To play the role of Natalie Lake, an aspiring rocker trying to make it big in Hollywood, the producers of the new interactive web series 'Exit Vine' turned to YouTube and found Hannah Mulholland, an aspiring country singer/songwriter trying to make it big in Hollywood.
Mulholland had been posting performance videos for a couple of years and developed a following. She spoke with RedBullUSA.com about playing a character that's similar to her real life, her own musical career and the importance of social media in the music industry.
RedBullUSA.com: How did you hear about the 'Exit Vine' series, and what was the casting process like for you?
Hannah Mulholland: I was extremely fortunate during casting, actually. I've been putting cover videos up on YouTube for years now, and luckily for me Red Bull was primarily casting my role (the role of Natalie) on YouTube. I received a call letting me know they had seen my videos and wanted me to come in for a reading, and the rest was history. So for me, the casting was very unexpected and wonderful.
RedBullUSA.com: How does music compare to acting for you? Is music still your main passion?
Hannah Mulholland: Music has always been my passion, and I've been performing on stage since I was six years old. I had never acted before this project; music was my main priority. I was in the process of recording my first album when this opportunity came up, and I was so excited about the idea of trying my hand at something new. I find that I am totally comfortable with acting simply because I am so used to performing and being on stage. But of course, acting is much more glamorous since they do your makeup for you!
RedBullUSA.com: You like a lot of country music, and your 'Exit Vine' character is much more into rock and punk. Is it tough to channel such a different style? What’s it like promoting yourself with two different musical personas?
Hannah Mulholland: That has actually been the most interesting part of this entire process. When I was in middle school and high school, I was much more into punk and rock than I am today. I find I have to channel my inner 15-year-old to draw emotions for my character. Since I am a country musician in my "real" life, it's a funny concept to try to sound "less pretty" to play a rocker. But overall, it is fun to have two completely different musical outlets to explore.
RedBullUSA.com: Have any real-life musicians inspired your character? Anyone you looked to for inspiration?
Hannah Mulholland: I have a few inspirations for Natalie. Courtney Love is a big inspiration style-wise. Also I had the privilege of working with Donita Sparks from L7 in order to prepare for my role, and she completely inspired me and helped me form this role. I think overall, badass chicks from the '90s are where I pull from.
RedBullUSA.com: Are you writing the songs for the show?
Hannah Mulholland: I haven't written the songs used in the show so far, but hopefully I will be getting more involved as the series progresses. It has been nice since I was cast pretty early on in the process, so I have been there watching the story unfold around me. Since the show is interactive, and largely based on audience participation, there are always elements that are up in the air. It's a unique and fun aspect to have the audience vote on the future of our show... as long as the audience doesn't somehow vote me out!
RedBullUSA.com: You use the Internet and social media to get your work out there. How does that help you as a musician, aside from reaching new fans?
Hannah Mulholland: As a singer/songwriter, I feel like I am always writing and working on my "future" album. Touring and performing is a huge part of that as well. Testing songs out on audiences is a great way to get feedback. YouTube has been a wonderful thing because it is like testing your music out to the largest audience in the world, and getting instant feedback on everything you do. Overall the Internet community and my fans are so supportive. Of course, you get the occasional "hater," but it is a really unique outlet to get your voice heard. I think social media is a necessary tool for musicians in this day and age, so I try to keep up with it as best I can.
RedBullUSA.com: The show is about struggling musicians in L.A. As a native of L.A., do you think it’s tough out there? What has your experience been like?
Hannah Mulholland: I think being a musician will always feel like an uphill battle. There are so many people who want the same thing I do, so you just need to put in the time and commit to it. Getting gigs is never the problem -- getting people to actually show up to gigs is the challenge! I think being a musician is about always setting the bar high and having huge goals, but also keeping sight of how far you have already come. Sometimes it is so easy to get down on myself because there is always someone cuter, younger, or better to compete with. It is just about understanding that your journey is unique, and to keep going until you can look back and say, "Wow... I've done some pretty rad stuff!"
RedBullUSA.com: Creating an image is so important for musicians it seems -- even Willie Nelson has a certain persona. Is creating an image key, or can you just jump onstage with your guitar and sing your heart out?
Hannah Mulholland: I think the unfortunate truth of the music business is that you have to become a package. You have to worry about what kind of package you are selling, and with that comes a "look" or an image. I try not to worry about it too much, but you definitely need to sell people on you and your music, so it is always good to present yourself accordingly. For instance, no one would take me seriously as a country musician if I shaved my head like Skrillex.
Catch episodes of 'Exit Vine' on Red Bull Music.