Anna Enger is a film and television actress appearing next in the anticipated Nicholas Sparks film, The Choice. Anna has recurring roles on television shows including The Vampire Diaries and Complications, and has appeared in several major motion pictures including Anchorman 2, Endless Love, and opposite Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in The Internship. She is represented by People Store in Atlanta.
IMDB Page: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2738196/?ref_=nv_sr_1
Where are you from originally and when did you decide you wanted to be an actor?
I was born in the Philippines and raised in Guam. I’ve always enjoyed all things creative – especially theater and dance. As a child, I can vividly remember begging my mom to enroll me in classes, but we just didn’t have the resources growing up. When I was 13-years-old, we moved to Savannah, Georgia. A couple of years later, The Savannah Arts Academy opened and accepted me as a new student. Such a blessing – it was then when I was able to dive into training for performing arts. I developed even more of an appreciation for theater and seriously thought about becoming an actor.
Did you pursue acting in college too?
The whole Hollywood acting world was such a foreign concept to me so after high school, I pursued a degree in communications. I felt that the communications field certainly had creative elements and again, the whole concept of Hollywood didn’t really seem tangible or obtainable at the time. Ultimately, I wasn’t as taken with the communications field as I thought I’d be. I ended up going a safe route and took classes toward a degree in nursing. I never gave up on acting though—I just pursued it outside of my education.
Did you move to Atlanta for college or did you move after you decided you wanted to act?
I moved to Atlanta with the intent to finish the college education I started in Savannah. I wasn’t in Atlanta very long when I had an opportunity to move to LA.
So you were in LA?
Yes, I pursued acting in LA for several years.
Did you have any plan for LA or did you say “I’m just gonna go” and went with it?
I didn’t have any concrete plans but I did have some friends out there who I could stay with until I was settled and they introduced me to a lot of great people. It all just kind of fell into place and I was able to enroll in acting classes, go on auditions and live the lifestyle I thought was only a dream. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t at all easy; a lot of hard work—even to get the auditions, never mind landing the role!
Has your ambiguous ethnicity helped you?
My mother is Filipina and my father is of Norwegian descent so it does give me an ambiguous look, which I thought would be beneficial. I can distinctly remember going to my first commercial audition, where the casting agent had requested a 5’6, half Asian, half American young woman and being shocked to see about 30 other girls that look so similar to me! It was an immediate awareness.
LA really has an abundance of talent no matter how unique you think you are?
We forget that Los Angeles is the international hub for people trying to get into the industry. I have friends from Australia, England and Japan who traveled to LA with goals of breaking in. It’s a hugely saturated town—some people get lucky and come into success right off the bat, but that just wasn’t the case for me.
What made you decide to move back to Atlanta?
My (now) husband and I started a family and I moved back to Georgia. My thought was, I’m leaving LA and the acting world and I’ll go back to school, maybe pursue photography and take part in local theater productions. Little did I know, the move was actually amazing for my acting career; I had no idea the opportunity that lives here. I was fortunate to sign with The People Store pretty early on and shortly after I had my son, I was working. It’s just been a nonstop blessing in such an unexpected market. I would have never thought to move here specifically for acting. It’s really fantastic how life just works itself out. Humble beginnings made me a super hard worker so I can say for a fact that LA didn’t work out at the time, not for lack of effort. It wasn’t until I was three months pregnant with my son, leaving Hollywood, that I booked my first professional job in Los Angeles. I had no idea the market in Atlanta was on the verge of this great explosion. We (actors) are very fortunate to be in this market with so many opportunities.
When you came back, how did you get your agent?
While I was eight months pregnant on a maternity photo shoot in Atlanta, the other models recommended reaching out to several agencies, including The People Store. I met first with The People Store and thought they were wonderful. I’ve been here with them since.
Did you have a survival job?
Not at the time; I was fortunate enough to have been able to save money where I could take leave. My son was born in December and I started auditioning actively in March, and was working by May or June. During those first few months of my son’s life, I took up photography and that has been my side job since. I started in family and children’s portraits and transitioned to headshots solely — being in the acting industry, it was a natural fit.
Did you get back into classes here when you returned to Atlanta from LA?
I did. I took a few workshops here and there and eventually started taking classes more actively. Most recently, I have studied with Rob Mello at the Rob Mello Studio in Decatur. Rob is a gifted teacher and the Meisner technique is one that has always resonated with me.
Having a kid even when you’re working a regular job is such a challenge because kids require a lot of attention. So how do you manage that? Do you have family here that supported you too?
I do. I’m in a fortunate situation to where I’m able to have ample family help. Family assistance has enabled me to continue to pursue my artistic endeavors. My husband’s parents have been some of our biggest supporters–I really couldn’t do it without them. It really does take a village. I don’t think anyone who is successful in any capacity has ever claimed, “I did this all by myself”.
What do you do as far as marketing and networking?
Photography has been a great networking tool for me because of all the headshots I’m hired to shoot. Also, I think just being in an acting class, taking workshops and being involved in the local community is a great networking tool in itself.
Do you recommend those other activities such as workshops?
Sure. I think there’s value in everything. Early on in my career, I had a hard time with the whole idea of “paying to be seen”, but my first professional job was from a casting director workshop so I can’t say it doesn’t happen. The biggest value is the community you become a part of when attending workshops; that’s priceless in itself.
What do you think about social media or sending postcards to casting directors?
It absolutely can’t hurt. Social media has never really been my thing – it’s always felt a bit unnatural to me. In order for it to be effective, you have to fully embrace it.
What do you do in terms of staying aware of what’s happening in the industry?
Elizabeth “Beth” Keener and Greer Howard have this super cool show called “The Local Lense” where they do a terrific job of keeping everyone updated on industry news. They are so lovely and so fun to watch!
What about industry events like Get Connected or GPP or any other mixers or actors help groups?
Why not? Why not be as involved as possible? For new actors, the more you can get out there and meet new people, the better.
What do you think has been the biggest difference pursuing acting in Atlanta versus LA?
Everyone’s journey is different. The big difference for me is that it has afforded me an opportunity to have a family and still pursue acting. I think overall, we (actors) are very fortunate with the amount of opportunities we have here. Being able to be a working actor in a secondary market is such a blessing.
Do you think we’re going to get bigger roles and maybe even series regulars and leads out of Atlanta?
Absolutely! It’s already happening. I know several people within my core circle that have landed series regular roles. Is it going to become as common as it is in LA? Not immediately. It will take time for the talent pool in this market to really establish, but it will happen.
You got a recurring role in Vampire Diaries, right?
Yes! It definitely happens.
Maybe in the past there was this perception that the depth and level of talent in Atlanta was not up to the mark but do you think that as the Atlanta actors are stepping up their game, the perception is changing too?
I hope so; time will tell. More than anything, it’s a numbers thing. The Atlanta talent pool here is a fraction of what it is in Los Angeles, but there is great talent to be found here in the south.
What can Atlanta actors do to step up their game?
Treat it like a job and not a hobby. Give acting the attention it deserves. Pay attention to every part of it. If you want to be a professional actor, you have to treat it as a professional job.
And so that means continuously training?
Training is a very important part of it – you can never stop learning.
Being in Atlanta, has your ethnicity helped you set yourself apart?
I think it’s been helpful, especially starting out. When I first started out in 2007 here, I worked a good bit of industrial jobs that called for ethnically ambiguous actors.
Do you have representation outside Atlanta?
I do. I have theatrical representation and a manager in Los Angeles.
For LA opportunities, you do get a chance to self-tape and get yourself submitted there?
I work closely with management in Los Angeles. I do most of my tapings here and fly out for callbacks whenever I have the opportunity for a larger role. This is a team I started working with post moving here. After working here in Georgia, I found myself back and forth to California with bigger audition opportunities out there. Life is funny like that.
How do you stay motivated? How do you stay positive?
When I made the decision to pull the time limit off, it took the pressure away and ultimately positivity comes rather easy. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to pursue a career that I love, so it’s effortless to stay positive. It’s been remarkable and I am so very grateful. I feel like I live in a perpetual state of excitement! The more I let go of results and really just enjoy each opportunity to audition, the more I work. I love the process and I never take a job for granted.
Recognizing that rejection is always going to be a part of this journey at any level. What do you do? You move on to the next audition. It’s only over when you decide to quit. If you give yourself a time limit, you probably shouldn’t have started. This is a lifelong journey. To be a successful actor, you really truly have to love the process. You have to love auditioning. You have to love meeting people. You have to love performing. You have to love the grind.
What do you wish someone had told you at the beginning of your career or if you had to re-do your career all over again, what would you do differently?
To be more fearless would be my number one answer. Robb (my husband) used to always tell me this early on. Not necessarily just acting related, but in all aspects of life. When I first started out acting, I had such a fearful mentality of everything. I wouldn’t even want to go on vacation because I was afraid I was going to miss a big audition. I didn’t start consistently working as an actor until after I became a mother – ironically, I used to think it would have been the opposite for females pursuing an acting career. Live life outside of the industry. There are no rules. Every experience you have outside of acting only enriches your work even more.
One of my biggest mistakes early on as an actor is that I was so “act or die.” Everything for me revolved around acting and I couldn’t do anything that wasn’t going to further my career. Consequently, I never worked. Which was the ironic thing – it wasn’t until I moved away from Los Angeles, started a family, pursued other interests like photography and nursing.
A bit of advice I would give any new actor is how important it is to live life outside of this industry. Don’t underestimate the amount of work it takes to be a working actor, but don’t overvalue it either. Work hard. Work really, really hard. Have fun and be kind.