The downtimes in creativity after a PCS or during a time of creative-lag can be scary for an artist. Actor / Navy Spouse Bethany Mayo views those times as opportunities to pursue other creative adventures.
MilspoFAN: Tell us a little about yourself, your journey as a military spouse, and where you are today.
Bethany: I was an Air Force Kid and now I am a Navy Wife. I’ve lived in North Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Florida, Maryland, and by the time we meet, I will be able to add Virginia to the list. I grew up mostly in Iowa, and my husband and I met while he was on leave in Kansas City. It was a very whirlwind Navy Romance. We met in October while he was on leave and were dating by the time he went back to Hawaii a week later. We were engaged by December and married 13 months after that in January. When we met, I think he was 8 years in? Now we are at 14 or 15; I can’t remember which.
MilspoFAN: How did you become an actor?
Bethany: I studied acting in college, and I’ve been performing since high school. My first play was It’s a Wonderful Life, and I was pressured into auditioning by a friend of mine. By the time the show was finished, I knew I had found what I wanted to do with my life. That’s been almost 20 years ago now.
MilspoFAN: Describe for us your creative work and the type of acting that speaks the most to you.
Bethany: I love sharing myself with the audience. Live theater for me is where it is at. When I’m on stage, I can tell when the audience is with us, when they have invested in the story and they are on the ride with us. That ability to bring emotions out of people, and to mirror their lives and experiences back to them on stage – that’s what I love most about acting.
MilspoFAN: How has your role as a military spouse impacted your work as an actor- creatively, logistically, or otherwise?
Bethany: Acting is very much a business of who you know and who knows you, even when in the non-paid areas. What is challenging about being an actor is the time it takes to establish relationships and a reputation in a new city, with new artists. On the other hand, if you find the artists aren’t to your liking, at least you know you’ll be moving soon and can try again!
MilspoFAN: How do you cultivate your creativity?
Bethany: I cultivate creativity by exploring other hobbies. I was 8 years into acting when I started ballroom dancing. I was 13 years into acting when I started teaching, and three years into teaching when I started quilting and sewing. The more avenues you have to express yourself and your view of the world, the more comes back to you. Sometimes I get really burned out in one area, so I spend more energy in another. Or, in the instance of COVID, I can’t perform the way I’m used to so I’ve been quilting more.
MilspoFAN: How do you meet other artists or plug into the local arts scene when you PCS?
Bethany: Our first PCS after getting married, we were short term in Pensacola, so I went to one audition, but I didn’t do a lot. When we PCSed to Maryland, which has a lot of theater, I looked up “theaters in Baltimore” and clicked on each one to find out when their auditions were and started auditioning around. This time, since a lot of theaters are dark right now, I’m not sure exactly what connecting to my new acting community is going to look like. In an odd way, COVID will allow me to stay connected to the artist community I’ve called home these last 5 or so years, because most theaters have moved into the digital space, which is good as long as you have an Internet connection.
MilspoFAN: What’s next for you?
Bethany: I’m working on finishing my master’s degree in theater education, so that’s top on the list. Then probably a lot of quilts with my husband’s old blueberries, which the Navy is about to or just discontinued wear of. I’ve started dabbling in Podcasting and Radio plays – mostly due to coursework for my master’s, but it’s super fun, so there may be more of that in the future.
MilspoFAN: What is the most practical piece of advice that you would give to other artists?
Bethany: Keep exploring until you find the art that makes you happy. Once you find it, don’t be afraid to keep exploring. I don’t think we ever “arrive” as artists, we just keep growing and growing.
Find Bethany Mayo on the web at:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BethanyFaithMayo/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/browngirlquilting/
Website – https://mayob1.wixsite.com/bfmayo
*Photos included are from productions of Men on Boats at Cohesion Theater, Othello at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Merry Wives of Windsor and Antony and Cleopatra at Baltimore Shakespeare Factory, a head shot by RJ Pavel, and a shot from the Dance Sport Virginia Smooth Competition in 2018.