NAKED AMBITION is Candice Edwards-Marchrones’ semi-autobiographical fictionalized story of her transition from eager young British actress into New York stripper, turning her “day” job into her unexpected career for over ten years. Breaking into the acting world in “The Big Apple” is no easy task, but Candice managed to do just that after the pandemic shut down New York’s infamous strip club scene – and she turned the COVID catastrophe into an opportunity, writing, producing, and starring in an award-winning 15-minute film about her life on the seamy side. Back door though it may be, Candice finally re-entered the world of creative film with a bang.
Candice Edwards-Marchrones graciously consented to an interview about the experiences she depicts in her raw, authentic film. This is not the musical burlesque world of “Gypsy” – but unretouched real life with all its warts.
Tell me something about your history. Why did you get into stripping?
Candice Edwards-Marchrones: I have been acting since the age of 11 at a local drama school. I studied musical theater in high school and went on to graduate with a B.A. (Hons) degree in media and performance – all in the UK. I immigrated to the U.S. to further my career and completed a two-year acting conservatory program in New York City. I started stripping at the age of 19 to be able to provide for myself as a survival job and to fund my acting career.
What were the positives in stripping? Do you miss anything about that life?
CEM: It was empowering to be able to do this job. I made my own schedule, and I was an independent contractor. Men paid me to dance, so I was always in control. The money was free flowing, and – if you had a good work ethic – you could make a lot of money. One thing I miss is getting dressed up and feeling sexy. I also miss the camaraderie of the girls that I got on with. It often felt like a girls’ night out. I really also miss the performance side of it – dancing in front of an audience. That was fun for a natural performer like me.
What were the negatives in stripping? What did you especially hate?
CEM: There were many negative, but I still felt that the positives outweighed the negatives. That’s why I did it for so long, for 14 years. But thinking back, drunk men with a few hundred dollars in their hands would often get power happy and talk down to you. They always felt they were in control, but we were always in control. It was also hard to make girlfriends in there because money always came first. There would often be girls fighting over money. I would try to keep far away from any drama. The late hours messed with my natural body clock, and I would have to sleep during the day – so that affected my social life. I would normally turn down weekend social events to work and make money because those were our busiest nights.
How did stripping influence your view of the world? Life in general? Other people? Men?
CEM: Years of using my body to make money caused me to have low self-esteem. Seeing my body as a product and having my worth tied to how I look wasn’t very healthy. It made me become hardened with men, less trusting of them. I really got to see men at their worst, drunk and horny, so it left a bad taste in my mind. I’ve spent years in therapy working on my self confidence and trust issues. And especially who I am outside of stripping. I usually refer to the strip club as a jungle because you really have to put on your armor to survive there. It can be a really dangerous place, especially in New York; and you really have to always look over your shoulder to make sure you don’t get into any dangerous situations. You’ve got to stand your ground. It can be quite a vicious place when money is involved.
Any advice for would-be actors coming to “the big city?
CEM: You’ve got to be willing to put a lot of time and energy into your career. Nothing will happen overnight, but – if you stick with it – something good will come eventually. You have to work hard to stand out in the Big Apple. If you make your own work, that’s one way to get noticed and stand out from the rest.
When did you stop stripping? What’s your favorite part of being involved in show business now?
CEM: I only got out of dancing in 2020, when I was forced to stop due to the pandemic. Looking for a new creative outlet that would pay the bills, I was able to get into production as a P.A. Eventually, as a woman of color, I got into “diverse” casting, where I was fortunate enough to support myself without dancing.
My favorite part of show business is definitely the artistry. I enjoy seeing thoughts and ideas turn into words on a page and then into a film on a big screen. The whole process is very exciting. I guess I like producing and fixing and solving the puzzle to create a piece of art. I like contributing to creating in terms of casting, which I do now. Knowing that I’ve had input in finding the right talent to match the creative process drives me. As they say, there’s no business like show business.
What message do you want to send with your film NAKED AMBITION?
CEM: It was really important me to have a mostly female crew while making this film. Having a strong female director in Mai Iskander was vital to my vision of how this story and its characters should be portrayed. This is a story about an ambitious woman who is strong enough to defeat the odds. With a growing demand for NAKED AMBITION’s release, I chose to stream the film online at no charge. I made this film because I finally felt empowered to tell the truth about my life. After years of shame and lying about my survival job while training as an actress, I finally had the courage to open up and let people see into my world. I could own the fact that I was a sex worker. I could recreate the struggles I came across to make my dreams a reality. I see NAKED AMBITION working as a streaming/cable-style series, and I have a script all ready to go.
To view NAKED AMBITION, go online.