One of the greatest aspects to being a photographer is all the amazing people that you meet that dance in and out of your life only to reappear down the road with new stories to share and new images to create together. Back in November 2012 we casted model Maggie Geha in our Lincoln Motor Co. Cinemagraph shoot. It was one of those shoot days where everything came together perfectly and we all bonded in such a fun, creative way. After that shoot Kevin and I were watching an episode of 30 Rock and BOOM! There was Maggie! It was so exciting to see her acting career take off. Fast forward to a flight from NY to LA this past January, Kevin and I started watching the Beyonce music videos and BOOM! There was Maggie again in “Pretty Hurts”! So I sent her an email to catch up and hear about all the amazing things she has been up to since our first shoot together. When she told me she was moving to L.A. soon I said that’s it, we have to do a shoot together before you go. Since I controlled the way she looked the first time we shot her, I let Maggie tell me how she would like to be photographed – 90s Guess Jean Ad Supermodel. DONE. We sat down afterwards to talk about Maggie and hear what this redhead plans on doing next…
Maggie! It’s been so long! We last saw you in November of 2012 for our Lincoln shoot. What have you been up to since then?
I had a really great 2013 in terms of work, continuing with modeling and beginning acting. Major highlights – I did a Hanes campaign, I was featured in Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts” music video, I booked a role on the series finale of 30 Rock, I did my first soap opera, All My Children. I had a really teeny tiny, “blink and you miss it” role in Winter’s Tale but I spent the day with Russell Crowe and Colin Farrell and director Akiva Goldsman so that was really cool; it was my first major movie set! I also did a Marc Lawrence film with Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei, where I had a more substantial, fun part. That comes out this year! It’s called The Rewrite. They’ve “renamed” it many times! I worked several times on Good Morning America which was super fun and I booked my first two commercials with one of my favorite directors, Wyatt Neumann. What else? I worked with supermodel David Gandy on a short film for Bionda Castana which was fun and sexy, like this shoot!
What are the major similarities between acting and modeling?
Some people think that modeling and acting are completely different and that a modeling career can hurt an acting career, which I can understand, but I also think they can help each other. I mean, I feel like I act while I’m modeling and embody the concept of whatever we’re shooting, and modeling has provided me with an awareness of the camera and lighting, so they kind of go hand in hand that way.
Ultimately, I’d like to be working primarily in film and television, but I think I’ll always love modeling too. I would like to be able to do more fun creative shoots with really specific concepts. I love period pieces – like we did last time, and even this time. I like that kind of work. For me, in the beginning – I’ve been modeling for maybe three years – and for the first couple of years, it was lookbooks and catalogue and e-commerce and a lot of bridal, and it was more a means to make money. But modeling can also be a really great form of creative expression.
What would be your acting dream role?
Oooh, that’s hard because I want to do so much. I’d love to do something a la Sigourney Weaver in Alien. That would be cool. Or something like Cate Blanchett in the Elizabeth films. I’d love to do something like Charlize Theron did in Monster. That was amazing. They’re all such powerful, strong, leading ladies.
Or like, Lisa Kudrow in Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion. I really gravitate towards comedy…I think because I am personally so goofy! That feels natural to me, doing comedy.
What was it like to be on a successful show like 30 Rock? Or on a major film set for Winter’s Tale?
You know, it’s funny…nobody ever looks, or sounds, or acts the way you think they’re going to based on seeing them on TV or in movies and so it’s always a little bit shocking and it throws you a little bit when you meet actors in person, because it’s just not exactly what you expected…EXCEPT for Russell Crowe. Russell Crowe walked onto the set and he was the gladiator. It was perfect.
But I have to say, everyone I’ve worked with was humble, easygoing, fun and sweet to me. I’ve never really had a negative experience, I’ve been very lucky.
What has been your favorite job so far?
Picking favorites is the hardest thing in the whole world! Honestly, when we shot in 2012, that was a very memorable experience as a whole, let alone shoot. And that’s why, with these plans I have to move away from the East Coast, I was thinking about who I wanted to shoot with before I left, and y’all were some of the first people that came to mind!
You’re leaving us for L.A.! What are you looking forward to most in Los Angeles?
This is the easy question. I am looking forward to the weather, obviously. Being above ground, in my own car, singing along to my own music while I drive, instead of on the subway. Only having to smell myself as I commute! I’m excited about having a healthier lifestyle – being outside in the sunshine, moving my body more, eating better (hopefully!). And the beach. The beach, definitely. There’s a lot of things to look forward to, but I know there are pros and cons to each city and once I get out there I’ll find I miss things about New York. New York has such character and all different types of people from different walks of life, doing all sorts of different things for a living. LA is a lot of people in the industry. I feel like I’ll be somewhat bicoastal.
What is a perfect day in New York for you?
It would be a warmer day in spring or summer. I’d wake up to my cats sitting on my face, get a coffee at my local coffee shop. And then maybe going to lunch with my sister and my friends, somewhere fun with outdoor seating. Somewhere in there I’d maybe go for a run in Central Park – I always feel better if I do some kind of exercise. And then a Broadway show, duh! And then… white wine night slash dance party at my apartment with people I love.
You were in a Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts” music video. Tell us everything.
Beyonce is lovely. She’s so natural and beautiful and sweet natured and humble but she’s also a great actress and performer. When we were shooting “Pretty Hurts”, it just felt like we were all hanging out in our bedroom, having a sleepover. And of course I was playing class clown and she was laughing at my jokes and told me I should be on SNL so of course I was like, “I love you, Beyonce!”
I didn’t get to meet Blue, but I met Jay-Z! He came to set. They’re such a beautiful couple – they look so well together, they seem to be so happy and comfortable together, it’s just nice seeing that. I thought it was so sweet that he came by the set just to say hi to her.
We were shooting for two days. Music videos are notoriously long shoots…that shoot was so funny for me specifically, because I actually did a pageant one time. When I was fourteen or fifteen, I was Miss Vermont Teen USA. I had never done a pageant before – that’s the only one I’ve ever done. But I knew all the ins and outs of pageantry from that experience and I had all these great stories from Miss Teen USA. The director said she didn’t really know much about pageants, oddly enough, so at one point during the shoot, I just went up to her and I was like, “Hey, just so you know – I was Miss Vermont, I could tell you some stuff…” And she was like, “Yeah, tell me a crazy story!” So I told her about how I saw one girl smear liquid foundation on another contestant’s white dress; someone else put Nair in another girl’s shampoo…crazy stuff! I totally didn’t fit in, I was so out of place. Obviously, I don’t mean to paint a bad picture of pageants, there are a lot of wonderful people involved in pageants and it was a good experience for me. But it was funny because I mentioned that to the director, and she was like, “Let’s do it!” So one of the scenes you can see me in, one of the girls is putting mascara on my bathing suit and then I turn around and I’m like, “What the ——!”
All the things they do in the video are true – I really did put Vaseline on my teeth, and there is a thing called Butt Glue, you spray it on your butt and then stick your bathing suit over where you’ve sprayed so it adheres and doesn’t move while you’re walking…those are all real things. All the stories you hear are true. Pageants are wild. It’s not for everyone, it’s definitely not for me, but some people really love it. I know there are some girls who gained a lot of confidence and learned a lot from doing pageants… met good friends. And it’s not merely walking around in a bikini and heels, you get rigorously interviewed, you have to speak in public. Anyway, it was a great concept for Beyonce’s video. It was really fun.
What is your background?
I grew up in Boston. My mom, sister and I moved to Vermont three days before high school started for me. My mom lives on a farm – I like to think of it as more of an animal sanctuary. She saved two bulls when they were little babies… pulled them across the street by rope harnesses and into our backyard. They are massive now – they’re the size of a van each, and they keep getting bigger. So right now she has those two bulls – Magnus and Cornelius – and she has a bunch of Cochin chickens that are so cuddly, and she has three cats. My mom and sister and I are total cat ladies…most ultimate cat ladies ever. My sister Sophie and I adopted our cats, Mufasa and Sarabi, from a shelter in Harlem and they are the light of my life.
You live with your sister?
Yeah, my sister attends the same college I went to – Marymount Manhattan – and when she decided she didn’t want to live in the dorms, she moved in with me! It’s the best option for a roommate that you can imagine. I’m going to miss living with her when I move to L.A. I’m also going to miss the cats, because she won’t let me take them. That was the compromise – since I’m leaving her, she gets to keep the cats.
What are you most proud of from the last year?
I’m most proud of my work ethic – I can be a homebody and I get these urges to go home to my mom’s house, on the farm in Vermont, and just stay there forever and do nothing. Just veg out and live the simple life and cuddle the animals. So I’ve been really proud how much I’ve stayed in the city, even when I really wanted to go home. And from that, I was able to take opportunities that scared me a little bit. I pushed my comfort zone, I pushed the envelope. If you don’t take a risk, you don’t grow.
So for example, my first two or years of modeling, I never did anything that showed any skin. I did mostly pretty conservative things. It scared me to venture into lingerie or sexier stuff, but I accepted a few jobs where I had to show a little more skin…and I realized it is just a different character, a different vibe, nothing to be scared of.
What do you think pushed you in that direction?
I think it had to do with growing up a little bit and gaining confidence and a sense of self. There’s a lot of growing and changing that happens in your early twenties. I look back at myself even just a year ago and I can’t believe how much I’ve changed! In our culture, in our society, it’s all about staying young. It’s all about anti-aging. And I feel like I get better as a person as I get older. I don’t understand the obsession with youth. I’m looking forward to getting older. Especially going white. I love my red hair, but I’m looking forward to going white. And I can finally justify experimenting with dyeing it for the first time!
Who are your favorite actresses?
I love Charlize Theron. I think she’s so cool. I also love Nicole Kidman – you know, I just love all the tall actresses. Being tall is great for modeling, but it’s a struggle to be tall and be an actress. A lot of the guys are so short and a lot of the girls are so short, everybody seems to be petite. I am a big woman. I tower over everyone, and then if you put me in heels, it’s all over. I think I probably won’t get cast in a lot of roles because I’m tall. I’ve only really been auditioning and pursuing acting for a little over a year, and when I first started, my agents were really seeing me as 15 or 16 year old- sometimes they still do. And while I do think facially and vocally I read young on camera, especially if there’s not a lot of makeup involved, once I stand up, I have the body of a woman and I’m tall. So sometimes I think I can’t really pull off those teenaged roles. So that’s been a challenge.
What are some other challenges you’ve faced in acting?
It’s hard to say that I’m typecast because I’m relatively new at this but I feel like I get cast as “the sexy secretary/receptionist” a lot. I worked on a series that didn’t end up taking off, a Dane Cook show– he was so funny – and for that, I was cast as “Cute Girl” and before that, I had done Gossip Girl where my role was “Hot Girl”. So I was joking around with Dane Cook, saying, “Hey, I can play ‘Cute Girl’ or ‘Hot Girl’, I can play whatever you want. I’m really versatile!”
I mean, so far I’ve landed these little quickie roles on great projects with other great actors, but it’s only like, two or three lines, or even a one-liner. You start to feel like, Wait. Do I even know how to act still? If I’m given more than five lines, am I going to be able to pull it off? So I’m looking forward to more substantial roles in my future.
You were going to be part of Happyish, the Philip Seymour Hoffman show that was in production when he passed away. Do you know what is happening with that?
I actually don’t know. I don’t know anything. All I know is that I shot my scenes with him – as the receptionist, of course! That actually might be my favorite acting experience so far. The pilot was awesome – the director was fantastic, the cast and crew was great, my part was so fun. I was the receptionist a la Joan on Mad Men. At one point Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character brought me a box of Cinnabuns, and I did, you know, the finger-licking thing. The last take of the day, the director told me to go all out, and I just rubbed the Cinnabun all over my body. It was hysterical.
I found out that Phil had passed away when I was in Vermont. It was so shocking, I couldn’t believe it. It was just so sad. He was so incredible, it’s just kind of unreal. I was teary all day. But on the flip side, I’m so grateful to have had the chance to work with him before he passed away.
What are your future goals?
I want to travel. That’s been on my mind a lot lately – one of my best friends is in Spain right now, she’s living outside of Barcelona teaching English – and I’m very seriously entertaining the idea of just leaving, picking up and going to visit her for x amount of time, one-way ticket. I’m really antsy right now! I wish I could do more traveling with my work. I wish my work could take me more places. If I were only modeling, I could probably make it happen, but I’m sort of stuck in New York or L.A. because that’s where my acting representation and work is. So I need to be around…if I’m not around, I’m not auditioning or working.