Meg Weidner | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Meg Weidner

Meg Weidner and her daughter, Lexie Weidner Photo courtesy Bill Nichols

Meg Weidner and her daughter, Lexie Weidner Photo courtesy Bill Nichols Photo by Bill Nichols

Meg Weidner, a resident of Laguna Beach, Calif., who was born and grew up in Jackson, will debut "Best Mom," a film she wrote and stars in, on Jan. 29. Distribution company Freestyle Digital Media will release the film on eight platforms, including Amazon instant video, AT&T U-verse, Direct TV and Dish Network.

In the film, Weidner plays the lead role as Addy, a travel writer and mother who joins an improvisation class to help better connect with her daughter, Esther, on the advice of her husband, Jason, who plays a superhero on television. Weidner says the film's plot is based around real-life experiences with her husband, Alex Weidner, and their 11-year-old daughter, Lexie.

"You're supposed to write what you know, and motherhood is something I experience on a daily basis that I've come to consider a failure-based art form," Meg Weidner says, referencing the film's tagline. "The improv acting classes I took in real life taught me that you have to take chances and risks, and if your jokes don't land, you have to keep going. When you're a mom, you also have to try the best you can, and every 'mom fail' always starts with the best intentions. You 'fail up' and get better without ever being perfect, and you have to embrace that, celebrate it and keep going."

Weidner graduated from Jackson Academy high school and went on to the University of Georgia in Athens, where she received a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1998. She then traveled to New York City and took acting lessons at the New York Acting School for Film and Television until 2000. She returned to Jackson that year and worked as an intern at New Stage Theatre until 2001.

That year, Weidner moved to Wilmington, N.C., where she worked as an actress for television commercials and performed in a local theater before moving to Aniston, Ala., in 2002. While living in North Carolina, she met her husband during a Florida vacation. The two married in 2005 and have been living in Laguna Beach since 2016.

While Weidner says her husband is still a "superhero dad" to their daughter, like his film counterpart, the real Alex owns and manages a family business called Howard Core Company, which is a musical wholesale company that sells violins, cellos and other string instruments.

"Our daughter is definitely daddy's girl and looks up to him," Weidner says. "He's very business-minded and a fantastic father, and I've certainly felt jealous at times of their play. In real life, we work that out by doing things like going to the beach together and playing games as a family. He plays tennis with Lexie, while I play Scattergories, which is my favorite game. We also don't watch TV or movies during dinner, so we can have more time to connect and find common ground together."

Weidner says she began working on "Best Mom" after her 40th birthday, when she realized that, while she had been in a number of short movies, she had never starred in a feature-length film. Not wanting to live with the regret of not following her childhood dream of becoming a film star, Weidner set out to learn about screenwriting through books such as Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat!" In October 2016, she reached out to director Kuang Lee and producer Leann Lei to begin work on "Best Mom." Filming began in July 2017 and finished that August.

"Best Mom" was screened at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival in Los Angeles in February 2018, where it won the Best Family Film award. Donna Mills, who plays Addy's mother in the film, won the Best Supporting Actress award. Mills was previously an actress on "Knots Landing," a spinoff of "Dallas" that ran from 1979 to 1993.

"My mom always said that no daughter ever wants to be like her mother, but in the end, they always are," Weidner says. "I feel that's true in so many ways despite being a daughter trying to avoid it myself. In the end, the lesson I want people to take away from my movie is that we moms are all in this together. We have to go out of our way to be who we are, laugh at ourselves and realize that our imperfections are what make us loveable."

For more information on "Best Mom," visit bestmomfilm.com.

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