We Love TV!
This is just an unofficial fan page, we have no connection
to any shows or networks.
Please click here to vote for our site!
Interview with Mara Hall of "Ambitions"
on OWN 6/21/19
It was great to speak with Mara. She
is an amazing person, and we had fun on the phone.
audio of our interview.
Below is the transcript.
Suzanne: All right. How are you
Mara: I'm doing good, Suzanne. I had a question
for you. Will this be a live interview or are you recording
Suzanne: I'm recording it, yeah, so I can transcribe
Mara: Okay. I just wanted to let you know that my
nanny is running late, so my daughter might make some
Suzanne: Okay, that's fine. Well, I've got a dog
and she might make some sounds. So you're calling from
Michigan, or is that just your cell phone?
just my cell phone, but I am originally from Detroit,
Suzanne: Oh, okay, great. Yeah, and my cell
phone is Alabama, but I live in Arkansas.
Mara: What part
Suzanne: Well, we lived in Tuscaloosa for
Mara: Oh, nice.
Suzanne: Yeah, we lived
all over. My husband's job, we moved a lot. I can barely
Mara: Okay. I'm sorry.
Suzanne: Okay, that's
Mara: I put the phone down, the baby had milk
drawing down her neck.
Suzanne: How old is your baby?
Mara: She's five months.
Suzanne: Oh, congratulations.
Mara: Thank you so much.
Suzanne: Wow, that's a lot to
Mara: Yeah, it is. It's really interesting
because she's changing now. Before she would sleep through
the night and now she's waking up at odd times and going to
sleep at odd times.
Mara: I'm not a
morning person, so it makes it difficult for me.
Yeah. That's one of the many reasons I didn't have kids. I
didn't want to get up in the morning. No... I enjoyed your
Juicy Ladies. I watched it last night.
Oh, thank you. Thank you.
Suzanne: It was funny and
educational and inspirational.
Mara: Inspirational. Yes.
That was the purpose of it. It's interesting because we've
submitted it to a lot of film festivals and only got
accepted into one. I don't think they know what to do with
it because it's all of those three things in one.
Suzanne: Right. It's definitely funny. So, how did you come
up with the idea?
Mara: It's a long story. Unfortunately,
one of my colleagues came up with an another movie idea and
we had started production on that and the writer/director
got into it with the creator of the idea and they couldn't
come to common ground. So we had to trash the first project
and because we already had an executive producer that had us
have $33,000 budget, I had to think of something else
because I was like, "Okay, I can't let these funds go to
Mara: So, I wrote another
treatment and [inaudible 00:02:45] writing was based on my
life. So Juicy Ladies is based upon me. Looking for love in
all the wrong places, being diabetic, choosing the wrong
man, all of that. It based on me. So I had the main idea and
then, I hired a writer to write it and you have Juicy
Suzanne: Oh great. Yeah, I figured it might be
based on your life, but I wasn't sure. Yeah, I can relate. I
mean, I can't relate to the bad men part, but I'm type two
diabetic too. So I can relate to that part.
Mara: Oh wow.
Yes, yes. Do you take insulin or-
Suzanne: No, I just
take pills and try to lose weight. I'm about 50 pounds
overweight. Trying to lose that forever, you know?
Yes. That will change you drastically, just losing weight.
Suzanne: Yeah, yeah. I used to be a little heavier and I
lost about 25 pounds and then, I've been trying to lose it
again more. It's hard, as you know.
Suzanne: So why make it a
short film, rather than try to make it a longer one? Just
because you had those funds or...
Mara: It was always
supposed to be a short film. The first one was a short film
and then, I was just trying to emulate the formula and just
stay within the budget constraints because we couldn't
make... Oh, there she goes. Couldn't make it into a feature.
So it was always going to be a short film.
could definitely be a feature. It could definitely be a web
series or even a TV show. So I don't think we're going to do
anything in that direction. But, if someone were to ask or
to inquire about that, we definitely could. But, it was
always supposed to be a short film. Just to showcase my
talent and taking matters into your own hands and not
waiting for Hollywood to pick you, pick yourself.
Suzanne: Right, right. Sure. Yeah, I could definitely see it
as a movie or a series, you're right. Especially now with, I
can't think of their names, but you've got some actresses
now that are coming out that are heavier and they're
featured a lot and of course now, also Hollywood's really,
especially TV is really into people of color. It seems like
this is your moment.
Mara: That's what I think too.
That's what I think too.
Suzanne: Especially with the
comedies now, the movie comedies with... I can't think of
their names. But you know who I'm talking about, the larger
ladies that are making the movies now.
(affirmative). Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Suzanne: You know how it is being diabetic. I have the brain
fog and can't think. Also, I'm older than you and I've got
other things that cause brain fog.
Mara: No problem. No
problem. I have brain fog as well.
Suzanne: Well, you've
got newborn mom brain, right? I've heard of that. I've heard
that's a thing.
Mara: It is.
Suzanne: It is.
It is a thing. You can't remember anything and it absolutely
is a thing.
Suzanne: I do think it has to do with the
hormones in part because I have it from menopause and it's
got to be related, you know? I think. But anyway, moving on.
So what gave you the idea to use the talking fruit pillow? I
assume it's fruit.
Mara: Yeah, that's Wendy the
Suzanne: Okay, it was a watermelon.
Well, honestly, it came because we had already contracted a
puppet maker to make food puppets from the first film. So we
had already paid someone to start. So because we did that,
we were like, "Okay, well let's think of another idea,
another puppet." And that's why she still stayed in the
Suzanne: Okay. Yeah, I thought it might be a
watermelon because of the texture, but the shape seemed more
like a strawberry, so I wasn't entirely sure, but it worked.
It worked. It was cute. It was very cute. That was a lot of
the humor there. It definitely lightened the mood of the
rest of it.
Mara: Of the movie. Yes, yes.
Now, can you tell us anything about your new character
coming up in Ambitions? They told me that your character
comes in later and that you can tease about her and give a
Mara: Yes. So my character is a
relative of the Lancaster family who comes into Atlanta,
Georgia, where my family lives in the midst of chaos, within
the family. Yes. I don't start any chaos, but it's already
chaotic. So I come in, in the middle of chaos.
Okay and can you give us her name or anything or?
Yeah, her name is Darcia.
Suzanne: Darcia, okay. Yeah, I
was looking for you and I couldn't find thing online about
it, so that's why I...
Mara: Yeah, Darcia Lancaster.
She's a relative of the Lancaster family, of the two main
Suzanne: Okay. That's the what? The mayor?
Mara: The mayor and his sister.
Suzanne: Okay. Okay.
Yeah. Yeah. I watched the first episode. I liked it. It was
Mara: Yeah, it's really, really, really, really
juicy. Really, really good. It's definitely a guilty
pleasure that I think of.
Suzanne: I think it's the best
thing that's been on that network actually. I've watched
some of the other soaps on there and they're not as
Mara: Exactly. Yeah, I agree.
Yeah and Jamey who wrote it, he went to school here. My
husband works at Southern Arkansas University and I'm
taking... I have a bachelor's already. I'm doing a second
bachelor's in mass comm, since I already do that for my work
and Jamey went through the program here in mass comm.
Mara: Oh, wonderful. He's an amazing writer and amazing man.
Suzanne: Yes, he is.
Mara: Just so happy to be a part of
his production and just his brain and just the theme.
Because if you watched the first episode, you saw there's so
many twists and turns. You don't know what's going to
Mara: [inaudible] the
whole time and just from the mastermind of Jamey Giddens.
Suzanne: Yeah. The characters are really interesting and
yeah, the story sort of twist and turns, like you said. I
mean, I don't know about you, but I've watched a lot of soap
operas, daytime and prime time, and you can see sort of the
influence they had on his writing. It's really interesting.
In a good way.
Mara: Well yeah, that's how my daughter
talks. She's talking to us. She wants to be a part of the
interview. Yes and Jamey was a writer for daytime
confidential. He was a soap opera blogger.
Mara: His influence is soap opera's. That's his
genre. He loves it. Even my character, he told me where the
influence came from and the type of field that it, which I
can't disclose. Yeah, his world is soap and he is engulfed
in it and you can see how much of a mastermind he is with
his writing because you see it in episode one, just how
brilliant he is.
Suzanne: Right, right. Yeah, no I agree.
So good. I'll be looking forward to seeing you on there.
Mara: Yeah, it's a wonderful project. Because I come in, I
think on an episode... Well, I don't know if I can say that,
but I come in in the middle of the season and I read all of
the scripts before that and I couldn't put them down. That's
how good everything was, like script by script. I was like,
"Oh my goodness, they're doing this. Oh my goodness, they're
having sex. Oh, and they're pulling out guns. Oh my
goodness. He's going to shoot his wife. What? She's going to
shoot her husband?" Like all of that.
Yeah. It's very steamy too.
Mara: Yes, very steamy, very
titillating, very raunchy at the same time. Classy raunchy,
but raunchy at the same time.
Suzanne: Right. Well, you
can do that on cable, so that's good.
Mara: Yep, yep,
Suzanne: So you balance acting and taking care
of your daughter and everything. How do you do that? How
have you been doing that?
Mara: Prayer. It's really all
new because I had her in January and then, I started filming
the show in March. When we started filming, I had to learn a
lot of copy, a lot of lines and it was really good. My
husband would help me out taking care of her while I would
learn my lines, so I can concentrate. I would literally have
to tune her out for a couple of hours a day because it was
so much and there's so much pressure that I really needed
focus and concentration.
So my husband was very
integral and also my family, my mom and my dad would help me
out, but it's really, really difficult. Now going on
auditions and she's a 24 hour job, like needs lots of
attention, lots of nurturing and sometimes, I just have to
plan out time to learn lines and things of that nature
because right now, if I'm learning lines she'll talk to me.
You can't concentrate.
So you just really, really,
really just have to plan out your day and try to do things
when she sleeps. Which she's five months now, so she's not
sleeping all day anymore. So she'll take little cat naps for
an hour or less. So you just really have to be strategic in
how you plan your day and get everything done.
Right. Wow. That does sound difficult.
Mara: It is. It
is. But I'm trying to be a trooper and make it happen.
Suzanne: Go ahead.
Mara: I'm not the first one to do
Suzanne: No, no, that's for sure. You also have a
doctorate in clarinet. What made you decide to get that?
Mara: Well, I don't have a doctorate in clarinet
performance. I did two years towards the doctorate.
Suzanne: Oh okay, sorry.
Mara: Yep, but I was close. I
quit and moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting. I've always
been in the band since I was eight years old. I played the
clarinet and then, when I was in high school my sophomore
year, I started learning how to play the tuba. So when I
went to undergrad, I went to undergrad for music education
because I loved the band and I was in the band and I was in
the orchestra and music was my life, music is my passion.
Mara: After I left Jackson State University, I went on to
Cincinnati Conservatory to get my masters degree in clarinet
performance, so that I could continue learning to grow
because I wanted to be classical. But I wanted to be
principal clarinetist in a major symphony orchestra. That
was my dream.
After I got my master's, I was like,
"Okay, I don't think I'm good enough yet. I still need some
more training." So I went on to pursue my doctorate, so I
can keep learning and keep growing in music. So that's why I
went on to do that. But as I went from my first year of my
doctorate, I kind of got burnt out because I went to
undergrad, masters, doctorate, straight through and right,
and that's where I developed a little affinity for acting.
I was like, "Well, maybe I can be an actress because
people say I'm extra and I'm very animated." But I didn't
really think that was a real career. So I said, "No, I'm not
going to do that." So I went back home to Detroit, Michigan
and started teaching band and that really became my passion,
where I loved being a middle school, high school, college
band director. That is what pushed me farther into acting
because I would act for my students and I would dance and
perform with them.
Mara: Someone told me, "Mara, you
should think about getting on the radio." Because I would
announce for my band or to be an actress. I was like,
"That's not a real career." So that's what started
everything. Yeah and 10, well no, 11 years later, here I am.
Suzanne: Wow. Okay. Well, yeah, you've had an interesting
history. I know how that is because it's so hard when you've
got different passions and different things you enjoy doing
and try to focus on just one at a time is difficult. I
actually got my start in music too. I was a music major in
Mara: Oh wonderful.
Suzanne: Yeah and I wasn't
very good. I didn't feel I was very... Well anyway, so I've
been working on-
Mara: You probably were excellent.
Suzanne: Well no, I had problems. I had been in choir and
choir singing is very different from individual singing and
I needed help. So I ended up, because we moved... Because I
was already married and we were in college and he was a
graduate students. We ended up moving before I finished. So
I got my degree, in order to finish, I got my degree in
liberal arts, which is kind of a dumb major.
It's like music, English and history and then, what do you
do with that? So then, I got into computers and then
eventually, I got into this whole TV thing. So, you never
know what life is going to throw at you, right?
Right. You don't. You don't.
Suzanne: In the meantime, I
still do take voice lessons and I like to sing, and I've
gotten better, but now I've got this.
Mara: I got you. I
Suzanne: You understand how that is.
Uh-huh (affirmative). Absolutely. Absolutely.
So, do you still teach clarinet on the side or do you think
you might do that again?
Mara: Yes, because I feel when I
teach music I'm giving back to my community and I really,
really enjoy it. I don't really like teaching private
lessons, but I can. So I might do that. I'm not sure. But
what I will do is be a consultant, like a band, marching
band, symphonic band, wind ensemble consultant to different
colleges and high schools in the area that need me or where
Like I was assistant band director at
Morehouse College for four years. The director of bands,
he's a very good friend of mine and he already asked me if I
could come work their band camp. So I'll probably be doing
things like that. Yeah.
Suzanne: Oh, that's neat.
Mara: Yeah. Instead of private lessons because I get so
bored teaching private lessons. I like working with a lot of
people, not just like one on one.
Suzanne: Sure, sure.
You want to be out in front and directing everybody and
getting involved in everything. I can understand that.
Mara: Because I'm literally good at that.
Suzanne: No, I
understand because briefly, I tried to be a choral
conductor. It didn't work out, but it was fun. It was
Mara: Right, right. Well, my undergraduate
degree is music education, vocal and instrumental K through
12. so I had the wonderful opportunity, when I was in LA, to
teach some vocal technique classes and choir classes because
I had the experience and the expertise and then, I can sing
Suzanne: That's great.
Mara: So that was really
Suzanne: Yeah and that's a good added bonus to
being an actor. You can sing too. It's good to have those
Mara: Right, right, right. But, it's a
double edged sword because when people see me, they expect
me not to sing but to sang.
Suzanne: Oh, right, right.
Mara: Like Dream Girls, Jennifer Holliday, Jennifer Hudson.
I can sing. I can't sang.
Suzanne: Right, I understand.
But you probably play clarinet, like you can probably do
jazz clarinet and that kind of thing, right?
Mara: No, I
Suzanne: No? Only classical, huh?
classical. Yeah. I'm trying to change that because I can
teach jazz, but jazz is very, very... Either you got it or
you don't. It takes a lot of discipline and a lot of
structure and you have to have really, really good teachers
to show you how to do... how to improvise and how to have a
good ear to play it.
I've had a very difficult time playing jazz because I didn't
have good jazz teachers when I was young. Yeah, but I'm good
at teaching it. I just can't play it. I can sing jazz, but I
can't play it on the clarinet. I'm trying to change that.
Suzanne: Yeah. Well, that makes sense. I imagine
even singing jazz is difficult in that same kind of way.
Mara: Yes, yes, yes. I couldn't do that. I stick to rock and
pop and a little show tunes. That's about it. So, what ages
were you best at teaching, you think?
middle school and college. So they're all different. So
middle school is probably... can be one of the best
experiences that a teacher would have because if your
students know that you care about them and you have high
standards, they will go beyond the call of duty for you.
They'll do anything for you. High school is great because
you don't have to be as involved as a middle school teacher.
They're almost like little adults. So, it's a little bit
easier than middle school. Then college is great because
they're adults and you just sculpt them and show them in the
right direction and it's probably the easiest out of the
Suzanne: Sure. Yeah. You don't have to deal with
parents and discipline and all that kind of stuff. Yeah.
Mara: Well, you still have to deal with discipline though.
Suzanne: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:20:25] Not as much. Right.
Because they're paying to be there.
Mara: It's a
different type of discipline.
Suzanne: Yeah, yeah.
They're paying to be there, so yeah. So, you're trying to
balance right now, you've got family life and playing. I
imagine you still play clarinet and acting and at some
point, teaching, right? That's a lot.
Mara: I know. I
lived in Los Angeles for 11 years and in Los Angeles, you
have to have a lot of money or you have to have a really
good job or several jobs. So I learned a long time ago that
if I want to live a good quality of life, I'm going to have
to hustle and I'm going to have to work. So when I left
California in November to move here, I had like five jobs.
So I substitute taught, I was artistic director for a
nonprofit, I did Lyft, Uber, Postmates, and DoorDash. So
that's six jobs. That's just what you have to do, and I got
used to running, running, running, and going and going and
going because I really like nice things. I like to live in a
nice apartment. Not materialistic things, but I just want my
home life to be comfortable.
Suzanne: Yeah, exactly.
Mara: We're living check to check, paycheck to paycheck.
Suzanne: Right. Are you living in Atlanta now or LA again?
Mara: I'm living in Atlanta and I'm going to be going back
to pack up my apartment in Los Angeles next month and then,
fully moving everything here.
Suzanne: Oh, okay. Oh,
there's a lot of jobs in Atlanta now for actors.
Yes. A lot of jobs in Atlanta for actors. Yes, there are.
Suzanne: Well, great. Do you have any other upcoming
projects you can tell us about or?
Mara: I think, I'm
going to... Well, not that I think, I am. I'm going to
reboot my online social media movement show, I Got Something
to Say, where I empower through laughter in three minutes or
less. Yeah. So you can follow us on Instagram at @igststv.
My Instagram and social media is Mara_ or Mara.Hall.
So yeah, I'm going to do that and already released the
video, my first video that I did five years ago for, I Got
Something to Say. I released it yesterday on Instagram, but
I'm going to reboot that right back on up because a lot of
people really liked it and it's easier to produce things for
online or for social media now with all the technology.
Because when I did it before on Instagram, I couldn't...
Well not on Instagram, but on YouTube, we couldn't put it on
Instagram because they didn't have that capability. But now
they do with IGTV and stuff. It's just easier to get your
message out there and I love laughter. I love comedy and I
love making people feel good.
Suzanne: Great. Yeah and
it's easier when you can stay at home with your daughter
more, I imagine.
Suzanne: So let me ask
you one more thing. Because you're show was about weight and
everything and you have diabetes, when you had your
daughter, did that affect your weight or the diabetes? I
mean, how did that work out with you?
Mara: Yes. So she's
really a blessing because when I got pregnant with her, my
A1C was 11.2, which is out of control, diabetes. So my
doctor immediately put me on insulin to get it back down
because now I'm pregnant. It's not just about me, it's about
her. She could be born diabetic or she could not be born,
like totally a high-risk pregnancy.
So I saw an
endocrinologist and they put me on insulin and my diabetes
got under control. So I was on a strict, strict diet. You
couldn't even really tell I was pregnant. I didn't gain any
weight from eating because I ate very, very clean, very
healthy. Unfortunately, she was born with high sugar because
of me because I was taking all the insulin and she had to go
to the NICU when she was born, but she's fine now. She's
Suzanne: Oh good.
Mara: Yeah. I'm trying to
live a healthy lifestyle, like walking her everyday when we
can have a regular sleep schedule and controlling my
diabetes, as much as I can.
Suzanne: Yeah. Well, that's
great. Yeah. I hope you didn't mind it was too personal or
anything. It just occurred to me.
Mara: Oh no, no, no.
It's cool. I enjoy talking about diabetes and that's going
to be one of my... It's always been one of my platforms. But
seeing how I can help other people, like how they can
maintain their sugar levels and how they can do better
because it's very much so a struggle because I like to eat
and I like to drink adult beverages. That's not a recipe for
success with that, being diabetic. So yeah, I love to talk
about it and that's why I did Juicy Ladies because that's a
part of my testimony, being diabetic and making the wrong
choices with food and with love.
Suzanne: Well that's
good. Yeah. As women, we talk about that kind of stuff all
the time, but then I just... And talking to you is so easy,
I forget for a moment. It's like, "Oh wait, this is part of
the interview." I asked such a personal question.
It's a welcoming conversation though, so no worries.
Suzanne: Right. Okay, good. Yeah, I get carried away
Mara: No, you're fine. You're fine.
Suzanne: Okay, good. Well, I really enjoyed talking to you
and I look forward to what else we can see you in and
catching you on Ambitions.
Mara: Thank you so much and
thank you for giving me the opportunity to have this
interview and I really, really, really appreciate it. Thank
you so much.
Suzanne: Sure, sure. I'll have it up
probably in a few days. The website is TVMegaSite.net.
Mara: Okay. I had a question for you. How long have you been
working with Anderson Group?
Suzanne: That's a good
question. Off and on for years. They sort of found me. My
site's been since the 90s and I didn't have... This is why
I'm going back to school, for the... What they used to call
journalism. Now it's mass comm because I didn't really have
a background in that. I just started my website in the 90s
for fun about TV and other things and then, it got bigger
and bigger. Then people started contacting me and I started
doing interviews back in, I think it was 2003. So, I've been
doing interviews since then, but I don't remember
specifically when I started with the Anderson Group.
Mara: Okay. Okay. Got you. Copy that.
Right now, most of my site is still at TVMegaSite.net, which
is kind of long. But I'm moving it slowly over to WordPress,
which is at TVMeg.com, which is shorter.
Mara: I got you.
I got you.
Suzanne: Anyway, but your article will be at
TVMegaSite.net because I haven't moved that part over yet.
Mara: Okay. That sounds wonderful. I can't wait to see it.
Suzanne: All right, well thanks a lot.
Mara: No problem.
You have a wonderful day.
Suzanne: You too.
Suzanne: You too. Bye. What was your
Suzanne: Bye Marley.
Mara: Her lovely grandmother just came.
okay. Oh good, help mama out. [crosstalk] All
Multi-faceted actor, musician, and teacher, writer
and producer Mara Hall
has been burning the midnight oil as a new mother
balancing her work life with her new OWN series "Ambitions,"
premiering on Tuesday, June 18, as well
as her extensive teaching career, and her most important
job and role to-date, being a mother. We would love to
arrange an entertaining and inspiring interview with you
and Mara to discuss balancing
her career as an actor while being a new mom, as well as
her incredible journey working toward earning her Doctor
of Musical Arts in Clarinet Performance.
"Ambitions" explores the sexy, deceitful
machinations of love, power and politics in America's
hottest urban mecca, Atlanta, Georgia. The series
centers around the intense rivalry between formidable
legal eagles Stephanie Lancaster (Robin Givens) and
Amara Hughes (Essence Atkins), former best friends from
college who find themselves adversaries in both their
personal and professional lives. Mara
portrays a mysterious relative of the Lancasters that
comes into town in the middle of chaos, with unclear
intentions. Please use the following link to view the
trailer for the new series.
As a first-time mother, Mara
has been discovering how to maneuver through life and
balance her full work load with her new 5 month old
daughter Marley, along with her husband.
Mara is free to discuss the
below talking points when it comes to being a new
When Mara is not busy in
front of the camera, or at home with her daughter and
husband, she can be found teaching in the classroom.
Mara is a fiercely loyal
advocate for keeping music/arts programs in schools and
teaching the next generation. With well over 20 years of
performance experience and a long running resume of
teaching at all levels including elementary, highs
school, college and beyond, Mara's
passion for performance and teaching speaks for itself.
Back to the Main Articles
Back to the Main Primetime TV Page
Transcription from Rev.com
We need more episode guide recap writers, article
writers, MS FrontPage and Web Expression users, graphics designers, and more, so
please email us
if you can help out! More volunteers always
Page updated 7/8/19