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Celeb Scoop: Savanah Wiltfong, star of "Dear Lemon Lima"

By It's My Life on March 4, 2011 1:26 PM | No TrackBacks

DearLemonLima_POSTER_FINAL.jpgIf you have cable TV, take a look this weekend at the Video On Demand offerings. Scroll past your familiar shows and recent movie releases, and hopefully you'll find one with an intriguing name. We think you're going to hear more of it in the near future.

"Dear Lemon Lima" (Lima pronounced like "Lime-a") is a quirky coming-of-age indie film set in Fairbanks, Alaska, written and directed by Suzi Yoonessi. Since it was shot in 2009, it's created a stir at various film festivals and among critics. One writer described it as "Juno meets Napoleon Dynamite." Hello! That got our attention, and we wanted to know more.

In "Dear Lemon Lima," 13-year-old Vanessa has just been dumped by her "true love," Philip. Determined to win him back, she follows him to an elite prep school where she's relegated to the bottom of the social ladder (while Philip becomes popular) and forced to lead a team of fellow outcasts in the local Snowstorm Survivor competition. In the process, she learns about love, friendship, and community, and gets in touch with her tribal roots as a half-Yu'pik (Western Eskimo).

We love calling attention to movies for tweens that are a little off the beaten track, and think this one has the makings of a future cult-classic -- the kind of flick you'll want to watch at a sleepover or memorize the funniest lines from. Recently we spoke to the film's star, 17-year-old Alaska native Savanah Wiltfong.

IML: Tell us a little bit about "Dear Lemon Lima." It looks awesome!

Savanah: Well, it's sort of a coming-of-age story about a girl named Vanessa who's 13 and has just had her first heartbreak. And she just...grows up in the movie. She finds who she is and who she wants to be.

IML: How old were you when you shot the movie?

Savanah: I was 14.

IML: So you were pretty much the same age as your character.

Savanah: Yes! I actually went through a similar experience right before I auditioned. I had my first teenage heartbreak, so I was able to really use that during the whole film.

IML: There are a lot of movies and TV shows out there for teens and tweens. What do you think sets this movie apart?

Savanah: I just know this movie has a lot of heart to it, especially from the director Suzi, who put so much of her personal experience into it. I think so many people young and old, and especially in the middle, can relate to this story. Especially kids and teens who don't fit in or don't know who they are, or are dealing with a bully.

IML: How did you get cast as Vanessa?

Savanah: There was an email about the movie that was forwarded to my mother, and she thought it would be great for me to audition, so I did. The first audition, we just used a camera and a ladder for a tripod and I read off a script that the director sent me. And then, the second audition was in person at the Native Heritage Center here in Alaska, and that tape was sent to Suzie too. Then the third audition was very surprising, because I went to Seattle for 2 days and got to meet almost everyone who was going to be working on it and got to walk all around Seattle with Suzie. We chatted, we read the script, and after we got back home we found out I got the part. And I was baffled, honestly! It was the first audition I'd done for anything in my life.

IML: Had you done any acting before "Dear Lemon Lima"?

Savanah: In 7th grade, I played a character in a play called Madame Cannoli. I think I had about five lines and that's it!

IML: How has the whole acting-in-a-movie experience changed you?

Savanah: It's given me a lot of life lessons and honestly, opened so many doors for me. It's wonderful, and with tax incentives here in Alaska now, there are so many projects up here. It's cool knowing that I can do what I love and still stay home too.

IML: Vanessa seems like a really great character. How are you and she alike, and how are you different?

Savanah: I think we're alike in our passion for love, most definitely. She kind of expresses herself through her diary and art. I do the same thing. I'll paint on my walls, I'll write myself little notes, I'll draw all the time. I think we're different in our styles. She wears really pastel and bright colors, and I prefer neutral colors. But I did enjoy all the costumes I got to wear while playing her!

IML: What's it like growing up in Alaska?

Savanah: Where my house is, I'm about ten miles from my town, but I love going downtown and walking around. I'll go to the coffee shop and study -- I'm homeschooled. I'll hang out with friends. You kind of have to get creative, living here. But I spend a lot of time doing outdoor stuff. I went on a hike yesterday. I love getting out. I'm part of a gymnastics team. I actually manage it, and my mom coaches it.

IML: Who knows what will happen once people see this movie. Maybe it will become really popular. Are you worried about things changing for you?

Savanah: I've already had some people find me on Facebook, tell me how they're fans of the movie. It's great. I see it as more opportunities to meet new people, whether it's acting or even modeling or singing. I'm excited for all of it!

IML: Thanks so much for talking to us! Good luck with everything!

Savanah: Thank you!

"Dear Lemon Lima," released by Phase 4 films, releases today on iTunes and Video On Demand, as well as in theatres in Los Angeles. To learn more, visit or check out the trailer!

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