Known for her roles in “Nashville” and “Sun Records,” 40-year-old Rosalyn R. Ross is a Memphis-made actress and yoga instructor. She’s held other roles in independent films such as “Free in Deed” and “Columbus,” and done commercial work for some of Memphis’s biggest corporate and retail players—FedEx, Memphis Grizzlies, Mercedes Benz of Memphis, and Laurelwood Shopping Center. When not at auditions, Rosalyn teaches yoga at Midtown Yoga, Better Bodies Yoga, and French Riviera.
The Path to Acting
It came through my passion for yoga. I spent 13 years as a marketing professional until I was laid off in 2011. Another job came through almost immediately, but it just didn’t feel right. It would have been a heavier travel schedule and the corporate culture didn’t really mesh with my personal values. Within 30 days of declining that offer, I was signed up for a 30-day yoga submersion teacher training with Sonic Yoga in Manhattan, NY. I spent the next six months energized by the city’s culture, diversity, and endless opportunities. It was after I settled back into Memphis that I began to think of myself more as a creative and an entrepreneur than a marketing executive.
As I departed New York City, I hoped that pursuing something I had wanted for so long would open the door to me fulfilling more dreams—and it did. With the support of my husband, I started blogging about sports and fitness. In addition, I finally walked into a local talent agency in 2013 with my sights set on becoming and on-air sports host and walked out with my sights set on acting.
Yoga’s Influence on Acting
Yoga helps with the pressure of being an actor. Every time I attend or teach a yoga class, I encounter someone who breaks stereotypes — like someone that size can’t do certain poses or someone older doesn’t have a vibrant practice. Those stereotype-crushing yogis give me the courage to know that I can crush them as well in whatever field I choose.
As an actor, you spend significant time auditioning, which is the ultimate test of letting go. You prepare as if the role is yours, see yourself as the character, present yourself as if you’re the only person for the part—then immediately let it all go when the audition is over. There isn’t usually a follow-up, and you know you don’t have the part when the start date rolls around and you’re still sitting at home. The worst is when you see another actor on-screen reciting the lines you studied so hard to learn. So many rejections can wreck your confidence, but to be a professional, you have to experience it over and over again.
Yoga helps me work through and let go of the emotional stress of the job. Learning to be present from pose to pose, not getting hung up on advanced shapes you couldn’t do, and staying present with silence in meditation is the ultimate cultivation of letting go.
It also complements acting by keeping your body in shape, and teaching is a source of income between bookings. Being physically active naturally elevates the mood.
I ❤ Yoga
What I love most about it is that it rescued me. My yoga practice started when I was in a high stress corporate environment. It safely grounded me when I was surely headed for a crash and burn situation. It made fall in love with fitness again. And now in this second phase of my life and career, it has been the catalyst to living my dreams.
Making it through a 10-hour shoot starts the day before. I do yoga, some cardio, eat nutritious, home cooked meals, drink lots of water, and finish the day with eight hours of sleep—no exceptions. It’s the only way I know how to look my best and keep my energy up.
Advice to Newbies
Find a good beginner class that focuses on the fundamentals and basic alignment. Don’t be seduced by Instagram yogis who show many elegant, advanced poses. That’s not where it starts. Get down the basics before attempting backbends and inversions.
My mom unexpectedly passed away of stomach cancer three years ago, just 26 days after being diagnosed. Since then I mainly eat a vegan diet but make exceptions for dairy in social situations. Not everyone has to go to extremes to eat better, just cut out sugar. Cutting down on it is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family.
In the Future
On my plate in 2017 … more auditions! I want more acting work and I having to be willing to get more NO’s on my way to more YES’s. I would love to attend more yoga classes (outside of teaching them) and present a workshop or be a visiting teacher at a studio out of town.
Interview by Amy Goode. Photo by Tindall Farmer.