On any given day in Hoboken, Washington Street is busy – filled with businessmen, delivery trucks, and restaurant workers. It is a town surging with life. Though small in scale, it is a bustling town that attracts many artists who live in the shadow of the city, hoping for a long harbored dream to become a reality. It’s not unusual to find that you are sitting in the same restaurant as someone famous. But in town that has the likes of Eli Manning, and the Manzo Brothers, celebrity and all it charms is something that may be noticed, but not always commented on.
But before the lights, recognition, and parties, is a road paved with hard work, long hours, and little attention – especially when the goal is acting. Margaret Anne Florence is newly minted talented, waiting for the release of the film “The Mighty Macs.” She is a pretty brunette at first glance, but on a second look you might wonder why she seems a little familiar. Her face has graced the screen in many movies in supporting roles, but it is easily her work in television she is probably known for. The actress has performed on “Nurse Jackie,” “White Collar” “Law & Order,” to name a few. She is happy with the work, but is always looking to the future. “You can’t just try one thing nowadays, it’s very demanding,” she says.
In person, Margaret seems smaller than she does on the big screen. She is petite, thin, and has perfect skin. That is not so odd for an industry that selects people based on their looks. She also comes across as grounded, which anyone would hope to be on a good day. But how many of us actually achieve that when going about our lives? What makes it remarkable is her job choice. She probably would be forgiven for seeming emotional or requiring something a little stronger than the iced tea she sips during the interview. But Margaret is poised, grounded, and dare I say – happy. The tonic that zips through her veins isn’t manufactured; it comes from a deep seated belief in herself and her passion.
“I knew I was going to do this since I was little,” said Margaret. “I performed all through high school. I’m lucky. I had the support of my family. My family has always supported me.” With big brown eyes, and an engaging smile, Margaret doesn’t seem that far away from high school. Young, vibrant, and charming, it is easy to see why she would be type cast as the best friend or the young wife. “I don’t usually get called for serial killer roles,” she laughs. She says in the industry, looks of course play a factor in how you are cast. “It’s important. You are being judged on your looks. It’s important to stay in shape,” she said. She adds that if she was built another way, for instance if she was 200 pound comedian, she hopes she’d be just as happy. But it’s hard to imagine this athletic woman even slightly overweight.
And for her, working out isn’t a chore. She works out every day at the Sky Club – lifting weights, running, and yoga. Always physically fit, she practiced a lot of sports growing up including basketball, volleyball, track, and golf. “Growing up, I would toss the football around with my dad. I love to work out,” she says. And all that working out has paid off for her in the film “The Mighty Macs,” which is a film that chronicles the achievements of the Immaculata College’s women’s basketball team. The film, which has a release date of October, includes Margaret in a lead supporting role and stars Carla Gugino and award winning actress Ellen Burstyn.
She describes the film as her best acting experience so far. “It was a great experience. To play a sport in a film is amazing, but to be a part of something that is a true story is really rewarding,” she said. For the audition, Margaret says she had to actual prove she could play basketball, and before filming all the actors went to basketball camp to sharpen their skills. She recalls the many hours she spent on her own on the 4th Street basketball courts in Hoboken, where she would practice her drills. But the real gift of the film was taking part in a film that changed women’s sports, she says. “If a film is a true story you can say you were a part of something special,” she said.
Big Stars, Good Training
She’s worked with some big names in the industry, like Ellen Burstyn, Tom Selleck, and Kevin Costner. She met Costner on the set of “The New Daughter,” a film in which she played a supporting role in this thriller. She describes that as a wonderful experience and not just because of the film, but because it was filmed in South Carolina so she was able to visit her home in Charleston when not working. She says that Costner was very considerate of the other actors during the shoot. “He was great! And so nice,” she said. “He was very concerned about everyone else. He wanted to rehearse the scenes and make sure everything ran smoothly.” There are other big actors she admires in the industry and would love to work with – like Clint Eastwood and Ben Affleck. “I like actors that become directors,” she says, yet adds modestly that she doesn’t think she should really be talking about who she likes in film or who she would like to work with. It is questions like that which reveal her Southern charm. While she is self assured as an actor on the screen, she is humble in person and describes herself as lucky to be a working actress.
Work is something ingrained in her, and probably helps her to remain so focused. She starts everyday with a workout and then plans her days accordingly. Most days include a rehearsal of some kind- whether it is with an acting coach, an acting group, and of course, includes going on auditions. “I space my day out,” she explains. “If I don’t have an audition, I have one the next.” She also spends a good deal of time on the business side of things – her web site, planning auditions, rehearsing material. “I’d rather make something happen. It’s a really hard business. I’m lucky I don’t have to work a part-time job,” she said. Part-time work for her is voice overs and commercials, including spots on a Dannon and IKEA commercial. The business demands much of her time and can include studying lines last minute for a film role or spot on a television show. She says sometimes she has a couple of days to rehearse before an audition, but says that many times her agent will call with something that she needs to prepare for the next day. For her, the most important thing is knowing her lines. “I will write them over and over until I know them,” she said. From there, she tries to map out how the audition will go. She thinks about who her character is talking to, what they are actually doing in the scene. But the reality of the audition is almost always saying lines in a chair to empty space.
Auditions that she can dig into and utilize more of her talents, are the musical auditions she goes on. This professionally trained soprano sings every day to keep her instrument in tune. She recently performed as the lead Clara in the musical “The Lights in the Piazza” in Washington D.C. She had a month of rehearsals for that role, which was a luxury compared to the week she had to prepare for her role Off Broadway in “The Fantasticks” in New York. When she envisions her future in acting, she insists that it “be varied.” To be working of course, is a goal, but she wants to do all the aspects of her career- film, TV, and theater. She received favorable reviews for her work as Clara, but she says that she doesn’t spend too much time thinking about what other people say. She says that some of the best advice she ever got when she started in this business was to “stop trying to please everyone else. Stop trying to fit someone else’s agenda.” You have to have confidence in yourself, she says.
That confidence in herself comes from the years of training and hundreds of auditions. She says you can’t worry too much over reviews favorable or not – or auditions, even ones that you are confident you did well on. “If I worried about everything I didn’t get, I’d go bonkers,” she said. While she considers herself lucky to be working, she is always, always preparing, working, and rehearsing for the next role or next audition. To Margaret, that is the only way forward in a crazy business. “You have to keep studying and working on your skills. I don’t think you can ever stop doing that,” she said.