By Ryan McPherson
If you watch the popular series Better Call Saul, you probably know Sarah Minnich as Brenda, the woman behind the front desk at Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. Along with Saul, Minnich has starred in just about every major production filmed in New Mexico in recent years. Seriously, check out her IMDB, her credits are huge.
We had the opportunity to talk to Minnich about acting in New Mexico, her rising career, and getting work outside of Los Angeles.
Season 2 of ‘Better Call Saul’ well underway and your character Brenda, continues her recurring role on the show. What can you tell us about Brenda in the new season?
As we have seen Brenda so far, she is the front desk operator at Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill law firm. In Season 1, she acted as a gatekeeper of sorts in episode 1 when Jimmy shoves through the lobby on his way to see ‘Lord Vader’ a.k.a Hamlin. In the later episodes of Season 1, we see Brenda primarily as a witness to some of the key events at HHM. In Season 2, Brenda continues her role as the HHM front desk operator, and again witnesses some of the shenanigans that go on in the busy law firm. Although I can not go into detail about Brenda’s story line, I can say that we haven’t seen the last of her at HHM. In terms of Brenda’s point of view, she is a key member of HHM’s central nervous system. Brenda knows what goes on, and plays the role of coordinator for the law firm and its inhabitants. My suggestion to viewers is to keep an eye on her, as one never knows what part she may play down the line.
You say viewers should “keep an eye” on Brenda and the part she might play “down the line”. Are we to assume your role within the show will be growing?
Although I would love to tell you all about what I know, I simply cannot. AMC, that glorious network, has some pretty strict rules about disclosure and plot leaks. For this reason, actors are put on a standard NDA (non-disclosure agreement) when they first audition. Then, when an actor fills out their paperwork on the day they work, they also sign a much more detailed and complex NDA that binds them (and their agent) legally to confidentiality. So, alas, my lips are sealed.
You moved from California to New Mexico, a move that would seem completely counterproductive to the development of an acting career. You however, have a career quickly on the rise and don’t seem to be lacking work. You’ve worked on so many major projects filmed in New Mexico recently. What is it about the film conditions in New Mexico that have created so many opportunities for you?
I love this place; I love the people and I love the film community here. This community in general is highly supportive and collaborative, and contrary to what some people have said about New Mexico, the majority of us are NOT missing teeth. In fact, here you will find some of the most hardworking and caring people around. In terms of the industry conditions, many films and TV shows are attracted to filming here for a few reasons: a) there are some awesome film incentives that allow productions to save big tax bucks for hiring NM locals for crew and cast positions; b) the land is stunning; we’re talking mountains, grasslands, mesas, breathtaking skies, a massive river, a cityscape or two, a high-clearance military base, virtually no air pollution, and miles and miles of open space; and c) there are some pretty serious talent here and some highly qualified film workers. Because of these factors, we enjoy the presence of quite a few major film and television productions… and it only gets better every year.
Do you see benefits to working outside the “hub” of the entertainment industry?
For actors in specific, there is a much smaller pool of competition (although we don’t really call it that out here); nine times out of ten, you know exactly who you will see in the audition room before you even arrive. We are friends here, we don’t snarl when we see each other, we promote each other and push each other to succeed. As I’m sure anyone can imagine, this makes for a much more enjoyable casting experience. On top of this, there are only four or five (depending on who you talk to) major casting directors in this region; this allows talent to really develop a recognizable brand with each CD. In LA, actors walk into audition rooms where there are 20 other actors that look just like them… and good luck getting the CD to even bring you in to the room in the first place. Unless you have one of the top agents or managers in LA banging down doors, it’s like trying to swim against the current at the peak of high tide. Sure, ABQ doesn’t get as many guest star and series regular auditions as often, but for actors looking to credit-up and work on major productions, this is the place.
I know you said you loved New Mexico and find it to be a great place to work as an actor, but do you see yourself having to move to Los Angeles at some point to further your career?
Nope! Maybe one day I’ll get a second dwelling there for convenience sake, but NM will remain my ‘home’ as long as my folks are here. Some of you may be sitting back in your seats thinking… well good luck to you then loca, but hold the door. I want to quote a glorious example that recently surfaced in the NM region. As I mentioned before, NM has a pretty serious talent pool; men, women, young, older, native, ethnic, Caucasian, etc. One such talented, intelligent, and beautiful young lady named Amber Midthunder, a Santa Fe local, was recently cast in a MAJOR pilot that you all may have heard of, ‘X-Men Legion’. Yeah. And not only was she cast in this pilot, she was cast as one of the main ladies. So basically, no one can tell me that not being in LA is a major problem. This girl’s career will skyrocket from here, and if anyone thinks that a production cares where she is from, think again. Check her out, you will all be as impressed as I am. 🙂
We’re told you’re a pretty vocal proponent of social change and an advocate for numerous causes. What causes are you most passionate about bringing awareness and change to?
I stand for environmental and animal rights, relative peace between nations, affordable education for those who want it, women’s rights in a typically male dominated society, freedom of sexual and marital expression, healthy representation of the female body in media (and the male body for that matter), clean eating, multicultural thinking, cultural equality, racial equality, and gender equality. I was raised by an outdoorsman and taught that a woman can do anything a man can do. I was brought up camping and spent a ton of time in nature during my childhood and teen years. Oh, and one last thing: I don’t kill bugs or animals (unless as a part of the necessary energy exchange), as I feel that they have a right to live as much as we humans do. In terms of healthy living, I have learned that my body functions best when I practice healthy living habits. Don’t get me wrong, I should probably be getting way more exercise than I am getting… but dang it’s hard to force one’s self to go work out. I’d much rather go climb a mountain or some rocks or something; being in a gym makes me feel confined and like I’m not actually making progress.
You’ve also got a few films coming in the near future. What can you tell us about your upcoming projects and when we might be able to expect them?
This year, I am very excited for three specific releases that I landed roles in: ‘The Space Between Us’, ‘Shot Caller’, and ‘Priceless’. I was so honored to book supporting roles in both of the later productions and simply cannot wait to see how things turned out. Specifically, in ‘Priceless’, a film by the Australian-American Smallbone brothers (you may know them as the successful Christian Rock duo For King and Country), I play a complex character stuck in the world of sex trafficking. From what we are hearing, ‘Priceless’ will release late this year. In ‘Shot Caller’, I perform across from Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in what I think will be a fan favorite kind of scene… if ya’ know what I mean. This role was really quite motivating for me, as my character had an important part, and I got to work closely with a well-known, exceptionally talented, and highly experienced actor… who is also super sexy. 😉 Again, ‘Shot Caller’ is rumored to release later this year. Finally, in ‘The Space Between Us’, I play a reporter across from actress Janet Montgomery in a massive room with literally the most background talent I have ever seen in my life. For my scene, I was given a hand-held mic and asked to speak in front of all those gorgeous people dressed to the nines. IT WAS AWESOME! ‘The Space Between Us’ is slated to release on July 29th of this year; see y’all on the red carpet!