We had the good fortune of connecting with Hannah Bailey Nery and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hannah, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
I recently published my first collection of poetry ‘Drawing Blood (or On My Mother’s Toes)’ – it was greatly inspired by a yearning to connect with my family and heritage from across the ocean. I am a Filipino-Australian living in New York City, and during a particularly alienating period of the pandemic I found solace and access to a sense of ‘home’ through writing. It meditates on the quotidian, finding small aspects of identity to grasp onto: FaceTiming my grandmother, drinking tea from a specific cup, cooking lumpia and adobo (Filipino favourites!).
The book grapples with themes of division and separation, and attempts the bringing together of juxtaposed worlds that exist within me, and within the world around me. For longer than I can remember, I felt a conflict between the Filipino and Australian sides of who I am – it has seemed almost impossible to embrace both simultaneously. More recently I’ve begun to understand the ways in which one cannot exist without the other, and how together they create an identity that is whole. This notion is also reflected in my residing in two places – New York and Australia, and poses questions of home and belonging daily. I find these questions incredibly inspiring as they continue to fuel an understanding of self that is deep and intrinsic.
I am also an actor and singer, and another huge source of inspiration is my network of friends here in New York. There is a true abundance of creativity in this city and everyone I know seems to be exploring, rehearsing, discussing, compiling, producing, performing and honing their craft. It’s a wonderful energy to be surrounded by, and invites me to pursue new artistic horizons of my own.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
A lot of how I ended up here doing what I do was up to chance. I auditioned for The American Academy of Dramatic Arts on a total whim, was accepted, scraped together the money for my first year, got on a plane and sort of just threw myself at it. Six years later I’m still in New York, finding more and more ways to expand creatively. Of course it’s also taken a LOT of tenacity and hard work (and lengthy visa paperwork), but I try to hold onto the sense of spontaneity and ‘carpe diem’ that lead me here in the first place.
A lesson I’m currently learning is to let go of the thing being perfect. I am an incessant over-thinker (working on it), and I’ve often let it get in the way of just living inside the art being made. The poem, song, audition, scene, take, it can’t be ‘wrong’ if it comes from a truthful place. It will inherently be something unique and authentic because so am I. So f**k it, let’s try some sh*t!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
It’s been a while since I’ve had a visitor here (ahem, pandemic), so there are lots of places I’ve discovered recently that I’d love to show off!
I love to walk the city, just following my feet. If I planned a walking tour it would look something like this: bagels in Washington Square Park, window shopping along Bleeker through Greenwhich Village into Chelsea, if it isn’t too busy we’d hop on the Highline for a few blocks and get off to poke around the Chelsea galleries, browse the newly renovated Drama Bookshop and have lunch in one of the many Thai restaurants on 9th Ave/Hell’s Kitchen. Next we’d jump on the train to Williamsburg and thrift at Buffalo Exchange and Stella Dallas, stopping for matcha at Campbell & Co and a croissant at Nick & Sons. Hopefully a mate of mine would have a gig that night and in that case we’d grab Citibikes and ride back over the Williamsburg bridge, stop for a slice somewhere and groove at Rockwood Music Hall, Mercury Lounge, Bowery Electric or wherever the party’s at!
Other places we’d visit would be: newly named ‘Little Manila’ in Woodside, Queens – Filipino hub and great food! The Met museum, North Woods in Central Park, Tao Downtown, The Strand, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Claudio’s Pizza & Pasta, Mercer Street Books, MoMA PS1, Saint Anne’s Warehouse, Marsha P Johnson State Park, Bareburger, Pinkerton Wine Bar, Dia: Beacon, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and my Williamsburg rooftop!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout to my parents who made art (particularly music) central to my upbringing! I hated it at the time, but those long hours of piano and violin practice are most definitely paying off. “We told you so”.
Other: To purchase my book: https://hannahbaileynery.com/shop/iafgu6lnhh4ge0gagvfiqwlg7u3f90 Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1da6RfXKd6In1ZUC2mnlDM?si=ZtVBuTHfTNKCGAhIsbOBgw Linktree: https://linktr.ee/hannahbaileynery
Matt Davies, Mark Wyville, Sheriden Telford, Nick Simpson Deeks