Today we’d like to introduce you to Annie Harrison Elliott.
Annie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My journey to playwriting began because of my background in acting, dance, and poetry. I worked professionally as an actor in New York after attending graduate school. All my auditions were for one-dimensional female roles. A turning point was booking a small part on a low-budget “true-crime” TV show. The role: brutally murdered woman.
While filming, they bound my hands with duct tape. They placed me in the back of a creepy van. I waited for two actors to fling open the doors and throw me over their shoulders. They dragged me to a shed. My character was cut with a knife.
Each time we did another take, I returned to that dark van, waiting for them to come and get me. As I sat there, I couldn’t help but think “what am I doing with my life?” Fast forward ten+ years. I am a writer who focuses on creating complex female protagonists.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I’ve needed to learn (and am still learning) how to advocate for myself and for my work.
I now define what is negotiable and what is not.
The arts, in general, can be a tough road, and sometimes an opportunity isn’t worth the sacrifice. I’ve learned to choose who I collaborate with carefully.
Every project I say “yes” to means time away from my three-year-old son, so I try to be deliberate in every choice I make.
We’d love to hear more about what you do.
One of my goals as a playwright is to help build community through my work. I wrote a full-length play, Empty Rooms, which was produced by Found Stages Theatre in 2017 and developed in Atlanta by Working Title Playwrights, DRAMATech, and Out of Box Theatre. It’s a #MeToo play (although it was written before the Movement became prominent nationally) and it centers on the challenges women face working in the tech industry.
Found Stages produced it non-traditionally, and it toured tech offices and Universities throughout Atlanta. Because of that production experience, I got the privilege of meeting amazing people working within the tech field. I feel the play created a vehicle for the sharing of stories between women, and I will always be proud of that.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I have moments when I regret the curvy road I took getting to playwriting. Before I made the final commitment to write, I was an actor, dancer, SaveMart cashier, public relations manager, casting assistant, office manager and HR assistant, teacher, tutor, teaching artist, waitress, and finally an owner of my own arts teaching business.
I will say that while this list of former jobs makes me “sigh” a little on the inside, all of my life experiences make me a better writer. I’ve encountered many different types of people and work environments on my journey, and I feel those experiences inspire me to create fuller, more interesting characters.
Also, the business skills I acquired along the way are indispensable as an artist. And when I started my own arts learning business, I realized I could create something out of nothing. The experience of growing a business gave me confidence in my ability to create opportunities, even when it seems like there isn’t an opportunity available.
So, even though I took a curvy road to get here, I don’t know if I’d do it differently.
- Website: www.annieharrisonelliott.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paula Harding, Brad Fairchild, Casey Gardner