Allyn Morrison’s post-graduation life has been less about books and more about movies — but she’s not studying them anymore. She’s in them.
Morrison has been searching out and securing opportunities to get on the big screen, fulfilling dreams she has had since she was a little girl: since May, Morrison has acted as an extra in four films and worked as a production assistant in two. Her dreams do not lie in fame and fortune, however: for Morrison, a passionate Christian, the film industry is where she wants to “shine the light of Christ.”
“The most important thing to me is to show that a Christian actress can act well in films without disregarding her morals,” Morrison said. “That has always been a passion of mine.”
After spending the summer stalking casting call websites, Morrison landed a handful of roles, but said she turned down a few when the films had sleazy premises — after all, she wants to show the film world that Christian morals can be upheld in the industry.
“I actually backed out of a project because the whole synopsis of the film was a woman looking for love and sleeping with a bunch of people,” Morrison said. “I didn’t want my name associated with something like that.”
Though navigating the film industry while adhering to her faith has posed certain challenges, Morrison has seen success — she even had a small speaking role in a short film about speed dating called “Beer Goggles,” a class project for film students at the University of Austin, Texas.
In “Beer Goggles,” Morrison plays an annoyed woman putting up with an impressively unimpressive gentleman at a speed dating event held at a bar. While she had a script for her part, she relied heavily on her improvisation skills.
“We just sat down and started bantering,” Morrison said. “We practiced going back and forth with each other. We filmed a good amount of stuff that didn’t make it into the film so the director could have as much content as he wanted to pick and choose from.”
“Bantering” does not come without practice. When she was not taking English classes at Hillsdale, Morrison delved into the acting world — in the classroom, onstage, and eventually on-screen.
“I learned a lot of improv in my Acting One class, which is a really great skill to have as an actor,” Morrison said. “It really helps to build up your flexibility.”
Her skill did not go unnoticed by Professor of Theatre, George Angell.
“As an actress, Allyn is inventive, daring, and willing to be vulnerable,” Angell said.
At Hillsdale, Morrison acted in Shakespeare in the Arb as a freshman and Opera Workshop as a sophomore.
Health problems challenged Morrison as a junior, so she stepped back from theater that year.
As a senior, however, Morrison took on two major projects: she starred in “Dancing in Lughnasa,” the theatre department’s Fall play and made her film debut as actor and writer in “At Home,” a short film she and several other students made for film class, Movies as Medium.
“Allyn is a wonderful person to work with,” said junior Chandler Ryd, a co-writer, editor, and sound recordist. “Her kindness and patience make an enormous difference on set. While shooting, the cast and crew are on a tight schedule, and creative energy can easily turn into selfishness and undue stress, so kindness and patience are like lubricant that keeps the machine running smoothly. Otherwise, it can be miserable.”
For Morrison, kindness and patience, so useful on set, come from her commitment to her faith — something she and Ryd have in common.
“We formed a friendship through that film that I hope we continue as we pursue our dreams of making films,” Ryd said. “We bonded so much, I think, because we were — and still are — trying to find the intersection of our faith and our filmmaking passions. We both want to use our talents to make art for God’s glory.”