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Meet Callie Haun

Today we’d like to introduce you to Callie Haun.

Callie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was raised in a tiny home-surrounded by tons of love. I’m grateful my parents have always told me I can do anything as long as I practice & work on it every day. Growing up my parents lived a quick bike ride away from my Grandparents & Great Grandma. My personal relationships with each of them has influenced my love of storytelling immeasurably (from generational points of view and life experience). My paternal grandparents have interchangeably shared the title, “best friend” throughout my life and still do today. Recently, I’ve reflected on my beginning: my childhood and hometown of under ten thousand located one hour north of San Francisco in, Sonoma County. I’m grateful my family was close to one another, thankful to have had access to the Russian River offering an escape from the heat & smile when thinking of the predictable five o’clock breeze that always floats in from the coast offering an idyllic coo. Surrounded by orchards, agriculture, dairy farms & infinite grapevines coiling around town felt like living in a real, ‘Truman Show’ bubble. However, I was eager to venture out. Located in the center of, “The Wine Country” where most paths lead to viticulture or agriculture careers I knew early on I didn’t fit. My curiosity for the arts was my compass leading me to different pastures. I’m aware of my privilege and maintain heaps of humility, always. Sonoma and Napa’s wealth is fully achieved by the unsung hero’s, immigrants. Most notably, Mexican American immigrants. Without immigrants and People of Color minorities my town would be very dull & the wine industry wouldn’t flourish, let alone survive. My respect is vast. The liberal values my family and I share with most in town made for a progressive & inclusive environment; however I was desperate for more diversity than my region offered. My imagination was my main outlet for being creative (and as fun as it is) I craved an environment of liberal arts opportunities. For me, college was the key for larger learning.

Aside from my family I hold immense gratitude for teachers and educators being my pillars of influence. I’m grateful for my early beginnings at my dreamy elementary school that offered sacred friendships and teachers (most notably Chris Aldrich) who encouraged all questions and deep discussions in treating all students as adults (even if we were ten). Coming from a humble upbringing my dreams have always been my motivation. My desire to learn about others, their stories and the human condition is at the core of everything I do. For years my Mom would tell me stories and read to me after work; bringing stories to life. She’s led an unconventional artist’s lifestyle and from my earliest memories I learned she used storytelling with others (and myself) as a way of giving her love. As well as always willing to be my “audience” for every poem and short story I felt impassioned about. My gratitude for her in being the first person to support my aspirations in acting was a turning point (the older I get the more I realize how profoundly lucky I am to have her).There was no access to arts in my town or schools growing up so sport’s were my outlet to anchor my infinite energy to. I accepted my identity of “sporty girl” growing up because I loved to play & inherited a lower dose of my Dad’s competitiveness. I played tennis, basketball, track/field & swam religiously. When I was eight years old my Dad introduced me to “real films.” He created a game with my Mom and I that we’d come to play for years. He’d put a VHS movie on and say, “Close your eyes!” Actors, directors and credits would roll while my hands covered my eyes, all I could see was darkness while knowing the glittering screen was preparing magic to display. Finally he’d say, “Okay, open!” BAM! I was fully emerged in a new world with he and my Mom. Later we’d all discuss the people behind the making of the film and I was always awestruck at the possibility of a life that allowed adults to, “pretend” for a living. The appreciation I have for my Dad is infinite. He’s influenced my life & love of cinema to be unparalleled with any other craft. Some of the first films that moved me and had me questioning my thinking are as followed: ‘The Professional (Léon),’ ‘Finding Forrester,’ ‘Shawshank Redemption,’ ‘Splendor in the Grass,’ ‘Remember the Titans,’ ‘Bend It Like Beckham,’ ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,‘ ‘Thelma and Louise,’ and ‘La Bonne Annee’ etc. Watching and learning all I could about foreign, independent, social justice films, noir’s, and anything that challenged my experience of “normal” was enticing. Selfishly, I always wanted more. Especially films with strong female leads who faced adversity with grit and a beguiling nature…they were like breathing courage into my innocence. Foreign films allowed my parents and I to travel together. My hope to explore countries that housed the film makers I long adored (Fellini, Truffaut, LeLoche, & De Sica) was a private wish. “Any excuse to visit Claude Lelouch’s soul is a pleasure” my Dad has often said. Watching my parents faces during scenes with an undeniable tenderness on screen felt like we were all sharing a deeply personal experience with one another (in silence). Movies are magic; making the impossible possible. Privately, I dreamt, “if I could effect others like our favorite actors and directors effect us it would be the most fun way to comply with the inevitable-growing up.” I view acting as a responsibility to be as truthful as possible, while temporarily living the life of someone else.

Many weekends growing up my parents would drive me and friends on day trips to SF (San Francisco). The idea of what life could look like as an artist living in SF became more enticing as the years tread on. After I graduated high school I briefly attended a junior college as an English Major (creative writing driven). My gratitude to one teacher in particular at my junior college (Santa Rosa Junior College) is enormous, without her guidance I easily could’ve been in a rut (Janet McCulloch). One day I felt restless, unfulfilled and had an urgent need to take an acting class; my first at eighteen. I asked my family and best friend for their (emotional) support in my pursuit of acting. They were on board. Days later I began taking theatre classes along with my other classes and I felt a strong pull I was where I belonged. I now had a full eight class schedule, balanced two restaurant jobs, one internship, participated in my campus’ BSU club (Black Student Union:as an ally) and just before summer arrived I learned I was accepted into a summer acting program in New York, AADA (American Academy of Dramatic Arts). I finished my junior college, applied to universities, countless scholarships and now all I had to do was take a break from my hectic life and welcome an intensive in New York. AADA awoke my serious hunger to learn all I could about character development, Meisner technique & script analysis (all concepts essentially foreign to me before this program). Watching my classmate’s work came to be one of the most helpful ways for me to learn and respect the process (of building a realistic-empathetic-full feeling character). My appreciation to one teacher in particular is great (Susan Pilar). Her insight of helping me navigate my biggest challenge as an actor (& person) ‘getting out of my head and out of my own way.’ She frequently used the word “organic” in relation to “natural” and to this day I often smile when I hear someone at a Farmers market or in a creative space use the word  because I think of Susan’s voice. This simple phrase has stripped me of over acting, like an almost magical tool. For many years I felt like I was a ‘Holden Caulfield’ fighting imposture syndrome (actor, phony) however when these unpleasant feelings creep up now and again I try to think back to teachers and professors who’ve given me tools for my actors tool box and they help more times than not (as long as I get out of my own way). AADA was the most rewarding experience up to this date so I didn’t want to waste the opportunity succumbing to insecurities. Living in New York I felt most myself. I felt inspired by sounds, smells, languages, cultural celebrations, shouts of passion and shouts of anguish, peers perspectives in class, and most of all stories that demanded vessels to breathe life into them. The program was wrapping up and I felt I was “in my place,” alas the only gift that could strip me from my euphoric hopes of permanence in New York occurred one day in the greatest gift to grace my inbox… an email congratulating me on a full ride scholarship to San Francisco State University (Drama and Lit. Double major). I was in disbelief, amused it must have been a joke (I called and emailed multiple times to be sure) it wasn’t a joke! I soon came to find it was the sweetest event to bring me back to California. From day trips to San Francisco as a kid with my parents, to  preparing my move there…this felt full circle. 

Moving out of my hometown and beginning university as a double major was a nuanced step in my journey. Through every play read and embarrassing fumble I made in class(es) I *slowly* surrendered to the process. San Francisco was a big leap. When reflecting on adolescence I always smile back on my AP English/Journalism teacher (Camille Lehrmann) who inspired me for three out of four years of high school. Her sarcasm and wit exhilarated all students (a generalization that I stand by) to think more and question always. She encouraged me to read books and newspapers outside my ability. The life lesson of challenging myself is something I try to carry with me in everything I do. Whether it’s my craft or paddling out to waves larger than my ability when surfing. In college, I found my tribe of creative weirdos that had intense emotions (like myself) and vocalized how cool it was to root for the underdogs often misunderstood. I found my people. Maintaining college friendships to this day has been the greatest serendipity gained from my time at university (most notably Sarah Hail and Hope Raymond). The friends and professors made in San Francisco challenged my thinking and small views of the world more than I knew possible. Not to mention offered support during the most prolific loss I’d ever had. My gratitude for friendships made in the Bay Area is immense, as is my gratitude for friends who encouraged the foreign concept of self-care (and therapy). I went forward in unknown territory; both studying and personal life uncertainties. One day I realized, “if I can survive this experience and keep my full ride, then just like the movies…anything’s possible.” My elation grew as a theatre major and I maneuvered my workload and personal life by opting for two years of all-nighters becoming my norm (I don’t recommend this). During my time in college some of my acting highlights include portraying Emily Bronte as my first stage experience, being accepted into a Theatre company (Brown Bag), acting in three plays my last semester before graduating, attending ACT (American Conservatory Theatre) a San Francisco summer intensive + master’s classes, and being cast in, ‘A MidSummer’s Night’s Dream’. The professors I had at SFSU hold a significant place in my heart for their patience and kindness towards a girl that was hungry to grow as an actor and had heaps of humility (Laura Wayth, Roy Conboy, Terry Amara Boreo, Bruce Avery, Joan Arhelger, Muhammad Kowzar and David Selim Sayers). I graduated Summa Cum Laude and was equally relieved as I was elated for the end of my undergrad.

I’ve maintained hope as my strongest ally in life. After college, I moved home to Northern California for the summer to help my parents prepare as they moved away. The first four months out of college I was auditioning and working as a nanny; however I was eager to receive more hands on training so I applied + auditioned to NYFA (New York Film Academy). I learned that fall I was accepted to the program. The following spring I moved to Europe (Florence, Italy). The Florence NYFA program accepted 1-2 students per country from about twelve different countries (to this day I’m abashedly hopeful they didn’t regret selecting me). The school was a melting pot of rad creative artists representing many corners of the globe-a dream environment. The course was taught in English but I attempted to learn + speak Italian as much as possible since it was the mother language. Study was geared as a post-grad program for actors, directors and writers seeking a diverse and rigorous environment. Five days a week I had eight hours of classes and seven days a week there were constant stories collaborated on. Every weekend we shot short films and all nighters returned as a norm I happily/sleepily welcomed. Thankful to all who taught at NYFA (especially Jennifer Norton and Abraham Heisler) for her phenomenal acting class & his directing course. After the program ended I spent three months living and working in Europe (eighteen countries worked in total). My classmates and I supported each other in referring one another to acting projects/jobs/anything we’d heard of in neighboring towns and countries. My dream of becoming a renegade… actor, writer, growth seeker & pursuer of introspection while riding trains came to fruition while living in Europe. I was conscious to be as respectful of locals as possible (in hopes of representing my country as thoughtful as opposed to, “an ignorant American”). The best of times abroad came to an end when I needed to return to the states. I returned to San Francisco, worked, auditioned and saved funds for about six months until one day learning I was selected for a small two week internship at COLCOA (Franco- American film festival) in Los Angeles. This was my first trip to LA and to my shock, I loved it! I met and befriended dozens of welcoming, fascinating and film loving humans (notably Guillaume Serina) encouraging me to migrate to their wild town. I  met who’d later become my mentor and dear chosen family here (Raffi Mauro and Miriam Birch). After my internship I returned to SF and felt intensely conflicted. I knew my next step would be a choice to further my craft and career; I needed to move to LA. If it weren’t for the push from my most favorite chosen family (Steph Sullivan) I never would’ve left SF. I’m deeply thankful for her guidance in my life.

“Nothings easy” my Dad has often reminded me; I’m grateful for this lesson. Without conflict stories would be flat and goals unearned. I don’t feel entitled or deserving of anything, only hopeful my dedication is seen by my actions. I view life as beautifully messy and full of challenges that keep me hungry to grow. I feel lucky to be able to pursue dreams around many people that inspire me daily. I love my community. And while rejection is part of my profession; it’s less daunting to know I can retreat to my “nest” (I lovingly call my apartment) and chosen LA family when missing my own. There’s great support in my building, neighboring streets (Salvadoran chosen family, Irula’s) and countless pockets that inspire me in, The City of Angels. I’m grateful my street is surrounded by trees, a brisk run to Griffith Observatory and twelve minutes away from most  major studio’s. My present day since moving to LA I’ve joined SAG, performed in a professional Improv Troupe, I’ve acted in one equity play, acted in a handful of independent films, two commercials, actively perform in poetry slams with my original work, have been fortunate to work on Television quite a bit and at the beginning of 2020 I was accepted into a theatre company that has a strong history being a space mostly of People of Color creative artists. I’m a proud ally to BLM (Black Lives Matter) & grateful for any participation I may have with this theatre company in the future (depending on the climate due to Covid 19). When acting jobs have been slow; I’ve worked as a server, creative writing tutor, theatre teacher to kids, sous chef, background actor, nanny, organizer, assistant, personal shopper…a bohemian of sorts. During quarantine, I’ve become involved in watching as many films as possible, volunteering, planting a vegetable garden, (trying) to read a new book per week, cooking + baking, running, bike riding, yoga, meditation, hiking, surfing, and navigating my health the best I can. I’m grateful for my community where I live and for writing letters to those who live across seas, states and countries. I’m often happy and always thankful due to my family and chosen family. The past three years I’ve been fortunate to have met countless kind humans and generous artists who’ve given me opportunities and encouragement (most generous in this, Tony Eng) to not fear failure but enjoy every opportunity as a gift. I believe life is about loving, learning and forgiveness. The most valuable gift someone could give is their time. I’m most grateful to my parents and Grandparents for my life, their support and their sacrifice’s. I’m hungry to create + share stories as a way of uniting our similarities as much as celebrating our differences. I hope to always be a storyteller, lover of vegan ice cream, and ocean swimmer. 

Has it been a smooth road?
Smooth in the sense that I realize I’m privileged for everything I have and all the support I’ve been given. I do the best to maintain a good attitude, however I’ve had my share of pain…I had a dark period in San Francisco during the loss of one of my closest relatives. Since living in LA I’ve spent a great deal of time at CS for my health and over time I’ve *slowly* learned that asking for help isn’t weakness, it’s being responsible. It’s the most important thing I could encourage anyone to do if they’re like me and stubbornly take on too much (Please, ASK FOR HELP). Also, therapy has been a game-changer in my life and I wish it was available for all as essential free health care.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’ve had a lot of introspection since Covid began and a lot of time to learn about myself (living alone during a pandemic isn’t for the weak). Creatively I’ve participated in a couple ZOOM poetry slams (though I miss set’s & theatre’s an insane amount). I had  booked a role as a tennis player in a pilot set to shoot in the end of March 2020, however sadly it was cancelled due to the climate of Covid. I’ve read and written more in the last 7months than I remember ever doing before. Writing poetry, a screenplay and a personal tribute to my best friend (my Grandma, Vernie). Hollywood has slowly started to re-open so I’ve been especially grateful for my recent self tape auditions and I’m always happily available for more. 😉 My attitude is what set’s me apart from most people I know. I view life (creative projects and personal life) as moments of possibilities. I realize, everything’s temporary but that doesn’t stop me from being aggressively hopeful, exhaustingly empathetic and always interested in learning about others. Above all, I care about being a good person, one who’s conscious of the world around her.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the feeling of limitless possibilities. Living in LA has me (possibly naively) believe in the American Dream and anyone having an equal shot, regardless of their background. I root for all races, genders, sexes, sexual orientation’s, socio economic groups, religions practiced, cultures maintained, and bodies for their dreams. Hope is very much alive in LA and with those hungry to share their stories and hopes for humanity. Today, more than ever it’s dire we come together in unity as opposed to division. I’m heartbroken by the extreme amount of poverty and disgusted by the greed from many in positions that could help but choose not to. Not to mention; sexism, racism, police brutality, and people in power that abuse their responsibility. I like to think kindness is free so why not give it.

Contact Info:

  • Website: https://www.calliehaun.com/
  • Phone: (707) 548-8851
  • Email: hauncallie@gmail.com
  • Instagram: @calliehaun


Image Credit:

Berenice Monroy. Sam Tilson. Ken Haun. Anatole Odo. Miguel Perez. Summer Kitchens.

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