After graduating from Stanton College Prep, Jax native Emily Swallow had her future nearly mapped out. “I got my degree in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Virginia because I was interested in foreign affairs and international relations,” she says. “I wanted to pursue a career as a foreign service officer.” While getting her BFA, though, she took an acting class and got bit by the bug. After graduation, she moved to New York to attend NYU’s Graduate Acting Program before going on to land roles in the theatre and on the small screen (including a recent stint on The Mentalist and a forthcoming role on Supernatural).
• Though performing had always been a part of her life (she sang in the church choir growing up and performed in a few plays at Theatre Jacksonville in both middle and high school), she never considered it as a career until college. “I had a wonderful acting teacher at UVA who encouraged me. I actually still keep in touch with him. I send him scripts and we email back and forth about characters.”
• Though she’s most often seen on the small screen, Swallow’s all-time love is the theatre. “I like that in theatre you get to discover a character more gradually and with more nuance. You have a script that you spend time with for many hours before you actually perform—and during the course of performing it changes so much, too. It calls on slightly different skills than television or movie acting.”
• “My favorite role was in a play that I did called Nice Fish at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. I was a Norse Goddess. The show was so much fun because parts were improvised every night.”
• In addition to her more visible roles, Swallow does voiceover work, too. “I do voiceover work for commercials, videogames, animated stuff. It’s fun. Some people from my parents’ church in Jacksonville recognized my voice on an ADT Security Services commercial. Sure enough, it was me.”
• Her next role, on The CW’s Supernatural, is being kept under wraps until the season premiere this month. “My character is a force to be reckoned with. A sinister and seductive force, that’s about all that I can say.”
• For her 14-episode stint on CBS’ The Mentalist as Kim Fischer, an FBI Special Agent, Swallow drew on her background as a Middle Eastern Studies major. “It was useful to be able to draw from that when I was putting together her back story. One of the most fun things for me as an actor is to try to decide what these characters have been through. The dorky part of me that loves learning gets to do all this research and do things that I’ll never get to do in real life.”