Victoria Mahoney Takes a Risk in Directorial Debut, âYelling to the Skyâ<br />
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It's rewriting until common words in your native tongue sound unnatural. It's lost love relationships, and missed dinner parties, and skipped birthdays. It's watching the sunrise come up on no sleep...It's rejection layered with rejection. It's in between paychecks. It's backwards and upside down. It's the willingness to sacrifice everything for the portal to an ounce of truth.

EBONY: Your own transition from primarily acting to directing and writing is so inspiring. How difficult or easy was that move? 

VM: It was extremely easy because I didn't spend five seconds contemplating it. I just leapt. I had to. I knew my artistic sanity depended on pushing past safety and finding out what I was made of, with or without support. I decided, headlong and headstrong, come what may, I was taking the trek. 

On a practical level, I've never struggled more than when I shifted from acting and put my whole being into directing. I've put everything I am, everything I own, into this film. And I wouldn't change any of it. Well, I would change how the film was released and distributed but the twelve plus years that I've carried this film including the three years cast/crew have carried it--is sacred.

EBONY: I would imagine that many actresses would have stuck to the craft, especially after appearances in major television series and films [like Legally Blonde and Seinfeld,] in hope of finally landing a project in which they believed. When and how did you draw the line when it came to making compromises for the success of your career?

VM: I was never given a chance to fully challenge myself as an actor, in film. I fought and begged for what I eventually realized, amounted to morsels. I knew if I kept going, I'd wake up one day in a shiny house with a shiny zip code, incapable of lying to myself about the level of my artistic-professional hollowness. I've never had to battle the decision to preserve my love of storytelling. My only battle is with outdated rules about who gets resourced and supported. 

EBONY: Thinking back on classics and contemporary titles, what films would you recommend to EBONY.com readers interested in developing a wider taste in film? 

VM: Tricky. I wouldn't dare pre-suppose what EBONY readers have or haven't watched. With respect to film geeks amongst us, I will lay out some of the classic, contemporary and current films that continue to inspire and push me; Lucretia Martel's Headless Woman, Ava DuVernay's Middle of Nowhere, Zhang Yimou's Ju Dou, Nadine Labaki's Caramel, Andrew Dosunmu Restless City, Akira Kurasawa's Madadayo, anything by Ousmane Sembène, Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep, Jacques Audiard's The Prophet, Gitonga's Nairobi Half Life, Haile Gerima's Sankofa, because it's one of the greatest indie film, self-distribution stories ever.

EBONY: What projects do you have lined up next?

VM: I just finished post-production on a short film called WRACKED. I'm knee-deep into my next feature called CHALK. It's the story about a person on a hunt to find murder suspects. I had to do an exciting amount of research on opposite ends of a nationwide issue. And I'm finishing the script for an untitled TV project, that's been rip roaring fun to navigate.

Patrice Peck explores the complex intersection of culture, entertainment, race and gender as a multimedia journalist. Follow her latest work on Twitter @SpeakPatrice and visit her website for more writing and video.