SEARCY, AR – Breaking into show business is not for the faint of heart, especially in one of the biggest and most competitive cities in America; Hollywood. You have to be dedicated and willing to work to overcome the challenges that come with being in ‘the biz.’. For Harding Alum Anna B. Shaffer, not only was it a challenge she was excited for, it’s one she had been dreaming about her entire life.
From a very young age, Anna knew she wanted to move to Hollywood and pursue a career in the entertainment industry. While growing up in Vancouver, Washington, Anna dreamed of being a film actress, but her plans to move to Hollywood after high school changed during her senior year.
“I wanted to move to LA as soon as I graduated high school, but my parents told me I had to go and earn a degree,” said Shaffer.
With that advice in mind, Anna moved to Searcy to attend Harding University, where she earned a degree in theatre with a minor in electronic media production. While at Harding, Anna gained invaluable knowledge and unexpected experiences that she says she is still benefiting from today.
“I think my time at Harding prepared me to grow as a person,” said Shaffer. My experience helped me gain more life experience and grow up which is something I needed to do before the move. I didn’t realize I needed to do that at that time.”
After completing her degree in just three years, Anna finally made the move out west in 2013, where she quickly found work on small projects, including roles in “Made Me Do It” and “Braggage.” But her most recent role has, so far, been her biggest. Anna landed a co-starring role in the pilot for the CBS All Access show “Strange Angel” which aired on June 14, 2018. The show offered Anna a unique experience to take a step back in time.
“It was so much fun,” said Shaffer. “The show was set in the 1940’s. If I could period pieces for the rest of my life, like 1950’s and earlier I would love that, it’s my jam. I loved it because it was all vintage clothing, hair and makeup. Then you get on set and you felt like you stepped back in time.”
Anna enjoyed getting to work on a new show alongside such an energetic and welcoming cast and crew.
“I just have to applaud the two leads Jack Reynor and Mark Kendall because they were so gracious to me,” said Shafer. “On set you typically don’t get to run your scene with the leads before you film but they wanted to run through lines. It was really awesome of them to do that and not say oh this is our show and you are just here for one episode. It was cool to realize that we are all a team and in it together to make the best possible product.”
Anna says acting is a stressful occupation, that doesn’t always provide consistent work. But, she’s able to overcome the disappointments that come with the job thanks to her passion and love for the industry.
“There is so much time where we as actors are waiting for an email or a call back,” said Shaffer. “So, you are left with days where you are just wondering what is going to happen. I now see each audition as an opportunity to do what I love, and I try not to get hung up on the negatives and the waiting game.”
Anna says that the industry is one that will, “chew you up and spit you out and if you don’t know how to cope with it.” To help deal with that, Anna says it’s important to have a strong personal community of support and individuals to inspire you.
“My husband is who inspires me the most, he really pushes me,” said Shaffer. “Also my two best friends who are also actors. They put a fire under me to get things done and our friendship comes before work and the stresses of acting. They are such an inspiration to me. I even had that push while at Harding from Britton Lynn. He was one of my professors and he really pushed me to work hard. He had a very high standard and expected high-quality work which helped to motivate and push me.”
For those interested in following in Anna’s footsteps, that final piece of advice is one that is vital to take to heart.
“Finding people to help push you, inspire you and help you to be the best you can be is very important.”