Briefly back in her beloved Southland in November 2014, Anna Langford took time out to reflect on her performing career and where it all started.
She grew up in Riversdale with three older sisters and it was at the local primary school that she had her first opportunity to get involved in performing. Keen on hockey too, she spent her spare time practicing her sport, as well as going to dance lessons.
Both Anna’s parents were from large Southland, Catholic families and in January 2000 she followed in her sisters’ footsteps to St Peter’s College. She had already visited the school many times to watch them take part in Eisteddfods and prize giving, so the school was already familiar. She did find starting in the third form a bit daunting though, as friend groups were already established and as a newcomer there was a lot to learn.
Anna enjoyed a broad range of subjects, especially English, music and PE and particularly remembers her English teacher, Lianne Mackay’s influence and encouragement when taking part in performances. Lianne also coached her for the Sheila Winn Shakespeare Festival and the Bishop Shield. Anna felt that she always had huge support from teachers like Lindy Cavanagh and Gaye McDowall, when she was trying to juggle school work and extra-curricular activities.
In school she was heavily involved in all things cultural and as Captain of Culture enjoyed helping to organise the Eisteddfod. Out of school she was doing jazz and tap dancing and taking part in Gore Operatic shows like “Chess” and “Rush”.
When it was time to choose a career, Anna didn’t want to follow in her father’s footsteps – knowing how tough the life of a vet could be, but she was scared to admit that she really wanted to be a performer. It wasn’t until her first week at Otago University that she switched her subjects and decided to major in the performing arts, theatre studies, film and media.
While at university, Dunedin Musical Theatre gave her the opportunity to take part in “Beauty and the Beast”, “Chicago” and “Cats”. After graduating came the long audition processes to get work and having the right contacts became very important. A move to London enabled Anna to discover further educational opportunities abroad and expand her skills, when she gained a place at the prestigious Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts for post graduate study. There followed six years of performing in concerts, showcases, cabarets and Fringe productions and Anna appeared alongside West End names like Hannah Waddingham, Rebecca Caine, Melanie LaBarrie and Daniel Koek.
Dealing with unemployment between jobs meant that Anna needed a flexible “day job” and she trained as a Talent Agent, learning how the industry works from the other side. Ideally she would like to pursue a dual career in acting and running her own talent agency.
Meantime, back in Southland, she is catching up with family, enjoying hearing the Southland accent again, and planning to resume her career on this side of the world, maybe in Auckland or Melbourne.
Looking back she sees that the values of fortitude and perseverance, learned in her school days, have helped her in the tough world of acting, but she feels that performing is something that people pursue for the love of it and if you have passion and some raw talent you should just go for it, as you just never know where you might end up.