Acting career takes off for Pilgrim grad
At 24 years old, Allie Marshall, who graduated from Pilgrim and went on to earn a degree at URI, has had roles in 44 films, TV shows and syndicated features. And that’s just the beginning.
Marshall was home last week, devoting more than an hour to discuss her career and an industry that has come under the spotlight in the wake of sexual harassment allegations concerning Harvey Weinstein and the casting couch.
Ironically, as committed as Marshall is to pursuing a career in acting and movies, it’s not where she thought she would be in high school.
“Normally, being an actor is one of those things a kid says when you ask them what they want to be,” said Marshall. “It’s something that you’re like ‘Being an actress would be cool,’ and then it’s gone and you’re back to reality. I thought you could never be an actor unless you were in Hollywood, so it was never something I was serious about.”
Marshall, who originally went to Salve Regina and URI for kinesiology, said, “I was always a very fit and active person, and I wanted to help people achieve their goals.”
Marshall had acted at Pilgrim High School under Richard Denningham but never was the star. “I had acted as some very small roles in high school, nothing big…but college is when I really found it as my passion,” says Marshall.
Marshall did a small photo shoot for social media and got a call from a director who said she had an image for his character. “He said, ‘Would you like to come down to the set?’ and I said ‘Sure, I’d love to check it out’ and the second I stepped on that set I knew this is what I needed to be doing.”
The movie was Almost Mercy and it gave Marshall a completely new perspective on what would become her new career.
“Meeting a lot of people on that set showed me that there are jobs in this field,” says Marshall, “and a lot of the contacts that I made on that set led to roles and jobs down the line.”
She also has learned from that experience that networking, devotion to the craft, and like-minded people is vital to keeping motivated and driven.
“It’s very difficult to make it as a full-time actor and be able to pay your bills,” says Marshall. “I’m very fortunate that I can do that, but not everyone can. A lot of actors are waiters, bartenders, just jobs to pay the bills. Doing those jobs with no connection to the acting work really drains you and that’s why it’s so important to be with people in the similar craft so that you can keep that passion going.”
“I’ve also been very fortunate that I haven’t dealt with things like Harvey Weinstein or the ‘casting couch’ when I’ve gotten my roles,” said Marshall, but she’s known actresses who have, “and it’s a real problem.”
Marshall is still humble about her experiences in acting. “I don’t have a favorite role because every role has led to me meeting amazing people and new opportunities. From the smallest role to the biggest have been really humbling and learning experiences and shaped who I am.”
“Probably the most influential role that really got me noticed was a movie called Sorority Nightmare,” says Marshall. “It was on Lifetime, and at one point I had multiple titles, but this was so important because this was a union actor only role…and they liked me so much that they gave me the ability to work for them without being in the union and also gave me the cards to become a full union member all at once, which takes most actors years to even get a card.”
One of Marshall’s most recent and well-known titles is also a Lifetime roll in Twisted Sister that got her a lot of social media coverage and response.
“Part of the reason it go so big was how it came out. Post production usually is that longest part of the movie and takes a long time to wrap up,” says Marshall, “so you tell people, ‘Hey, I’m in this thing’ and they ask, ‘When is it coming out?’ and my guess is as good as theirs. But with [Twisted Sister] it just went so fast and it made it so easy for people to watch it at home on Lifetime that people could watch it when they wanted.”
“I even had friends texting me about how they were a ‘20-something sitting at home at 9:00 on a Saturday night watching Lifetime like an old woman’ and it made me laugh and also feel so special.”
But Marshall hasn’t forgotten her Rhode Island roots and knows how they shaped her into the actress she is today.
“[Rhode Island] has 100 percent formed my views on acting,” says Marshall. “[Acting] wasn’t in my face like it is in New York and LA…but when you come from a place like this and you get into it and you see how many people are in it, it changes things. Viola Davis changed so many things when she started getting awards…because it said for Rhode Island, ‘Hey, look at us.’”
But at her core, comparing Boston, New York and Rhode Island, Marshall still says that her real home and favorite place is here.
“New York has all the opportunity and energy, and Boston has all of its familiarity and charm,” says Marshall, “but when you’re from Rhode Island, Rhode Island is just home. It’s home.”
If you would like to learn more about Allie Marshall and find out more about her upcoming titles, you can look her up at IMBD.com and find her on Twitter "@allie_marshall."