Pennsylvania native says fan conventions are a ‘Scream’ | Community

BOARDMAN, Ohio — Nancy Anne Ridder greets fans at one of several dozen folding tables placed around the perimeter of an “event room” at the Holiday Inn-Youngstown South in Boardman. She’s there for Mahoning Valley Comicon, a convention featuring actors, comic artists, and other guests.

On the table in front of her are glossy 8×10 photographs, available for signature, and a doll depicting Ridder as she appeared over 25 years ago, when she played a small but pivotal role in one of most popular and influential horror films of the 1990s.

“A booking agent contacted me at the 25th anniversary last year,” Ridder says of how she first got involved in the convention scene. “He said ‘there’s a big fan following for bathroom girls.'”

In a scene at the start of Wes Craven’s 1996 slasher film, the film’s heroine, Sidney Prescott (played by Neve Campbell in The Five Scream movies to date), hides in a public restroom cubicle while two other high school students – one a classic blonde cheerleader and the prototypical ‘Mean Girl’ type, the other a more distinctive brunette in bob haircut and purple sweater share some less-than-flattering rumors about Sidney’s late mother.

Although Ridder only gets seven lines and a few precious minutes of screen time as the bob-haired brunette, her scene introduces themes that would be pivotal to the show and to Sidney’s character arc, for at least. the next three films.

Since her first scam in Maryland in April 2022, Ridder – who appeared in eight feature films, a short film and a commercial before leaving show business due to an abusive relationship – has seen a dramatic impact on her career and his reputation.

“On Facebook, I went from 800 friends to 4,800 overnight,” says Ridder. She’s done two other scams and a slew of Zoom and YouTube interviews since then, and last Sunday – after closing up shop at the Holiday Inn – she was off to shoot a scene in a low-budget horror film directed by the event organizer, local filmmaker Travis Bowen.

Born in Levittown, Pennsylvania in the 70s, Ridder grew up as a military brat, spending time in California, Florida and Virginia as her Navy captain father was posted across the country, serving usually a three-year sentence. stays in each locality.

She studied acting at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC, then acting at Northwestern University in Chicago, before moving to Los Angeles at the age of 22.

“I had parents who were into the arts, and they started taking me to theater when I was really young,” Ridder says. She credits the late actor Yul Brynner’s performance in ‘The King and I’ with awakening her passion for the performing arts.

“That’s when I fell in love with acting,” she says.

After going to high school with comedian Dave Chappelle and attending college with “Pitch Perfect” director Jason Moore, a friend – Julie Plec, who happened to be legendary horror director Wes Craven’s assistant at the era – got Ridder a $75 a day job. as a stand-in for Sidney’s character during the casting process for Scream.

Ridder was there as actresses Alicia Witt, AJ Langer, Brittany Murphy and Campbell – who ultimately won the role – read for the role of Sidney, and “the little Nancy Anne spin” she put on her reading of Sidney’s lines in another key scene, in which the killer confronts Sidney for the first time, earned him praise from Craven and a (slightly) bigger role in the finished film.

“He came up to me after we were done and said, ‘That was great!’ says Ridder. “And on the way out he said, ‘Make her read for one of the girls in the bathroom. “”

Ridder first auditioned for the role of the cheerleader – “the worst audition I ever did,” she now recalls – before getting the call to play “the nerdy sidekick” instead. ” from Mean Girl.

“They called on Wednesday, I was on a plane Thursday, and we were shooting Friday,” Ridder said of the whirlwind production process.

She remembers practicing her lines with cheerleader actress Leonora Scelfo — now also a player in the con game, who is set to appear with Ridder at the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival in September, in their hotel room, and had lunch with Happy Days TV actor Henry Winkler on set.

“We shared lemonade together,” Ridder said with a smile.

Ridder would go on to appear in films starring John Goodman, Paul Giamatti and James Ransone. She met the future actor Michael Gandolfini – son of fire Soprano star James Gandolfini – at a birthday party. She spent 12 years in New York City, living for a time in a building used for exterior shots on the TV show. Friends, and has appeared in numerous stage productions. She has been doing professional theater since the age of 9.

She is expected to appear in films shot in Maryland, Kentucky and West Virginia over the coming year, and has a small role, appearing via FaceTime call, in the upcoming film. A night of the living dead, based on another classic horror movie — guess which one! – which was filmed on location in Pittsburgh, Evans City, Zelienople and surrounding areas in the late 1960s.

And she still gets residual checks for her appearance on Scream — “a few a year, for anywhere from $30 to $13” — though she claims a McDonald’s commercial ad for chicken nuggets at $0.99 was ultimately the biggest source of revenue.

“Can you imagine Flo from the progressive commercials?” she said laughing. “She’s banking!” »

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