Go Away With … Tracey Heggins

Photo credit: Jefra Starr Linn

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Media Services
Nov. 6, 2012

Los Angeles-based actress Tracey Heggins knows how fortunate she is. Besides appearing in Common’s indie film “LUV,” the statuesque actress also plays Senna — one of the Amazonian vampires — in “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2.”

“It was so much fun shooting ‘Twilight’ in Squamish (which is halfway between Whistler and Vancouver, B.C.),” says Heggins. “It was a really amazing experience. Then we shot in Baton Rouge going up to New Orleans. There’s no city like New Orleans. We went into all these little voodoo stores, which were interesting. I love the French Quarter. They did a great job of making the French Quarter look like France. I remember when I was in France; I kept thinking how much it reminded me of New Orleans!”

Fans may keep in touch with Heggins by following her on Twitter @traceyheggins.

Q. What have you brought back from a trip?

A. I was in Paris not long ago and I brought home croissants and macaroons. They can blab all they want about their croissants, because they’re really good. The food in general was amazing in France. All the ingredients tasted so fresh. I was wondering why their apples were so little and delicious and it’s because they’re not genetically modified to be bigger. I love being home, but if I could’ve brought back more of their food, I would’ve been so happy.

Q. How disciplined are you about staying fit when you’re on vacation?

A. I work out really hard before I get to work and when it’s done, I let my body play. On “Twilight,” the role was very physical. Because of some of the stunts that I had to do, I was very disciplined. I like being in cities like Paris and New York, where there’s a very big walking culture and really good mass transit, so you don’t have to drive everywhere like in Los Angeles. I love L.A., but I think it’d be complete Utopia if you didn’t have to rely on driving so much here.

Q. Do you remember traveling with your family when you were growing up?

A. When I was little, we went to Chicago and Baltimore. I’m from the Mojave Desert, where it’s wide and open. The first time I was in Chicago, I was amazed. The buildings were so close and large and I couldn’t stop looking at how tall they were. I didn’t start traveling abroad until I was older.

Q. What’s the longest time period you stayed overseas?

A. About five years ago, I went to Auckland, New Zealand. I was signed with an agency out there doing commercials and trying to do some acting. I went for about eight months. I lived with African girls from Sudan and Senegal. It was so interesting because we looked completely different. The first thing they asked me was, “Why do you call yourself African-American?” It was really nice, because then they were explaining African history to me. It was really beautiful, because I was so ignorant to the world until I got there.

Q. Are you an adventurous eater when you travel?

A. I used to be until I had a “Bridesmaids” moment! And it was with sushi on the street. I love food trucks, but I just have to be more discriminatory now. When I was in Vancouver, they have these hotdogs that are Asian themed, so they’ll put noodles and other things on them. Next time, I’m just going to go for it!

Q. In what city did you have your best meal?

A. Wow. I’m such a foodie that it’s difficult to narrow it down to one place. But I’ll say Paris. I had some really delicious meals there, even Indian food. I actually had the best Indian food when I was in France. It was amazing. In some ways, food dictates my traveling. I want to go to places where I want to eat their food. I can out eat any man.

Q. Ask the locals, or ask the concierge?

A. Locals! I was just in the Dominican Republic and I got to see where the locals hung out. I love getting out there and seeing things that are a little off the tourist track and the best way to do that is to make friends and ask people what they’d recommend. If you stay at the Hard Rock Hotel — which I love, by the way — you can’t really get the full experience. You need to get out there and explore.

Q. What do you think would be a fun vacation?

A. I’d like to get to a yoga retreat in Mexico some day. I love yoga.

Q. What’s on your travel bucket list?

A. I would love to go to Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Cape Verde, Thailand. I’d like to get to Prague one day. I keep hoping I’ll get more movies that film in these places! When you’re filming, you have a whole crew to travel with.

Q. For people who want to travel more but don’t necessarily want to go overseas, what tip do you give them?

A. If you love movies, then you can check out your local film festival and make a day of it. And if you like that, then make plans to go to a fest in another city, like the Sundance Film Festival. Utah is a great place. It’s clean, safe and the people are wonderful. There’s always something to do and plenty of good food to eat. I love all the trucks outside, waiting for people to grab a quick bite. They have these gourmet trucks that sell things like lobster rolls that are so delicious. I love the idea of using films to get people to travel.


© 2012 JAE-HA KIM

Comments (5)

  1. Jarko Prokki says:

    I would like to go away with Tracey Heggins.

    I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

    She likes to stay fit.

    When I was 42 years old my best swim was 3 hours continuously or 6.3 kilometers.

    I am a member of the largest church in Edmonton. It is called Beulah Alliance.

    Beulah in the bible stands for marriage.

    Edmonton has best unemployment rate for a large city in Canada at 4.2%. Edmonton has a population of 1 million.

    The best unemployment rate in Canada belongs to Regina at 3.9% howevever their population is just 200,000.

    I am a dual European Union Canadian citizen.

    I have a bachelor of civil engineering degree from the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Their civil engineering program is the fifth best in North America behind Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Caltech.

    I have a Christian joke for her.

    You know how humans have cloned dolly the sheep.

    And humans can do heart transplants.

    So 100 years into the future a scientist says to God we don’t need you anymore because we can clone humans.

    God says to the scientist prove it to me.

    The scientist grabs some dirt.

    God says to him get your own dirt.

    Because the bible says God is the Alpha and the Omega and the beginning and the end.

    God even created all the dirt.

    Please reply back

  2. Jae-Ha Kim says:

    Hi Jarko,

    Tracey has a long-time boyfriend. Thank you for reading the column and writing.

  3. Shannon Heggins says:

    I would just like to give a big congrats to my cousin fot her accomplishments. I can be very proud when telling her little cousin she has another beautiful black woman to look up to! Congrats Tracey, I love you and best of luck!

    Shannon Heggins

  4. Clinton Burks says:

    Dear Jae-Ha,

    Great interview with Tracey.

    Dear Tracey,

    I watched Medicine for Melancholy about 4 times and felt merely avuncular towards you, but that is more than a man can stand. About the 5th time I saw it, I finally started crushin’ on you — in an innocent way. You and Wyatt Cenac were fantastic in that film. The third star in M4M was the city itself, San Francisco — just as Rome was the star in Roman Holiday, along with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. In my opinion, Medicine for Melancholy and Roman Holiday are tied in being great movies.

    My wife liked you in M4M, too. Your smile reminded us of our lovely niece who died of cancer recently at a young age. She was a Filipina and had a beautiful smile, like yours, that would light up the room. You practically had to wear welding goggles to be in the same room with her. And of all things, her name was actually Pearlie (as in “pearly-white teeth.”)

    Speaking of San Francisco, since you and Jae-Ha spoke so much about food in the interview, how was it that no one mentioned that city? Barry Jenkins (director/creator of M4M) must know all kinds of good restaurants there, since it sounds like the city adopted him as a young adult, as it did me. (I lived there from ages 18-26 and 29-30).

    After seeing M4M, I tracked down “Micah’s” (Wyatt Cenac’s role) Tenderloin apartment with Google street view (nerdy, but true). It’s at Geary & Leavenworth, southwest corner. You can easily see the fire escape where you sat, looking down on Geary. I lived in 3 different apartments fairly close: 580 MacAllister (at Franklin), 60 Gough (at Market St., a basement), and 947 Bush (at Taylor).

    Speaking of Rome, I used to live there and loved it and the food. I spent several weeks in a Roman hospital, had knee surgery, and New Yorkers wouldn’t believe me when I seriously said that hospital food in Rome was better than any “Italian” restaurant I could find in New York. My hospital in EUR (Rome) served white wine with dinner and lunch — all you could drink. The food in the restaurants and trattorias in Italy are proportionally better than the hospital food, of course, as anywhere.

    Another difference about Italian hospitals that you also may not believe: During Easter, they closed the hospital and sent us patients home.

    Speaking of Rome and Gregory Peck, I worked (being paid cash under the table, being an illegal alien) for the old Daily American newspaper, a facsimile of which was the newspaper Gregory Peck worked at in Roman Holiday. As he cracked in the movie to his editor: It wasn’t a “real newspaper.” It was close (Via Santa Maria in Via) to the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps, like in the movie. I was the international news editor. My job was to create page 3 from scratch, and mine were the only English-reading eyes that saw it until it hit the newstands the next day, with my typos and all. Most editors choose the stories they run in order to “make a difference,” in order to “do something,” in order to “make the world a better place,” in short — in order to “brainwash people.” Me, I just chose the stories that I thought would make the silliest headline puns I could think of.

    Fun fact to know & tell: there is no such thing as “THE NEWS.” There is nothing particular in the world to make a story objectively among the top handful of stories of the day. You only see cherry-picked stories the megalamaniacs in Big Media choose for the optimal brainwashing of us peasants for their partisan politics, which always favors government wisdom over the peoples’ wisdom — and there is nothing wise about that. It is fashionable to say that the internet killed newspapers because it’s an alternate way for people to get news. Not so. Newspapers could have survived if they were telling the truth. The internet makes everyone a fact-checker, and that’s what killed newspapers. Their lies are exposed.

    Anthony Bourdain says that the best place for cheap food is L.A.; for in-between-priced food, San Francisco is the best; and for the ultra-expensive, New York is the best. I’d like to add to that, that moderate-priced food in San Francisco is so good, the only difference between it and the most-expensive restaurant in New York is the price (Not that I don’t love Manhattan, too). It’s like the old joke:

    “Hey, buddy, did you move into that new expensive apartment you were telling me about?”

    “I didn’t have to. My rent went up.”

    Anthony Bourdain is from New York and was a chef here (I’ve lived in Manhattan the last 31 years), so he might be a little chauvanistic about the quality of its restaurants. When I first moved here in 1982, New Yorkers thought “authentic Mexican cuisine” was Texas chili; that Chinese was chop-suey; that Italian was spaghetti & meat balls; that good coffee was a Seattle aberration; that good beer was a west coast anomaly; that the only good wine was that shipped here by French people with a knack for practical jokes. People here were thrilled every autumn with the bourgelais nouveau from France, which I thought was a sort of slap in the face for our local vintners who had new wine, too. Plus, wine without aging isn’t _that_ thrilling, and doesn’t travel well, so there is no way it could be as good as the local wine. People here thought that food wasn’t real food unless between two pieces of bread — I’d never seen adults rave about sandwiches as the ultimate banquet. Kids, yes, but adults? I’m not saying the pizza here was bad, but do you know how long it takes to brush the taste of garlic salt out of your mouth? With teeth your size, you’d have to bring in a tank-truck of Listerine and industrial-strength water-blasting equipment.

    In your movie (M4M), I noticed that joke about Micah keeping red wine in the fridge. “Why do you keep it in there?” you asked, but then were very gracious when you took a sip and said “It’s good.” Micah said, “Thanks,” like the elegant host and a man of impeccable taste. In the 1980s I was in a dive here in Alphabet City, and ordered a glass of red wine for someone I was with. The bartender took out a huge jug of cheap twist-off lurid red from under the bar, dropped an ice cube in a dirty water glass, and routinely poured in the wine. I asked him why he put in the ice, and he said, “Because it wasn’t cold.” Seems like sound reasoning to me.

    It was the kind of place where you ask, “What kind of beer do you have?” and they answer, “Both kinds. Miller & Bud.”

    Notice I just mention Manhattan, because Queeens has always had great food, and the other boroughs that are actually “ethnic.” Harlem is in Manhattan, but deserves credit because it has a lot of places that really taste like home-cooked Southern food, and not just Sylvia’s, either, but even little places. Otherwise, in Manhattan then, it seemed like the food industry was geared on ripping off tourists and business people writing off meals as business expenses.

    Manhattan has really improved since then, and right up there with SF of 30 years ago. Thirty years ago, New York hadn’t changed since Damon Runyon days sipping borscht at “Mindy’s” (Lindy’s). The restaurants would advertise with big signs: “Steaks, Chops, Seafood.” There were still coin-operated “automats”, like where Doris Day ate (and Audrey Meadows worked) in That Touch of Mink (1962). I once was hornswoggled into eating in a place (Rupert’s, uppper west side) where New Yorkers told me with ironic pride, “The chef here is a vegetarian,” not the least bit understanding what that meant as a cook in a non-vegetarian restaurant. (For instance she could never taste the food, to check the spicing or ingredients).

    If either you or Jae-Ha know today’s 32nd Street in Manhattan, which is now the great “Korea Town” with fantastic food, in 1982 there were a couple of Korean restaurants that, I think, did not even mention they were Korean, but advertised as “Sushi” restaurants. I found one, and it was the only sushi place I’d seen outside of Japantown in SF that was populated by Asians. It didn’t have BBQ then, but later became New York Kom Tang Soot Bul House, and I ate there a million times. They used real charcoal, not gas. Across the street, what is now The Radisson, was then “Hotel Martinique.” The city made it a “welfare hotel” and filled it up with homeless people, in the heyday of New York City crack cocaine.

    Speaking of movies and Korea, have you ever noticed how handsome the men are in Korean movies? I’m not gay — I’ve just long stood up for the right of men to be good looking. I wonder if the casting people in Korea have ultra-high standards, or Korean men really look like that (I’ve only been at the airport in Seoul). Practically every one of them is a Brad Pitt.

    I also love the food in Paris and throughout France. It was influenced by Italian food for centuries, but then really became a force in world cooking. I like the _haut cuisine_, not so much the bistro stuff (_bifteck e pommes de terre frites_ isn’t too exciting, for me). But I like cassoule. There’s a great Alsation dish called “baeckeoffe” which has mutton, pork, beef, onion, potato, etc., marinated in white wine & juniper berries, and cooked slowly in a casserole dish (“clay-pot cooking” the Chinese restaurants in San Francisco call this type of cooking.”).

    I appreciated your comment about the “walking culture” in Paris and Manhattan. On purpose, I’ve lived my entire adult life in places where you don’t need — or even want — a car. I’ve only bought one in my life, a 1956 Chevy near Ashland Oregon when I was hitchiking from San Francisco to Seattle. It was winter, in the mountains, cold and wet, and not only could I not get a ride, I was stuck on that same on-ramp as I had been stuck on for a cold night the year before. I figured it was the perfect time to spring for my own car. The car cost $50 (really). It lasted a while. I drove it on to Seattle, then back to SF, but it finally died about 8 months later and my friend left it on some street in Mill Valley.

    Paris is a real “city” city, like Manhattan, where people are out on the streets & sidewalks day and night. You usually only see this in a Hollywood movie.

    You ever notice that tiny cow towns like Tombstone, Arizona in a movie have dirt streets just teeming with action — horses, carts, stage coaches, pedestrians, dogs, children, gunfights, fistfights, clowns, jugglers, puppet shows, 3-card Monte, etc., all looking busy, purposeful and in a big hurry to get somewhere important in their colossol berg. It’s like Times Square. Oh well, extras need jobs, too. In most cities in real life, most of the day there are not that many people out and about on foot — more like the streets in High Noon.

    I noticed it was almost a _leitmotiv_ in Medicine for Melancholy that blacks were disappearing from San Francisco. When I lived there, the population was 14% black. It was 7% when you made M4M, and it’s going down fast — at about 6% now. I can’t imagine SF without black people. I noticed the movie made pains to make it clear it wasn’t a race thing, but a money thing (rent’s too high).

    Here’s an anecdote, that continues to pull the subject of food into the story: The Fillmore District used to be a black neighborhood. Now it’s not. It used not to be upscale, not that being black means it is _not_ upscale*. Now, Alamo Square, where you always see those beautiful Victorian houses shown with the skyline nearby behind them — that used to be what they called “The Fillmore.” One day in those days, I went to a diner on Fillmore Street, and the waitress was having fun with me. (I was tall, blond, blue-eyed, and didn’t exactly “blend” in the neighborhood). The lunch menu said, “Soup of the day,” so I asked, “What’s the soup of the day?”

    She looked at me and said nonchalantly in an exaggerated Ebonics accent, “N-word soup.” Then she leaned over the counter to me and whispered in my ear, mock-conspiratorily, “Psst. They use real n-words.”

    I ordered it, of course. Talk about authentic! Actually, it was just a nice Southern-style home-cooked soup.

    *Check out this article from the NY Times that says “Black Incomes Surpass Whites in Queens.”: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/01/nyregion/01census.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    Technically, New York City comprises Queens, but it’s only a technicality. After all, during the mad city-merging craze that encompased the 5 boroughs of NY State into one city, San Francisco considered merging SF & Oakland & Berkeley. Would you ever consider Oakland & Berkeley as the same city as SF? Queens never gets much credit for being a big city in America on its own — the fourth biggest, to be exact. If you don’t consider NYC one city, and it isn’t, here are our national rankings for biggest cities: 1) L.A.: 3.8 million; 2.) Chicago: 2.7 million; 3.) Brooklyn: 2.5 million; 4.) Queens: 2.3 million.

    This means that in America’s 4th largest city, black incomes are higher than whites’.

    Mr. Jenkins included that whole scene in M4M of the brain-dead San Francisco city council bloviating on the subject of blacks moving out of SF. The emininent economist, Thomas Sowell, also is concerned with this phenomenon, and he sometimes mentions the economic reason for it in his ssyndicated columns. Knowledge of basic economics is a nullification for entering SF politics, so the city council there is not going to know even the most elementary principals. So read this and weep from Dr. Sowell’s column:

    “Many of the key constituencies of the Democratic Party — the teachers’ unions, the trial lawyers, and the environmentalists, for example — have agendas whose net effect is to inflict damage on blacks. Urban Renewal destroys mostly minority neighborhoods and environmentalist restrictions on building homes make housing prices skyrocket, forcing blacks out of many communities. The number of blacks in San Francisco has been cut in half since 1970.”
    -Thomas Sowell, syndicated column, January 20, 2010.

    The Medicine for Melancholy movie wrings its hands over the blacks disappearing from SF, and pleadingly asks, “Why? Why? Why?” Well, that’s why.

    Good luck with your life and career, Tracey. It’s a pleasure to see you in movies, and the more movies, the merrier.

    Jae-Ha, thanks for the page and the interview with Tracey.

    Clinton Burks
    Manhattan, NY

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