Monday, October 13, 2014

Meet the cast of #blessed: Meghann Oglesby

As we move in toward #blessed, the first show of our second season (running October 17th - November 2nd at the Evergreen Theatre), we thought it might be fun for everyone to meet the cast. Check out the blog every Monday and Wednesday for Q and A's to help you get to know our company a little bit better!

Meghann Oglesby - Ellen

Hello! What's your name, and what's the role you are playing in #blessed? 

My name is Meghann Oglesby and I play Ellen.

Where are you from ? What do you consider to be your hometown?

That's a good question. I'm from Minneapolis by way of Chicago, Illinois. I consider Chicago to be my hometown.

What first drew you to acting?

Well, I just always liked performing of any kind, and my mother is an actor. That's all she does, so when I was younger I spent quite a bit of time doing homework in the audience during her rehearsals [laughs]. So my mom kind of got me and my younger brother into it when we were younger. She had an agent, so she got us an agent, and we did some things as kids.

Where did you receive your training?

I've never had any formal training, but in terms of experience I've always been working. I did theatre camps in the summer. I did plays in high school, and then I went to college and did shows there, and I've done quite a bit of community theatre in Memphis.

Where did you go to college? What did you study?

I went to Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi, which is now where I work and reside. I teach mass communications there. I got my bachelor's degree in mass communications in 2009.

So, you drive from Holly Springs every day to come to rehearsal?

Yes, I do. The things you do for love [laughs].

Who were your mentors? Who do you admire and look up to, either on-stage or in all aspects of your life?

My parents. They are just amazing people. They're hard-working people who keep God at the center of their lives, in whatever they do. Anytime I have a problem or need something, I can call one of them. They are my greatest inspiration and biggest role-models. There are other people that I look up to and admire: famous people, people who taught me in school, but I just can't think of anyone who inspires me more than my parents.

I do have a singer, my favorite singer, who is really inspiring to me. Her name is Ledisi. I discovered her in 2007, and she is a huge inspiration to me through her career and her spirit and her personality. She's persevered through people telling her she didn't have the right look to be successful: that she was too dark-skinned or that she wasn't pretty enough or that she had dreadlocks and just wasn't the right kind of package, but she's proven them all wrong now. She shares this story all the time about she was inspired and given the confidence to move forward by a conversation she had with her own mother who told her that everything was going to be alright. So she's a big inspiration to me in my life towards working hard and pursuing an acting career and believing that everything is going to be alright if that is what I really want to do. If my heart is really there, if my love is really there, if I put my mind to it and I pray about it and keep things in perspective, I can do what I want to do.

What's your favorite part of the theatrical process?

My favorite part of the theatrical process is the end part [laughs]. The end result. Just being up there on the stage giving all that I got for the people who came to see what it is I have to give. Being able to share my talent, share what God gave me, share that kind of expression with other people in that kind of way is my absolute favorite thing about it.

What's your least favorite part?

Learning the lines. It comes pretty easy to me to learn lines. It doesn't take me a long time to learn lines, thank God I have a good memory, but that part is annoying. Because when you're rehearsing, until you have those things down pat, rehearsal is always very, very annoying. I mean for me, anyway. I can't speak for anyone else [laughs]. But that's the worse part, because you can't really do what you want to do until you have that down.

What are some of your favorite past roles?

Recently, I did two different shows at Hattiloo Theatre. I just recently got done with a musical where I played Andrea in Once on This Island, and that was definitely one of my favorites because it was the first time, really, that I had on opportunity to do a musical and to play a character where I had to sing and sing solo, and I just loved that, I enjoyed it so much, it was just so much fun and definitely a defining moment for me, in my journey as an actor, because it was a first. Right before that I did an August Wilson play before that where I played Vera in Seven Guitars, and that is definitely one of my favorite roles that I've played: very meaty character and content in that show and I got to show my range of emotions and we got nominated for an Ostrander award for best ensemble, so that was pretty cool.

How would you define your style. What do you like to focus on as you prepare a character?

What I like to focus on is how it feels to to me. I like to ask "what would I, Meghann, be doing if this was my real-life situation?" That's what works best for me, asking "if this is what happened to me" or "if this is what someone said to me" how I would be dealing with it. I ask how it makes me feel, and I bring that emotion out.

When you're not working with Threepenny Theatre, how do you spend your time?

I fill my time with cupcakes. I am trying to get rid of that little addiction. It's not the most healthful way to live... but it is pretty fun [laughs].

I teach. I'm a full time instructor. I teach college students broadcasting: radio and television, so that takes up a lot of my time because even though I only have classes at a particular time, my job is  really never ending: helping students, advising student organizations, going to meetings, going to conferences. It's a never-ending schedule. Keeps me very busy when I'm not doing this. Which is why I need this, for my sanity [laughs].

How do you like the Threepenny process?

I love the Threepenny rehearsal process. I love the consideration taken in the scheduling, so I don't have to be here when I don't have a scene. I don't have to sit here for a few hours just to say a few lines. Especially since I live so far away. I'd be very angry if had to burn that much gas [laughs] and not have much time to work, so I really appreciate that. I also love that, to me, Threepenny seems really invested in each actor: to the individual development of every actor in the production. I appreciate that, and I know that I'm personally growing as an actor through this experience. Thanks Threepenny!

The "Big" Question: why do you continue to do what you do onstage, and once you are all said and done, what would you like to have accomplished with your art, not just in this show, but in your life?

I continue to do what I do on the stage because I absolutely love it. It's my favorite place to be, on the stage, that's my favorite thing: being on the stage, in front of people. I had a college instructor, who is actually one of my colleagues now at Rust College, say to me one day, and I'm never going to forget this, he asked "Meghann, are you ever offstage?" and I was like "NO!" [laughs]. Because I guess I'm not. I never thought about it that kind of way.

When it's all said and done, I'd like to know that I made people feel something, and I hope to have given performances that allow people to connect with me, personally. I'd like to be the type of actor that inspires others to want to pursue their dreams and be confident and feel free to un-apologetically pursue their dreams and be themselves.

Anyone you'd like to send some love out to?

I'd love to send some love to my parents, because they're the bomb-diggity. I'd love to send some love out to my sorors. I'm a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. I'd love to send some love to Rust College because that's where I work and that's my home and I love those people. I wouldn't be here without Rust College. And I'd love to send some love out to Hattiloo!

Always be closing. Any final words to people about #blessed?

Come see it!

 And to wrap up, some quick-fire "Inside the Actor's Studio" questions!

What is your favorite word? Boo
What is your least favorite word? Moist
What turns you on: creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Honesty
What turns you off? Dishonesty [laughs]
What's one thing you love about Memphis? Midtown
What sound or noise do you love? Drums
What sound or noise do you hate? Moaning or groaning or lip-sipping in my classroom
What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt? Singer
What profession would you not like to do? Janitor

Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
"Well done."

Thank you, Meghann! Check the blog on Wednesday for another interview! and come see #blessed, opening this Friday at the Evergreen Theatre. All shows are set your own admission price!

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