Colleen O’Neill is an Illinois mom who has plenty of experience on stage. She’s dynamic producer/writer/actor and we are happy to have her as part of our upcoming cast.
Where do you live, how many kids do you have, ages?
I live just outside the city limits, so I can have access to all the City of Chicago has to offer for less that half the property tax. :) I have one little girl named Lola who just turned 9.
How are you creative post children? How has it changed since pre-baby?
I am a working actress, writer and producer, so I spend the better part of the day trying to focus on being creative. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I think that I have become more creative since having Lola. When she was a newborn, I had to find a way to be creatively efficiently, since I was writing and performing at Second City, auditioning and working full-time. My first day back from maternity leave was the first day of the Los Angeles Film Festival where I worked 12-16 hour days for 10 days straight. I was fortunate to be working for an organization that was supportive of both parents and the work we did outside of our time there. I had Lola strapped to my body, wearing a custom LA Film Fest onesie that my husband made for her and life was good. She is a very creative kid with an awesome sense of humor, so she challenges me to stay on my toes. We spend a lot of time, as a family, creating stories, characters and laughing – a lot of laughing. I guess you could say that we challenge each other to always be creative in all that we do.
When do you find time to create?
It’s a full-time job. I try to set aside school hours to be my most focused hours, but sometimes it doesn’t always work that way. I learned a long time ago that flexibility is key. That is hard for someone with a tendency to lean Type A. I do my best work in the car, at the gym or when I first wake up and am trying to peel myself out of the sheets. The busier I am the more I struggle with the ability to just sit and write for fun and a chance to explore, creatively. It seems the more time I have the harder it is for me to produce. I’ve gotten good at working under pressure and not having the luxury of a lot of time – the definition of motherhood?
How did you hear about ExMo?
My friend Inana, who I met when we were doing a play together in LA where we had to learn the famous Thriller dance and play dead models, sent me an email telling me all about the show, Lindsay and that I should absolutely do it. It sounded like a fun show and something I would love to be a part of… and here I am.
What creative projects are you up to?
I am currently producing a fully-improvised web series with the first two episodes completed. It is an exciting project where I try to pull together new cast and crew for each episode. We start with a simple location and a very loose premise. We don’t sit down beforehand. The day of the shoot, we just go and see what comes. That is what I love about improv – if you go in with an open mind, ready to listen and play, the outcome will never be what you expect. Quite often, it will be better. It is difficult to do a fully-improvised, on-camera project, because you need to deal with different shots and continuity and remembering the beats that worked and those that didn’t to recreate them without a script to guide you. I like that challenge. I am hoping to take the best of what comes from this series and put it in to a larger production.
I am also continuing to work on producing my first feature with my husband – he’s a screenwriter… super talented and adorable screenwriter. :) This film is a labor of love. It was a story we worked on together many years ago and have adjusted throughout our years together. We decide a few years ago that this would be the one piece we would love to be able to make together. The process has been a journey with major ups and major downs. We’ve had stops and starts, but so much great feedback. We are determined to see it through and hopefully it doesn’t kill us. :)
And, my biggest project is penning my first book. Another crazy journey and another labor of love.
I am very excited to be a part of ExMo Chicago and looking forward to working with all these amazing ladies!