"Middle school always has a lot of drama..."
After completing AMTC SHINE, 8-year-old Eden Wiggins signed with an agent and began auditioning for commercials and roles on television shows. Seven years later, Eden is an actress working full-time, from school musicals, to commercials, day player roles on television, and beyond! What is Eden’s secret? A desire to serve the Lord and be excellent in all He has called her to do!
You have won several roles on nationally syndicated television shows such as Orange is the New Black and A Gifted Man. How do you prepare for an audition?
I prepare for my auditions by reading through my script a whole bunch of times and trying to read it different ways. And then I also look up information, if there’s any previous existing information about the show, or commercial, or anything I’m auditioning for, that could possibly help me to prepare for the role. So I just read the script a lot, memorize my lines first, and try to say them differently.
You are very creative and like writing your own music. What inspires you when you sit down to write a song?
I guess things that are going on around me. I started writing one song in seventh grade, because middle school always has a lot of drama with friendships and people finding themselves. I remember I had this one friend, and she was never really consistent with how she demonstrated her friendship. She was really up and down; sometimes she’d be nice, sometimes she’d be mean. So I guess stuff like that would just inspire me to write songs.
You were eight when you shot your first commercial. What was that like?
Yes, it was for a supermarket line in the northeast called Price Chopper. It was really exciting, like everything I’d ever imagined being behind the camera would be. This might sound funny, but going through the takes a bunch of times was really fun. I just liked being able to do something that I loved. Basically it was the first time that I’d ever gotten to fully do something that I loved professionally. I was always in school plays, and family church plays. Everything; any time that I could sing or act I was always there.
How have you seen God moving in the industry or your career in particular?
When I would get a role, and I would think that it was not based on my actual ability to get the role, but based on my faith that I would get it. I remember one time I auditioned for an AT&T commercial and I didn’t necessarily know if my acting skills were any different on that specific day when I auditioned, or on the day when I had a callback for the commercial, but it was just something in me that I knew that I had it. And the date on the commercial said that it would be filming during a certain period of time, and when that time had passed, I still hadn’t heard anything from them, but there was something in me that still told me, “No. This is for me.” I had it. And then a few days later, they actually called and said, “Oh, we’re behind scheduling, but we want you to come in and perform this role for us. And I was just seeing God work through my faith as a Christian, to let me know that if you trust Him, He will work for you.
How does your faith help you stay grounded in this industry?
My faith helps me not to get too cocky in my abilities. I know that I’m not doing this myself because it’s easy to think when you’re getting jobs left and right, Oh it must be me. I must be doing something. I’m on top of the world. But I guess my faith in God has just allowed me to realize that everything that I’m doing is only possible through Him.
What was it like filming Orange is the New Black?
Well, I didn’t really know the show when I auditioned for it, and I wasn’t aware that many of the girls I went to school with, they all watched the show. So to me it was just like, “Oh, I’m just filming another thing.” And I was just like, “Oh cool.” I didn’t realize how big of a show it was at the time when I was filming it, but it was really fun, getting to film it and getting to meet everyone. Also I especially liked costuming because my scene was a flashback that took place in the 90’s, so I was getting all these clothes from that era to try on.
We spoke with Eden’s Mom, Grace Wiggins, to learn more about Eden’s career...
You’ve watched Eden grow her whole life. When did you first notice that she was an entertainer?
Grace: Believe it or not, you always hear people say stuff like, “I always knew.” Eden was about three years old, and I was watching ER on TV… and Eden pointed to the TV and she said, “I want to do that!” She was excited about all the stuff that was going on on the TV screen. When we look back on pictures of Eden now, Eden is always posing in her pictures. She doesn’t just stand there like a regular kid, she’s always posing, doing extra, and she’s done that since she was little. The only reason that I found out about AMTC was that Eden ran up the steps with the telephone telling me, “Call this number Mommy!”, because she had heard the advertisement for AMTC. She dialed the number and the lady we spoke to asked where we were (we told her Maryland), and she said, “Guess what? We’re having auditions tomorrow.” So when you talk about faith, everything was timed perfectly (laughs). I never thought that it would go where she is now in terms of auditioning; I had no clue or idea at all. You have to know her personality- Eden is very persistent. She probably wasn’t going to let me say no.
Sometimes there are setbacks in this industry, and as an actor we don’t always land the role we want. Mom, how do you handle disappointments Eden may face and what advice would you give to someone breaking in to the industry?
Grace: What we always say and I believe this with every fiber of my being is that what is for you is for you. And the Bible tells us that what you make happen for other people, He’ll make happen for you. Because you’re human, you’re going to get these thoughts like, Oh, how come? But if you believe the Word of God, it says, the steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord. And you must believe it; it’s a belief thing. People see Eden and they go, “Oh, you were on Orange is the New Black!” But there’s hundreds of roles that Eden has auditioned for and she has not gotten them. So it’s only faith that holds you to know that if this is what’s supposed to be for you, you’re going to get it. God’s promises are sure, so all I can say is that I’m sensitive to that. I recognize that if Eden’s kind of down and out, I have to say to her, “Eden, you have to trust; when it’s your time, it’s your time; all you have the responsibility to do is to prepare your role, and to do the best you can.”