Mallory Hoff is an actor who’s worked on such films as Clint Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell,” Warner Brother’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” and the highly acclaimed legal drama “Just Mercy,” as well as television shows like “Power,” “Mr. Mercedes,” “Greenleaf,” and “Tell Me A Story.” Born and raised in Atlanta, GA., Mallory began acting while growing up but went on to study Broadcast Journalism and Political Science at Emerson College in Boston, MA. After graduating, Mallory entered the field of media and over the next decade reported for news affiliates including WABC in Manhattan, KCRA in Sacramento, CA (where she was nominated for an Emmy), and WAAY in Huntsville, AL., as well as providing content for such outlets as Good Morning America, BBC, CNN, and the Weather Channel. Unable to shake her itch to act, Mallory forged forward and carved out a niche for herself in the entertainment industry playing news reporters in a variety of films and TV shows. Not only was this a way to segue onto the big screen, but as a former reporter she also found directors consulting her on the reporter roles in the hopes of creating more authentic content. While continuing her foray into the world of film and television, Mallory next expanded her acting into voiceover work in commercials, landing a national spot for Pepperidge Farm’s Goldfish as the voice of an animated newscaster.
You received impressive recognition at a young age for your acting abilities. Did you have an “ah ha” moment then, or as a child, that acting was something you wanted to do with your life?
I think I’ve wanted to be on stage or in front of a camera since I could talk. I remember being a little kid growing up in Atlanta thinking that I wanted to be on the shows that I was watching. I started taking acting classes in elementary school and used to circle the auditions posted in the newspaper and ask my parents to take me all over town. This was in the 90s, long before the film and television industry descended on Georgia. Ultimately a love of storytelling led me to study Broadcast Journalism at Emerson College in Boston, and I went on to become a TV news reporter. I had worked my way up the media markets as a journalist and was reporting for WABC in New York City when I realized if I didn’t go after my childhood dream I might ultimately regret it.
You have at times married your love for acting with your prowess for journalism in the roles you’ve accepted. Has the success you’ve seen with that influenced your approach to other roles?
Yes, you could certainly say type casting has played an important role in my career. When I decided it was time to leave news and give acting a shot, my now agent suggested a natural transition — start auditioning for reporter roles, a character I could tap into at the drop of a hat. That strategy has allowed me to book blockbusters and incredible television shows in recent years. As a reporter, I had the unique experience of meeting and interviewing countless people from all walks of life. As I approach other roles, I constantly find myself thinking about the teachers, doctors, politicians, and parents I’ve had the pleasure of meeting over the years. I try to channel what I’ve seen and heard firsthand.
Do you have a dream role, or a favorite genre in which to act?
I love a good drama. I grew up on “Ally McBeal,” “The Practice,” “Law and Order,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Scandal.” If I could land anywhere, it would probably be on a legal drama, perhaps playing an honest but flawed defense attorney or prosecutor.
Who are your inspirations as an actor?
I think Sam Rockwell is beyond incredible. I had the pleasure of working with him and learning from his focus, dedication, and respect for other actors while on the set of “Richard Jewell.” Octavia Spencer is pure magic on screen. Julianna Margulies is never short of outstanding. Amy Brenneman has always captivated me. Sterling K. Brown, Bryan Cranston, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus also come to mind.
What is one mistake you learned from as an actor
Showing up prepared is paramount as an actor, but when I initially made the switch from reporting to acting, I was so determined to make a good impression in auditions and on set that I became hung up on every detail and every word. Being prepared is important, but being relaxed as well allows you to do your best work and make adjustments on the fly.
Did you ever have to make a tough decision on a role that wound up being exactly the right decision?
I made a choice in an audition not too long ago for my character to really go off the rails. It was my take on the scene and I was confident in the way I felt it needed to be played, but I knew there was a possibility that casting and the director might not be on the same page. I booked the role, and the first thing the director said to me on set was, “I really liked your audition.”
Do you prepare differently for roles in film vs TV? If so, how?
From a standpoint of being off book, psyched, and ready to go, no. However, TV tends to be a faster paced day on set just by nature, so I know going into a TV shoot that I may not get to play around with the material the way that I would on some film sets.
Atlanta has become an exciting town in the last decade for the film industry. Was there a point where you once believed one had to be in LA or NYC to be a working actor? What would you say to someone who says that today?
It has been absolutely incredible to watch the town I grew up in transform into a home for the film and TV industry. I recently moved back to Atlanta after about 15 years away. I was living outside of New York, auditioning in both NYC and Atlanta, when I realized I was booking more work in the South. At that point, I knew it was time to come home. Sometimes when I’m on set in GA, I look around and literally do a double take. If you would have told me growing up that I would ultimately return to Atlanta because it would evolve into the Hollywood of the South, I would never have believed you. To be shooting on the set of a major motion picture, and then be able to drive back home to my husband and baby, is something I will never take for granted.
For those unfamiliar with the behind-the-scenes world of entertainment, what adjustments have been made to set life during the pandemic? How has working industry life changed in the last year and a half?
Shooting during the pandemic is vastly different than it was previously. Productions require multiple COVID tests before you’re permitted to be on set. Masks and face shields have been worn on set throughout the pandemic as well. As an actor, you’ll remove your mask for a take and then put it right back on afterwards.
What would you say to someone considering being an actor today?
Go big or go home. If you’re lucky and you’re from Atlanta like me, you might be able to do both.
Can you tell us about any upcoming film or TV projects you’re working on?
I was very fortunate to work during the pandemic. I have two highly anticipated family films coming out in the months ahead. My hope is that both help bring people back to the movie theater. I am currently working on a limited series that takes place in the 70s, which I’m excited about as well.
You appeared in the highly lauded biographical drama “Richard Jewell” directed by Clint Eastwood. Can you tell us what it was like working with him? Any interesting anecdotes you can share?
In a word, surreal. Clint Eastwood empowers actors. In “Richard Jewell,” I played a reporter bombarding characters played by Sam Rockwell, Paul Walter Hauser, and Kathy Bates. I will never forget the way he speaks on set. He practically whispers, and you better believe everyone listens. My biggest takeaway was that he doesn’t talk at actors, he has a quiet conversation with them. It felt more collaborative than perhaps anything I have ever experienced on a set before.
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