An interview with STEPHANIE WHITMOYER | KARMA IS A BITCH | VMA 2022 BEST DRAMA/THRILLER SCREENPLAY | September Edition
What would you do if, at the peak of your artistic career, your life was dominated only by sexual exploitation and drugs, in a vicious cycle with no end in sight?
This is the main theme of "Karma is a Bitch" by Stephanie Whitmoyer, successful luxury home designer, CEO of STEFFII GLOBAL, author, actress, and professional makeup artist. Her script, Karma is a Bitch, is inspired by her life as a designer, although the story is fictional.
With this project Stephanie offers us a glimpse into what lies behind the "red carpet" world, putting it all in thriller sauce. The result is a script capable of thrilling and keeping viewers glued to their seats!
Karma is a Bitch won at the Vegas Movie Awards™ as Best Drama/Thriller Screenplay, and today we have the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Whitmoyer and finding out more about her artistic life and projects.
• Welcome Stephanie and first of all, congratulations once again on your wins here at the Vegas Movie Awards™! To introduce you to our audience, tell us briefly a little about yourself and the journey that led you to be here with us today.
I’d love to start by just saying thank you! I am so incredibly honored and humbled that you saw value in my work. As for an introduction, my name is Stephanie Whitmoyer (aka STEFFII), and I’m the CEO of STEFFII GLOBAL, a luxury apparel design house, AND now a new Screenwriter. Beyond the professional, I’m a mom first and married to the most perfect man for me. The journey that has led me here, started with my first screenplay where I had (zero expectations) and decided to throw my name in the hat! Destiny would have it that I would be awarded one of the most respected and beautiful awards there is.
• You're a multi-talented artist: you're a writer, director, actress, producer, author, and professional makeup artist. When did your love for the arts begin and in which of these roles do you feel you can express your full potential as an artist?
My love affair with film and theater started with weekend trips to the local Blockbuster (I think I just dated myself hahaha). Beyond the movie rentals, it was Michael Jackson's Thriller/The Making Of, that sparked a forever change for me. From then on, I was completely enthralled with movies like The Exorcist, Nightmare on ELM Street, Halloween, and Poltergeist.
I don’t really think there is any one role for me that stands out over the others. They each have something special that ignites excitement for me and for different reasons.
I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis about 10 years ago, and I make a concerted effort to live by example; trying to overcome my limitations with grace so that I can show my daughter that she can live an extraordinary life with hard work and dedication.
• Let's go deeper: what artists, if any, do you feel most akin to, and who do you believe has had an influence on your creative process for all these roles?
That’s such a hard question! If I had to narrow it down, I feel most akin to Morgan Freeman, Al Pacino, Hugh Laurie, Denzel Washington, Mel Gibson, and Jennifer Connelly. I am utterly mesmerized by their talent, their ability to flawlessly captivate an audience, and their approach to the art form.
As a performer, it’s standard to study others, but what I realized early on is, if you are looking for magic, the only time that happens is when you apply what you’ve learned and mix it with your own essence. Qualities that I’ve adopted and applied to my own career, are based on what I admire most from each of them; those being their level of focus, dedication, and how they execute their material.
• Let's talk about inspiration. At the Vegas Movie AwardsTM, you won with the script ‘KARMA IS A BITCH!’ where a vengeful fashion designer alters her appearance with plastic surgery to seek revenge on those from her past who forced her into a life of sex and drugs for their own gain. Can you tell us where the idea came from and what inspired you the most to make it into a script?
The idea for Karma is a Bitch was inspired by my life as a fashion designer. Although the story is fiction and is not in any way related to my own life. But what it does show are close representations of what I saw and heard that were a part of the dark side of the industry; things that happened beyond the red-carpet ropes in the name of making deals and finding stardom. I felt it important to shine a light on it; after months of writing notes, I thought there was a good premise for a TV show or film. My notes revealed a distinct awareness of the innocent being taken advantage of and the hidden agenda of those who had stock in them.
• What were the challenges, if any, in writing ‘KARMA IS A BITCH’?
I had several challenges that popped up. The very first challenge was learning how to format and write a screenplay. I’ve authored one book, but this was an entirely different animal. The second challenge immediately followed. After writing for several months, I felt that I now had a well-written project but then what? That was when I got a giant wake-up call as to what I was in for. Just because I was stoked about what I created didn’t necessarily mean that someone else would be.
I submitted to a few paid web-pitching sites, all of which were a waste of money as far as getting my pinky toe in the door with someone but what small amount of good that I did take from those experiences was learning how to accept critique. I had to take a deep breath and really absorb the feedback that I was given. I went back to the drawing board and made the tweaks that were suggested. I am so very thankful that I did because what came from those critiques ended up making the story truly special.
• Of all your accomplishments in your artistic career, which ones are you most proud of, and what do they mean to you?
I am most proud of both the writing and the filming of the short for Karma is a Bitch. I feel I’ve been able to accurately capture through the writing and the complex roles of each of the characters, the raw emotion of the extreme highs and lows of the industry, the diabolical world that traps young artists, and the abuse they suffer from.
The short was filmed by my daughter which she nailed. My performance skills were a little rusty. At the end of shooting the scene, my daughter put the camera down and started to cry. I was confused. I, myself was laughing and so excited because I felt it had gone off without a hitch. She was silent for a few moments and finally said that she could not bear to see me like that ever again. I tried to comfort her by reassuring her that I was just acting... I then said that I had done my job as an actor if she was able to feel that level of emotion. To this very day, she will not watch the clip.
The meaning for me is actually a reflection of what I’m teaching my daughter. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis about 10 years ago, and I make a concerted effort to live by example; trying to overcome my limitations with grace so that I can show her she can live an extraordinary life with hard work and dedication.
• What are the things that you feel have enriched you the most in dealing with this project and what would you recommend to a young person moving his/her first steps in this challenging artistic world?
The relationships I have built through this journey have without a doubt enriched my life with so many wonderful blessings. Specifically, my VMA participation has afforded me the opportunity of unprecedented exposure which has provided invaluable support from some of the most highly respected industry professionals there are.
Although I’ve run into many brick walls, and door after door being shut in my face, that is not what I spend my energy on. Don’t get me wrong, that took some training to arrive at that thought. I realized that when I stopped worrying about the business aspect is when I really flourished. If there is any advice that I could give, it would be these 3 things:
Don't compromise your creative genius but be open to looking at your project through the eyes of someone else.
Educate yourself about the process and what potential companies are looking for
Don’t give up and don’t take rejection personally. I found a clip about the making of FATAL ATTRACTION to help me with that. The project was initially passed on by 26 directors.
• What are your artistic and personal goals that you want to achieve in the near future?
I believe that Karma is a Bitch has great episodic bones or could be made into a film with a few tweaks. My hope or rather than, my dream for both my artistic and personal goals would be to find the last puzzle piece in having it produced.
• Where do you think, you will want to focus more attention and take action in your future projects?
This is just the start. My drive is filled with the desire to create, and story tell. If I’m having fun, I’m along for the ride and am wide open to any possibilities.