She’s so cheery and bubbly when she says this, you have to remind yourself that the thought is deep.
“Am I doing enough for the world?” Tracey B. Wilson wondered aloud.
She is in Buffalo to talk about her movie, “Trew Calling,” which begins a full run Feb. 2 at Dipson McKinley in Blasdell. Wilson, who grew up in Orchard Park and now lives in New York City, is sitting at a round table inside Spot Coffee, clasping a purple paper cup with both hands. She's wearing a black ring shaped like leaves on a vine crawling up her finger. It’s artsy, it’s fun and has an apt dash of darkness.
“That’s a legit fear of mine,” Wilson said, her voice upbeat even as she talks about her insecurities. “Am I making a big enough difference?”
Wilson graduated from Orchard Park High School in 1989 and briefly studied theater at Brockport, but left college in the throes of a two-year battle with Lyme disease. While she she was sick, she studied Backstage magazine every week and noticed that twice a year, a New York theater company held auditions for “Curious George.”
If she landed a role in that traveling children’s production, she would get an Equity card — the golden-ticket union membership that unlocks auditions for actors in the city.
Wilson, who had experience in local theater and in the mid-90s played the mime mascot Loud Mouth for the Buffalo Bisons, determined to break into showbiz as a monkey. When she got healthy, she headed to one of those open calls in New York, insisted on auditioning for the role of George only, and got it.
From there, she built an eclectic career doing comedy (including some gigs on David Letterman’s show), soaps, indie films and live-event hosting on tours ranging from Pokemon to Lady Gaga.
“As an artist, you have to be crafty and keep your eyes open to experiences,” said Wilson, who traveled on four Gaga tours, hosting a pre-concert photography event in every city for Virgin Mobile. She held photo shoots with fans and later compiled the images with quotes and letters about coming out, bullying and relationships into a book called “Heal This Way.”
When Wilson vocalizes that self-reflective question – “Am I leaving the world a better place?” – she does it with bounce and balance. She sounds happy, and projects confidence: At Spot, she looks like somebody. Her reddish-brown hair is pulled tight into a bun atop her head. Her white button-up blouse is decorated with black-striped diamond prints. The cuffs of her black jacket are unzipped to reveal a collection of bracelets: a bead, a band and a rope.
She’s whimsically pulled together, but for expression — not attention. “How do you validate yourself outside of likes?” she pondered between sips.
“Trew Calling,” which was shot in 2015 in Buffalo by filmmaker Greg Robbins, may help answer. The film co-stars veteran actress Lee Meriwether and Brooke Elliott ("Drop Dead Diva"). Wilson plays Trew, a woman who has been dumped on by life (and dumped by her boyfriend). It reflects what Wilson sees as a broader societal ignorance.
“Basically we don’t pay attention to each other,” she said. “We don’t notice that someone is struggling or needs help or needs attention. We just kind of ignore each other.”
Trew finds support from an unexpected source, played by Hollywood veteran Kevin Sizemore. She, in turn, overcomes her issues by helping another person discover his own sense of awesomeness.
On that point, Wilson reaches into her bag and plucks a pair of blue and green “Trew Calling” pens imprinted with the hashtag #FindYourAwesome. She sets them on the cafe table and said, “I have this idea of doing the ‘Tracey B. Wilson Find Your Awesome’ tour.”
Then she pulled out a mock-up of a matching postcard with “You Are Awesome” popping off the front. She is having them printed to hand out at “Trew Calling” talkbacks.
“I’m going to give them to everybody, but say, ‘You have to send it anonymously to someone else,' ” she said.
As she is departing the cafe, Wilson makes sure to leave the pens behind. It’s her small way today of spreading a little awesome — and doing something for the world.
Buffalo-made movie premieres Feb. 2 at Dipson McKinley Mall. Screenings are at 12:30, 2:40, 4:50, 7 and 9:10 p.m. Feb. 2 and 3 and 12:30, 2:40, 4:50 and 7 p.m. Feb. 4 through 8. It is 90 minutes and rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some language. Tickets are $4 and $7.
Story topics: interviews