For the past year or so, model Charlotte McKinney has been working hard to add actor to her job title.
She’s perhaps most famous for a Carl’s Jr. commercial run during the Super Bowl in 2015 and a stint on “Dancing with the Stars” that same year.
With the new Crackle.com movie, “Mad Families,” debuting Jan 12, she moves one step closer to her goal of having an acting career. And with a pair of high-profile films coming up later this year — “Baywatch” and “Flatliners” — it seems like 2017 can be her year.
The camping comedy “Mad Families,” which stars Charlie Sheen, is about three families of different racial backgrounds competing for the same campsite. The cast is filled with funny folks, including Leah Remini, Tiffany Haddish, Clint Howard, Efren Ramirez and Finesse Mitchell. McKinney took advantage of the impressive cast.
“Just being around those people, I use every minute to just hone in on how they work, how they do things,” she says. “I never went to an acting school or anything. But being around those people, it’s just amazing in how professional they are. … It’s just great being around those people.”
amNewYork spoke with McKinney about the film.
Tell me about you character. What makes Sharni tick?
I was so lucky. My friend David Spade, who was [co-writing this film with director Fred Wolf,] … found me this character, they kind of wrote me in as this character. … She’s a fun character, and a lot of people think she’s kind of ditsy and dumb and blonde, but she has a bit of fun humor to her and she’s not a dumb as people think. I think she’s a really bubbly personality. She’s Charlie’s sister, so she’s always having to deal with Charlie. She’s a really lovely character, I could relate to her a lot.
Charlie has quite a reputation. What was it like working with him?
I know, it’s so funny, that’s the first question everyone asks. It was more than delightful. It was really amazing getting to be on set. He was professional and so on and so great. He looks as great as ever and we just had a really great time. He was just so kind to me, giving me tips and complimenting me on my work ethic. So all the best with him, really.
Do you have any fun camping stories?
I don’t. I really don’t. My Dad’s from the Bahamas, so I grew up just going to the beach and stuff. But I guess one of my camping memories was having a bonfire on the beach, eating on the beach. So my camping was more of like a beach style.
What are some of the challenges from making the transition from model to actress?
It’s so funny because I feel like they always get a bad rap, every time you see a model in a movie, they’re like, “Oh great, they’re just in there for eye candy.” But this, for me, is kind of more of what I really want to do. As a kid, I wanted to use the modeling to get me into acting. It’s definitely hard when you go meeting casting directors. They can already label you as some ditsy model. So for me, I’m really [trying] to be seen as more of an actress. What I’m most looking forward to is people seeing me on screen because everything I’ve done has been really small and short. In this I think you’ll really get to see my work and really see my humor. There’s a lot of humor and improv in this movie that people don’t really know I have. That’s a big part. And I’m looking for everything right now, and I’m keeping my mind really open to every option.
How do you know David Spade?
We met over a meeting for this show he was going to do that never really ended up happening. And we’ve always stayed close friends. My best friend is his old girlfriend. So we’re all in the small realm of comedians, so being around him, Jeff Ross, all these great comedians all the time is really nice. So yeah, the friendship is really nice. [He’s] more of a mentor to me, I think.
This movie deals with race and racism in a comedic way. What do you think the film says about race?
You know what I think? I think, for me, what I’ve been saying is I think everyone has been so sensitive to race and so sensitive to this and that with politics. I think this movie just shines a fun light on it. It’s family friendly, and it’s funny and I really enjoy it.
What do you like to do when you’re in New York City?
I like to be in and out. [laughs] It’s so funny. When I’m in New York, I’m really in and out. I do love spending time there. When I’m there, I’m always working, so I never really have any off time. I love going out and eating sushi. I love the Bowery Hotel. I love SoHo. I’ve spent a good amount of time there a couple years ago. … I’m planning on coming and going to some games — l love basketball games and I enjoy the city. I love the energy.
Streaming: “Mad Families” streams on Crackle.com starting Jan. 12.