Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing

Photography provided by Amy Payne and Netflix

Hollywood has an energy of “lights, camera action” that any fantasize about at some point in life. For Forba Shepherd, she had the chance to live out that fantasy. Shepherd, a part-time visual merchandising representative for Lindt Chocolate USA, has enjoyed acting ever since she was young.

“I was the kid who would do anything for a laugh,” she says.

Represented by a local talent agency, Shepherd is contacted whenever there is a role they think would suit her. On a Friday evening in January 2018, Shepherd received an intriguing call from her agent.

“I want you to read for role of Louise Bundy—Ted Bundy’s mom,” her agent said. Bundy was a notorious serial killer who murdered at least two dozen women in the mid-70s. Like many psychopaths, he was charismatic, and his good looks helped lure women to him. In this Netflix film titled Extremely Wicked Shockingly Evil and Vile, Bundy is portrayed by Zac Efron. Other cast members include John Malkovich, Lily Collins, and Jim Parsons.

“You need to be in Cincinnati tomorrow at 10 a.m. for the audition,” Shepherd was told.

“There was a snowstorm happening and I needed to get my head shot and resume together, plus figure out what I was going to wear the next day. No nerves whatsoever!” Shepherd says with a chuckle. But with nerves comes excitement and off she went for the audition of a lifetime. After the casting call, the choice came down to her and one other actress. She went into a room with the director and writer and read the script several different ways.

“I made the director laugh a few times so that felt good,” Shepherd says, who got a call 40 minutes into her drive home from the audition, letting her know she had landed the part. Shepherd burst into happy tears. 

The movie was shot in Covington, Kentucky, and Shepherd was on set for about five days working with Efron and Malkovich.

“Zac was perfect as Ted Bundy,” Shepherd says. “He turned on that intensity really well!”

When she shot her courtroom scene, it was 2 a.m. in the morning and everyone was exhausted. Malkovich, whom she calls a “great asset to the film,” offered her a few suggestions for line delivery and complimented her on doing a nice job in her role.

Though this was one of the most exciting acting jobs she’s scored, she did stay plenty busy in her craft during the seven years she lived in New York City. It was something she had dreamed of doing for years, though she didn’t work up the nerve to go for it until 2001 when she was 45 years old.

Uprooting to the Big Apple when she didn’t know a soul was intimidating yet exhilarating. She booked roles in plays and commercials and was an extra on the set of Sex & the City. She also was cast as an extra in several major motion pictures, such as A Beautiful Mind and The Good Shepherd.

Like most actors, Shepherd worked a day job to make ends meet. That equated to long days.

“I’d leave my apartment at 7 a.m. and not get home until nearly midnight,” Shepherd says.

When the recession hit, she struggled to find steady work, so she moved back to Broad Ripple in 2008 and began acting locally in commercials, industrial films, and medical films.

Though she has no plans to move to L.A or back to New York, she acknowledges that one never knows what’s going to happen in life. Her only certainty is that acting is her passion.

“It’s my religion. It’s who I am,” Shepherd says. “I love playing different characters and being in a community of actors. I love the process of telling a story.”

Shepherd recently finished the independent film called No Place, as well as the play Dear Mavis for DivaFest, which is a celebration of women playwrights. In August, she’ll take part in the IndyFringe show. In the fall, she’ll be in a production of Not Dead Yet playing the best friend of an aging Hollywood starlet.

Extremely Wicked Shockingly Evil and Vile is streaming on Netflix now. Follow Forba on Instagram @forbashepherd