Murder Made Me Famous Season 2 is set to premiere on REELZ Channel with the notorious Charles Manson murder case. It features the heart-rending tale of Tate Murders—the most shocking slaughter case in the world that inspired many movies in the past. Abigail Folger, the coffee heiress, was one of the unfortunate victims of Manson.
Aussie Network News (ANN) had the opportunity to talk to Vanessa Leinani, who plays the role of Folger in the dramatization of the incident in the upcoming television series Murder Made Me Famous Season 2. Produced by AMS Pictures, the show will feature six episodes on real-life murder stories.
Vanessa is a singer, songwriter and theater artist. She credits her interest in acting to her father, a theater owner and a former artist who used to “jam out in the garage” with his friend, the great rockstar Jimi Hendrix.
For the multi-talented artist, playing the role of Abigail Folger was quite challenging as it is a real-life character with a spine-chilling history.
“Getting stabbed 51 times and telling her attackers something to the effect of “Don’t stab me anymore…I’m already dead” in the flurry of being sliced up,” said Vanessa, about the murder. “I felt a duty to be a catalyst for this woman’s voice and have her part of the story heard.”
In her exclusive interview with ANN, Vanessa spoke about her role in the upcoming murder mystery show as well as answered other questions. Below is an excerpt.
ANN: Do you think shows like Murder Made Me Famous glorify murderers and criminals?
Vanessa: Murder Made Me Famous presents fact-based information to help understand the psychology behind the crimes and presents it from the perspective of the victim. One of the reasons I agreed to be a part of the episode is because I feel the show and the producers at AMS Pictures are focused on discussing these heinous crimes with the intent of honoring the memory of those victims and those who knew them.
How did you bag the role of Abigail Folger?
Director Brad Osborne was specifically looking for that special something in the eyes, which then narrowed down the selection process to two possible actresses, myself being one of them. From there, Rijaa Nadeem (associate producer at AMS Pictures) sent an invitation to read for the role. After they reviewed the audition, Brad said that there was no question as to who their Abigail was.
What kind of research did you do for the role?
Allegedly, because of the Folger family wanting to protect Abigail’s memory, what they could remove from the public eye, they did. I couldn’t find audio or video recordings of her, and I was disappointed because I really wanted to hear how she spoke. Luckily, a friend of my father was a mutual friend of Jay Sebring, one of the victims of Tate Murders. He, at my father’s request, shared what he knew of those who were killed. Through more research, I found that Abigail’s mother, Ines Mejia Folger, was a philanthropist and volunteered at the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic where some of the Manson family women were treated and where Abigail would attend fundraisers from time to time.
What steps did you take to portray her in the truest sense?
I dug up as many pictures and information about the places she lived and accounts from the people she knew, working backward from there. From reading the coroner reports and seeing photos with the 51 stab wounds Folger was inflicted with, to knowing how close she was to her mother whom she was going to spend her birthday with the following day and how much she loved her dog Tom who was there at the time of the murder, I programmed them, let’s call them “informed memories” in my head. It allowed me not to be Vanessa Leinani, but rather, throw me into just *being* Abigail Folger, experiencing real time the uncertainty and fear of what was about to happen to me, the desperation of surviving the attack.
Is there a new aspect of the case we can see on the show?
Steve Helling and AMS Pictures present events from the side of the victims, so there will be information about the victims that may have gotten lost in the shuffle over the years and they typically dig up new information for viewers.
Can you share who your co-actors are?
This is not a full comprehensive cast list. David Burkhart is playing Charles Manson. The Manson family consists of Eric Charles Schneider as Tex Watson; Jency Allison Weeks as Susan Atkins a.k.a. Sexy Sadie; Chelsey Fairless as Linda Kasabian; and Skyler Davenport as Patricia Krenwinkel. The victims and/or people related to the victim’s side consist of Stephen Brodie as Roman Polanski; Penelope Costopoulos as Sharon Tate; Adam Duncan as Jay Sebring; and Matthan Harris as Wojciech Frykowski.
What are your expectations from the show?
I expect it will educate many people like me who don’t know or only heard parts of this notorious and at the same time trivial piece of American pop culture history. As told by Brad Osborne, director and producer at AMS Pictures, Murder Made Me Famous Season 1 was the number one show on the REELZ. Within that short time, they have already acquired new channels that are set to broadcast on REALLY TV (U.K./Ireland) and CI TV (Southeast Asia), with other channels to be added as the demand for the show continues to increase. With the long-standing interest on the Manson murders, I think there will be a lot of viewers tuning in.
What kind of roles do you like the most? Any upcoming big projects?
I like strong female characters, complicated characters, action–based dramatic roles. I also enjoy fun comedic roles. Currently, I am the lead female role for a western film When the Storm God Rides, with Michael Preece as director. I am also part of the cast as the sassy Sylvia in The Silk and the Gun. There are a few more, which I can’t divulge now.
Murder Made Me Famous Season 2 is set to premiere on REELZ on July 23, Saturday, at 9ET/PT.