NYC and 9/11

18 05 2015

See, I had always thought, my entire life, that everyone was just waiting for me to finish my training, and that once I arrived on the scene my career would just START. I had done so much to prepare for this NYC debut, including spending a summer starving/exercising myself back down to a size 8 (SKELETEL for me), and working at some of the most prestigious regional theatres in the country. Surely I had it all! Talent! Skinny! Regional Theatres!!!! But I didn’t know anyone. And no one knew me. And unfortunately, all my training had not included even a bare minimum of primer on how to proceed when no one gives a fuck who you are and what your training is.

SO, 9/11 happened. And in my mind, it confirmed what I felt I already knew about NYC. It wasn’t for me. This was also at the time when tv/film actors were popping up more and more on the Broadway and Regional Theatre stages. I remembered joking with some of my fellow MFA Grad Actors, saying, “I am going to have to go and get semi-famous on TV or in films in order to get to work on the regional theatre stages I have ALREADY worked on as a young adult. We laughed heartily, and then everybody looked scared. Because we knew it was true, even though we didn’t know shit.

But when 9/11 happened and my dreams of “making it” in NYC came to a screeching halt, something even more important than any career I will ever have also happened. I found my faith again. And my FAITH, not my talent, and training, and skinniness (yes NOT my skinny ass) would be what would bring me full circle to the career I always wanted.

I met my husband on the 2nd Avenue stop of the “F” train in Manhattan at 2:30 in the morning on a Thursday, well – Friday morning. I was coming home from a rather disappointing date. The guy I has been out with was going back uptown, I was going home to Brooklyn. We were both a bit drunk. The guy I had been out with screamed my name across the platform, and we talked loudly for quite a while across the platforms until his train came. Then, I pulled out a book I was reading, JUSTINE by Lawrence Durrell, and I leaned against a pillar to wait for the train.

On the pillar next to mine, about 12 feet away, a guy was also leaning against a pillar reading a book. We eyeballed each other a few times, then he walked over to me and said, “Hey there, Ann Mahoney, whatcha reading?” He is now my husband, and amazing father to my two kids. In the grand scheme of things, NYC was not the place I would find my career, but God brought me there to find something even more important – what life was about, and what truly matters.

More later….


Life After Training

11 05 2015

SO, what do you DO after you get all this training? How do you get started in the actual business of acting? I think many of us think of this process in the wrong order. The perception of starting life as a professional actor is often this:

  1. Get Training (B.A., B.F.A., or extensive classes)

  2. Get Agent

  3. Start Auditioning

  4. Get work!

However, I think there are a few steps missing before “Get Agent” and after “Start Auditioning.” I think it should go a little more like this:

  1. Get Training

  2. Get Involved in your local theatre, film/tv scene

  3. Get to KNOW Local Working Actors

  4. Start Auditioning for Student Films, Indie Films, Theatre, New Media Projects

  5. Get an Agent – maybe through this “getting to know” process

  6. Start Auditioning for Higher Profile Projects


  8. Get work!

Walking right out of college with your B.A., landing an agent immediately, getting auditions immediately, and booking one of the first jobs you ever audition for DOES HAPPEN. It just DOESN’T HAPPEN OFTEN. If your expectation is that you will get an agent, and work immediately, you will be very disappointed as you start out in this business. I can remember hearing similar things when I finished graduate school and planned my big move to NYC. I thought, “Well, that applies to everyone BUT me! I will get going immediately! No one will be able to DENY my talent!!!!” A certain amount of that ego was necessary for my survival as a nascent professional actor, but I can tell you…. I was SORELY disappointed.

Not only did I land in NYC approximately 18 days before 9/11, I had no agent, and no one cared that I had my MFA in Acting. No one cared. I didn’t have an agent, I didn’t have any “real” experience, even though my grad school resume was quite impressive. I was already a member of Actors Equity Association! I made sure I had walked out of grad school with my CARD! I began the process of attending Equity Principal Auditions in Manhattan! Surely it was only a matter of the right person seeing my audition, and I would be ON MY WAY.

Even if 9/11 hadn’t happened a mere two weeks into my NYC experience, I was already finding out that getting in the door of a NYC theatre company to ACTUALLY audition for someone that might ACTUALLY cast me in an ACTUAL role, and “Equity Principal Auditions” had nothing to do with one another. When I realized that the business was who you know, and who your agent is, it burst my delusion balloon real quick.

More later…


It is Enough…

4 05 2015

I think this knowledge is helpful in becoming completely OPEN to the material you are given to work on. In my personal experience, my habitual gestures, or facial ticks, are a defense mechanism I use to detach myself from people or situations. My personal facial gesture, that I massively overuse, is a crinkled forehead. My Suzuki teacher, Eric Hill, was the first to point this out to me. He would simply say, “Relax your forehead.” I found that when I relaxed my forehead, it was almost as if my spirit re-entered my body. My breath became mine. My vision became mine. I was suddenly IN the moment, and not thinking ahead. Which, let’s face it, is where we need to be to be compelling actors. We need to be in THIS moment – not deflecting it with gestures and facial expressions.

To this day, if I am feeling disconnected from the actor I am working with, or the scene I am auditioning with, I say, “Relax your forehead.” BAM. Spirit is reconnected, I drop into the scene, and I can live moment to moment again. So notice those habitual gestures and facial ticks and expressions you have, and let them go. Watch yourself drop into your work. You don’t need to go overboard and police every second of your work, because then you will be outside of yourself looking in! But DO recognize it, and let it go, much like you might notice a tense muscle in yoga class and release it. Don’t obsess. Just give yourself the note and move on.

This is one of the major elements of Acting on Faith. BELIEVING that just by noticing your habitual gestures, and letting them go, you are allowing yourself to live more freely within the truth of the moment. A moment at a time. You don’t need to obsess, just HAVE FAITH that you have given yourself the note. And just by doing so, you are more fully invested in the moment. It is enough.

More later…College!