We were fortunate to have a chance to interview the inspiring Carly Sullivan, who is currently starring opposite Christopher Meloni on “Happy!” You may recognize her face from the many commercials she’s been in, including her most well known Crest commercials. Carly isn’t only in front of the camera, she also produces and directs short films and spends her weekends volunteering for charity. I think you’ll all agree, after this interview we’re going to be glued to the screen for episode 7!!
Right now you’re appearing in “Happy!” which I have to say is one of the craziest shows on tv this season, I’m really loving it. How did you get involved in this show?
The fact that you’re loving it brings a huge smile to my face! It’s such a great feeling knowing that the show in resonating with its audience. Crazy… yup, that it is ( just you wait until episode 7 this week).
I auditioned for the pilot back in January last year. I was called in for Gala, read the breakdown, and didn’t think much of it because a few weeks prior over the holidays, I had decided I was going to hang up the acting towel. I had reached a breaking point. I decided Happy! would be my last audition and went in with zero expectations and inhibitions. When I booked it, it was a total shock. I couldn’t believe it.
“Happy!” is grungy, funny and super creepy all rolled into one, how do you prepare yourself for a part in such an unusual series?
Perfect description of Happy!, it truly has a way to encompass all those things in one show, which is a magical feat. Gala is one of the more grounded characters in the show. My husband, Blue, is the head of the mafia and has a temper, which makes their relationship incredibly turbulent. Gala is a very repressed woman who cares deeply about her son and that really grounds me as an actor amongst all the madness swirling around me. Ritchie Coster, who plays my husband on the show, is such a talent that really most of my work is listening and responding to him. Also, about a month before booking the pilot, I left an emotionally abusive relationship, which I think gave me a deeper understanding of what Gala faces in her own marriage to Blue, and I try to channel my experience into the character as well.
What is the atmosphere like on set?
The magnetism on set was palpable. Shooting the show was incredibly long, tiring hours that pushed the cast and crew, but we were a team and deep down, we all sort of sensed we were involved in an incredibly unique, ambitious project. I loved every single member of the Happy! team and we all knew our separate roles were equally as important. I miss them every day. I talk with a majority of the cast every week. They are all incredibly artists.
With all of the insane special effects, from the animated Happy to the blood and guts, what is the most unusual thing about working on this show?
The most unusual… hmmm… lol, where do I begin!? You know a show is pretty off the wall when you aren’t fazed by massive amounts of fake blood on set. The most unusual thing for me personally was reading my final scene and realizing what I was involved in (don’t want to spoil it). I think I re-read episode 7 about 5 times. I was like wait, they are going to air this on TV?! Surreal and AWESOME. My final scene really pushed me to the edge as an actor because I had to do things I have never done and have a lot of trust in my co-worker Chris Meloni. We are in the scene together and it required team work, trust, and faith that we were going to get the job done and make it memorable.
After creating and directing your own short films, is it possible that we’ll see you taking a behind the scenes role as well with “Happy!”?
Absolutely yes, I love working on projects that I am passionate about, especially in our environment today. Being a female, especially in the industry, has been a challenge on many levels and I feel like now is the time to say ok, I have a voice. I have stories I am going to tell and no one is going to stop me. Happy! gave me so much confidence as an artist and I am energized to make my own projects come to life in 2018.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re currently creating or planning on producing?
I actually was just with my girlfriend Stephanie Domini, who I am writing a short with this month. We are going to have to put things together quickly because we want to go to Cannes, so fingers crossed we can pull it off in time. Stephanie is such an incredible writer and actress and I love co-creating projects with women who I admire. I think it’s incredibly empowering to work with other females in the industry and most of my own work is done in collaboration with other women. I surround myself with women who support each other and are each other’s champions. It’s an exciting time!
Switching lanes from ballet to acting after an injury seems like it would have been an emotionally difficult process. How did you handle that transition?
It was tough. To be honest, after my injury I was a bit lost. You sort of go through this grieving process, and I attempted to channel my passion into my academics and other activities, but it wasn’t the same. I had a ton of sudden free time and restless energy… I didn’t get myself into trouble with that, but just felt at a loss. I remember in college thinking, if I can’t be an artist, I’ll work with them, so I had a few internships in NY at agencies like IMG. It was an amazing experience, but felt like a defense mechanism to avoid facing the fact that I really wanted to BE the artist. My mother fell ill during that period and it pushed me to the edge. I just remember thinking, Carly, you have one life and you need to go for it. You’ll have no regrets if you listen to your inner voice. I couldn’t deny my own spirit and my parents were beyond supportive because they know who I am at my core and let me be me. I attribute any and all success to them, they are the absolute greatest people I know.
Do you have any advice for your fans who might be faced with a similar traumatic change in circumstances?
I’ve gone through some huge losses and unexpected turns in my life when I was very young, and I have to say, that as painful as those experiences were, they had to be. Without them, I would not have to step into my own greatness and learn my own capacity for soul growth. Trust in your journey. Know that you will 100 percent face obstacles, adversity, and failures and that it is up to you to keep it moving. I have been told NO so many times in my life, but the only person who will ultimately stop me, is me. We are in this together and I just hope people can keep the faith in their own personal hero’s journey.
Many celebrities get involved with personal charities, and you’re no exception with Food on Foot, however, we don’t often see someone so dedicated that they would give up every Sunday to help. What drew you to this particular charity and got you so heavily involved?
I feel so blessed to have the career I have had thus far, and all the incredible life experiences, but my real “job” in this lifetime is to serve. Period. Food on Foot made me realize that it only takes one bad turn for your life to change. We are all one step away from being in a tough spot, and these are my brothers and sisters. I cannot let them down.
If your fans would like to support your charitable efforts what would be the best way to do so?
By focusing on achieving one random act of kindness every day. If we all did one random act of kindness, the effects compounded would be life changing. It all starts with us as individuals and the way we view life and treat each other. Kindness is contagious. If someone pushes me to the edge, I am not going to be reactive. I’m going to let that car get into my lane and not freak out, I’m going to buy the stranger in front of me’s coffee. The little things. Money can only do so much if we aren’t living with love and compassion. That’s the answer.
Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know?
That I love them so much and their positive energy, and support that fuels me every day. I want them to understand that I am no different than them, and that whatever they feel in their heart they want to achieve, that with hard work and resilience anything is truly possible. There are no limits 🙂
photo credit to Courtney Bock