Interview #3 with actress and acting teacher Mary Doherty
It’s interview #3 time!
So we’re onto on the third Totally Honest Interview, and I’m absolutely loving discovering what all these brilliant women find inspiring, challenging, and down right fun!
As I have mentioned before, it can be very easy to loose sight of what you really love, whether that be acting, gardening or cooking, and get lost in a ‘money making circuit’. In the last few weeks I have become more aware of just how important it is to regularly remind yourself of what you love, and the reasons why you love it. Sometimes things happen slower than you would like, or in some cases don’t happen at all, and naturally that can become quite frustrating. If like me, you’re part of the ‘self-employed’ or ‘freelance’ world, unpredictability also comes as part of the package, which occasionally means filling your time with random bits of work and a hell of a lot of procrastination. When you’re forced to place your attention on these day to day practicalities, a simple mental oomph can be needed to remind yourself of what really makes you tick. Sometimes even the littlest things, like reading a play, going for a walk, or switching off your phone can be all you need to get that fizz back.
So, look up from that desk, counter or computer and go and find what it is that reminds you of what you really love!
Introducing Mary Doherty, actress, acting teacher, and the inspiring mind behind the brilliant Actors Class.
Starting Simply, what is it that you do?
I am an Actress and an Acting teacher; I run the Company The Actors Class, where we train adults over the age of 18 at The Courtyard Theatre in Old St, London.
What made you want to follow that route?
I wanted to Act and perform from the age of 3! Yes, 3!! I started with attending dance classes, ballet, tap etc and then started to sing and act from a young age. My mother used to perform when she was young and so I think it was just in my bones. My brother, James Doherty is an Actor and is 13 years older than me, so I grew up around him attending drama school etc and he was and is always an inspiration to me. It’s odd I suppose, there was never any question in my or my families minds from such a young age that I would do this as a career.
Was there a specific moment when you realised that acting was what you wanted to do?
I attended The Arts Educational School, Tring from the age of 11, I was a boarder there and had some of the best times of my life! It’s an incredible school, it really is and it nurtured me as a young Actress and made me see the way into this Industry was possible and also to really, really love what I do. There was a lot of joy in ‘playing’ there. I played Velma in ‘Chicago’ in the school production at the age of 17 and I think that was probably the moment when I realised I just might be able to do this.
What’s it like being in the arts?
It’s pretty wonderful to be in the Arts I think. If you look at it in a positive way, then I suppose its like a gigantic family of creative, forward thinking, passionate people who want to create and work together, and make exciting work that can really say something and affect, change and move people.
What’s it like being a woman in the arts?
Well, again, looking at that question in a positive light, I think it’s exciting to be a woman in the Arts right now. I think opportunities are growing, there’s a lot of us!! So that’s pretty empowering. I think we still have a way to go, things to fight for and we must keep fighting for change, together!
Do you think there is inequality within the arts?
Unfortunately, yes, there is still inequality in the Arts. We’re still trying to move forwards as an Industry, to broaden peoples minds, to fight against discrimination to any person because of that person’s age, race, gender, physical or mental disability, the list goes on. Take the gender imbalance – I read the other day that less than a third of speaking roles in films are women. That is absolutely unbelievable. We have to keep fighting to change this, the more we face it and get involved in the conversation then the more power we have to actually start really moving this forwards. There are companies adopting a 50/50 gender balance for new play commissions, like Headlong, which is fantastic – It’s possible – We just have to actually do it!
As Jeremy Herrin Said: ‘Those of us who believe in equality need to make ourselves accountable, then things might change.’
Do you personally feel you have to fit a certain box within the acting industry?
Not so much now actually, but a number of years ago I did do. Having trained in Musical Theatre at Arts Ed Tring and then later at GSA, I was very much pigeon holed for the work I’d get in the room for, it took me a year being out of work to try and move from Musicals across to Plays. Now, to me, that’s just a bit mental. An Actor, is an Actor. In America if you can sing and dance it’s a plus, here, it’s looked at sometimes, as a little confusing! As if you should just pick one. I actually think over the last 10 years that this has really started to move forwards. I barely see a play that doesn’t have music or singing involved within it, so it’s lovely that if you also have that skill it’s now being respected and used and your able to work across a broader range.
What piece of advice would you give someone who wants to get out of any self imposed boxes and anything holding them back?
Well, it would be rude! But it would be… stuff ‘em! Don’t let anyone put you in a box. If you want to work in musicals, plays, TV and film, then go for it, throw everything you have at it and you know what, it might take a hell of a lot of work, but, it is possible! It does happen.
In your opinion what are you most proud of in your career so far?
I played Queen Margaret in the Henry VI Trilogy for Shakespeare’s Globe. With the 3 plays it totalled at around 7 hours of Shakespeare, I reckon that’s the role I am most proud of so far.
Why this specific part?
The reason I think, is because it took the most work, it was the furthest past myself and playing someone from the age of around 15 to 42 was quite the challenge and journey! It was an incredible cast and experience. We played a UK tour, and even some battlefields in rain that felt like a typhoon! These where the actual battles were fought, right under our feet and then at The Globe. It was a phenomenal challenge, a very moving experience and it’s a part that’s very close to my heart.
I am also very proud of my Company The Actors Class and every young Actor that works with us. It’s something I really love and believe in.
What’s the most inspiring/empowering piece of advice you’ve discovered for yourself that you would like others to know?
The Company I run – The Actors Class – Our Motto is:
‘Go forward bravely,
Take bold steps,
Move forward fearlessly’
That’s honestly the best piece of advice I could give, that I really believe in. This business is hard and it can seem scary and overwhelming at times. You have to fight and keep going! We never know really whats around the corner and that’s actually pretty exciting. So you might as well be bold and move forward fearlessly, because then the journey to get there is a lot more fun!