ANNA MCGAHAN

Writer. Actress. Mamma.

What are the motivations underlying as to why you create?


Gosh, primarily they’re selfish – I do it to self soothe! It’s the only therapy that works for me.
But I create seasonally too, in waves. Often I live with a story for a while, or in a stage of life, and it has to take root in me and change me somehow. Then the urge to make begins to creep in, and I’ll often churn out work quite quickly. I’ve learned I work best this way.

 

Anna as 'Miss Mcraw' in Picnic at Hanging Rock

 

As a fellow believer in love with Jesus, can you touch a little upon your experience of being a Christian in the arts and entertainment industry?  How have you overcome the challenges you have faced and/or currently?


Prayer is essential here. God loves the arts. He loves arts practice. He’s so keen to be involved. He’s the best damn agent or producer you’ll ever have. I’ve learned if He’s telling me to make something, I better get onto making it. Working as an actor in an industry that puts on a show of barely tolerating Christianity, I’ve learned a lot. But I’ve realised that authentic storytelling, and genuinely offering my friendship, heals a lot. I find God shows up on set quite readily, and the people around me are hungry to understand what it is like to have a relationship with God.


Can you elaborate upon founding Fireplace, what it is and how it began? 


The Fireplace is a collective for artists that a pursuing professional practice and also following Christ. It’s online, and we also meet up in different cities (less regularly since COVID). We offer one another prayer support, community, testimonies and encouragement, especially as professional artists are often touring away from regular community, or working odd hours. It’s an incredibly beautiful space. It began in 2015, as the best things in my life do – after a little prompting from the Lord.

Anna as 'Rose'  in The Doctor Blake Mysteries

You write with such candour and vulnerability, touching upon the raw and poignant things of life such as spirituality, sexuality and grief. (WE NEED MORE OF THIS!) What has been the defining reason as to why you share such vulnerable and tender moments with the world?

 

We need to tell the truth. I believe if we bring the whole self into the light, the whole self can experience healing. Sure, it doesn’t always mean writing a book about some of your biggest mistakes… but I couldn’t tell the story of being healed and restored by the love of Jesus without being brutally honest about who I really was before that. My reader needed to be able to trust me. Candour does that. I can minister through my own honesty. I don’t always love it, it requires a courage I don’t always have. But if art is truth-telling (and I think it is, even when it is fiction) – this is my contribution. To say hard things in such a way that they can be heard, and they can heal others. 

 

What does vulnerability look like and mean to you?

 

Letting you visit me when my house is messy. Sitting down with you when I’ve fought with my husband or been overwhelmed by my children, and can’t look anyone in the eye. Sharing the kind of meal that gets stuck in both of our teeth. Being given the privilege of listening to your story.

 

How would you define beauty?

 

Beauty is like poetry I suspect – it suddenly happens, when striking elements are brought together, and when there is right amount of silence and space, too. Beauty involves every sense. It is not just a two-dimensional thing to view and move on from. It’s a moment in time, and every part of that moment. 

You are a beloved mamma to sweet Juniper (Junniiieee!) and Mercy, how have you navigated creative endeavours and also the demands of being a mamma? It’s quite a broad question, but something that comes to mind that has helped shape you the most. 

 

A big part of it is acceptance – I cannot work at the rate I want to anymore. I cannot parent to the degree I consider ‘perfect’. I must be both an artist and a mother, so yes both of those roles will receive less than 100% but I am absolutely a better artist and mother for the fact they must co-exist. 

 

If you had to choose just ONE medium to create from your plethora of skills, what would it be?

 

Words. I love them.

 

Who are some of your favourite authors? What are your most prized books?

 

I’m a Harry Potter junkie. I love Anne Lamott. The ‘His Dark Materials’ series. Philip Yancey. My favourite book of all time is ‘Everything is Illuminated’ by Jonathan Safran Foer.

 

As an actress, who is a director you dream to work with and a fellow actor to work alongside with? 

 

I’d love to work with the Australian director Jeffrey Walker and I’d love to work with the emerging Australian actor Andrea Solange because I think she’s incredible.

Anna as 'Charmian Clift'  in Hydra - State Theatre Play

What are you currently working on at the moment if you can share?

 

I’m currently working on a few personal projects – namely a short film ‘Liquid Moonlight’, which I wrote, co-directed and performed in alongside a remarkable team, and a book of poetry for pregnant and birthing mothers, titled ‘Skin’. 

 

What does an average day look like in the world of Anna? What are some practical tips on managing a creative life?

I don’t want to romanticise it too much - I drink a lot of tea and I am constantly fighting an addiction to my phone. I have epic mother and laundry guilt when I let myself create for a few minutes, but then procrastinate a heap regardless. Each day I try and carve out an hour or two from mothering (using daycare, games, play school or naps) to simply get into the zone. I make tea, set up a holy space, put on some music that really reflects the mood of whatever I am working on, and just unleash. It’s worship for me, and incredibly rejuvenating. I am careful not to force anything out that isn’t ready (I find you can apply the same logic to creative projects as you can to cooking and bodily functions, ha!). If it isn’t whispering in my ear, asking to see the light, I let it stay in and bake a bit longer. I have to be led by the muse and go where there is urgency. I LOVE deadlines.  

FOLLOW ANNA'S JOURNEY ON THE PLATFORM BELOW;

https://www.instagram.com/annamcgahan

Hello beloved friend! It is truly an honour to be able to interview you for Lola Z. From the moment we met, which was only fairly recently at a home church gathering, it has been a rich and glorious beginning to a friendship. It is not often you meet someone who has written a memoir of their life (Her first book, Metanoia) and not only so, but that in which you find parallels to your own life. I inhaled your book in a matter of weeks from when I first met you, it was truly a clandestine meeting. Now, for those who don’t know you, tell us a little about yourself…

 

Hello! I’m Anna, and I’m a writer and an actor. I perform in Australian TV, film and theatre, and I write narrative non-fiction, poetry, screenplays and scripts. I love exploring spirituality, femininity, and embodiment in my creative work.

 

Where in the world are you as you answer these questions?

 

I’m in the little blue church I live in with my husband and two young daughters, on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Sitting at a writing desk, covered in a lot of random junk… 

 

You are one multi-faceted talented cookie! (I say cookie because I am quite hungry at the moment and sounds sweet haha) You have achieved quite a lot for still so young of age, what has been one of the greatest achievements to date you would say?

 

Birthing anything – creative or living, feels so satisfying to me. So books and kids really take the cake. My book Metanoia was recently nominated for the ECPA Christian Book Awards in the US, and Australian Christian Book of the Year, and that felt important… not because  they were big shiny awards, but because I started the book as a tiny step of obedience, really not sure if anyone would ever take a story about a girl meeting God that seriously. People laughed at me when I told them what I felt I needed to do. But it came to life. And people read it. And most excitingly, people read it that didn’t know God loved them, or didn’t think they belonged.

© 2020 by Lola Ziggy

 

"from bud into full bloom"

Poem / Quote of the Week

“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”

- St. Thérèse de Lisieux

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