Jamie Auld was at Doughnut Plant in New York when she heard the weirdest offer of her life.
Guy Guido was directing his first feature-length film, “Madonna and the Breakfast Club” and he was seeking an actress to play the pre-stardom version of the pop star. On separate occasions, Guido and his partner approached Auld in the doughnut shop when negotiations with another actress stalled two weeks before filming.
“I just laughed him off,” said Auld, a Pasadena native who was then a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology. “In New York, we get a lot of interesting characters.”
Auld solicited advice from her mom, who told her to meet the director in a public place. They convened at Starbucks and she listened to his pitch. An idea that initially sounded “phony” now became more enticing.
The project would be part re-enactment and part documentary, featuring insight from members of Madonna’s first band, Breakfast Club, which was formed in 1979 after Madonna met musician Dan Gilroy. Realizing that her passion for dance was not going to lead her to stardom, Madonna focused on music.
With the film, Guido set out to dispel a misconception that Madonna was a talentless entertainer who became famous by being promiscuous.
“She just had this rare amount of drive and ambition and this work ethic that you just don’t see much of at that age,” Guido said. “This was life or death for Madonna and she was willing to do whatever it took and put in all the work day in and day out. Nothing got in her way of pursuing the ultimate goal to become a famous entertainer.”
During her childhood, Auld modeled for UnderArmour and was in advertisements for Walmart. Her acting experience was limited.
“She’s 5-foot-5, so she got overlooked for a lot of things,” said her mom, Lisa.
When Guido found Auld at Doughnut Plant, the resemblance to Madonna was too much to ignore.
“Initially when we started going through some script stuff, I quickly realized that she was definitely green in the area of acting, but her look was so strong that although I knew I had work ahead of me, I knew it would be worth it and I knew I just needed to get her through it,” Guido said.
The director submerged Auld in acting classes, gave her guitar and drum lessons, and had her work with a Madonna impersonator familiar with the musician’s inflections and movements.
“Madonna and I have a lot of overlap naturally in the way we look and the way we talk,” Auld said. “I did work on little subtle gestures Madonna has, like this double blink, that Madonna fans will pick up on.”
Guido called Auld the perfect person for the role because she “brought life and positivity to set every day” while taking whatever task was thrown her way.
“Jamie’s fearless and would dive into anything we were doing without any reluctance, or she didn’t seem to have any inhibitions,” Guido said. “Even if she knew she wasn’t doing great at first, it didn’t stop her from just doing it.”
Auld said, “You throw me in a challenging position and that gives me a thrill and makes me more inclined to do something.”
Guido expected filming for “Madonna and the Breakfast Club” to take several weeks, but it took more than two years. To make the film authentic, Guido shot the re-enactments in locations where Madonna lived and practiced music.
“The people who are the gatekeepers to those locations, this isn’t the first time they have been approached by someone wanting to talk about Madonna or do a story about Madonna,” Guido said. “The obstacle for me is how do I convince these people that it should be me and you’re going to let me into your home with the synagogue and film there, which has never been done before, and the music building to have our crew come in there many days over the couple years and work in the building filming this music.”
Although the film did not feature Madonna, the cast and crew hopes that the interviews with her former bandmates and friends did justice to her story.
“It was a surreal experience for sure,” Auld said. “At the end, we sat there staring at the screen thinking, ‘Wow, this is all the hard work and labor we put into it.’”
The Orchard Films released “Madonna and the Breakfast Club” on iTunes and local Cable on Demand digital platforms on March 12.
A 23-year-old, Auld is now working in New York as an assistant account executive at Grey Group, an advertising agency. She would welcome another acting gig but is happy to take a break from acting now that the film is finished.
Both she and Guido are eagerly anticipating the reaction they will get from the film.
“I really hope people take away how courageous Madonna was,” Auld said. “A lot of people think she didn’t have a lot of talent, and that isn’t true. She really had to work her butt off to get where she is. At one point, she was living in her rehearsal space, basically homeless.”