the classes, I think. Uh—
Kyle: Or at least a representative of our crew!
Eamon: Yeah. I think a nice, relaxing class is kind of a good thing at a convention like this, cuz they can kind of be... stressful? **Elizabeth: Yeah.** Especially if you're behind the table, you have to like sit there and be at attention for X-amount of hours eight hours a day, so I—like, this, like, kind of relaxing class, sounds, I think, really useful.
Elizabeth: Yeah we're doing it—
Kyle: You already sold Eamon.
Eamon: Yeah. I'm sold.
31:34 Elizabeth: Yeah, well we'll do it in the morning, do it in the morning cuz it's a great way to start, you know, just to have your cup of coffee and de-stress, it's really nice. It's a lot of breathing, and, you know. It's like an hour and a half, so it's not too strenuous, but it's... it's fine. I think you'll like it. **Eamon: Yeah!** Please come!
31:49 Keith: When you were Amanda were—are there any stories you wish you got the opportunity to tell? As Amanda, either in the Highlander Series or in The Raven?
31:56 Elizabeth: Oh, wow. Well, I never had any um, say-so in storylines at all. We would switch it—we would change dialogue all the time, but uh, I... you know, they did such a good job of writing for my character, that I didn't really have to um, suggest anything. But... what's interesting, uh, since Peter Davis gave me the right to do the YA novels if I want to, for Highlander: The Raven, so I... I did... I have... at the time he gave me the rights, I wrote extensive outlines and all of that, with complicated storylines that... I'm not gonna tell you any of the storylines because, if I write it then that's what they'll be—but yeah, I mean, I'm very interested. I love Venice, Italy, so I have her... she has the Palazzo Luna, in Venice. That's where she always retreats to. That's one of her... we always said that Amanda has jewel stashes—jewels stashed all over the world and, you know, secret hiding places all over the world, as well. Cuz she goes into hiding periodically, so, that's, you know, there's lots of stories. I think her history is... you know, the character that... that old... you know there's so much that you can tell. For the series and, you know... Highlander: The Raven was a very different form of Amanda than, uh, Highlander The Series. They had to do that I think, because they had to make her legitimate enough that she could take a head at the end of an episode. And I don't think you can have someone whose... sort of... the moral compass is a little wonky... that was sort of decided that, you know, you had to kind of... right her compass slightly, to where she could be more heroic... and I think, you know, it was fine with me, but it did take a little bit of her... wily edge off, you know, and I didn't really have a character like Adrian to play off of, so... I just think with her character you could do so many things, and this is sort of endless... I hope to keep writing it. I don't know if I'll get around to it, but, maybe somebody will. Hah!
♫Princes of the Universe!♫
33:47 Keith: Hey, Rewatchers! We can't wait to see you at the Highlander 30th Anniversary Convention in Lakeland, Florida this December 3rd and 4th! And one of the biggest reasons we're excited to be at the convention is to take Elizabeth Gracen's Flying Rainbow Fan Class! Um, Elizabeth Gracen was lucky enough to train with Master Helen Xiaorong Wu in the art of Flying Rainbow Fan when she filmed Highlander: The Raven in Toronto, and actually even performed it in one of the episodes! Um, over the years, Elizabeth has conducted Flying Rainbow classes at various Highlander conventions. This class seems like the perfect way to start off a busy weekend at the Highlander Convention! Uh, the class is $40 a person, if you bring your own Tai Chi fan, or it's $60 a person, and the fan will be provided for you. We can't wait to take this class, it's gonna be a blast; you can pick up your tickets today at lashbadconstealevents. We'll see you in Florida!
♫Princes of the Universe!♫
34:47 Kyle: So, if you had the opportunity, to be immortal, would you take it?
34:41 Sure! Sure. It... hah! *Eamon chuckles* It, uh, it's something that we always talk about at conventions and, uh, we're always asked that question. I think it would be incredibly difficult, because I'm at an age now where people and... my, you know, whatever, people and animals, you know, things pass on, and you wrestle with that loss... and if you think of an Immortal's life: anything—anyone or anything they attach to is going to fade away, and that's just gonna be a constant thing throughout eternity if you can stay alive. I think that would be really wearing on a person, or an Immortal; and I think Duncan's character really... exemplifies that sort of aspect of it. He has that weariness to him of, you know... I mean he walks off into the mist at the end of the series. He's like "Eh, I gotta... I'm tired of this." You know, you can tell he's really, um, exhausted by all of it. So I think I would want to be Immortal, but I'm sure it would be fraught with difficulties.
Keith: We always—
35:49 Elizabeth: Especially if someone takes your head. That would be a drag. If I could do it without that part, that would be really great! *Eamon and Keith make agreeing noises*
Kyle: Without the constant fear of decapitation!
35:58 Keith: We always also ask people, if they would want to be Immortal, what would you want to do with your life if you had an eterny to—an eternity to kind of explore the world, the options, what would you wanna do?
36:07 Elizabeth: Wow! Um, everything. I mean, I would travel to every country, I would uh... definitely just travel. And I think that w—you know, that's what Amanda does, too. But I mean that's definitely what I would do. Now that I have a kid and my life is very different, I don't DO a lot of travelling anymore, but I very much had that bug when I was younger, and um.... I don't know; I, well.... Personally, I would try to make the world a better place. That's how—Now I sound like I'm Miss America! *laughter* World Peace! World Peace! Yeah! But, um, but actually I would try to spread that as much as possible. If you're... you know, we're an aching world and I'm... very aware of that, and I have to keep myself optimistic, and I try to, you know, the whole point of Flapper Films for instance, is to create inspiring and inspirational, you know, inspirational/educational content. Especially for multi-generational women. Um, because, you know.... Yes, you know, the world is a rough place. It's a difficult life that we have; and I like to address issues either in film or in writing. You address the issue, but then I like to throw the lifeline as quickly as I can in a storyline, to offer hope. Because I think people get very discouraged. You know it, uh, it's really hard for a lot of people. So, if I had an eternity, I would work on just helping people as much as I could.
37:28 Keith: You bring up a really interesting point: Amanda, your character on Highlander, strikes this interesting chord of being a completely awesome, kickass woman, uh, but all the while she retains all her femininity; which is a really interesting dichotomy. Do you have any advice for young girls who are... just now maybe starting to kind of, uh... chisel out their identity in this world?
37:48 Elizabeth: Wow! That's a hard one. Um, you know, I think that living an authentic life (and it takes a while to figure out what that is, you know).... What are you... what do you really want to do with your life? And who do you want to be? And I think for... I mean, I wouldn't want to grow up again, at all. Hah Would just—That's a hard process, it's so—and I have my daughter now, so I'm having to marshal her through this, and she's...she... it's interesting, because she's not... she's both. She's a little bit of... she's feminine, I can see her primping a little bit, aware of herself and aware of her body, but she's also... she doesn't care. And I... I just want her to ehum... learn what her heart is... what is—what is her—what is she about? You know. And that... that takes experience and, um... the time. And making a lot of mistakes. And... I don't know. It's hard to keep all of y—keep yourself intact, you know. Um, so the advice is just, you know, to be—don't give yourself away, don't give... all your good—the good stuff away, you know. Um, to be open-hearted but, walk forward with confidence and curiosity, and I... It's so hard not to be affected by the bombardment of advertising and um, ugh. There’s just so much that women are dealing with, and you can see it in the current political climate I think, it is... you can just see what's happening, and it's evolving but... I have... I have hope because... I mean look at Gay Rights, and the great things that have happened.
39:14 Elizabeth: The documentary film I did, The Damn Deal, is about um, female impersonators in Arkansas. This was in the late Eighties, then when I did the film of them, instead of transforming from male to female... if you go to my Youtube channel you can see it; it's like a thirty-minute documentary; they're the female impersonators who compete in the Gay—Miss Gay America Pageant system. So I was really fascinated with their world. It's very different than the Miss America Pageant. So, uhum... *Keith chuckles* Their lives change faster than yeah, I found all the footage again and was able to tweak the sound, um, and fix it, but... when you look at it now, it's almost like a historical document, because it's the late Eighties, and their world is so vastly different. Being gay in Arkansas now, means... their life is so... for one thing it's easier, but... you know, their world has transformed, and I—for the better, I think, across the United States.
40:09 Elizabeth: So I have hope that—that young women are going to come to power. I—you know I'm really... I'm eager to see what happens in the next generation; that these girls and these young women who are finding themselves and finding their own power, and not, ah, acquiescing to all the male energy in SO many professions. You know, just... I don't know. I think there's hope, and I think something's on its way it's gonna crash and it's gonna be fantastic. I hope so. That's my—that's my hope.
40:35 Eamon: Do you have any... I mean, with the convention coming up, do you have any like crazy Highlander convention stories that you feel like you can share...? Or anything with, like, a Highlander fan? Or anything interesting like that?
40:46 Elizabeth: Oh, wow. You know, I—we always have a good time, they're exhausting. It's a lot of people, a lot of energy, um, and then seeing everybody backstage, we have such a good time. Um, because the last really big one we had in L.A., near the airport, that was a really big one.
41:02 Keith: Yeah.
41:03 Elizabeth: And those are... those are, um... Carmel MacPherson, who lived in Australia, she ran the pa—she ran the convention, and uh... it was massive. And it was exciting, and um, I don't know how big this one's going to be. Not that big is better! It's just, um, cuz intimate conventions are nice as well. It's just more personal, and you're kind of uh... I'm doing a convention in Tucson on November 11th, uh... it's the TusCon; it's the fantasy conven--it's a fantasy and sci-fic convention, book-signing-type thing. And I'll be filming, um, the cosplay characters; I'm going—I'm thinking about a documentary. I don't really know much about that world, but I figured I could identify with it because I get paid to dress up and play a character for a living, so... but that's only—that's a very small convention, it's like, 200 people, I think. They're limited tickets.
41:56 Keith: Do you have any crazy stories from the set of Highlander?
41:59 Elizabeth: Oh my God! TOO many! Um, **** time...
42:00 Keith: Too many! **Eamon: Hahah!** Has there—is there one you haven't shared before with anyone, that you think the time might be right to let it out of the bag?
42:07 Elizabeth: I think I've shared the one about Roger Daltry. I mean, working on that episode was so much fun! I—He's... he was hysterical! And we just pretty much laughed the whole week that we worked together. It started out when I met him on the golf course. It started out with... we were actually betting on... because I could swing by the time I did that episode, and we were on a golf course in the middle of nowhere, in the French countryside, dressed in our—I think we were in 1940s—1930s clothing, and um.... We started making actual wagers on all sorts of things. Like, um, what time we would wrap. What time lunch would be. What we'd be having for lunch. So we were constantly making these bets and at one point, Roger—it was really cold, and we were out there very early in the morning, so I said "Oh, okay. A bathtub full of hot chocolates. And you have to send them to my room in Paris!" Hahahah! Fill my bathtub with hot chocolate! And I think I won the bet in the end, but we decided on dinner instead then, there at the—on location, but um, every... every day, it was just—you... we laughed so hard. What is the episode that I do with Peter Wingfield, when we're j—I can't stop laughing during the take and neither can Peter? That kind of thing, that didn't happen that often, that's actually kind of embarrassing, to laugh that much and not be able to keep a straight face. But it was late that night and it was hard to kind of keep it together, but um... that happened constantly, on the set. Especially when it's a comedic episode. That's the first time that I've ever been cast in comedy! But no one ever cast me—especially when I was younger... I just didn't look funny, something about me, so... they never cast me. And... to anything. Sitcoms, or anything funny. So, it was great that the Highlander people thought—they thought I was hysterical! So, they... gave me these great scripts to do. So, those were so much fun to work on. I can't think of any specific story; I'll work on it for the convention, I'll think of something. *men laugh* They're jog—jog my memory!
44:02 Keith: So Amanda—or 'scuse me I just called you Amanda! *laughter* Elizabeth! We were jo—
44:07 Elizabeth: I answer to that!
44:07 Keith: —we were joking, uh, before we... before you called, who was gonna accidentally call you Amanda, and it's ME, I lost!
44:13 Kyle: Yeah, it's you!
44:15 Elizabeth: Oh that's funny!
44:15 Kyle: We should—It's one bathtub full of hot chocolate!
44:18 Elizabeth: Uh-huh, there you go!
44:21 Keith: Uh, we want to thank you so much for coming on the show! Is there any, like, final things you wanna leave our listeners with? Um, how they can, maybe purchase your book Shalilly? And where they can connect with you on social media, or twitter?
44:31 Elizabeth: My book Shalilly is... currently you can order it on amazon.com, but if you go to www.flapperpress.com, you can click through and get to it. Please order it, and write me a review. I need more and more reviews, I would love that. Definitely. Definitely go to www.flapperpress.com in the next month, because we're going to have amazing merchandise, um, beautiful things that, I think, you know unique and one-of-a-kind items that I think people will really love. And my flapperpress—excuse me, flapperfilms.com, you can get to my Youtube channel through that site, I'm @flapperfilms on Instagram, and Facebook, and Twitter, and @theshalilly on Instagram as well, and @flapperpress on Twitter. So, I'm all over the place.
45:14 Kyle: And where can people get tickets to the Fan Class at the 30th Anniversary Convention?
45:18 Elizabeth: Um, I think we're going to be... we will sell tickets on the day, but it would be great if we could get people to sign up before, and I think they just go to the convention site. I'm not exactly sure, is it flash—flashcon.com or something?
45:34 Keith: Yeah, I think it's lashbadconstealevents.
45:36 Elizabeth: Yeah. That's where you can get tickets for the class as well. So, please come out, and we're gonna have some fun!
45:42 Keith: Definitely! Well we can't wait to see you there, and we can't wait to see all the Highlander fans, and other stars and producers of the show! It's really gonna be a great time, and for all our listeners out there, yes! Make sure pick up your copy of Shalilly today, at www.flapperpress.com. Check out the Youtube channel, Instagram, all the different outlets of flapperpress, and if you're in the Tucson area, check out Elizabeth Gracen on November 11th at the convention there!
46:04 Keith: Thank you again so much for coming on! This has been a real treat! If you ever want to come on our show again, we'd love to have you, uh, to talk about any projects you're working on, or if you just want to chat more Highlander!
46:12 Elizabeth: I do! Oh, thank you so much, I really enjoyed talking to you guys. Can't wait to meet you!
46:16 Eamon: Yes, looking forward to it!
Kyle: Yes, likewise!
Keith: Likewise, yeah! I'm sure we'll be talking to you at the convention! **Elizabeth: Okay!** Um, take care, Elizabeth!
46:21 Kyle: Yeah, try not to slap us when you see us!
46:22 Elizabeth: Thankyou!
46:22 Keith: Yes, right!
46:23 Eamon: Yeah!
46:24 Kyle: But if you do, we'll manage!
46:24 Elizabeth: Alright, I won't. Right. Okay! *laughs* Alright. I can't wait to meet you. Thanks a lot, guys!
Eamon: Bye Elizabeth! Thank you!
Elizabeth: Bye, bye, bye!