A passionate and multiskilled, Conor Donnally chats with DA MAN about the rise of his career and his journey so far.
Chicago-born Conor Donnally pursued acting since he was 18 at the University of Connecticut. During his studies, he was granted the Louis and Sylvia Lazar endowment Fund which enabled him to go through a rigorous Bachelor of Fine arts program. at the same time, Donnally also built an impressive list of skills from playing the guitar, obtaining a certification for theatrical combat from the British Academy of Dramatic combat, learning Elizabethan and medieval dancing, practicing yoga, learning soccer juggling and the list goes on.
After a series of stellar theater performances, he scored his first outing on the silver screen with “hooked,” an indie drama about two gay couples and their struggle to stay off the streets. He would later become known for his role in the TV series “American Horror Story: 1984” where he plays as Eddie, a victim to the main villain of the show. Other than that, he joined the team behind “Welcome to the Men’s group” as an executive producer.
Get to know more about Conor Donnally in our exclusive interview below:
DA MAN: How did you get into acting? Was acting something you always wanted to do?
Conor Donnally: My mom encouraged me to perform in elementary school. then I was Peter Pan in middle school. I don’t remember if it was something I always wanted to do. I think I was too young to make those decisions, but it quickly became a huge part of my life.
DA: We heard that you were granted The Louis and Sylvia Lazar Endowment Fund that enabled you to go through the Bachelor of Fine Arts program. Can you tell us a bit about that?
CD: sure! I was given the scholarship to attend the University of Connecticut’s BFA acting program. I auditioned for UConn with a monologue and a few bars from a song. the song was about bringing home my class gerbil from school and forgetting to take him out of my pants when I did my laundry. there was one teacher who did not stop laughing. even through the Q&a portion. I couldn’t tell if it was a good thing or a bad thing until they offered me the full scholarship the following week.
DA: We’ve known that “Hooked” was your first outing on the silver screen, which was an indie drama about two homeless gay youths and their struggle to stay off the streets. What was it like portraying an LGBTQ character in a leading role for your first performance?
CD: incredible. My character, Jack, was so gritty and tenacious and relentless, yet charming and a little naive and infinitely loving. it was a huge role to take on, but I learned so much about the film, about myself, about the community. Jack’s tenacity and blindness of the structure of life bled into my own life. his love for everything and everyone was the biggest gift to me. he only ever saw hope.
DA: What did you take away from your experience portraying a member of the LGBTQ community that you could share with everyone?
CD: My mentor from uconn, Vince cardinal, and the director of “hooked,” Max Emerson, are huge advocates of the LGBTQ community. they’re the reason I am where I am. they were the seeds. Vince once told me in college that the LGBTQ community will always have your back and I think that’s the absolute truth. they’ve only ever shown me, love. and half of the proceeds from Max’s movie, “hooked,” went to LGBT homeless youth shelters. it was a blessing to be a part of a project that supported those who need it the most.
DA: You were also recently featured on one of the most popular TV series around, “American Horror Story: 1984.” Is acting in a horror genre something you’ve always been keen on doing?
CD: of course! there’s nothing more exciting than being a part of a dark and gory show. also, seeing the ins and outs of the special effects and setups for some of the crazier shots. “ahs” is the best at it. I loved seeing how it was all put together like a magician revealing their secrets.
DA: What do you specifically enjoy about acting?
CD: What I learn about myself from every role and the communities of people I meet along the way. I used to think I was someone who was incredibly shy and introverted until I met my community and realized I was just around the wrong people. acting gives me the ultimate thrill and confidence.
DA: We found your resume online and it notes that you play the guitar, that you have a certification for theatrical combat from the British Academy of Dramatic Combat, you learned soccer juggling, etc., etc. How did you manage to achieve all of that? Was it something you’ve always been doing?
CD: Yeah, what can’t I do? I studied abroad in London for a semester and earned my combat certification as well as the dancing credit. My mom’s a yoga instructor, so that’s where that fell in. it’s always more interesting when an actor can do crazy stunts. I think we all want to see those kinds of things on the screen.
DA: Your resume also shows that you’ve been in a number of plays prior to your first on-screen gig. In terms of personal development, how did the theatre shape you compared to film?
CD: I learned so much about connecting with another actor and being in the moment from working all of those hours on stage. Theater’s taught me endurance in the long-form and film’s taught me endurance in the short form. and they’ve both taught me to be as specific as you possibly can.
DA: You also have an executive producer title under your belt. Was producing something you also had in mind?
CD: I want to work with as many people as I can. I want to meet as many people in this business as possible, so whether that’s producing or writing or acting I want to collaborate and create. that’s when I’m most fulfilled and that’s what brings me joy.
DA: If you weren’t acting, what are you most likely to be doing?
CD: Anything in the arts. I want to do it all. Music, producing, directing, writing. It’s the only way I know how to think.
Photography by Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Styling Anakin Images
Grooming by Amanda Tralle
Model Conor Donnally/Bold Management
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