While actress Yvette Gregory looks like Beatriz Jones, the character she plays in the Eros Panhellenios 2017 film Wine Tasting, the dichotomy is clear when you study each woman. It’s even more clear for the woman who becomes the other. The two may share some history with wine, Gregory’s family has a vineyard (Hentley Farm in South Australia) and Jones is in a relationship with a sommelier, but that’s close to the only intersection for these two. While Beatriz is a bit “tightly wound”, Yvette has been an artist seeking out challenges since her days as a child on set in her homeland of Australia. It’s ironic that it takes someone as free spirited as Gregory to convincingly portray the constrained Jones. It’s just one aspect in a series of counter intuitive preconceptions you might make about Gregory…which you’ll soon learn to realign.
Having already experienced a highly successful acting career in Australia and enjoying a comfortable living would be enough for most of us but for Gregory there is always a new mountain to climb. Entertainment is in her DNA (her mother was a model) and she was in front of the camera while still in her single digits. Acting was as everyday as…well, everyday life. While notoriety and financial compensation is the definition of success for most people, new challenges and the pursuit of her craft are paramount for Yvette. Leaving her stable and successful acting career, family, and friends in Australia; this actress headed to Los Angeles in search of success in Hollywood.
The pursuit of success and the conflict it can cause is the theme of Wine Tasting in which Gregory portrayed Beatriz Jones, the girlfriend of aspiring Sommelier Ed Tate (played by Josh Thrower). Wine Tasting follows four men who have struggled and sacrificed vast swaths of their personal and professional lives to become professional wine tasters. When all but one of them passes the incredibly difficult sommelier certification test, the ensuing conflict threatens to tear their close-knit group apart. Yvette’s character is one of the men’s girlfriends, and throughout the film she struggles to maintain their relationship as his wine-tasting obsession becomes overwhelming. Wine Tasting’s Award Winning script by Justin Samuels has won awards at Film Festivals including: the Beverly Hills Film Festival, Sunscreen Film Festival, Evolution and Mallorca International Film Festival, and is an Official Selection to the San Rafael Film Festival. The theme of success, community, and conflict is not foreign to Yvette or her chosen profession. She comments, “Of course we all have that little green monster inside of us. I would say it’s probably even more prevalent in the entertainment Industry. Everyone has their own path and if you stay in line long enough, your turn will eventually come. I have friends who have found success back home and in Hollywood very quickly and others who have hustled for decades. I know my biggest character defect is when I start to compare myself to someone else. It’s good to take a step back, look at what you have accomplished and find gratitude for everything you have achieved so far. The main difference is if you recognize these things in yourself or if you impulsively act on them. One of the great things about acting is that you do a lot of introspection, which allows you to not just react without thinking.” Gregory is much more actualized than the main characters of Wine Tasting who are sometimes defined by the situations that occur in their lives.
Yvette’s role as adult escort Stephanie in Amazon’s “Private Sales” couldn’t be further from herself or Beatriz but the role gave the actress a great deal of exposure, leading to opportunities such as her role in Wine Tasting. While “lady of the evening” may not cause you to think “girlfriend”, the producers of Wine Tasting recognized something in the portrayal that worked exceedingly well. Gregory agrees, “I think my role in ‘Private Sales’ played a big a part in this casting even though Beatriz who I was cast as in Wine Tasting couldn’t be any more different than the role I played in ‘Private Sales’! Beatriz is totally reserved and a bit of a prude with jealousy and trust issues about her boyfriend. I think I pull off the pretty nerd look and that’s Beatriz’ vibe, which helped casting decipher the role for me pretty quickly. Beatriz is a bit conservative and reserved but isn’t afraid to tell it how it is when it gets to the breaking point. She really loves Ed but is torn because he slowly becomes more and more distant, showing little respect for her time. Relationships are hard at the best of times but, when a relationship is new and other commitments seem to become more important, it really tests the trust and stability of the relationship. Beatriz is intelligent, articulate and loving but she is also a little emotionally immature. They both have a lot of growing up to do.”
The conflict that comes from a lack of time is not restricted to relationships and their love. Yvette was cast as Beatriz almost as filming was set to start. Even when you love what you do, a cramped timeline can lead to anxiety. Inevitable last minute changes occur, as in all productions, but the time afforded most actors to truly and deeply understand their character was significantly reduced for this actress…not that you would ever know it. Wine Tasting’s director, Josh Miller, declares, “Yvette is an exceptional actress with everything a director could want from a performer. Her ability to adapt to changes in the material is remarkable, and her talent for improvisation is second to none. Yvette was one of Wine Tasting’s most valuable assets.” You won’t hear any complaining about the twelve plus hour shooting days or lack of prep time from Gregory who is fully aware that she is living out her dream. Even though dreams don’t come easy, they do come with perks. Yvette remarks, “Shooting at the famous Saban Theater in Beverly Hills was a special treat. With all the history of the great actors who have performed there, it demanded excellence of all of us. If I were to be honest, that’s the reason I left behind what I had already achieved in Australia. I wanted to be working in a new setting that demanded excellence from me. Travelling to Hollywood to work alongside those who I perceived to be at the upper echelon of the industry, that’s what success means to me…and it feels pretty great.”