On screen and stage
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Aug 16, 2013, 14:49
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS Audra Honaker has played a variety of roles in movies and plays. Here she plays a bird.
Audra Honaker never cared much for dolls as a child, though she received them as gifts from family members. One particular Christmas her family got her a doll and instead of playing dress up, Honaker decided to give her a different voice and put on a little show for her family, causing an uproar of laughter. It was at this moment Honaker realized she loved making people laugh and performing, and began building her life on a stage.
Before the days of acting in plays and being behind a camera, Honaker performed in the choirs at First United Methodist in Hopewell, while her mom sat behind the organ and her dad worked with the audio visuals.
Honaker’s acting career began in elementary school with her first role being Gretl in “The Sound of Music” and then she was Annie, from the musical “Annie.” Her acting career was placed on hold for several years while she attended middle school, then high school, and then through the first few years of college at William and Mary.
When she began her studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, Honaker saw an advertisement in the newspaper for auditions for “The Secret Garden,” and her heart soared, as she expressed that is one of her favorite books as a child. She was awarded a role in the play and from there, the second phase of her acting career began.
During her years at VCU, she acted in a student film, and said her role called for her to beat someone to death with a hose and scream, an action that would prove to come in handy in another film.
One of her most recent roles was in National Geographic Channel’s ‘Killing Lincoln’ documentary in which she played Fanny Seward, daughter of Secretary of State William Seward, who served under President Lincoln.
Her role involved her leaning out a window and screaming, “Help, help! They are killing my father!” Honaker remembers that 10-hour rainy night on the set, at one of the historic homes in Petersburg.
“It was pretty simple,” Honaker said of her role. “All I had to do was scream and run around like a crazy person.”
Despite giving her vocal chords a workout that night, Honaker said she loved every second of that night, even leaning out the window in Petersburg at 5 a.m. to scream. The documentary was filmed over a year ago and Honaker still remembers that night vividly, noting it was very hot and crowded in the bedroom where they were filming.
Not too long ago, ‘Killing Lincoln’ was released on DVD and Honaker still does not own a copy, though her parents called her, excitedly announcing it had arrived on shelves.
“It was really cool,” Honaker said of her experience with “Killing Lincoln” and the DVD release. “I just keep saying things are really cool, but that’s how it feels.”
Shortly after filming wrapped on “Killing Lincoln,” Honaker traveled to Idaho to perform in the production of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” in which she played Lucy, saying she was allowed to be loud and obnoxious. For those six weeks in Idaho, Honaker said she loved every second.
Hopewell native Audra Honaker plays Lucy in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.”
Honaker has spent 10 years of her life as a professional actress, performing in numerous plays and being in three films, which translates to a large amount of time being many different people. Despite many years acting, Honaker has never taken an acting lesson. She has just learned by doing.
“I just think about if I were watching this character what it would it be like, how would they look, how would they move, how would they sound,” Honaker said. “And then I just do that. I’ve learned a lot of acting exercises over the years but everybody’s got their method.”
Honaker has also learned some lessons off stage, behind the cameras and curtains. She has done laundry for shows, painted sets and built props. She said this taught her a new appreciation for being an actress.
“Once you’ve been on that side of it, there’s a deep respect,” Honaker said. “So much work goes into shows behind the scenes it’s just unbelievable and the actor just shows up and puts on a pretty dress and eats bagels.”
For many, standing on a stage in front of hundreds, sometimes thousands of people would spark a fear of stage fright, however to Honaker, that is when she is most comfortable. Growing up, Honaker confessed she would hide behind her mother’s legs when out in public meeting people, saying she just never talked to anyone. Time has passed and now Honaker said she would no longer describe herself as shy.
“I feel free and safe,” Honaker said of standing on the stage and in front of the camera.
“I think it’s because when you’re doing that, [the audience] is not going to come up there and do or say anything to you. It’s a lot less personal and intimate and the more people the better, the more comfortable.”
With many plays and films on her resumé, Honaker cannot pick a favorite character, a favorite play, a favorite film or a favorite role. Instead, for her, it is a feeling, one that can only be found while she is not herself.
“The feeling you get when you’re performing and you’re doing what you love to do and you know you’re doing that and you know that people are responding to it,” Honaker said. “Because they see that you love it and they love it too. That’s just the best thing in the world for me and I get to do that a lot.”
Honaker continues to expand her acting career with more plays locally, including “Pop!” at the Firehouse Theatre in Richmond, where she played Valerie Solanas, a role she said she loved, especially being able to sing the song “Big Gun.” Her next role will be starring in the play “The Importance of Being Earnest,” where Honaker will be Gwendolyn Fairfax.
After spending some time as a full-time actress, Honaker now works at a law firm in Richmond, bottle raises kittens and lives in Richmond with her younger brother, Scott. Though she has a full-time job, Honaker continues to look for acting jobs and putting herself out there for any role she can and will go wherever life may happen to take her.
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS Audra Honaker has played a variety of roles in movies and plays.
“I love to make people laugh,” Honaker said. “I love entertaining people. I’d love to just make my life doing that. If it’s going to Idaho, if it’s working on a cruise ship, if it’s going to Montana, if it’s New York or wherever and see new places and new things.”