Actress and singer Florence Hartigan was born in America, raised in New Zealand, and now lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Florence recently landed a part in a movie produced by Ridley Scott titled “Phoenix Forgotten” which chronicles the mysterious events of March 13, 1997, when lights appeared over the desert of Arizona. Primarily regarded as a definite UFO sighting. The Movie is filmed in a found-footage style, and it tells the story of three teenagers who venture into the desert to investigate the incident and promptly disappear.

As both a stage and screen performer, Florence was excited to tackle the role.

She previously played leads in television series and plays, and she has even studied film at the University of Otago, in Dunedin and the University of California at Berkeley, as well as writing and improvising at the Upright Citizen's Brigade. Active in numerous “Funny or Die” projects, Florence frequently travels between Los Angeles and New York, and she also writes music for films.

In a recent exclusive interview, Florence recently discussed her career and her plans for the future.

Acting, movies, and characters

Meagan Meehan (MM): What inspired you to become an actress and when did you land your “big break”?

Florence Hartigan (FH): I saw the movie “Annie” at the age of four and realized that you could be an acting on stage or in a movie and people will ENCOURAGE you to show off!

“Phoenix Forgotten” has been my biggest movie so far. I feel fortunate to have gotten to be a part of it and that I got to be the lead character in a film produced by one of my filmmaking heroes - Ridley Scott! It was pretty trippy seeing billboards for it everywhere, that was different for me.

MM: How did “Phoenix Forgotten” come about?

FH: I had worked with our director, Justin Barber, on a couple of smaller projects prior to this one, and ended up shooting a few scenes for the movie as a test long before it went into production. At one stage, I didn’t think it was likely I’d get to be involved with the feature version, especially when Scott Free came on board, so I was just thrilled to get to audition, and even more thrilled to get to play Sophie.

It’s been pretty amazing to get to see this project through from beginning to end.

MM: Tell us how different, if at all, is it working on a found-footage movie than a standard feature?

FH: I think working in the found-footage genre usually means there will be some level of improvisation, and that just means as an actor you have to think on your feet even more and be ready to roll with whatever comes along. Luckily, I do have an improv background (I studied at UCB and The Groundlings in LA) and improvisation was something casting looked for when they were choosing the cast because in this project we improvised in pretty much every scene.

We were also working with real non-actor interview subjects, which meant a lot of things changed as we went through the shoot.

Having real people in the movie also set a high bar for our acting - it was an even bigger reminder to keep everything feeling grounded and real so that any performance would blend in with our real subjects just being themselves. It was a cool creative challenge being part of this.

Theater, films, and music

MM: You also work in theater, so would you rather act on stage or screen and why?

FH: I did come up doing theater in New Zealand, but I've just always loved movies and making movies. I've been in plays and musicals that I've loved, but I love that you have this one shot to get your scene right in movies- and I like the intimacy of acting for film. It's a different muscle to act on stage — you're using your body as an instrument to project something to a lot of people, which is fun and challenging and I do like that as well, but on camera every thought you have comes across on your face, and I like the subtlety of that.

MM: You’re also a singer, is that right?

FH: I am, I studied classical singing all the way through school and into college, and did opera and musical theater. These days I write music, play guitar and sing songs in the alt-country/folk realm. I have some tracks available on Soundcloud, one I released earlier this year in fact. I love writing and performing music because it’s something I can do on my own and it fills me up creatively, but it’s also something that’s easy to share with people, both collaboratively, and in an artist to audience setting.

MM: How did you get into writing music for films and TV shows and what kinds of projects have you created the soundtrack for?

FH: I'm more of a songwriter than a soundtrack composer, and I've written songs for everything from commercials to TV shows to movies.

Sometimes it's something I've been commissioned to write, and sometimes it's a song I've already written that the production licenses.

MM: Thus far, what has been the best part of working in the entertainment industry and where do you hope to be in ten years?

FH: I love being on set with a group of talented, driven people, and all coming together to make something for people to enjoy. That collaborative feeling - there’s nothing better. In ten years, I hope to be playing more interesting, flawed, tenacious, gutsy women on screen! I’d like to direct one day too since I did a lot of that in college and I loved it!

MM: Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to mention and what advice can you offer to up-and-coming performers?

FH: My next film comes out later this year, it’s an animated horror movie called “Malevolent, ” and it stars Morena Baccarin from “Deadpool” as well as Ray Wise and William Shatner. I play a drug-addicted Valley Girl which was hugely fun for me! I love playing people who wear their flaws on their sleeves, and this was also my first voiceover feature, so I had a great time playing with physicality and creating a character that would come across in my voice.

As for advice, I’d recommend that you keep yourself creatively engaged and inspired, and develop tools to help you do your best job and let everything else roll off of you. Most of all, remember that you love it and relish every chance you get to do it!