Believing in yourself is far more important than believing in what anyone else thinks of you. I was intimidated at first here. Now I’m just myself and that’s what I concern myself with- being the best version of me that I possibly can.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mary Elizabeth Boylan. Mary is an Award-winning Actress and Filmmaker, whose recent credits include the Internationally acclaimed Network Television show Criminal Minds, and who’s features and short films have screened in festivals nationwide, as well as for the Oscars Short Film Competition.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve been on stage since I was 3 years old. I was a dancer until college, where I spent a minute as a pre-med student at The Ohio State University (I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio). I swiftly learned that I missed the stage when I took an elective acting class. That was the end of Dr. Boylan (other than when I play one on screen. ☺ Later on, I left acting for a while to do real estate, which I still do. Producing films is much like being a Realtor. You’re moving a very different product, but both require a similar level and type of tenacity and creativity. My path has been very uniquely my own. I’ve explored many different avenues of living, and therefore many different parts of myself. It took me a while to really find my passion and my voice as an artist and frankly as a human overall.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Wow, there are so many! It’s been quite an unpredictable ride. I guess that becoming a filmmaker qualifies the most. I never thought I could write or produce. Then my first film gets into 5 festivals and gets nominated 3 times. Didn’t see any of that coming! ☺
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Well I moved here from Miami where I spent a year working after college. The water is on the East, not the West. I was hilariously lost all the time when I first got here, also since LA is huge and spread out comparatively speaking! I found myself on the East side thinking I was near the beach quite often!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I wrote another film that’s along the same lines tonally with my first film, Getting Lemons. As a filmmaker, I’ve always been fascinated with the nature vs. nurture question of our humanity. This film has a strong voice in that direction. It’s a timepiece highlighting a woman’s journey to find a different self outside of her own extremely challenging circumstances, and away from a past that she can’t seem to reconcile. We start shooting in September and I cannot wait! The film also shines a light on early childhood abuse and neglect. I’m hoping it inspires people who have had such experiences, and I also hope it helps raise awareness of how early childhood trauma can shape any person’s life.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I’m part-owner of a multi-media repertory company of Actors/Filmmakers called The Collaborative. There are 100 of us who work together to produce our own unique content. These exceptional people make my heart sing personally and professionally on every level. I’m thrilled to call them my LA family! They are some of the best and brightest minds in this town!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Enjoy the current moment. Whatever place you’re in, wherever you perceive your career path to need to be going or not going, there will always be another level to it. Work smart and hard, but enjoy the process. The only thing we have for certain is the present. Don’t waste it always worrying about what’s next. Appreciate what you have and know where you’re going. And appreciate the people you are sharing the journey with!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
When I have a rough day running around in Los Angeles (which we all experience) I think about the fact that somewhere- actually most places- someone is searching for water, food and shelter. 10% of the people on this planet actually thrive in the 1st world. Changing the disparity of wealth in this world would benefit the entire planet, on so many levels.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. No one really knows what they’re doing. We just do it (I didn’t know how to make a movie until I did!)
2. The 405, the 101 and the 10 are not highways. They are in fact parking lots. ☺ Traffic is worse than you think and you need to plan ahead!
3. When people show you who they are, believe them the first time, good or bad. I’ve gotten burned by being too trusting during the beginning of my time here. I’ve also gotten very lucky by meeting so many wonderful people here in LA. It takes a minute to find your tribe, but once you do, hold on to them for dear life!
4. Believing in yourself is far more important than believing in what anyone else thinks of you. I was intimidated at first here. Now I’m just myself and that’s what I concern myself with- being the best version of me that I possibly can.
5. The beach fixes everything. Now I know that when I’m really stressed out, going there even just for an hour calms me down and helps me regain my perspective.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
This past year or so was full of some of the hardest lessons I’ve ever learned. I hurt more than I ever knew I could. I faced parts of myself I didn’t know existed. I fell down, backwards and face first into who I really was, and what I wanted to become.
But in the wake of it all, I found a strength I had never accessed before. I fell back in love with life. I fell back in love with my work as an artist. I know more than ever why I am here. I accomplished many of my goals, and feel ready to conquer so many new ones.
I closed 2018 having shot 4 films and a network TV Guest Star, along with having produced 2 other projects. I start 2019 with a role in a new TV show, 2 producing jobs, and my next film in pre-production, a project very dear to my heart that I get to make with people I love.
What if everything I went through has prepared me for everything I have ever asked for?
I believe that is one of the keys to life. Acknowledging the storm you stand in, accepting the shoes you put on your feet, and making your very own dance moves, whether it’s raining or not.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
That is an insanely long list of people. I am surrounded by the most wonderful and supportive friends, family and colleagues. Everything I accomplish I most certainly share with all of them!
I will say that I’m especially blessed to come from a small town called Brunswick, Ohio, 40 miles south of Cleveland. I had a small town Midwest upbringing and I’m proud to say I’m still that same person in many ways. I’m also still closest to my childhood friends from back home!
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. 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 see this. 🙂
Also a long list, but Mindy Kaling comes to mind. She unapologetically created her own world, her own work and her own very unique artistic path at a very high level.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Facebook: Mary Elizabeth Boylan
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!