Wednesday, October 17, 2012

'Phantasmagoria III' Spotlight: Samantha O'Hare

     ORLANDO — Samantha O’Hare is one of “Phantasmagoria III”’s shining stars working with Orlando’s own Empty Spaces Theatre Company. Like many young college students, she is balancing her responsibilities to try to define the life she wants for herself.

     “I’m still figuring it out. It’s hard to navigate sometimes, my levels of interest are huge for a lot of different things,” said O’Hare.

     The acting bug first bit her at the age of 15 with a role in “The Odd Couple” while attending Apopka Senior High School. She decided early on to focus on theater instead of television and film because it deals with many of the fundamentals of acting that she considers vital to a well-rounded education.

     She credits her education at Valencia College under the guidance of theater professor Kathleen Lindsey-Moulds for helping her fix some of the personal problems she had faced along the way.

     “For me it’s the technical things, it’s the small things. My speech and my speed are probably the most difficult,” said O’Hare on her biggest challenges as an actress.

     As she worked to fine-tune her acting she learned that she tended to speak too fast and not open her mouth wide enough to make certain sounds loud enough. These are common mistakes with young actors and often need to be refined as they mature professionally.

     Valencia theater professor John DiDonna has worked with O’Hare for nearly eight years on several productions and feels strongly about how she has progressed over that time.

     “Her energy, her focus, her talent, her ambition and her perfection,” said DiDonna on what inspires him about O’Hare as an actress.

     O’Hare credits her love of reading for shaping her desire to become an actress. Her fascination with literature helped O’Hare escape into a world of her own when she was younger.

     Part-time jobs have also been a diverse experience for O’Hare. She has driven an ice cream truck, been a nanny, delivered food and even worked as a bank teller. Her favorite job was working with the ice cream and her worst job was working in the bank because of the stress levels that came with the job.

     “Right now I’m focusing on substitute teaching and I just became a tutor,” said O’Hare. She teaches anything and everything for middle school aged students including English, math, statistics and biology.

     Her family has had mixed reactions to her acting, from initial excitement to later doubting her ability to stay afloat financially in the risky world of theater.

     Her family is currently more supportive of her acting aspirations and often come out to performances like “Phantasmagoria” to give her encouragement.

     Fellow cast members are also inspirations for O’Hare. They form a support system whose honest guidance has helped her become successful.

     “I just think it’s important that people take an interest in the work we do as a whole more than one actor. You really have to for theater, there’s no celebrity culture around this at all,” said O’Hare.

     For select days during the rest of this month you can catch O’Hare and fellow Empty Spaces Theatre performers in “Phantasmagoria III” at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center in Orlando.

By James Tutten

(Published: Oct. 17, 2012 issue of "Valencia Voice" on page 10.)

(All photos by James Tutten)


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