Featured Artist No. 11: Mary Flynn

by Nick Jones

 

NJ:  How did you first get into acting?

MF:  “When I was five I did a tap dancing show, and I always kind of loved making people laugh. But when I was twelve I had a friend [who] died, and I kind of went through this year of just unhappiness…didn’t feel motivated to do things that made me happy, and the thing that motivated me back to happiness was playing the sultan in Aladdin Jr. in eighth grade…I had found the childhood that I had lost after this friend had died.  I think [acting] brings me closer to that childhood that I missed after his death, so I think that’s why I continue doing it.”

NJ:  What have you learned in acting that you can apply to your other endeavors as an artist?

MF:  There’s so much about acting that just makes life worth living a little more…To act life you have to have a good understanding of life; Something about, say, being a good actor is you have to be content with who you are so you can play other people. I think the misconception is that you can hide in other characters and not have to be yourself, but there’s this subconscious you are aware that you’re playing another person.  It helps find, like, confidence in yourself which just applies to life in general.  At least in comedic endeavors that helps. Like my podcast that I do, that’s content that’s not really being pushed but [that needs] this positivity behind it. I need the confidence that I receive from acting in order to do that well.  ‘Cause people spot a phony. People know what’s fake. So, if you don’t commit to everything in life one hundred percent, then you can’t really be genuine with people, like at all.

NJ:  You mentioned your podcast earlier. Tampon Talk–tell me about it. How did it come about?

MF:  Well, Tampon Talk with Mary– The motto, or mantra [is] “aims to remove the negative stigma around talking about reproductive and menstrual health” because I think there is this stigma that women aren’t allowed to talk about their period, even though it happens to us all the time, at least twelve times a year *laughs*. I think it gets lumped into sex education, and that’s why we don’t talk about it, because sex is either extremely addictive, and like sinful and horrible, or it’s something we just stay away from completely. But regardless, if you’re sexually active or not, you have a period and the fact that you can’t really talk about it, is kind of sad. I think that’s something where there should be empathy from the opposite sex–they know a woman; They might marry a woman. So…understanding that part of anatomy is important too in building a connection with a woman.26994020_1919289048288679_3665751888430226404_n.jpg

 

NJ: Did this podcast start, I’m assuming, a few years ago?

MF: Yeah, it started [at the] end of 2016, like October. The very first episode was on my Snapchat, and I didn’t have any guest so I sat in my room and I had clips of Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump.  I had made up questions that I had them answer based on the random clips *laughs* and it did really well on Snapchat, and I was like “let me take this further”.

 

NJ:  What would you say is the most rewarding and challenging aspect you found about acting?

MF:  The constant pendulum of I want to tell somebody else’s story that wouldn’t have it told otherwise and if I’m doing it well. Say you take a character that’s playing Stephen Hawking–there’s a fine line between accuracy and mockery.  Very fine.  So somebody who’s fully committing to his disability, which deserves to be told and his story is extremely important and valuable, and we get to be the vessel that tells it, it’s just the most challenging thing is “am I doing justice to it one hundred percent?” Because [otherwise] it becomes a joke. We’re always walking that thin line; so we’re either doing justice to someone or completely making fun of them, which is really hard.

NJ:  Being in a Catholic institution and also being in the acting world, how do you think an actress with that Catholic identity can impact Hollywood culture in a meaningful way? 

MF: Stanislavski, he writes in his big text to actors that its good for an actor to have morals so you have your own personal groundings then that helps with the empathy and feeling of the characters. And being Catholic, you are taught at birth how to treat others with respect and dignity, a general knowing of right and wrong– and that is something good to have in a job that requires you to do a variety of things. You also fight for truth a little bit harder. And that’s not just to say that Catholics are the only ones that know this, but somebody that humbles themselves to a higher power can… act very well, because you’re making yourself aware of how small you are. So in wanting to help somebody else, it’s kind of like that kin mentality so like, “I want to do justice to this character well, because they are worthy of love from a higher power, or worthy of love because I’m worthy of love.” So, I think being Catholic gives me the morals to play a character well. And other religions can do the same; I hate the idea of thinking like “Oh, Catholics are the Alpha Omega and know it all,” cause you let everybody come to their own truth when and how they want to.

And so with the #metoo movement is that the woman who first got Harvey Weinstein accused was saying it for years…it was an open secret in Hollywood. It was just ‘what Harvey does’. But I think in being a Catholic, you have the motive to say ‘No, that’s wrong’…‘cause people were being treated less than the dignity of life. So you also have the empathy and action, which carries over in a character.  It’s not that you shy away from roles that are seen as “sinful” or “dirty” or whatever, ‘cause God made those people, too. We coop [God] in a Church, and we go see Him every Sunday, but He’s there with the person smoking weed; He’s there with the poor people, you know? He’s there at the gross frat parties, but we completely forget that. Being a Catholic gives you that awareness that you’re small, and also the drive and empathy to tell stories well.

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NJ: If you have any closing statements you’d like to add, or if there are any projects you’re working on you’d people to check out, the floor is yours.

MF:  Alright *laughs* well I guess my closing thought is that anybody can do what an actor does.  It’s not in the mindset of ‘Oh, I can do that. They’re not really doing anything hard.’ But you can put in the same amount of effort that actors do into characters—anybody can. And I really recommend reading not just Stanislavski, but the book Pure Imagination– and then Peter Brooks, he wrote The Empty Space and The Open Door—they’re all texts about acting, but it helps us see life outside of life, and having that awareness helps us be better people.

Tampon Talk’s my biggest thing at the moment, and if more people want to come on I love bringing all kinds of people on the show and we just talk. It’s fun; it’s comedic…if people want to go to iTunes and listen to Tampon Talk, I fully recommend it.