Name: Megan Magee
Hometown: Levittown, PA
Current Location: Astoria, Queens – NYC
TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Magee: I remember having dinner with my mother at Friendly’s when I was in 9th grade. I was talking about wanting to audition for colleges, which musical theater programs I wanted to apply to, etc… and she was reminding me that was very competitive and would be very, very hard. She wasn’t being discouraging, but she was firm with me in making it clear that it would be a lot of work, and there was no guarantee of success. She said that someday I might change my mind and want to do something else, and that would always be okay. I remember snapping back without thinking, and saying, “I know I will have success. Because of all the people who are trying to do it, some will get tired of it, some won’t like it, some will change their minds and quit… and I will never quit.” I sometimes still wish I had the strength in that belief that I had when I was a kid, but although it may waver at times, it still rings true. I will never quit. And I’ve always known that. So looking back, yeah, I think that was the moment when I knew this is what I was going to be doing for my career and for the rest of my life.
TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Magee: The first time I was deeply, deeply moved by a piece of theater was when my parents took my brother and I to see our babysitter and his high school musical! He was Enjolras in “Les Miserables” and I must have been about 10 or 11. My mom had informed me that the show was very sad, and had showed me some of the music so that I could follow the story. I cried so much, especially when Anthony, our babysitter, died during the battle scene. It was really powerful to see somebody that I knew quite well and looked up to giving such an amazing performance, and even though I knew of course it “wasn’t real,” it felt so real to me. I think that was the first time I fully grasped the magic of theater happening right in front of you, and making you feel as though you are truly living through the story with the actors. I “was Eponine” for weeks after that… I was totally obsessed and ran around the house singing all the songs. It’s still my favorite musical of all time, partly because it’s awesome, and partly because that was such a powerful memory for me.
TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career as an actor? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Magee: I’m still figuring that out every day, honestly. Originally I wanted to do musicals. That was all I wanted to do. I loved singing more than anything, and I wanted to be on Broadway and all that. But as I’ve grown as an artist and an actor I’ve found such deep, meaningful work in the theater coming from straight plays, and those have become my favorite performances to go see and to be a part of. I think the best thing I ever did for my career was decide to enroll in a two year Meisner program at the William Esper Studio. The time spent there stripped me of a lot of terrible habits and empowered me as a human being as well as an actor. I’ve been blessed with a lot of theatrical opportunities since then, finally having my Off-Broadway debut in 2015, which was incredible. This year has also brought some theatrical projects, but has been more focused on the marketing, the branding, the business end. I’m in a fantastic film and TV class at the Terry Knickerbocker studio that is all about nailing your type, killing the audition, booking the job, and how to break into this business as an entrepreneur. So I feel like every day I’m learning a new way to reapproach my “attack” on this industry as a career. It really is changing every day. I’m just doing my best to keep up with the times, and still remember that feeding my soul as an artist is the most important thing.
TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Magee: I still can’t believe that I survived the city moving here at 18 years old. I was fresh out of high school, I was an absolute baby. But it’s shaped me in so many ways that I couldn’t be more grateful that I took on the challenge. Fortunately, coming from Pennsylvania I wasn’t too far away. I still have the opportunity to take the train home on weekends or for special family events, which is very important to me. My family is amazing. Being here for almost a decade now, it has been the best thing in the world to me that I’ve been able to get home and see my family more than once a year… for a lot of people I know that’s usually not the case. I got lucky. My family is my biggest support system.
TrunkSpace: Was that move an easy transition for you initially? How long did it take you to feel at home and find a good support group of friends and peers?
Magee: I’ve always been very adaptable, which my mother will back up for you. I adored living in this city, and I immediately found a wonderful group of friends at my school and dove headfirst into exploring the Big Apple. I think at times it was pushed. I think my stubbornness at being a “success” combined with my starry-eyed ignorance in a way meant that I thought I was happier than I was. But in any case, it got me through my first few years here while I was still growing my roots. Fake it ’til you make it is no joke!
TrunkSpace: What has been been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far
Magee: The summer of 2015 brought my Off-Broadway debut, which felt like a huge shift in momentum. The play was a hilarious comedy called “Women Are Crazy Because Men Are A**holes” and had transplanted itself from LA to the historic Cherry Lane Theatre here in NYC. Taking a bow in front of an audience that size was truly a dream.
TrunkSpace: Is there a specific type of role you’d like to take on or a specific genre that you feel more at home in?
Magee: Lately I’ve been craving comedy, comedy, comedy! This is a welcome shift, as in the past I’ve loved to suffer and have sunk my teeth into the most dramatic work I can get my hands on. My tendency is usually to be drawn to the darkest, saddest stories with the most twisted characters, and I will always have that in my heart. But lately my dream role is something like Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope in “Parks and Recreation”. Especially in film and television I have been finding such pleasure in comedies like “Community,” “Scrubs,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”… all these amazing shows where the actors are showing up and committing 1000 percent to these scenes that are just out of this world wacky, and I really, really admire that. I’ve also been kind of a goofball my whole life, so it’s been nice realizing I still want that too. This acting stuff has to be so serious all the time!
TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Magee: For better or for worse, I have boundless energy and I put 1000 percent of it into whatever I’m working on. If nothing else, I am proud of the level of commitment I am able to bring to my career, to my projects, to my auditions, etc. I’ve been able to learn through many mistakes to maintain a level of professionalism and to always show up rehearsed, prepared, and ready to work. That stubborn kid at Friendly’s is still in there, and she will never, ever quit.
TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Magee: Artistically I feel like I’m already there! I am truly living the dream. I have found myself a part of the most beautiful community of actors, writers, directors, and producers in that I am always able to find something to work on or at least go see and appreciate. I’ve been able to direct full length theater, I’ve written my own work that I get to see produced… everything I could have imagined this life would be has to some extent already happened to me. Now that I’m committed to pursuing it forever, since I’m never quitting, as previously stated, my ultimate goal now is to get to that next tier where this work I’m doing can be my sole source of income. I want to be able to support myself fully off of my work in the creative arts, and make that my J-O-B. Right now for me, this means pursuing more commercial, film, and television work… targeting that work more often and booking more consistently. Hopefully eventually booking a long-lasting project that becomes a paycheck! Of course it’s not about he money, but when there are only so many hours in a day and this is what I want to be doing with my life, I feel I have to get to the point where I don’t need to expend any more extra energy busting my butt to support myself financially. And I’m sure once I get there, there will be another step on the ladder to climb. I know this work is never over. But for now, that is my primary focus.
TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Magee: It is a long and winding road and there is not a map. It’s scary. It’s bewildering. It’s frustrating. It seems futile and fruitless. And you won’t always be happy. If you’re anything like me, it’ll be years of work and dozens of auditions before you book your first paying job. So be willing to have that kind of patience and persistence. Find a community and a place to do work consistently even when you’re not booking, and make that your definition of success. If you feel like you’ve “made it” because you are doing scene work with your former classmates once a week in someone’s apartment, than you have. You have made it. As long as you are always crafting, creating, and communicating, you’ve made it. Everything else is the bonus. If you are able to adapt yourself to a mindset along those lines, I believe it will make your journey so much easier. The joy has to be in the work… because you are in control of that. If you leave it up to the people who might hire you to determine your joy, you’re in for a bad time.
TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Magee: You can visit my website, www.meganmagee.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @MeganMageeActs, or follow me on my Instagram account @presentlaughter where you’ll find a more personal side of me somewhat split between acting projects and my fitness background. A lot of sweaty selfies after long runs or early morning workouts. Be warned.