Speak the truth: how speech pathologist Anna Lakin turned her love of acting into a second career.

Minneapolis-based actor Anna Lakin is also a speech pathologist. Or maybe it's the other way around....

She's passionate about both professions, and while she studied acting in her early 20s has reconnected with it more than 15 years later. We were intrigued by two seemingly different careers - how she chose them and how she manages to build both while also raising a family. 

Why did you originally choose speech therapy?

I fell into being a speech language pathologist, but now I realize it is very like acting, so maybe that's why.  With both, you have to be a good listener and observer in order to be effective.  When I'm acting, or when I'm working with a child with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders), for example, I have to listen and notice in the moment and let go of my agenda.  With both, I need to be very prepared - lines/lesson plan, evidence based practice/character development etc. - but if I can't be spontaneous when I'm in the thick of it, I'm not going to be very effective in either case.  

Lilly from Girl Shorts, photo Scott Pakudaitis

Lilly from Girl Shorts, photo Scott Pakudaitis

What is it about acting that you love? 

I am fascinated by the human experience, as I believe many people are.  Acting is how I entertain my fascination, how I feel connected to history, to humanity.  I guess that's a fancy way of saying I love pretending to be other people.  I also just love being in a theater or on a set, being a small but necessary part of something bigger. 

The more I focus on what I can control, the more the things I can’t control seem to fall into place.
The Comedy of Errors, photo Tanya Villano Photgraphy

The Comedy of Errors, photo Tanya Villano Photgraphy

What are you sacrificing in order to build a second career in acting?

I have to prioritize for sure.  Theater especially is a huge time commitment which is why I started exploring options for on-camera work after I had a child.  It was a great choice for me because I get a lot of satisfaction from acting in that medium, more than I thought I would, and it takes up less time.

What is the most fulfilling part of acting, and does it help other aspects of your life?

It's difficult to pinpoint a certain aspect because all the pieces are so woven together, but the character development discoveries that happen during the process - those "A-ha!" moments - they feel good.  As for acting helping other aspects of my life, it's actually more the other way around.  My experiences in life help my acting.  

SCript meetings with the cast of the non-producers. Photo: Kevin Bowen

SCript meetings with the cast of the non-producers. Photo: Kevin Bowen

What has the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far as you’ve been growing your acting experience? 

I'm constantly learning (and relearning!) lessons.  The biggest is that I have to focus on the things in the business that I can control and let go of the things I can't.  There's so much in theater and film that an actor has no control over.  I've realized I have to do things every day that I can control and move me forward.  I read plays, I audition a lot (and have slowly learned to make the conscious decision to make it fun), I participate in a scene work class every week (levmailer.com) which is a must for me to keep sharp, I look for my own work and don't just rely on an agency.  The more I focus on what I can control, the more the things I can't control seem to fall into place.

What advice would you give to other women who want to do more of something they love?

You’re far more likely to continue with what you love, if you realize you are already doing it.

Don't think of it as following a path to get to what you love.  Think, "I'm doing what I love", and then the goal setting comes naturally  Don't think, "I want to be a writer", think "I'm a writer, so I write, and I want to be published."  You're far more likely to continue with what you love if you realize you are already doing it.  I was always an actor, even jumping on my parents' bed when I was three pretending to be a ballerina to a pretend audience.  I just wasn't an accomplished actor.  Then my dad took me to a play and I thought, "I'm an actor and I want to be in a play on a stage with a real audience." - and so on. My goals change over time but I don't lose sight of who I am or what I do.

Right image credit: Rachel Andersen Media Makeup Artistry

Anna already has her next two roles booked - are Glinda and Aunt Em in The Wizard of Oz at Lakeshore Players opening September 14, and Jackie in Dot at Park Square Theater opening December 8. 

You can connect with Anna here or follow her on Instagram here