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United We Are a Force, and Individually We are W.O.N.


Image Courtesy of Mary Lou Mahlman

Women of Note celebrates the unique talents of women of Hampton Roads and seeks to raise awareness of issues women face in the 21st century. We are well aware of the many hats women wear throughout the day as well as throughout their lives and we would like to give women the opportunity to share their experiences juggling these with our community. By sharing our experiences, we hope to inspire others, learn from their perspectives, and foster a dialogue that creates solutions. Today we spot light Mary Lou Mahlman.

Affiliation(s) (past and present):

I serve on the board of directors for Little Theatre of Virginia Beach, and have been on stage or behind the scenes at Little Theatre of Norfolk, Generic Theatre, and The Z.


How long have you been (working in/participating in) your field? How did you get into it?

I have found a second career in retirement as a volunteer in local theatre, returning to a dormant lifelong passion. Since I was a child I wanted to be an actor. I went to college (BA Dramatic Arts) and a two year acting school, then gave New York City six years of my heart and soul. I left it all behind to work in broadcasting in Florida. Twelve years later, I went to work for a nonprofit organization, and worked in the nonprofit arena for another 22 years, retiring in 2014. I got started in local theatre about 15 years ago, working backstage, ushering, doing props, and auditioning. Got cast in the fifth show I auditioned for! Since then have appeared in over 20 shows, costumed 14, directed one, and worked on countless others in various capacities. It has been a wonderful 15 years!


How long have you been working/ living in in Hampton Roads?

25 years. It was not a place I thought I would ever end up, but it has become home!


What advice would you give young women going into your field?

Be strong and persistent. Theatre is a very tough field, not for the faint of heart. Keep learning, never think you can't improve! Do what gives you joy. The difficulty of "making it" in theatre was too much for me as a young woman in my 20s, but coming back to it later as a volunteer has given me so much joy!


Does your gender influence your relationship to your work? In what way?

There are so many women involved in the Hampton Roads theatre community! I have never felt gender bias or exclusion here.


Any closing thoughts?

Everyone needs a passion in life. Early in my life it was theatre. In my working years, I had numerous jobs that I loved and had passion for; others I didn't. When I ventured back into theatre in later years, I didn't even know until I had it back, that I was missing that passion in my life. I will be forever grateful that I was able to do so!



Know a Woman of Note that should be featured? Please email us at Spotlighthrnews@gmail.com



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