In our second convo with Conor Donnally, we revisit his early days as an actor and take a peek at the dark side of humanity in one of his latest TV appearances, “The Sex Lives of College Girls”.
Back in late 2019, we had the opportunity to do a fun photo shoot with Conor Donnally and talk with the actor about his work in “American Horror Story: 1984” and the journey that brought him there. Fast forward a couple of years, and we got the chance to catch up with Donnally and chat about his career, including about his work in “The Sex Lives of College Girls”—which is actually quite a meaningful and relevant show. All in all, we were definitely happy to once again feature the story of this multitalented actor.
DAMAN: Hi, Conor. Awesome to have you with us again. So, we had the opportunity to chat with you a bit at the end of 2019. For any of our readers who might have missed that interview, can you give us a brief intro to yourself and what you do?
Conor Donnally: Will forever be figuring that out. I act, I make music, I write, I take photos. I like to read, does that count? Are you asking how I make money? Luck.
DAMAN: And on that note, can you tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to since the last time we had you on DAMAN? What are some of the highlights of your journey for the past couple of years or so?
Conor Donnally: I had a recurring role on “American Horror Story: 1984” and currently I have a recurring role on HBO Max’s “The Sex Lives of College Girls.” I also released my rst single and am working on my debut album at the moment.
DAMAN: Let’s talk about “The Sex Lives of College Girls.” In a nutshell, what is the show about and what should audiences expect from a show with such an eye-catching and eyebrow-raising title?
Conor Donnally: It’s a fast-paced, awkward, sexy dramedy series that is binge-worthy. I think anybody can imagine themselves in any one of these character’s shoes. It gets into the nitty-gritty of what it’s like to be a college student thrust into a large pool of other angsty, sexually-frustrated college students, while simultaneously navigating what they want to do with the rest of their lives. It’s an inevitable journey of ups and downs and you get to laugh the whole way through from your comfy couch.
DAMAN: Ratings for “The Sex Lives of College Girls” have been overwhelmingly positive. What would you say are the key highlights behind the show’s incredible success?
Conor Donnally: Justin and Mindy [show creators Justin Noble and Mindy Kaling] are legendary. They’re so sharp and witty and collaborative. They seem to bring out the best traits in everyone which is a big feat, because there were a lot of us. I was always impressed with how seemingly calm and relaxed they were on set. Big ups to the writers, too. Some of the funniest scripts I’ve ever read. The casts were all very fun and real people. Sounds kind of lame to say “real,” but they were a very genuine group of kids. We really bonded, while the world was turned upside down during the pandemic. We’re all very good friends still. And of course, shoutout to hair and makeup and all the PAs. Everyone was so comforting and sweet. Lots of love.
DAMAN: The show is set in a fictional college in the United States. Do you think that the themes of sexuality and the lifestyle of college students can be relevant for audiences from outside the U.S.? Or to put it in another way: Are there any interesting insights from the show’s story that you think would be relatable for a global audience?
Conor Donnally: Absolutely. This definitely translates everywhere. My parents watched it and they didn’t even know I was in it! Not true, but they would’ve watched it anyway. They have good taste…
DAMAN: On a more serious note, “The Sex Lives of College Girls” deals with some really thoughtful, crucial and sometimes uncomfortable issues, such as sexual harassment in the workplace, for instance. Do you think the show manages to showcase these issues in an honest and tasteful way without being too gratuitous?
Conor Donnally: I believe it does. It’s an honest look at awful situations that can occur if people aren’t taking care of their mental health and don’t have healthy outlets or good direction. It shows a few students with poor judgment making wrong choices which hurt other people, and having to deal with the repercussions of those choices. Also, allowing space for lessons to be learned.
DAMAN: How did you and the other cast members deal with the need to portray these issues genuinely? How do you get into the mind of people that are involved in, say, a sexual harassment case?
Conor Donnally: I don’t think people are actively trying to be bad; I think they’re just unaware. So, getting into the mindset of someone who would harass another person wasn’t my objective. In a way I was actually trying to do the opposite. I was trying really hard to be liked. I think my character, Ryan, desperately wants to be appreciated and loved. And once he gets that recognition, he takes advantage of his newfound power. I think it’s a series of missteps that some people choose and eventually the karmic cycle comes around and forces them to learn some dire life lessons.
DAMAN: The second season of “The Sex Lives of College Girls” has just been announced. Will we see more of you in season two?
Conor Donnally: I hope so! Not sure if Ryan has completely learned his lesson.
DAMAN: Back in 2019, you told us that what you enjoyed the most about acting is “what I learn about myself from every role and the communities of people I meet along the way.” What is it that you learned from “The Sex Lives of College Girls”?
Conor Donnally: The shadow side of people is alive! We all have to integrate our dirty psyches into our lives in healthy ways. Everyone is good and bad. It’s how we acknowledge and use it positively that promotes harmony. It takes a lot of work, but don’t bury your darkness. It’s what makes you whole.
DAMAN: On a somewhat related note, has your perspective on acting changed since you started? Do you still feel the same way about your craft now as you did in your early years?
Conor Donnally: I do the best I can on set in the given moment and that’s all I care about. I don’t think about how it will turn out anymore, or even how I was that day. There are too many moving parts and factors that I have no control over, so it’s not my job to worry. I love learning and I love being creative … and acting has always allowed for both of those things, so I continue to enjoy every bit of it.
DAMAN: Since we’re looking back along your journey as an actor, can you tell us when it was that you decided this would be something you were going to pursue seriously? Your “Eureka moment” if you will…
Conor Donnally: It’s happened in stages, no pun intended. I was Peter Pan when I was thirteen. That was a big success for me. Talk about dealing with your shadow. And then, when I was a sophomore in high school, this college student talked to my theater class about her acting program, and when I got home from school, I remember telling my mom and she said: “Is that what you want to do? Do you want to study acting?” And that was it. My parents have always been incredibly encouraging and supportive.
DAMAN: What do you currently consider to be your most memorable, life-changing or otherwise awesome film project?
Conor Donnally: I think it’s always the most recent one. I learn so much from one project to the next.
DAMAN: You’re also known as a producer and musician. How are you doing at those two fronts?
Conor Donnally: Whatever I’m passionate about at the moment is what I spend my time doing. Music is where I’m spending the majority of my time right now.
DAMAN: All in all, what do you hope to achieve in 2022?
Conor Donnally: Peace. Being happy with whatever I accomplish. Keep surrounding myself with supportive and creative people.
PHOTOGRAPHY MITCHELL NGUYEN McCORMACK
STYLING KIMBERLY GOODNIGHT
GROOMING DYLAN MICHAEL USING ORIBE AND WELEDA
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