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Joey Lauren Adams can't wait to do her homework

March 15, 2004|Caryn Rousseau | Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — As a teenager, Joey Lauren Adams would park her car in front of the North Little Rock home where Oscar winner Mary Steenburgen grew up, wondering whether fame could come to her too.

"I would sit there with the motor running and think, 'She did it, I can do it,' " Adams said. "But then I would think, 'What are the chances for two girls from North Little Rock?' "

Pretty good.

Since leaving Arkansas at 19, Adams has played opposite some of Hollywood's most famous leading men, including Ben Affleck ("Chasing Amy"), Adam Sandler ("Big Daddy") and John Travolta ("Michael").

More than two dozen feature films later, the 36-year-old Golden Globe nominee (for "Chasing Amy") plans to come home this summer to direct an independent film.

She's received commitments from ex-boyfriend Vince Vaughn and, depending on his schedule, Arkansas native Billy Bob Thornton. Adams had planned to play the lead in her movie, but she may stay behind the camera instead.

She has been writing "Lovin' Up a Storm" -- the title is taken from a Jerry Lee Lewis song -- for the last four years. It's based loosely on her family and growing up in Arkansas.

"I've had so much pressure to shoot it other places," Adams said. "But I want it to be authentic to my experience here. There's so many places that I want to capture."

A spiritually inspired drama about a girl coming of age, Adams calls the project a labor of love meant to be an honest portrayal of the South.

Funding for the project appears to be in place, she said, though finding the money was her hardest task.

"It's impossible," she said. "I'm trying to get a regional chick-flick made and people don't want to make female-driven movies and Southern dramas."

She started writing her screenplay after she grew frustrated with scripts she was receiving that kept typecasting her as the pretty gal-pal.

"It just gets frustrating playing the girlfriend," she said. "It's just this awful feeling, sitting in your house, waiting for a script to come. I like to be more proactive."

Adams lives in Hollywood but said the allure of California is fading fast. Her older sister, Kelly Adams, lives in Austin, Texas, and the actress said she finds the air there more appealing. In the future she wants to be based in Austin, and keep a place in Arkansas.

"I don't like [California]," she said. "It's the vibe. It's the people. I like warmer people."

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