Ready for Her Close Up

A chat with local actress Ann Mahoney

The tuxes are at the cleaners, the designers are all thanked and the jewelry’s been returned. The Emmy winners have dusted off a place for their awards and the losers have dusted off their disappointment. And actors everywhere now get back to the business of booking gigs. The glitz and glamour are just a small part of this business where the average SAG-AFTRA member will make less than $10,000 per year from acting.

The life of an actor isn’t for everyone, but for New Orleanian Ann Mahoney, it’s clearly the life for her.  She’s been acting for almost 30 years. Her first role, at age 10, was in “Fiddler on the Roof” at Loyola University, where she is now an adjunct professor.

Mahoney got her MFA in acting from the University of Connecticut. She moved to New York City one month before 9/11 and appeared in the Obie-winning “The Romance of Magno Rubio,” originating the role of Clarabelle. But New Orleans was calling her home.

“I came back here at the perfect time to capitalize on the film industry,” she says. “It gave me the credits to help me get the national work I’m doing now.”

Mahoney won roles in such films as “Big Momma's House 2” and “Frankenstein” with Parker Posey. Her breakout role came when she was cast as Olivia in the hit series, “The Walking Dead.”

She says she’s at a space now where casting directors are asking her to audition for their projects. Last year she won the juicy role of Gladys Presley on “Sun Records” that aired on CMT. Mahoney hopes she will soon be moving up from these recurring roles to being a series regular.

“Being recurring you’re never sure when they are going use you,” she says. “It’s like being in purgatory. A series regular is on contract and guaranteed a certain amount whether your character is in that week’s episode or not.”

With fingers crossed, Mahoney is waiting to hear if she is going to be a series regular; she’s up for three different projects.

Mahoney is a big family person and active in her community and church, but she may have the difficult task of moving away from family and friends if she gets any one of these gigs. But it’s bridge she’ll gladly cross when she gets the good news.

“You have to grab the chance when it comes, because you never know when it will come again.”

Social media is critical to the success of her business. She’s known for her of uplifting posts and positive views on loving all body types equally.

“I’m not going to be that glamorous celebrity,” she says. “My brand is being cheerful and friendly.  I come across as your best friend and I want to do everything to support that brand.”

Mahoney keeps a lot of irons in the fire as she writes, teaches and — because of the success of Olivia — finds herself at Comic Cons at least once a month.

“They are a lot of work,” she says. “You work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday to Sunday. Generally they’ll pay a small per diem but actors make their money by selling autographs and answering the same questions over and over again. At first I felt bad about charging people for my autograph, but now I see it as a pay back for all my years working and honing my craft.”

She has some interesting tax write offs which include things like dyeing her hair back to its natural color if she has to become a blonde for a part, dance shoes and make up. Also of interest in her business is insurance.

“SAG offers great benefits but you have to qualify for it every year,” she says. “And if you don’t earn enough from your acting that year, you don’t have insurance that year. It’s pretty stressful.”

The reason she thinks she’s been so successful is she is always ready to out work anybody and everybody else on set. She shows up with lines learned and with plenty of energy and a positive attitude.

Maybe one year soon, Mahoney may be dusting off the place to put her first Emmy.



Categories: Labors of Love