We had the good fortune of connecting with Shannon Murray and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shannon, how do you think about risk?
Taking a leap of faith to pursue my dream of acting to me at the time didn’t seem like a risk, to me it was a sure thing. I knew in my soul and deep in my bones that this was my journey. Leaving my hometown of Millsboro, Delaware to go to New York City didn’t seem like too big of a leap because I was only four and a half hours away from home. When I decided to move to Los Angeles, that felt more like jumping off the high dive to do a cannonball into the deepest waters, but I still wasn’t afraid. I knew that in due time I’d be able to prove myself. As an actor, you’re dependent upon your management team and agent to find auditions for you and help progress your career on a higher level. I’ve always tried to be more proactive by self submitting and making connections through working on sets behind the camera, but making it known to the right people that my actual mark is meant to be in front of the lens.
In 2016, I’d take on the biggest known risk of my life yet. I decided to take matters into my own hands and start looking for a script that I’d produce that would best showcase my acting talents. That’s when I found the script for my feature film “Rag Doll.” My thinking was, if I’m not going to invest in myself then who will? Which I continued to find that people weren’t comfortable taking the financial risk on a no name actress, so myself and Double Entente Films self funded the film. I know saying and doing this is a bit of a no no in our industry, but I want others to know that if you work hard, invest in yourself and have the courage to make the necessary sacrifices, that you can achieve your dreams. Yea ya might have to get bunk beds and sublet your apartment, you might not be able to meet up with friends as often, see shows, go out to eat or travel. But if you sacrifice now, you’ll be rewarded later. Also remember that there is a season to sow and a season to reap. But ask any farmer, you can’t do both of them within the same season.
Our film “Rag Doll” has garnered over 20 awards on the film festival circuit, landing us a distribution deal with Gravitas Ventures, one of the largest all rights distributors in the world. Gravitas scored us a one week theatrical run in Los Angeles, made it available on over 25 on demand services and it is exclusively streaming on Amazon Prime Video. I am so proud of this film and the journey it has taken me on. It was like an ultra race but I had no idea how many miles it was going to take or the mental stamina I would need to have, but I believed in myself and I had my eye on the finish line, and when I got tired I just pushed that much harder not to stop. My biggest advice when you take a risk, is to know that you might be afraid, but don’t let that overwhelm you, mistakes will be made, lessons will be learned, adventures will be had, get comfortable with being uncomfortable and do your best to be patient so you can see the right direction for your project or goal. Work on building accountability for yourself. You may have a team but no one is going to make your dreams happen for you, so make sure to develop a strong work ethic if you haven’t already.
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.
The road to success in the entertainment industry is never clear or easy. Being a filmmaker is a labor of love, and like any great love, that often means a lot of passion and a lot of persistence to reach your “happily ever after.” There are set-backs and “failures” and successes and triumphs, but it just may be that all those peaks and valleys are what make being a filmmaker so great. The one main ingredient you’ll always need for the journey in filmmaking, is persistence. It can take you further than any other quality alone. The power to keep going will conquer all other obstacles. Combine that with the energy and passion to see new ways around challenges and you’ll achieve your goals. Over time I’ve learned that it’s important to write down the things that you want, your goals and aspirations, visualize yourself having them, but it’s even more important to take the action to achieve them. Create a plan. Thoughts alone won’t get you to the goal line, you’ll need to do the work necessary to reach the objective. Parts of the journey will be hellish and hard, lonely and trying, but the only thing that can make it worse is quitting. Keep going. Make the struggle worth it by persisting, tomorrow could be the day where your luck changes. Don’t give up.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There are so many great things about our city, there’s always a new show to see, an event to attend or art to support. I love going to see comedy, either at the bigger venues like The Laugh Factory and Comedy Store or the underground shows at Bar Lubitsch put on by JetPack. Going to the Hollywood Bowl with a picnic basket filled with food and drinks to see a once in a lifetime show. Watching a classic film at the Hollywood Cemetery. Escaping some of the best themed escape rooms in the country at 60 Out. Getting Dodger Dogs at the Dodgers game. Hiking some of the best hikes, like Eaton Canyon in Pasadena. Taking the Universal Studios and the WB studio tour. Sipping flights of craft beers of the local breweries, Three Weavers, Eagle Rock and Munson topping my list. Eating burgers and drinking craft beers at Blue Dog Beer Tavern in Sherman Oaks. And nothing better than stopping off to Salsa and Beer at lunch time to get a margarita and some amazing Mexican food.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I wouldn’t be where I was today if it wasn’t for the support of my mother, Wanda Joe Murray. At the start of my acting career she drove me all over the northeast for classes, auditions and filming. She’s also been a huge support system throughout the entire process of “Rag Doll.” I’d also like to thank my director and producing partner, Bailey Kobe with Double Entente Films, because “Rag Doll” wouldn’t be what it is today if he didn’t believe in me and choose to take on the huge feat that is producing a feature film.
Humberto Guzman, Anthony Mehlhaff, Aaron Arnold, Albert l. Ortega