What are you most excited about now that you’ve joined Diane and Hal Brierley Resident Acting Company?
I am most excited about getting to perform again. Like my new colleagues at Dallas Theater Center, I am eager to get back to work, back to creating, back to serving our community.
What’s the project you’ve enjoyed working on most at Dallas Theater Center?
I’ve been a part of two shows so far at Dallas Theater Center: Frankenstein, directed by Joel Ferrell in 2018, and The Wolves, directed by Wendy Dann in 2019. Both were fun, ensemble-driven shows, and remarkably physical in different ways.
What role has meant the most to you as an actor and why?
Lady Macbeth in Macbeth. During second semester of second year MFA training at SMU, the eight grad actors are split into two groups of four, then each group is assigned a Shakespeare play to cut to a one-hour version. Then the task is to produce, design, rehearse, direct, and finally, perform the shows, with the four actors playing all the parts, at the end of the semester. My group was assigned Macbeth, and I got to play Lady M. However, this project came on top of our five classes and eight shows a week of Dallas Theater Center’s The Wolves. We rehearsed Macbeth in our “off-time”: which meant between shows of The Wolves, between classes, and late at night. We were all exhausted and often worried that we wouldn’t be able to pull it off. I also felt intimidated because so many iconic actresses have played Lady M so brilliantly, and I had that feeling of “I pale in comparison to those women. Why should I even try?” I will always be grateful to Michael Connolly, (for everything, honestly), but especially for his guidance during that particularly chaotic time. He would remind me I am enough as I am and would tell me just a simple sentence here or there that would put me back on track. One of the most powerful questions he ever asked me was, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is “one bite at a time”. He encouraged me to focus on the moment-to-moment, rather than the big picture, so as not to overwhelm myself. Go slow, keep it simple. His advice has helped me tremendously. I struggled with the vulnerability of “Come, you spirits” for the longest time. I would go to my favorite park in Dallas and walk among the strange gargoyles and lion statues, over and over again, breathing, working through the text, yet I would still struggle. I felt like the speech was competent but not where I wanted it to be. The day before our one- and-only performance, still unsatisfied but remembering Michael’s advice, I went into one of SMU’s basement classrooms, turned off all the lights so it was pitch black, and took one line at a time, really asking the questions, breathing, listening, giving over to the circumstances and the text…then finally, it happened. It clicked. I made the speech work. I found what I needed. (And also scared the **** out of myself in the process, ha!). The next day, our group performed Macbeth for a one-night only performance, and to this day, I think it’s one of the best performances I have ever given. I’m very proud of what my classmates and I accomplished as individuals and as a group for Macbeth.
Is there a role you’ve always dreamed of playing?
Oh my. I would love to play Lady Macbeth in a full-length version of Macbeth, Blanche DuBois, Hedda Gabler, Nora Helmer, Queen Margaret in Henry VI Part II, there are so many…
When and how did you get started in voice acting?
2013 – a friend’s referral, which led to an audition, which led to a very lucky opportunity of ending up in Chris Ayres’s booth, who happened to need an unknown for a lead in a show. I have been very fortunate to work as a voice actor ever since, and I absolutely love it.
Molly Searcy (#11) and other cast members of The Wolves, photos by Karen Almond.
How is a vocal performance different from other arts?
For me, the key differences in voice over work are: 1) the audience is listening to your voice and only your voice. If you’re unclear about what you’re saying, or you don’t sound like a real person, the audience will know immediately. So, clarity, specificity, and being really in-tune with your instrument are key. 2) Microphones are sensitive, so you have the luxury of immediate intimacy. You don’t have to push—the mic is right there in front of you, and it’s your best friend. 3) The time factor – in voice over work, particularly in anime, the actor doesn’t get the script ahead of recording. Or if they do, it’s with very little notice. Often, you’ll walk into the booth, and that’s the first time you’re seeing the dialogue you’re about to record. It’s just the nature of the business: fast and furious. Rarely do you get rehearsal time, so you familiarize yourself with the show and your character as much as possible before recording.
A lot of your anime roles come from properties with a very devoted following. Have you been able to communicate with fans?
Yes! I love to guest at anime conventions where I get to meet fans. I also chat with fans on Twitter!
What is it like to take on a part with passionate online fans? How is it different than interacting with fans of a stage show?
It’s wonderful! I the biggest difference between anime fans vs theatre fans is cosplay. I have yet to see theatre-goers dress in cosplay. But never say never!
What’s your favorite thing to do when you have to shelter-in-place?
I love and look forward to my daily walk outdoors.
You just graduated / You’re about to graduate with your MFA, right? Congratulations! What did you like most about attending SMU?
Just graduated this weekend! No ceremony due to the pandemic, but it’s officially official now. I’m doneskies! I liked learning the most. That sounds obvious, but it’s the truth. My professors are extraordinary, with limitless knowledge. I learned so much from them.
What are you going to miss most about your educational experience?
Same answer. The learning.
Do you have any advice for people looking to get into either acting (stage, voice, or otherwise)?
Sure! Take classes from great teachers. Get to know, be honest, and be kind to yourself. Free yourself of judgment as much as you can. Take the work seriously, but not yourself. Invest in good equipment, like a good self-tape set-up for example and/or a good microphone. Know your worth. Define success for yourself. If you’re feeling resistant to something, ask yourself if the resistance is rooted in honesty or fear. Slow down. Keep it simple. Take one bite at a time. More than anything, remember: you are enough.
Molly Searcy is the Linda and Bill Custard SMU Meadows Actor