Fans of The Walking Dead still mourn the loss of Olivia, the character mercilessly bullied for her weight who brought so much heart to the show.
Played by New Orleans native Ann Mahoney, it was the role that changed her career.
“Can you go anywhere where people don't recognize you?” Eyewitness News Anchor Karen Swensen asked.
“No, no and it's awesome and it's creepy,” Mahoney replied.
With her character killed off last season, Mahoney is now looking forward to future roles, but not like the frumpy characters her agents have suggested so far.
“So I said I want you submitting me for roles that say they're beautiful and attractive and sexy.... because I am!” Mahoney exclaimed.
Tired of an industry in which beauty is defined by weight, and less is more, Mahoney is using her new found fame to speak out.
“Eye of the Beholder” is Ann's new baby. After her husband and two kids, the weekly podcast is her priority now.
“My number one goal is to inspire women. Number 1!”
The podcast explores body image and how warped it can get, especially in and because of Hollywood.
“If I've gained a little weight over the holidays, it bugs me way more than it should,” actress Kerry Cahill said, whom you may remember from The Walking Dead or Free State of Jones.
Cahill recalled childhood struggles with perception saying, “In high school, I remember people being like, ‘Oh well, you gotta be a size 2 to make it in Hollywood, don't you?’”
Mahoney recalled her real life struggles.
“So we all do the final call back and in front of the other two girls whose names I will never forget, Jessica and Lolli, they said to me, ‘You're the best dancer for the role, but we're not giving you the part because you're too fat. And I was nine.”
A picture of Ann from that time period revealed a child far too thin to be called heavy and far too used to being called fat by the very teachers preparing her for a life on stage.
“They had been on my case about my weight since the time I was 4 and 5 years old,” she said.
When asked if hearing she was heavy even when she clearly wasn’t contributed to her own body image, she agreed. She also talked about the way the recently exposed culture of sexual assault and harassment in Hollywood can take an even deeper toll on body image.
“How common is the casting couch today?” Swensen asked.
“It’s everywhere!” Ann answered. Though she said she’s been fairly immune to it, she knows others have not. There are the alleged big name offenders like Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K., but also no name creeps who got away with it for years.
“One of the actors would consistently slap my butt,” Cahill recalled.
She said she confronted her aggressor years ago in front of a whole cast only to be castigated herself by management who said she should protest in private.
“So let me get this straight, he's allowed to slap my ass in public, but I'm not allowed to tell him to stop in public?”
Both Cahill and Mahoney are now demanding Hollywood change.
“This is the big thing—you have got to listen to women and you've got to believe them,” implored Cahill.
Pointing to recent hits like Hidden Figures, they know women can crush the box office, but they need consumers to demand leading ladies who reflect reality and management to respect them.
“When are you going to start taking me seriously as a woman who is beautiful and attractive and give me those roles? I want them,” Mahoney said.
The New Orleans actress says if Hollywood doesn't write the roles, she will. In fact, she's already producing her own pilot. Stay tuned.
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