We had the good fortune of connecting with Sally Ann Francis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sally Ann, how do you think about, what role has taking risks played in your life/career?
I’ve always taken risks! From the moment I could walk, I remember taking my first leap into a rapidly flowing river. I thought I would drown, but I started paddling with my feet, and my arms started pushing the water as I treaded for what seemed like an eternity. I realized I could stay afloat. There was excitement in it and adrenaline replaced fear. My dad finally pulled me out of the water and I remember feeling as though I’d accomplished something and it made me smile.
I guess I’ve always been a thrill seeker. I could say the same for my careers – Yes, I’ve had a few! I have had several career changes due to relocation to different states, etc., and other worldly environments, sometimes heavily ladened with the unknown, but the unknown was challenging to me. I had a head for business and learned good time management skills, but there was always something missing: my passion for art. I found working for others just to make a living and get by garnered a certain lackluster quality to my life. I had to act, write, sing and dance myself to freedom.
Most artists know that there isn’t much job security dipping into the art world, so you either go full steam ahead and take chances or you suffocate and drown doing a job you hate. I knew I’d be bored with just one job so I took on several at one time to attain more skills and diversity. I taught martial arts, went into a special ops unit in the military, jumped out of airplanes and almost perished from it and broke many bones in my body, yet I learned how to walk again by going through many surgeries, physical therapy and retraining my brain. I’ve started a few businesses with little to no financial help that were successful. Even though I’ve always considered myself a team player, I wanted to place a stamp on everything I did and call it my own.
I’ve jumped into turbulent waters, sometimes swimming upstream against the current, yet eventually tilting my head back and enjoying the peacefulness of floating and enjoying the ride. If you don’t have both, you have not learned or accomplished much and then what’s the point. Instead of going with the flow, you drown, and no one wants to drown. As an artist, you have to pull your head out of the water and breathe. Rise like the Phoenix from the ashes and live!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Currently, I am a part-time tutor/teacher working with children with special abilities, as well as a SAG-AFTRA union actress and writer. My degree is in mass communications with a concentration in broadcast and print media. I wrote, edited and did add designs for a couple major newspapers in North Carolina and freelanced for the Arizona Republic and a few smaller papers here in Phoenix. I have also been published in Great Poets of North Carolina, as well as in a few recipe books – believe it or not! I am especially proud that I served in the US Army 82nd Airborne Division as a logistics and supply specialist and paratrooper, with a brief overseas tour in the middle east on a peacekeeping mission. During a combat training exercise and air assault mission, I broke quite a few bones in my body and had to learn how to walk again through many surgeries, physical therapy and retraining my brain. If you have a few years, I could explain all the different jobs I’ve had but I wouldn’t want to bore you. 😁 I can say because I grew up with a sense of independence and a good moral compass presented to me by my parents, I never looked for a handout and I guess I always “took the road less traveled”. It was rarely easy, but I think it takes courage and a sense of “zest for life” to venture out on your own, and if you don’t take chances, you will never experience fulfilling your dreams in a world that allows you to meet your full potential. Without mistakes, there is no growth, and God knows I’ve made my mistakes. Yet, those errors have often altered my course and have influenced my change to a positive redirection. I have had some instances where I have experienced abuse but that has not altered my ability to adapt. In fact, I find I have more empathy for others who are willing to learn and grow from their past trauma. I would like to continue with acting (both theatrically and as a filmmaker), and writing. I am going to start writing a book about my life and dabble with a few more screenplays. I don’t like being placed in a box or labeled as to who I am, because I am many women with many moods and many desires. I still would like to dampen my feet in other venues and I feel I can do it now without drowning. I would also like to continue mentoring younger people and, perhaps, others will humor me while I share my life experiences with them in hopes that they will learn something from my bazaar and wonderful travels and experiences.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Definitely Sedona because of its majestic beauty and electric energy! I would allow them the inevitable shopping experience, but I would also take them to a cabin, probably near Slide Rock or someplace more quaint, and then take them hiking and out for fabulous food. Whatever unusual meal I could either prepare for them in the cabin or take them to a restaurant that is unlike anything They’ve ever previously experienced would be an interesting twist on things. I remember the first time I had Moroccan food in a tent eating with my hands and it was fabulous! Beautiful scenery and nature usually brings out the best in people! Arizona offers so many diverse places to check out, and it really would depend on the person‘s age and what his/her interests are and if he/she allows me too to expand on that, then that’s even better.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First, my mother. She was always a beautiful singer and was receptive to listening to my poems, short stories and plays I would perform for the family and, quite often, with my other siblings. Second, would be the Nancy Drew mystery series books. She was smart, intuitive, and wanted to investigate everything.
Photographer For headshot: Peter Salama Second one near mirror, which I hope you can Photoshop out, is me doing a selfie.