BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Brenna Coates knew from the age of 5 that she wanted to pursue acting as a career. She has her father – Kim Coates – to either thank or blame for that early career decision. She was so determined to be an actor, Coates never even considered an alternative occupation.
“Definitely, it was the career I wanted because my father was an actor,” Coates says. “I was totally, totally, totally daddy’s little girl. My older sister was with my mom.
“I would see my dad come home from movie sets or we would get to go visit him on a set and dad would have these crazy costumes on. I thought this has to be the coolest thing an adult can do.”
The kind of projects where Coates saw her father acting ranged from “Bad Blood” to “Van Helsing.” The latest “cool” project in her efforts to build an acting resume is the psychological thriller “Neon Lights.” The film about a family getting together at a spooky house where guests begin disappearing is now available through On Demand and on other digital platforms.
One way to describe the production is that nothing is as it seems. The tendency to question everything includes the role Coates plays as a therapist looking to help a tech genius who is going through a massive amount of social strife.
“You will be at the edge of your seat throughout this entire film,” Coates says. “You can’t trust anything. You can’t trust anyone. That makes it really exciting.”
It is impossible to be on a mission to be an actor without reading a mountain of scripts – both for roles captured and lost. Coates recalls that as soon as she started reading the script for “Neon Lights,” she knew this was a very special project. It was so well written that she could not guess any of the twists and turns until they were actually revealed on the printed page.
Because Coates had such a strong connection to the acting world through her father, she could have used his influence to go after roles. Instead, the Canadian-born Coates waited to start chasing her acting career until she had graduated from NYU. Her work in the Off-Broadway production of “The Wolves” earned Coates an Obie and a Drama Desk Award.
Coates made the move to the small screen in 2016 when she was as Lucy in the TV series “Coroner.” Working on the series until 2020 was a very positive experience for Coates.
“I had just done four years of theater in New York and ‘Coroner’ was my first TV gig,” Coates says. “It was just wonderful.”
Her other credits include the made-for-TV movie “Ice Girls” plus “The Sinners” and “Cagefighter.”
One thing Coates knows in terms of picking acting as a career is that it can be a disappointment to a parent who wants more of a white collar profession for their child. Coates jokes that at least in the cast of “Neon Lights” she is playing a doctor.
“That was pretty cool. It’s a pretty extradited way to get my doctorate,” Coates says with a laugh.
Her serious response is that the role in “Neon Lights” is unlike any other part she has tackled. Generally, Coates gets cast to play characters who have a very rebellious and tough nature. In “Neon Lights,” her character ends up being the voice of reason.
Coates was able to play the character as being a very soft-spoken, kind and giving person. Her efforts to heal her patient are sprinkled throughout the production to offer insights into what is really happening.
“Those are the things you think about her at the beginning of the movie and we will just leave it there,” Coates says.
Landing the role in “Neon Lights” was exciting for Coates as it keeps her working in the profession she has embraced almost her entire life. The casting also came with a bonus as her father is also in the film.
This marks the first time father and daughter have worked together in a movie. The only other time they worked together was in a 2018 stage production.
Working with your father would seem to be a daunting task no matter the profession. Coates says the only pressure she felt working with her father was the pressure she put on herself to reach a high level of expectations.
“I think that is just something I put on me because I think my dad is my number one fan and biggest supporter,” Coates says.
Coates often is hit with the idea that it is others who have high expectations of her because of her father who is a highly regarded and liked actor. She quickly rejects those thoughts and focuses on just being herself and doing the best work possible in a career she loves.