Amber Smith ('Crime Scene')
"Amber Smith: Uncovered"
Originally from Tampa, Florida, Amber followed in her mother footsteps and began to model at age fifteen. Starting out locally, she wet her feet appearing in lingerie shows held at the Holiday Inn, but though Amber was a gifted student with a 155 I.Q., in order to have a chance to model the International circuit an early start was a must. So, Amber flew to Paris to work and amazingly her breakthrough came when her naturally blonde hair was dyed red for a job! Suddenly there was more than a slight resemblance to the famed movie star Rita Hayworth and once back on US soil her career skyrocketed!
Amber has since appeared in back to back issues of the career-making ‘Sports Illustrated Swimwear Edition,’ was chosen as Esquires first "Vargas Girl" of the 90’s, launched the first "Wonderbra" campaign, and has posed for the illustrious ‘Playboy’ magazine.
Amber has also received recognition with numerous covers and appearances in Vogue, Elle, Max, and many others. The editorial coverage lead to advertising for Loreal Cosmetics, Buffalo Jeans, and Panama Jack and she has also strolled the catwalks for many designers from Chanel to Jean Paul Gaultier. Amazingly, after 6 years of "paying dues" she had become an ‘overnight success’ in the fashion world.
But Amber wanted more and after being a finalist for the lead roles in both ’The Mask’ and ’Casino’, she decided to make the move to full-time acting. She landed her first role in Paul Mazursky's ’Faithful’ and was then cast in both ’The Funeral’ directed by Abel Ferrara and Barbra Streisand's ’The Mirror Has Two Faces.’ In 1997 Amber landed a high profile role in ’Howard Stern’s Private Parts’ and played the memorable and integral part of a Rita Hayworth look-a-like in Curtis Hansen's ’L.A. Confidential’. Later she would take a comedic turn in ’How To Be A Player’ and filmed her first starring role in ’Laws of Deception’ opposite James Russo. Amber has also guest-starred on FRIENDS, HEAD OVER HEELS, JUST SHOOT ME, HBO's THE RAT PACK, Pam Andersons’ show VIP, and successfully hosted an hour special of ACCESS HOLLYWOOD before filming an unusual episode of RED SHOE DIARIES as a follow-up to her very popular first appearance.
1999 started off with a bang with a part in the Oscar-winner ’American Beauty’ with Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening and was followed in equal measures by such films as ’Tell Me No Lies,’ ‘Tomcats,’ ‘ How High’, ‘New Suit’ and fresh in 2003, ”Dead End.’
Chatting one-on-one with the beautiful lady herself, it was Amber who first asked me a question with relation to – and based on my British accent – where I was calling her from. ”Detroit,” I answered.
”That’s one place I’ve never been is Detroit,” she responds. ”When I started modeling at 15 years-old I went just all over Europe, but I’d never been anywhere in America. I just went to every single country you could name except for the only places I ever wanted to go: Las Vegas and New Orleans! Now, finally last year I went to Las Vegas, but I have still not been to New Orleans … or Detroit.”
Back at such an early age, why choose France to begin your modeling career and how much of an eye-opener was it to you? ”Move, move move,” she suddenly, yet quietly mutters under her breath. ”Sorry, I’ve got a Persian in heat and she’s driving me crazy. She wants something that I just can’t give her,” she laughs. ”Well, New York is basically THE place you wanna be as a model. I swear you can actually do all your great magazines and just live in New York and go to a studio. However, it’s not that easy and you gotta pay your dues. These days a lot of people have been skipping ‘paying their dues,’ but it used to be mandatory in the business. You would have to go to Europe and do that whole circuit.
In mean, if Paris didn’t like you after a couple of years, then you’d go to Milan, which was kind of a step down and then if Milan didn’t like you, you would go to one of the smaller ones like Germany or even Japan. So, what I did was I went to Paris three times; the first two times they sent my butt to Milan and then to Germany, so obviously I didn’t do too well. The second time they sent my butt to Milan and the last time I made it to Paris. Normally you go once, so why in the world I went three times and tried it I’ll never know, but thank God I did. They kinda throw you over there, the American agencies, to get some experience, make a book for yourself and then come back and then you have to see what they’ll do with you. So, it’s like I’m gonna go over there and spend the time that I could be in school - but I won’t lie to ya, I would have just been out carousing instead of being in school - but still you’re really taking a chance over there. Because it doesn’t mean you’re gonna come back and work, but I did. When I finally made it in Paris I came back to New York, I had a very, very strong book and they did work me, and from there ‘Sports Illustrated’ took notice. But it’s funny, I think if I’d been just a little bit older I don’t think I would have done it. I was just so young and they just told me that was what I was supposed to do and so I went along with it. I was 15 the first time, 17 the second time and 19 the third time and by the time I was 20 it just hit. It’s just this weird thing where you become this overnight success even though you’ve literally been around for like six years.”
Most reports have you first getting ‘noticed’ after you dyed your hair red and took on the appearance of Rita Hayworth. But, knowing the age difference, that couldn’t have been such an intentional ploy on your part as the media made out? ”Oh no, I didn’t,” she drastically, and deeply sighs. ”I didn’t know anything about Rita. I didn’t even know who she was,” she admits. ”I was way too young, but I’ll tell you something it is the weirdest thing. What happened was that the first two times of going over there (Paris) I was a blonde. I was a little baby-fat, dirty-haired blonde and it just didn’t take off.
But the third time I went on a little trip for a magazine and it’s true that the guy did try to put some very, very strong red dye in my hair - which actually turned out like a pinky red. And I was very upset when I came back to Paris, but they loved it and told me that that was THE LOOK! And, I’d matured a little and lost a bit of weight and they sent me out for show season – which was literally that week – after making it all a little more even, but I was still very much in shock with this bright red hair ! I also saw a photographer that week who does stuff like the Italian Vogue and she saw me and said, ‘Rita Hayworth.’ I said, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever, just book me! You can call me anything you want!’ But, slowly at that time I began to find out who she was and bought books and I realized that there was a resemblance in pictures. But that red period of my life was very short and you said something interesting in why it’s been such a “sticking point” …. I had my hair red for maybe a year and a half, tops then – just when I was doing real well in modeling – I wanted to become an actress. I kinda wish, but everything happened so young in my life, that had I been a little bit older I might have said to myself, ‘Hey, you wanna be an actress, but stay in modeling a year or two, cash in, make some money and get yourself a little nest egg and then move out to LA.’ But, oh no, no, no. I was 22 years-old and said, ‘I’m quitting modeling just when everything is going so well! I’m on the cover of ‘Playboy’ and ‘Sports Illustrated,’ but I’m quitting because I’ve found what I want to do: I wanna be an actress!’ So, I dyed my hair back blonde and it’s never really been red since. It’s been versions of blonde because when I came out here as a red head they really stereotype you. I only went in as porn stars or bombshells, but at least with the blonde you can go either way. You can do your sexier roles, but you can also pull your hair back in a bun and you don’t have bright red hair sticking out, you know. So it’s just strange that that has stuck, and they will say to this day ‘The Rita Hayworth Lookalike’ and next to it will be a photo of me with the longest, darkest blonde hair looking nothing like her! ‘Cause it really only hit home with that to-the-shoulder red hair, otherwise it just doesn’t look like her at all. So, that thing is a hook that just stuck, but it could be a lot worse.”
What are your memories of doing that Playboy shoot ? ”That was a wash,” she freely admits. ”My memory of that is that I was doing ‘Sports Illustrated’ and they came to me about doing ‘Playboy’ and I shot it when I as 21 years-old. And as a 21 year-old, I mean, why not ?! But then I remember asking why I wasn’t being booked any more for ‘Sport’s Illustrated,’ because I’d already done it twice in a row and it was that time of year that they should be calling. So, my agent called up and told me that they had found out I had done ‘Playboy,’ and I said, ‘So?!’ She then told me that I couldn’t do that! You could do one or the other. Well, that’s my agent. My agent should have known that, but she didn’t. And it was also if you’d produced your own calendar was something else that they said they wouldn’t allow. Basically, you’re an ‘S.I’ girl and that’s that. So, my memories of that are that are, looking back, I kinda wish Id held on to ‘S.I’ for a couple more years and kinda stuck that out and kinda maybe done ‘Playboy’ at a later date. I didn’t like the pictorial, I thought I was out of shape, personally, I didn’t like the blonde hair and I didn’t think the whole thing was anything special really. That’s the one time that I should have been red, probably,” she sarcastically laughs. ”Yeah, it’s a wash and it didn’t do anything for my career, I’ll tell you that!”
So, is there any part of your body that you would change given half the chance? ”Yeah, my legs. I don’t wear mini-skirts. I only wear skirts to my knee and I never really thought I had great legs. I have to do a fashion show that’s coming up in Greece and I’m very, very nervous ‘cause they’re doing all mini-skirts ! I’m a little knock-kneed so I’ve very insecure about them. They’re very medium. They’re not short and they’re not long, just very medium. I just think they’re very knock-kneed ! I used to walk on the inside of my feet kinda flat-footed and I think what that did when I then tried to walk on the outside of my feet more, that made me kinda knock-kneed in my eyes.”
Any embarrassing slip-ups due to these ‘knock-knees’? ”No,” she laughs. ”You know, the one thing I didn’t like about being tall (5’9”) - and I was 5’7” as a pre-teen at school and not a ‘huncher’ as I always stood very tall - but I didn’t like that whole association with having bad balance. I’m gonna say this and it’s gonna happen to me, but I think I haven’t fallen in twenty years … and I know the minute that I say that I’m gonna fall down some stairs. I just jinxed myself right now. Oh well, we’ll talk next and I’ll be in a cast.” she laughs.
Having been up for many major movie roles in the past (’Casino,’ ‘Pushing Tin,’ ‘Jerry MaGuire,’ ‘The Mask,’ etc.) were you ever told why you never got them each time? ”Well, I didn’t ask, because in the past I’ve always been a little bit skittish. Now ’Casino’ was my first audition ever and happened the same week that I was also up for ’The Mask.’ For that I was sat out here for like two weeks waiting to here about it. They put me up in a hotel and I came real close to that, but when you don’t get it, well, the reason why I didn’t ask is secretly as much as you want it; and your agents are already counting the money; and everybody’s getting very excited; well, when I’ve lost things in the past – and it’s only recently changed – I was secretly relieved. And nobody could understand why I had such a great attitude,” she laughs. ”I was like, ‘Oh well, maybe next time’ for like five years and really not until this last year did I lose something and get mad! It was the first time that it had made me that upset and just scared, you know. But I think my attitude was a combination of being scared if I’d have gotten the job and very scared of taking on a new profession. I would have done them, but I just would have been very scared.”
What do you think of actors/actresses that come to town and expect to become overnight Hollywood superstars?! ”What is it, when they think about themselves, that they think that they should be a star overnight ? It really, really angers me. If you wanna put the time in and go for it, great, and if it happens, good for you. But, as far as I’m concerned, if they think (Agents/Management) I’m gonna become this big A-list star overnight, great, knock yourself out, but the problem I’ve had is that they want to sit on me and put me up for this kind of thing (‘Crime Scene’) which is insane. I think I should be making some of the money and going up for some of the independent movies which I haven’t in the past. A movie like ‘Crime Scene,’ if you want to be perfectly honest, is what you do more for the money and for the experience of getting in front of the camera. I wanna have some fun, I’m don’t want to battle the egos that are up on the A-list crowd. I want to make some money and I don’t care if the show’s not on NBC. I want to approach the Playboy Channel and see about doing a talk-show for them, because they wanted me for a host for another thing. I just want to have some fun and a lot of managers get freaked out by that. So, now I have a new manager and we both have scripts that are very similar-type scripts and so we’re gonna shop those around. It’s very similar to like ‘Crime Scene’s style only, you know, ….. hopefully better,” she sighs heavily.
Tell me more about your latest movie, 'Crime Scene' ”Yeah, ‘Crime Scene’ (MTI Video) is a little upsetting to me. I did it and I most certainly stand behind anything I do, unfortunately, but it’s upsetting because they wanted to shoot it very ‘NYPD Blue,’ which is wonderful and knock yourself out. But, they shook the camera so much that I couldn’t watch it and a lot of the takes that were semi-decent were cut out. So, I got very upset at that when the Producer decided to opt for the look of the film over the acting and as an actress that’s all I have. This is kind of a new business for me, in a sense and it’s only in the past few years where I’ve been, ‘Now I am an actress.’ I was also a little upset because for a long time it didn’t get released - and there’s one very big reason for it – but then they finally released it with all that stuff put in that makes people sick. But it would have been fine if it had been shot right. It would have been what it was and I don’t mind that stuff. I think the point I’m trying to get to is I’m not embarrassed by those ‘straight-to-DVD’ things at all. In fact, I want to produce them,” she adamantly insists. ”I just want to produce good ones. I want to produce smart, dry-witted, interesting films and if it takes breasts and a little violence, well, let’s do it in a clever way or hell, let’s do it in a real gratuitous manner. But no, ‘Crime Scene’s not that bad, ‘cause believe me, I’ve done worse,” she laughs once more.
Any behind-the-scene secrets about ‘Crime Scene’? ”Well, in ‘Crime Scene’ I was supposed to be – up until the day before shooting – the Psychiatrist. So, I memorized all the sexual lingo that the Psychiatrist had and then they told me that I wasn’t in it enough! So, I became a cop, real quick, but the only thing is my hair’s all done, I’m all sexy like a Psychiatrist (?!) and we even added some blonde streaks in it! I was like, ‘Guys, I don’t look like a cop here!’ But, I didn’t mind that part because if you’re watching it to watch this film and to learn about forensic evidence, you’ve got a serious problem! If your watching to see if this model is learning how to act, and if you wanna see a halfway decent film and a little bit of nudity; and you’re real tired, it’s a good film to watch!”she laughs.
Tell me more about the project you were once linked to called ‘Blonde Justice’ ”Yeah, ‘Blonde Justice’ just didn’t happen. It’s funny, I’ve had all the artwork for it pinned up in my room for a long, long time and it’s really nice. The original ‘Blonde Justice’ sketch was very original, but it got panned because of Pamela Anderson (‘Barb Wire’) and they didn’t need another one of those. I wanted it to be a lot more high fashion, but I wasn’t producing that project.”
So, what new projects have you got coming up? ”What’s really interesting is that I have coming out on DVD ‘Amber Smith: Uncovered,’ which I got some really interesting feedback from Image Distribution yesterday about. It’s coming out early Summer and the presentation’s been kinda done for a while, but it’s a compilation tape of four years of footage of the making of all the calendars and posters and Maxim lay-outs. It was just whenever I could bring a camera in, or sneak it in or have a crew come in I would do it. Sometimes you can’t, but if you’re producing your own you could. But, a lot of the models like me and Kylie Bax - and I’ve heard some rumors about other models - are coming out with these. But I wanna be the first and get mine there quickly. Because of the dawn of the DVD we all have footage from the past and now we’re all releasing the uncut, uncensored look at the life of a model. But, what Image said was that they saw somebody else’s, who will remain nameless but who I just said, but I’m not gonna repeat – and said that it was really, really boring. The girl just basically talked to the camera and it was just what you would basically think the behind-the-scenes is. But, because my boyfriend shot a lot of it, half the time I’m flashing the camera and doing silly things and talking about personal things and we left a lot of that in. I only agreed to do it if it was sexy and funny and it ‘humanized me’ and they (Image) loved it and told me that they thought it was really interesting and great that I’d left in all the flubs and bloopers …. no tripping though,” she laughs. ”Hopefully, it’ll be funny too. It’s sexy sure, I mean there’s some nudity, but we also took out some nudity because they didn’t want to compete with Playboy or Penthouse, but they wanted to compete with ‘Sports Illustrated.’ But, it’s very interesting. So, that’s gonna be a hard nut to crack, but so long as we’re sitting next to them in the stores, I’ll be happy.”
Do you still collect movie memorabilia and if so, anything in particular? ”Not so much any more, but I wanted to do the life story of Savannah. I mean, once I’d figured out who Rita Hayworth was I really collected a lot of her, but she’s really hard to collect. There’s a lot of Marilyn, but Rita was hard to collect, but I do have tons and tons of her original magazine covers and stuff which really took up a lot of money. And then Savannah died in 1994 and I was just starting to get the whim to act and over the years I’ve collected a lot of her estate.”
Did you know Savannah? ”No, I didn’t know Savannah, but I really liked the story and one day I wanna get that made either with me or even with someone else, because you gotta understand that Savannah died at 23 years-old so we either shoot it now with me or we do it with someone else! I’ll produce, I don’t mind at all. I just think it’s an interesting straight-to-DVD type thing.”
So, what pieces of her estate do you currently own? ”Oh, Lordy, I think I have too much of hers! I actually just packed ‘old’ Savannah away the other day. I have tons of her dance costumes, I have a lot of personal home video – which I probably shouldn’t have ….. I KNOW I shouldn’t have – erm, her taxes, photographs. I have everything. In fact, I would say I probably have half her estate.”
Sounds like that came close to an obsession to you?! ”Yeah, I am the obsessive personality type by nature, but I really got into it because I thought it would be a very good showcase. It didn’t come about, but Abel Ferrara (‘The Funeral’) was very interested in the movie and I think because of all the things going on in my life that I think I’ve missed a little opportunity there. ‘Cause if anyone could have done a really raw portrayal it would have been Abel Ferrara. I mean, boy, he knows how to show the gritty grime of reality, but we’ll see if that ever comes about. But that would have been a really great break into the business with something like that. However you don’t know, maybe I wouldn’t have been able to pull it off at the time. So, maybe it’s better this way for now.”
Away from the modeling and films, what’s the most interesting thing to know about Amber Smith? ”That I’m not the sexy person that everyone thinks I am. I have a very serious personality, kind of a business woman and people are very surprised, ‘cause they think they’re gonna meet a ‘sexual creature’,” she laughs loudly ”and they probably meet quite the opposite. I love sexy things, but those love scenes and stuff like that, they can get a little creepy if you’re working with someone creepy. I’m not gonna say that they’re the easiest things in the world to do, but that stuff doesn’t bother me, but it’s not me though. And I’ve seen girls on set, I call them the ‘Sex Toys,’ and they just exude sexuality and they flirt with the cast all the time! I’d be scared to death to flirt with a crew member ! I would think they would come to my car, but these girls, it just comes naturally to them. I think people see my photographs and expect to meet someone very different than who they do actually meet.”
Finally, describe yourself in 3 words ”Ecentric, serious and charming.”
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
Check out Amber's wicked website at:
To win a PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED copy of Amber's new DVD 'Crime Scene,' just answer Amber's very own question: "How many times have I played a Rita Hayworth-inspired character in my film and television work ... if ever!?"
But wait, there's more .... !
For a BONUS prize of a PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED, sexy bikini-style PHOTO, just answer this secondary question from Amber also: "Which two (2) actors have I worked with more than once?"
Now just send us an e:mail with your answer(s) and the subject title 'AMBER' to:
Back To Archives