Putting all your time and energy into the industry and training and working can definitely lead to burn out and can ultimately be unfulfilling, unless you have a full life outside of it. Have hobbies and passions. Never stop learning. And if you need a break, take one. Despite what some people think, there is no expiration date on this thing. You can create until you have one foot in the grave, so don’t put all that pressure on yourself.
We had the pleasure to interview Allie McCulloch.
Allie was born into a military family in Virginia, her father was U.S. NAVY, and she has spent the majority of her life moving around all over the country and in Europe. She had a keen interest and enthusiasm for performing from a very young age of 4, which she nurtured as she grew up by doing plays, whether in the theatre or in her backyard for her neighbors. She left home and moved to New York City to model at the age of 16, where she began her professional career. From there, she relocated to Los Angeles to focus on training and studying and to pursue her career in film & television. Allie has been blessed to work alongside some of the most well-respected talent in the industry, and has sustained a consistently fulfilling and steady working actor’s career. Allie can be seen in acclaimed director Joshua Marston’s film “Come Sunday” opposite Oscar-Nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor. She has appeared on shows such as “The Walking Dead” in a memorable role opposite Oscar-Nominee Samantha Morton, Showtime’s “Homeland” and David Fincher’s “Mindhunter”.
On September 30, 2020, Allie will appear in a large supporting role opposite Oscar-Winner Julianne Moore in the Gloria Steinem biopic, “ THE GLORIAS”, directed by Oscar-Nominee Julie Taymor.
She plays the role of Brenda Feigen, based on the real-life American feminist activist who came up the ranks with Gloria, and all the incredible groundbreaking women from the 1960s and 1970s. Brenda Feigen attended Harvard Law, where she was one of only 32 women in her law school class of 565 students. She co-founded Ms. Magazine with Gloria Steinem. She also worked alongside Ruth Bader Ginsburg, co-directing the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)’s Women’s Rights Project (WRP). She’s an activist, mother, politician, author and still-practicing attorney.
Thank you so much for joining us Allie! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in a military family, my dad was in the U.S. NAVY so we moved around every couple of years — we lived on the East Coast, the West Coast and in Europe. I loved my upbringing — I credit the moving around and being the “new kid” all the time as a big part of why I’m an actor.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
My first real memory of performing was from around the age of 4 or 5 years old; my older sister and a neighbor and I formed a little group, a “performance troupe” if you will. We would put on acts (skits/singing/dancing routines) in our backyard on our deck that my dad built and invite all of the neighborhood and charge them to attend. We called ourselves the “NAVY GIRLS” and we made tee-shirts and everything. After that, I did all the school plays and talent shows and community theatre since I had been bitten by the performing bug! I will share that my first instance of stage fright happened on that very deck — I royally messed up the choreography to “The Loco-Motion” on stage and nearly peed myself I was so embarrassed.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I think it would have to be that Loco-Motion story above!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Well, I have to say “THE GLORIAS” is one of the most interesting and important and exciting projects I have ever worked on. I am blessed to have been a part of such an epic storytelling about such an iconic person, Gloria Steinem. I think Julie Taymor (our director) is a master and, as an actor, you don’t always get these gifts — such a beautiful script and beautiful role to dive into. I loved every moment working on that set, and it doesn’t hurt that all my time on set I worked opposite Julianne Moore. She is beyond amazing. Any good thing you’ve ever heard about her is the tip of the iceberg. I’ve never worked with anyone so incredibly generous and kind and open. I will also mention that I am very excited about a film I am a part of that is running the festival circuit right now and winning awards left and right. It’s a feature film called “Drought” by two up-and-coming first-time filmmakers, Hannah Black & Megan Petersen, and Executive produced by Mark & Jay Dulpass. It’s a beautiful film, a real heart story and the world better pay attention because these two ladies are really doing it- I expect nothing but amazing things from them. I have a super fun role as a chain smoking, tattooed, roadside motel owner. So, if that doesn’t make you tune in, I don’t know what would!
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I think diversity in our industry, and every industry, is of the utmost importance. I was really blessed to be a part of THE GLORIAS — we have a very diverse cast. And many of the projects I have been a part of have been very diverse. I love that. I think everyone — child, teen, adult, should be able to turn on something and see their culture depicted on-screen. I think we are on our way there. We still a ways to go, but it’s getting better and I am thrilled to be a part of this industry at this time when diversity and inclusion are so important.
What are your “Five things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Oh boy — I wish I had been told a thousand things.. but the thing is, even though I was told plenty, by people I really respected, I had to experience it on my own, mistakes and failures and all. I guess I’m the kind of person who has to learn by doing and experiencing — even if I am told in advance. I would definitely say the one I needed to hear was to be patient. I assumed I would work really hard and big things could happen right away; but that’s not how it has worked for me. I am sure you’ve heard the old adage, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint…” and that is so true. I spent a number of my younger years impatiently dissatisfied because I wasn’t where I wanted to be. And to add to that one — I wish I had heard that it wasn’t going to look exactly as I had planned. In fact, maybe “plans” in general were not helpful, it’s more fun to let things unfold the way they do and be grateful and surprised at each turn.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
The most valuable thing to me is to live a rich, full life outside of your career and industry. Do things that thrill you, that you love and are passionate about. Spend time in the world, travel if you enjoy it. Be with family and friends.
One of my acting coaches from years and years ago, Dennis LaValle, really instilled this in me and I live by it now. I really LIVE my life, and it makes me a better actor. Putting all your time and energy into the industry and training and working can definitely lead to burn out and can ultimately be unfulfilling, unless you have a full life outside of it. Have hobbies and passions. Never stop learning. And if you need a break, take one. Despite what some people think, there is no expiration date on this thing. You can create until you have one foot in the grave, so don’t put all that pressure on yourself.
That actually reminds me of a funny story. Years ago, I met with a big agent (and no, they didn’t sign me) and they told me in no uncertain terms that if I had not “made it” — whatever that even means — by the time I was 35, it was over. At the time, I felt that pressure big time. It definitely affected me. But it’s actually not true. That was that person’s perception of this as a business, but does that mean at 35 I have to go find a new love? No. We can keep creating. We are all in charge of the art we create and participate in to some degree. It’s very freeing to understand that. It allows more calm and patience and JOY in the process of living this creative life.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I think one of my favorite quotes is “To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” by Joseph Chilton Pearce — I love it because I spent years worried about being “wrong” or making sure I was doing things the way I was supposed to, and there’s no true art in that. There’s no freedom to experiment. I mean, a painter doesn’t put paint on a canvas and then ask people if she used the right colors or brushstrokes, she paints. She pours parts of her unique self into her creation and expects it to be received however it’s received by the viewer. As an actor, the work needs to be the same. There is no right or wrong, there is only life experience and preparation and uniqueness that we bring to the work. Letting go of the fear of being wrong is my greatest creative triumph.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.
Hands down — Dan Levy. I am in awe of his authenticity. I wish we could all be so vulnerable and honest (and fashionable, if I’m being honest!) But really — I was so moved by Schitt’s Creek. I am on my third round rewatching the entire series and I just love it so much. Like what I mentioned in the “life quote” question — he seems to get it and the fact that the industry and much of the world is celebrating his creativity makes me so happy! I spent the entire Emmy’s just a joyful weeping mess, watching him and his team win ALL the things. I would die to sit with him and tell him how his work has changed my life. Plus, on a side note — I love his character, David Rose, so much and I think it’s really subconsciously creeped into my own personal behavior and body language so, now every time I make a face or say anything, my kids say, “okay David..” or “Ew David” and any number of other quippy one liners in Alexis’ voice. Haha! And I love that so much!
How can our readers follow you online?
I’m on — Instagram: alliemcculloch1 and Twitter: @alliemcculloch