How Successful Real Estate Broker Suzanne Salhaney Became an Actress

At an early age, Suzanne Salhaney knew she “was destined to become a dancer and an actress.” She continues, “My love and passion for the arts and music became clear. I spent years training, competing and teaching ballroom, salsa, disco and theater arts. I also had the wonderful opportunity to choreograph.”

One of her most recent roles is Mrs. Schwartz in Studio Films’ Nice Guy. Here, she shares why she never takes “no” for an answer and how she juggles motherhood, career and passion. –yvette caslin

Where you were born and raised?
Born of Lebanese decent and the youngest of five daughters, I was raised in Grand Rapids, Mich. My wonderful parents were married for almost 68 years. My father, who recently passed away in 2012 at the age of 93, was not only an amazing man but a very successful business owner of 72 years. My Mother (87) owns her own business and still works full time.

Having grown up in a family owned and operated business my old fashioned values and hard work ethic were instilled by my incredibly supportive, loving and successful parents. I don’t accept “no” for an answer and I never quit until the job is complete. I use this philosophy in my acting career and in my business.

I moved to Atlanta in 1990. I’ve been a successful real estate agent for over 18 years, and the president and managing broker of my own real estate firm.

I love performing. It’s been a passion of mine for years. I enjoy cooking, entertaining, music, sports, movies, hanging out with friends and spending time with my two beautiful children and my “Big Crazy Lebanese Family”.

Since family always came first, I put my dreams on hold when I married and became a mother. After the kids left for college, I decided it was time to pursue my dreams and my passion.  

Zodiac Sign:
Cancer… Compassionate, nurturing, sensitive and caring with friends, family and lovers with a passion for life!

Why did you take this role? 
I wanted to be a part of the 11Eleven11 project because of the cast and crew. Hands down. I love these people. Also, this role was meant for me. I connected immediately when I read the role and knew I just had to be involved. Mrs. Schwartz [her character] is so much like me in my every day business. A bit more brutal than myself but for the most part reminds me of what women must do in today’s business world to keep up. Most of all, I fell in love with the story line. Frankly, it just made me laugh.

Did you have any particular mentors or inspirations as a young actor?
My parents taught me valuable lessons in life and in business. They were supportive in whatever I wanted to do in life. Knowing I was a free spirit, they allowed me to be creative, make my own decisions, allowed me the freedom to find my own way, make my own mistakes and be what I wanted to be. I attribute all my success to them.

The one movie – attended – that you will never forget:
Gone with the Wind – I saw when I was very young. I still watch it often and remember how I felt when the movie was over: inspired and ready to take on the world.

Your personal acting idols: 
I absolutely adore Meryl Streep. She’s captivating, creative and a true professional. A perfectionist in her craft, she’s meticulous and goes above and beyond in her preparation for her roles. She has never let Hollywood change who she is and I love that about her.

Last good movie you saw:
There is too many. I love all movies. Particularly romance and comedies. I loved the Notebook.

Some films you consider classics:
My all time favorites are The Big Chill, Steel Magnolias and The Help.

Performer you would drop everything to go see:
Meryl Streep and if they were alive: Luther Vandros, Whiteney Houston and Michael Jackson

Pop culture guilty pleasure:
I can’t give my secrets away.

Favorite cities:
I love the hustle and bustle of New York. Although the shopping doesn’t hurt either.

First CD/Tape/LP you owned:
Michael Jackson

Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: 
When I took my first dance class at the age of four. I loved performing. I would get together with the neighborhood kids and put on plays. Of course, being the consummate business women early on I had to charge a nickel. I made it clear I was the “star” and being the control freak that I am, I took complete charge. Making sure everyone knew exactly what was expected. I can honestly say I’m a “TV/movie” junky. I spent most of my free time watching and studying the actors and saying, “I can do that.” I would go to my room and pretend I was on the big screen with all my favorite actors.

Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap:
Well, so far I haven’t run into this …saying a prayer as I speak. I am obsessed with making sure I do my history work before my auditions or before I am on set. I’m not one who likes to get it wrong.

Most challenging role you have played:
I would say I have not had a challenging role in my acting career, not saying that won’t happen in the future, but in my past I did have challenging and “nail-biting” competitions. [There have been] wardrobe mishaps and once I forgot my entire routine.

Worst job you ever had:
I have had many jobs in my years. I cannot say any of them were “bad.” They were all a learning experience. I started at a very young age working for our family business. All I can say is some of the things my daddy had me do were not my favorite. But, I will always be grateful for the opportunities he gave me.

Career you would want if not a performer:
I would make a great lawyer.

Three things you can’t live without:
My children, black and red licorice, LOVE, Music. My Lord and Savior. Yes…that is five things!

What’s on your music playlist?
Anything from hip-hop to R&B, jazz and old school. Al Green, Earth, Wind and Fire, Chaka Khan, Luther, Mariah, Whitney, Tina and way too many more artists.

MAC or PC? 

“I’ll never understand why…” 
I’m still single

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