By: Margaret Morris
Siobhan Fallon filled the J.C. Williams Center on Thursday, Oct. 25, with riotous laughter echoing throughout the Tony & Nina Gentile Gallery on Francsican University of Steubenville’s campus.
The actress was giving the final installment in the Distinguished Speaker series that has been running on campus throughout the fall semester. Earlier speakers included Franz Wright, Paul Kengor, and the Rev. Jonathan Morris, each respected individuals in their fields.
The event was standing room only, and the upper gallery had to be opened for the overflow. To introduce Fallon, organizers played a compilation of clips from movies she has starred in during her career. Her easily recognizable characters like the bus driver in “Forrest Gump,” the wife in “Charlotte’s Web,” and the secretary from “New in Town,” had everyone laughing before she even got to the podium. Students realized after hearing her self-deprecating humor and dry sarcasm that she was even more funny in person.
“It was senior year and I was supposed to student-teach,” said Fallon “But I didn’t want to student-teach. I wanted to be an actress.” With anecdote after anecdote, each funnier than the last, Fallon explained how she graduated from LeMoyne college in Syracuse, NY, received her master of arts from Catholic University of America in acting, and started in the industry.
After graduating she got a job answering phones for a law firm where she joked that she made $5.00 an hour on a good day, and may or may not have jostled the phone wires so she could take a break. She wasn’t sure if she would ever make it as an actress at that point. It was her faith and conviction that kept her going.
“Did it make me quit? No. Did it make me stronger? Yes,” said Fallon. That strength carried her through times of not being as successful as she had imagined, and of having to say ‘no’ to lucrative projects because of their compromising nature. She said she did not regret them at all.
“When I am my father’s age,” Fallon said, “I want to be able to look back and say, ‘I was true to myself and what I believe.'”
“What you have [at Franciscan] is so unbelievable,” Fallon said smiling. Students get formation and education and they complement each other.”
She challenged the listeners in the audience to “make a movement.” She said to start a production company that only does classic films. Create content that one day a student will be proud to show their kids. She warned students not to give up.
Fallon closed by saying that if you have a natural talent for the arts, and it is the only thing you could do for a career that would make you happy, than you have an obligation to share that gift. The audience seemed to be in full agreement because they gave her a standing ovation, and crowded to the front of the room for the meet-and-greet.
“She was so raw and unscripted,” said Rebecca Steichen, a junior social work major, as she waited for a photo with Fallon. “She totally came down to a relatable level and wasn’t intimidating.”
“She is hilarious, and I admire her for being able to say no,” said James Marra, a sophomore business major. “I think she is a very positive influence and inspiration in the media.”