Interview: ‘Salute Your Shorts” Venus DeMilo Revisits Camp Anawanna, Chats About Current WorkPosted: November 20, 2011
Venus DeMilo has been in practically every 90s sitcom that every kid was and still is obsessed with. Not to mention the biggest cult following series on Nickelodeon. Yep! You guessed it. Venus played Telly Radford on the 1991 Nickelodeon series Salute Your Shorts! The tomboy we all loved to watch alongside Donkey Lips and Bobby Budnick continues to work in the industry and was kind enough to chat with Ology on what she’s been up to.
Since her role on Salute, Venus could be most recognized for her appearances on Family Matters, Sister, Sister, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Smart Guy. She most recently did a 26 episode stint on The Bold and the Beautiful starting in 2000 and guest starred on Judging Amy too.
So get ready for some Camp Anawanna talk. Venus was more than willing to talk about everything from the classes she took on set to how she even ran home from school to watch the show herself. Nickelodeon needs to bring back the series. Every kid deserves a little summer camp experience with Dr. Kahn. So check out the interview here and stay tuned for a Salute exclusive with some of her other cast members!
We’ve got lots of Salute Your Shorts to get to! You lived in Inglewood, Calif. during the show and still do right?
VENUS DEMILO: Pretty much my whole life! When I was shooting the show I was here. I went to college right down the street from where I currently live. I’ve pretty much stayed in the same zip code my whole life.
Where did you go to school?
Loyola Marymount University. Yeah, I went to high school right around there. I’ve been able to stay in the same area. My parents live about three blocks away from me.
That’s crazy. But nice! Is Judging Amy the last thing you acted in?
Well, I have a commercial running right now for Pine Sol. I’m still in the game. I do commercials and stuff more. Theatrically—other than doing short films—that was kind of the last thing I did. I still audition a lot and I still go out.
Is acting your first priority?
It always is. It’s kind of a weird. You love it and you hate it. But I wake up in the morning and that’s who I am. No matter what else I have going on. I would say that’s what I’m doing.
Its great to have something you’re so passionate about. You’ve done so many television shows in the past. What was your experience like on Family Matters?
Working on Family Matters was great. Working with Jaleel [White] and the other actors, we were really young and we had a great time working together on the set and growing up together. It was great. It was a lot of fun. That was one of the best television shows I’ve ever worked on.
Was it with a live audience?
Yes. I think there were a few seasons where we would shoot it in front of two live audiences but they got it down to I think 4-day work weeks. So it was a great time.
You were on Bold and the Beautiful. Would you say you like soap opera’s better? What’s the difference between that and a show like Family Matters?
With a soap opera you can shoot up to two to three episodes in one day. That pace is a lot faster…you do it one time and that’s it. Then move on. So that experience was wonderful for me because now anything that comes my way I know I can do it, because I had that experience of just going though something one time and knowing that will go on TV in a few days. That was the greatest acting workshop as far as memorization, getting my lines down and knowing your blocking within a scene immediately. That was great. I did about 26 episodes of Bold and the Beautiful.
Everyone must recognize you as Telly Radford from Salute Your Shorts! How old were you at the time? What was the schedule like?
I was in junior high going into high school. So 8th and 9th grade when I was shooting…Two days a week we were on location. Every once in a while we would have night shoots and that was so much fun because that meant we came in at four in the afternoon and we wouldn’t have school that day and we would be shooting the entire night. It was like a big slumber party, we just had a blast. I remember I was taking typing at the time so I had to have a typewriter on the set. Which made sure I was able to get my typing lessons in. We had a great time.
Did you take classes on set?
We had one tutor. We had to get three or four hours a day before 4 p.m., so anything after 4 p.m. we didn’t have to go to school, which was cool. We all had our own curriculum. We would go in and do our homework and joke around.
So it’s almost like you went to school together?
We all had our own individual tutoring program. We all had different subjects. So we weren’t doing everything together, but we were all in the same room acting crazy together. We had some great teachers on set so we had some cool experiences.
Did all of you do table reads?
Yeah. We would get a new script and before the week was out, we would go over the scripts and just laugh. It was great to see what was going to happen in the next week.
It has such a cult following! Did you think at the time it would get that big?
No, no. I thought it was cool and I would always come home and watch it when it was on. It wasn’t until I got into high school and even a little bit after that, when we had stopped shooting that people would recognize me from that. And I have a body of work and people would say, I know you from somewhere. And I would name a few shows, and then I would say Salute Your Shorts and they would say, ‘That’s what it is!’ Family Matters, no. Sister Sister, no. Bold and the Beautiful, no. Salute your Shorts, yes! There are so many walks of life. You can’t pick out a Salute your Shorts fan out of the crowd. They’re just like everyone. Its just great the kind of people- everyone who likes the show is a cool cat- they’re really funny.
Michael Bower, Donkey Lips, was saying how nice the fans were too. He’s extremely nice himself.
Yeah he’s a sweetheart and that’s why I’m still in contact with him. I mean I’ve seen him at an audition before but I could just call him out of the blue and he’ll be like, ‘Oh, if you’re in the valley come on out!’ He’s a real nice guy.
What do you think about these 90s shows coming back to TeenNick? Would someone contact you if that ever happened with Salute?
To tell you the truth, I know its on iTunes. And I heard one of our writers talking about it and talking to Michael I found out about it. I had no idea unless I’m actually looking it up. There’s no one calling me saying ‘Hey they’re going to put it back on the air.’ No, it’s an old show and they shelved it and they’re doing whatever they want with it.
Would you be happy if the series made it to air?
Oh definitely! I love the show. I would love to see it everywhere. I know fans have access to it but I would love to see it on the air.
Do you have all the episodes on tape?
No! When we were working we got like a gag-reel on a VHS Tape that the editors had put together. As far as episodes go, back when I was on it I watched it and I taped it. It’s not like they were like, ‘Here’s a DVD disc set for the 25th anniversary.’ [Laughs] That hasn’t really happened.
[Laughs] Well what do you think about the shows out there now?
I don’t really watch the shows on now. I think there would be a place on TV for Salute Your Shorts but it’s hard to say. Oh, would you recreate it? It kind of is what it was. We have to appreciate it for that. We had all these different walks of life together, put them in a show together and had everyone get along and had a good time. You really see that in the show. You don’t see too much of that now. You see shows with one star, not so much an ensemble. It’s just not there. I wish it was and I’m glad I had the opportunity to be a part of that.
I really hope it comes back! What are you up to now?
I’m mostly commercial working right now. I’ll probably get back to doing episodic television work. I always love comedy. It’s a little bit different. The market I was in a long time ago, it was a different time. The shows that were on appealed to a certain generation, so now I’ve had to work myself out and figure out, who am I going to appeal to now? Now I’m going out for young mom and that’s just really weird to me. I just did this Pine Sol commercial and I got to go to Universal Studios, and I did my own stunts. It was amazing. It was great fun. So anything I get to do, I’m definitely going to take the opportunity. It’s just a lot of friends. The props guy from Salute Your Shorts was the props guy for the commercial. It was crazy.
That must have brought back memories! What a small world. Are there any shows out there right now you would be interested in working on?
I should be able to answer that really quickly! [Laughs] I really like CSI. Comedy wise, it’s tough because the sitcoms now come and go overnight. But I do like a lot of the series on right now like CSI. I could definitely see myself being a serious character. As an attorney or a doctor. You never know!
What else besides acting do you like to do?
I’ve worked in post-production as a producer, producing movie trailers. So that’s what’s kept me busy. In between there I’m auditioning and going out for stuff.
That’s really cool. What have you produced?
For the last summer I did Ringo, Transformers III [and] Pirates of the Caribbean. A lot of the summer big blockbusters. I did the post-work for their movie trailers and TV spots. I’m working at Sony Studios right now, so that’s close to Clover City. But the great thing about LA is it only takes 30 minutes to get anywhere. I’ve worked in Hollywood, I’ve worked in Santa Monica, and right now I’m working in Clover City.
You’ve had some amazing opportunities.
I knew I wanted to stay in the whole entertainment world and film production. So it was like, okay, if I’m not auditioning or working this week, let me see if I can get a job implementing my education. I’ve been blessed to be able to work like that as well get an audition here and there. And be able to get on set! It’s great to rub elbows with directors.
Definitely. Overall, I hope Salute makes its way back on TeenNick. Would you consider the show one of your favorite television appearances?
Well, Salute Your Shorts is definitely the most fun. That really was so much fun for me. It was a time where I was learning how to drive. That character was just a lot of fun…we were always outside and all together and you had the girls and the boys. It was a great time and great fun.
It was fun to watch! Thank you so much for talking Venus. It was great.