Sonja O’Hara, writer and star of both Doomsday (SeriesFest), and the Big Apple Film Fest winner, OVUM.
What was it like to create your own work?
O’Hara: I moved to LA after graduating from The New York Conservatory, and shortly after I landed my first agent. I wanted to play the kind of bold and brilliant parts played by the actresses I looked up to–women like Cate Blanchett and Viola Davis! I decided to start writing those roles myself. I enrolled in a screenwriting class and began writing my first feature film, OVUM. When I completed the lengthy process of actually making the film on a micro-budget and it began to get into film festivals (and even started to receive critical acclaim!), it changed how casting directors saw me, but it also altered how I saw myself. I learned to say no to some of the roles that didn’t represent the career path I wanted. It was the best thing I’ve ever done.
What has been the most surprising thing you learned about yourself through acting?
O’Hara: I learned that I’m far less emotional in my own life than I give myself permission to be when I’m performing. That acting outlet allows me to really dig deep for emotional triggers. I believe it makes me a more even-keeled person to be around when I’m off set!
So far, what has been your favorite project and why?
O’Hara: One of my favorite projects was the film Creative Control. It was an incredibly welcoming set to work on and I got to do a scene opposite Nora Zehetner (Heroes NBC) who I grew up watching on the CW show Everwood. Also, it was the first movie where I played a principal role that went to movie theaters around the world!
What advice would you give to an acting student still in school?
O’Hara: In my experience, the drive is by far the most indicative quality of future success. Everyone saw me as obsessed and in love with acting, but I wouldn’t trade that passion for anything because that’s what keeps you in the industry while others drop out when the struggle gets too hard. If you want this career enough, you can do it! It’s worth fighting for! But you just have to tell yourself that you will never, ever quit. That you’re in it for the long haul.