Sometimes we love what we do so much it doesn’t feel like work. It’s so enjoyable that we may as well be watching Mad Men or eating dark chocolate. For actress Amber Mann, acting is the way she rewards herself. “I’m not doing it as my full-time career, so it really feels like a treat,” she explains. “I like being able to just act in my spare time. It’s a luxury.”
Mann first realized that she loved acting back at Catawba College as an elementary education major who spent her spare time on stage. “We were painting a set one day, and I lamented the fact that, once I became a teacher, finding time to rehearse and act would become difficult,” she laughs. “I then realized that acting was my priority more so than teaching. So I switched my major to theater.”
After graduating in 2002, Mann accepted an internship with Charleston Stage. She worked with them for a year and then moved home to Pennsylvania, where she found a full-time job with another theater.
Yet, as with many people, the Lowcountry eventually beckoned Mann and her husband to return. “I loved it during my internship, and at that point my husband and I were ready to move. We realized Charleston would be the best place,” she says.
Mann also decided that she’d rather keep performing as an after-hours hobby. “I felt tired after working in theater full time, and I didn’t want acting to lose its luster for me,” she explains. Fast-forward to today, and Mann works in childcare and performs in her spare time.
“I work with Theatre 99 the most — a couple of times a month,” she says. “I’ve taken their improv classes and I’m definitely still learning, but it’s a lot of fun,” she adds. “I initially discovered Theatre 99 when I acted in Proof during my internship with Charleston Stage and Greg [Tavares] directed it. Greg talked me into taking an improv class. Everyone here at Theatre 99 has been so welcoming since I started a year ago. Now I’m part of the company. Greg and Brandy [Sullivan] have been great teachers.”
Mann is primarily a comedic actress and credits her success to her goofiness. “I mostly get cast in comedic roles — I suspect it’s because I’m not at all afraid to make an idiot of myself,” she laughs. “I don’t have to be serious all of the time. I like to make fun of real life.”
Mann’s influences in comedy include Amy Poehler, Steve Carell, and Christopher Guest.
“The point of comedic acting is differing from people’s expectations. It’s wonderful knowing that I’ve made people feel so good that they have to express it outwardly with sound,” she says. “I still get nervous and excited, particularly with improv acting. It’s so different from a play you’ve spent time rehearsing. It’s really a different animal.”
When asked if she practices being funny at home, Mann chuckles. “I wouldn’t say I practice at home. My husband and I make each other laugh sometimes, but it’s not on purpose. It’s not like I play jokes on him or anything.”
Besides Theatre 99, Mann has also acted with the Footlight Players, Village Playhouse, and Charleston Stage. Upcoming projects include a fall production of The Marvelous Wonderettes with Village Playhouse, as well as a spring production of Helium with Charleston Stage.
“I’m not planning to run off to Los Angeles or New York to be famous,” she says. “I just want to be in shows, good shows.”