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NUNN ON ONE: TV Ann Mahoney, from 'Walking Dead' to 'Sun Records'
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

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Actress Ann Mahoney shot into the spotlight on the hit AMC show The Walking Dead, playing the a lesbian character named Olivia. Before meeting an untimely end, Olivia was in charge of the pantry and armory in the town of Alexandria Safe-Zone.

Mahoney moved to New Orleans from New York when she was younger. She studied acting at Greensboro College and received her MFA from UCONN. She studied Japanese theater with Suzuki Method of Actor Training. She has appeared in films such as Bad Moms, Midnight Special, and 99 Homes. After The Walking Dead, she is making new appearances on television with the new drama Sun Records, which is based on the musical Million Dollar Quartet.

Windy City Times: Hi, Ann. When did you start performing?

Ann Mahoney: I started in ballet when I was 4. I did my first play at 9. In high school I did plays, and was on the speech and debate teams. I went to college and graduate school for acting.

WCT: You are currently teaching?

AM: I am. I teach acting at Loyola University in New Orleans.

WCT: What is the best thing to eat in New Orleans?

AM: That is hard. One of my favorite things is a fried oyster po-boy from Domilise's.

WCT: How does it feel passing on the torch to students?

AM: It is rewarding. I was fortunate. I had a fantastic set of teachers starting with my high school. My high school speech and debate team coach Morris Block, who is no longer with us, was very dear to me. He had no kids of his own, so we were his kids. He believed in me very much. He was instrumental in me going to study more.

WCT: Do you have specific tips for your students?

AM: I am really honest with them. I tell them about the experiences I have had as a performer, both good and bad. My masters was specific in the Suzuki method. It is a Japanese acting technique both in physical and vocal training. It is very rigorous. I teach it at Loyola and privately as well.

WCT: How hard was it to be cast on Walking Dead?

AM: I auditioned once. I sent a tape in. It is a longer process than that in a way because the casting people I had worked with before in 2003. I wasn't planning on doing film or television. I was a theater actress. When the role came along they thought of me. It was a good ten years that they had known me.

It was instant as far as the audition, but getting there was not.

WCT: When you started on the show, there weren't many [out] characters on there. Now the character Jesus just came out so things seem to be changing.

AM: We love it. He is gay in the comic book.

WCT: What did you like or dislike about your character, Olivia?

AM: I liked how trustworthy she was. She was one of those people that you instantly trust.

I disliked how long it took for her to stand up for herself. Everyone wants to think of themselves as the Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixons in life, but the truth is more of us are like Olivia. If we were in the situation we would be terrified in trying to figure out what to do. I try to remember that.

WCT: When did you know your character was going to be killed?

AM: About six weeks before. Scott Gimple called me. They needed a death at the mid season finale that people would be pissed about. Olivia was the little pantry keeper and armory girl, so there was no reason to kill her. It showed who they were dealing with and what type of people the Saviors are. There are willing to kill anyone, even though they have a pretense of bargaining, they really don't bargain.

The second I saw Scott's name on my phone I knew I was dead!

WCT: I spoke to Scott Wilson who played Hershel Greene. He said there is a special dinner with the cast when someone is killed off.

AM: I was shooting Sun Records simultaneously so I left immediately after my scene to go to Memphis.

WCT: You missed the last supper! Talk about Sun Records.

AM: It is an eight-episode miniseries. It is on CMT, airing Thursday at 9 p.m. Central. I am playing Gladys Presley, Elvis Presley's mom. I actually look a lot like her. They do age me quite a bit, even though I am her same age.

She had a rough life. Elvis was one of two. His twin was born stillborn. Elvis was born 30 minutes later and then she hemorrhaged for six weeks. She got hepatitis C and died very young.

The time, she was alive she was very bonded with Elvis. She had premonitions about him. It is wonderful to play someone like her.

WCT: How was her accent for you?

AM: I just listened to her. It was not just the accent, but the lilt when she speaks.

WCT: How was the experience of being in the film Midnight Special?

AM: So much fun. I was there for about a day. It was quick.

WCT: Did you meet a favorite celebrity when you were in the film Bad Moms?

AM: I didn't get to work with Christina Applegate. I worked with Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis. They were all delightful. They had their kids on set, and their husbands. We had a blast. There was a lot of improv in that film, so it was fun.

WCT: Tell our readers about Rectify.

AM: It is a great show on the Sundance TV Channel. It is shot very cinematically. It is slow. I don't mean slow in a boring way, but viewers have to sit there and commit to it.

The show is about a man that goes to prison for raping and killing his girlfriend. He is in prison for a quarter of a century when all technology happened, like email, cell phones, and Internet. He comes out of prison to a whole new world, and ends up in the town he grew up in.

I play a real good friend of Adelaide Clemens, who plays Tawney Talbot. It is a beautiful show.

WCT: What is your favorite thing about Fan Fest appearances?

AM: I like meeting people. I especially love meeting teenage and girls in their early twenties who are struggling to love themselves. That is my goal in life to help them. I have a 4-year-old daughter. I want to inspire women to lift each other up, and to love themselves as they are.

WCT: You have such a great platform to do this.

AM: I am hosting the film Looking for Grace, which is a body positive film by this woman from Australia. I am doing a benefit in New Orleans for Girls on the Run. It is a girls organization that starts in 3rd grade teaching them to bond and love each other in school. They run but they don't have to. It is a nonprofit and I really like what they stand for. We are hosting the film then donating the proceeds to Girls on the Run.

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