Introduce yourself! Who are you?
Hey! I’m Grace Hannoy. I’m a writer/actor/producer, poet, and yoga teacher based in New York City! Most recently, I wrote, produced, and starred in my first feature film “When We Grow Up.” The film was made by an entirely female crew. I’m currently working on writing a horror/ comedy television pilot, and always looking for new projects to collaborate on. I’m a woman who wears many metaphorical hats, which I find really exciting–– and also exhausting at times.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Create as if your family were dead; as if they didn’t exist and will never see your work. I know that’s a crazy thing to say! The person who told me this didn’t mean to carry the sadness of what that reality could mean. They did mean this: We often stop ourselves from telling our stories the way they deserve to be told because we’re worried about the way those we love will perceive them. They will love you anyway. Write the truth.
What would you say to 16 year old you?
Your voice matters. The things about you that make you feel weird, or wrong, or that you think are unspeakable are exactly the things others need to know, hear, and see. Your authenticity is important! People will respond to your truth, even your imperfection, far more than they’ll respond to some mask you’ve created for yourself. Be fearless. Write it down, share it with everyone who will listen, and believe that you have an impact. Your thoughts and ideas are welcome and necessary in the world.
What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is that all I will ever amount to is potential. I don’t want to escape this world without feeling that I’ve grown past all this potential I have. I want to feel realized and whole inside my work.
Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
At every step, yes, people have doubted me. When I was younger it made me feel indignant. I wanted to prove those people wrong, so I muscled through and forward from this misplaced sense of motivation. It felt good in the moment when I was able to stare proudly back at someone who had tried so hard to keep me down after I’d accomplished something they swore I couldn’t do. I felt ragefully determined. But, now, I’m beginning to realize how much better it feels to laugh, shrug my shoulders, and do what I want with my life without a second thought toward those people. They can spend their life and their energy hating me and wishing for me to fail. I will spend my life creating, and learning, and growing. I’ll do all of those things for myself, and not because they told me I can’t. I’ll be blissfully determined instead.
What message do you think every woman should hear?
Start before you’re ready. We’re taught generally, as women, to wait for permission or to get the “go ahead.” There will always be a million reasons to wait to do that thing you’re dying to do. Give yourself permission to do it right now. You’ll become ready as you go along, as long as you’re willing to learn and work your ass off. You got this. You are far more capable than you realize.
Have you always had confidence in yourself?
Honestly, I think confidence is a constant and lifelong battle. Some days I feel unstoppable, capable, and strong. Other days I feel like rolling up into a ball and never leaving my room again. I work at maintaining my confidence, just like everyone else. Sometimes life can be discouraging, which in turn can rattle my confidence. I feel the most confident when I’m actively working on something I’m passionate about. Luckily, I have a lot of passions that make me feel good. Whether it’s a script I’m writing, producing my work or someone else’s, playing a character I find fascinating, or practicing yoga, there are so many avenues for exercising confidence in myself. I feel my confidence slipping when I let my work ethic slide.
What is your favorite thing about where you live?
New York City is an immensely inspiring place to live. I can’t walk two feet away from my building without seeing a piece of art, or overhearing a stimulating conversation. The energy is palpable, electric, and full of possibility. New York is very adaptable, and is open to you in whatever way you ask for her. New York has this intriguing duality about her, too. If you want alone time, you can have it. If you want to go out and have a new experience, or meet new people on a whim, you can. I love that there are pockets of community, togetherness, and aliveness around every corner. But, I also love that people keep to themselves, mostly, even in seas of people. I really relate to the city in that way.
What do you love most about yourself?
This is such a sweet question we should ask ourselves more often! I am an extremely passionate person. When I was young, my mom worried that my passion would cause me pain in life– she was right. My passions have led me to hard-earned lessons, but also some of my fondest memories and achievements. I made my feature film with an entirely female crew because of my passion for supporting and empowering women in the pursuit of their goals. Following my passion has led me to my home, to people I love and have loved, to new opportunities for learning and growth. I love my passionate spirit. I’m honestly not sure how I would exist without it.
Do you remember a specific time you overcame adversity?
Making my feature film, When We Grow Up, is a great example of overcoming adversity at every turn. I was spurred to create my own work when I felt myself facing an overpoweringly male dominated industry in which I felt I had very little agency. As an actor, I wanted to give myself and others an opportunity to play people with many dimensions. I’m unfortunately so used to reading breakdowns for female characters where the description is something like, “Jim’s wife,” or “requires nudity, non-speaking.” I wanted to give myself permission as a writer to create a story I wanted to see, full of real women, people of color, and complicated family dynamics. A lot of people criticized my insistence upon hiring an entirely female crew. Even when I would explain to them using researched statistics that men outnumber women in this industry at an alarming rate, they still weren’t sold on the idea that it was necessary. Instead of listening to those who refused to listen to my reasoning or those who wrote off the talents of these women entirely, I listened to my heart and to our supporters. We made a beautiful film together on an extremely tight budget and timeline. I couldn’t be prouder of myself or my team on When We Grow Up. We accomplished something many didn’t believe we could, and we did
it really well.
Did you always know what you wanted to do as a career?
I always knew I wanted to tell stories. Even as a child, I was fascinated by the human experience, and I wanted to talk about it and confront it. I’ve always been a performer and a writer; as a dancer, actor, poet, screenwriter, etc. As a producer, I’ve also found a new way to participate in storytelling that I find fulfilling and fun in unexpected ways. I’ve considered paths that don’t include storytelling… and each time I find myself absent from the heart of whatever that *other* thing is. I think when something calls to you incessantly, you have to answer it (unless it’s those student debt scammers.) Storytelling has been calling my name from day one. I have to answer.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
I’ve learned that everything takes way longer than you think. I’m not the most patient person, so this reality gets to me. Patience really is a virtue that matters in life. All of the adages and metaphors such as these things take time, we make plans and God laughs, nothing happens overnight… all of those things are true. I have my own metaphors I could add, but the gist is the same. As frustrating as this sometimes is, it’s also an incredible relief. Everything doesn’t have to happen all at once. It might actually be terrifying or even disappointing if it did.
What brings you joy right now?
Human connection has been bringing me the greatest sense of joy these days. Teaching yoga, grabbing coffee or dinner with friends, and spending time with my family and partner are all great examples of what’s bringing me a crazy amount of joy! I’ve been enjoying giving my love, and receiving the love of others in return. Human connection is what I live for. As an artist, I strive to create work that explores and perpetuates our drive for connection and the many forms that connection may take.
Grace Hannoy is a writer/actor/producer, poet, and yoga teacher based in New York City who is dedicated to creating opportunities for women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community in all of her work.