Interview by William R. Lankford
Photography by Alexander Thompson
It was Wednesday approaching the latter end of August that I was to meet with actor and voiceover actor, Emily McEnroe on the rooftop lounge of the Thompson Hotel in Hollywood, California. I arrived a couple of hours before our scheduled lunch which was set for 2 p.m., and with an unusual overcast, even for a Los Angeles summer, looming its head just above, Hollywood for the moment seemed to be somewhat hushed. Although one could catch an off-chance glimpse of the momentary actions happening below in nearby music studios, from a close friend’s room visiting from New York, on the 8th floor, I was told it was indeed the ultimate bird’s eye view of all that was happening below.
All that aside, and although worried about the potential noise factor within the location, it became apparent that my conversation with McEnroe would be effortlessly uninterrupted. Soon after, I received a text to confirm my exact location from McEnroe who had just arrived at the hotel. She turned a corner and approached from the far end of the cabana. Emily’s style and presence seemed to be somewhat inadvertently subdued. She was stylishly relished in black boots and a long dress that was hemmed just above the ankle of her shoes. Her introductory voice accompanied her stylish appearance, which was distinct and separate from the proverbial overall rhetoric entangled in first encounters. Emily’s cultural consciousness and life experiences, coupled with her in-tune vernacular about the film industry would soon lay weight throughout our conversation. Thus being as much enunciated as her arrival.
Inquiring about her stay and plans for residing in Los Angeles, McEnroe went on to say, “I’m currently staying with family, but I gave up a place that I had in Hollywood that was pretty close to here. I’m hoping to eventually be back in this area. Hollywood/L.A. has always been home base as of the last six or seven years.”
While settling in at the table one could immediately notice what seemed to sound like incidental background music from an overly suggestive ’60s French noir film. Approaching the preliminary convoy of conversing minus the uncomplicated introduction, McEnroe’s composure while looking over the menu put the mood at ease.
“So I grew up in New York City, but I’ve been in L.A. the past six years. Then the pandemic happened, and with that came all of its craziness. Honestly, with just being alone for so long, this was the only time in my life that I have been able to get up and move and have this experience because I’m an actor and voice actor. But during this whole experience, it was so insane, with bits of isolation and work being up in the air. It’s just been a fulfilling experience just to have this and such a nice way to shift the narrative from what I think of how difficult the year’s been and how it has gifted myself and a lot of other people”, said McEnroe.
The curiosity about Emily’s budding career as an actor coupled with her demeanor alone establishes a certain level of refreshing creativity and enigmatic magnetism tucked away from the traditionally unexpected explanation from an artist who in a sense has no reason to explain herself. That said, her current works and future projects although this past year, respectably were set to a let us say steady pause or slow motion, McEnroe continued to pursue.
“It’s been crazy, I have an indie film that was in post-production as of the end of May called “Futra Days” produced by Orian Williams, who is also directing the new Jeff Buckley biopic, which is an exciting side note.”
“For the film, I shot all of my scenes with Rosanna Arquette, which was incredible. It was such a special experience, it was my first film, and with my mother being an actor, and growing up and being on set, I kind of understood the realities of Hollywood. It was shot with this young up-and-coming director Ryan David which is his second movie. In the film, I played a small part which was a nurse and I was just happy to be there. It was this moment of joy of knowing that this is what I want to do, and what I’ve been working towards doing, and the moments of it being really difficult and the reality of being on set and seeing everyone just living and breathing movies was just like, this is where I’m supposed to be” she said.
With both of us mulling over what to order, and McEnroe eyeing the menu, her conversational delivery, as well as her mannerisms, were openly affable. When asked about her career in voiceover acting and current film, McEnroe went on to say “ We shot the film pre-pandemic here in Los Angeles which was great and the film is at the moment being festival shopped. I’ve been with a voiceover agency for years, and they’re amazing. I just love doing voice-over work. It’s just fun and freeing. I mostly go out for voiceover roles of little boy characters, and that kind of joy and fun in conjunction with each other is incredibly fulfilling”, said McEnroe.
While I attempted to steer clear of any Covid related questions, McEnroe, in step with schooling me about the world of voiceover work, confirmed the dynamics, confusion, and all-around madness that came with the territory due to the pandemic throughout the industry.
“Well, it’s like this elephant in the room because it affected so many people. But for myself having just had all of this momentum, and after having just shot a new indie, moving into a new apartment, and signing with a commercial agent, things seemed to have been moving forward and then the pandemic hit. Everyone’s world was completely rocked and I had just moved into a new place and was looking forward to having people over, and then the next thing I know I’m alone for a year with my cat. But with that, the turnaround for zoom auditions and with everything else, some beauty came out of it. There were some good and bad moments, but I enjoyed auditioning from home and It was just different. Just kind of rolling with the punches”, said McEnroe.
With the afternoon cooling down a bit, the conversation shifted to our perspectives on the pandemic and the domestic and international impact that it’s had on all of us. McEnroe’s personality and perception of everything happening around her brought on a degree of comfort. Comfort in the sense that she has a no-bullshit approach on the immediate subject and all of life’s other hiccups, and manages to harness a silver lining of genuine optimism.
“There’s a horrifying reality of all of it,” McEnroe said. “With any kind of tragedy. But with it can come an incredible amount of beauty and self-reflection…slowing down.”