Anita Hollander: I always wanted to be an actor – ever since I was four, and I started with a professional job at eight.
And it was funny because I was very realistic at the age of four. What I really wanted to do was to make my living at something I loved to do and that I could do well – right down to the brass tacks of living in New York, having an apartment and going to [work at] a studio or theatre. It was all in my mind from a very young age.
Susan Dansby: I think that it’s actually typical that people are drawn to certain professions, certain creative outlets from the time that they’re children and we just kind of drown it out of ourselves.
Anita Hollander: Yeah, it’s lucky when your parents support that in you even if nobody else recognizes it. I hope I’m that kind of parent to my daughter.
Susan Dansby: What kind of training did you do to become an actor?
Anita Hollander: My mom was wonderful to take me to dance classes, and youth theatre training, and the Cleveland Play House. Curtain Pullers (Cleveland Play House theater program) was a training ground for many great actors who ended up doing great things. So, I started young with that – dance classes, acting classes.
When I was eight, doing The Sound of Music, there were 250 children, and I got the understudy job for Gretel. And she was kind enough to get German measles and allowed me to go on for a couple of nights and she even said to me, “I’m so glad I got sick.” Because it didn’t hurt her at all to get German measles because she knew I had a chance to go on. She was very generous.
When I wasn’t doing professional theater, I would do community theatre. I would do whatever a kind of theatre I could get.
Transitioning from Child Actor to Young Adult
Anita Hollander: While I was in high school, I took a summer graduate workshop in theatre at Case Western Reserve – which was a real experience for a 15-year-old being with graduate students in theatre – a real eye opener for me.
But then, I went on to Carnegie Mellon University and got my Bachelor of Fine Arts there in acting and then, went to LAMDA, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. Studied for one year in the overseas program there, and they asked me to tour with an original production about Elizabeth I with some of their graduate students who were Brits. So I ended up staying on a year, touring with them, which led to a job in Copenhagen, which led to all kinds of jobs.
Susan Dansby: In terms of getting acting jobs, it sounds as though a lot of your work has come out of the professional organizations that you were part of like the schools and different acting companies.
Anita Hollander: In my younger years, yeah, it did. But I did audition for everything. I had learned at a young age how to audition, so it wasn’t just that the training led to it.
However, I was lucky that in many cases my training helped me to get work. In fact, when I was in London just finishing up the British tour which we did in Holland and Belgium and Wales, came back to London and I got a phone call from Copenhagen, The Mermaid Theatre. This guy had seen my resume somewhere and knew that I had studied with Paul Draper, dancing, at Carnegie Mellon and on that alone he hired me for an acting job at his theatre in Copenhagen, on the spot. So, there was an occurrence where my training led me to a job.