Leading Ladies: Mona Lee Fultz passes on 40 years of acting experience to her students

Briana Zamora

UT alumna Mona Lee Fultz thought majoring in acting would translate to an easy ‘A.’ But then she received her first lead role. After memorizing hundreds of lines and doing weeks of background work, she realized how demanding acting really was. Surprisingly, she loved it. 

“It ended up being really good for me because I had a lot of energy, and it was amazing to focus it on something constructive,” Fultz said. “You find yourself in the middle of all this creative chaos, and it invigorates you.”

Fultz has successfully channeled this energy throughout her 40-year career, acting in more than 50 roles in commercials, television shows and popular movies, such as “Boyhood,” “Dazed and Confused” and “Miss Congeniality.

During her last semester in the UT theater department, Fultz was one of six students in the nation awarded a full scholarship to The Juilliard School after completing a competitive audition process. At Juilliard, Fultz enrolled in a highly selective acting program. When Fultz noticed her fellow students struggling to maintain their place in the program, she took it upon herself to tutor them and, in doing so, discovered her affinity for coaching. 

“There were a lot of nerves these kids were going through, so I would just tell them to do this, this and this,” Fultz said. “They would do it, and our teacher would be happy.”

After graduating from Juilliard, Fultz returned to Austin and has since developed a successful coaching career in addition to her acting work. She began coaching actors professionally in 1977. Some of her former students have gone on to star in movies such as “Super 8” and the “The Descendants.”

“I want to be of service to people, and, when I am coaching, I feel like I am being of service,” Fultz said. “Being an actor, you can channel that narcissistic personality, and, being a coach, you can be of service. And it is really satisfying to be able to do both.” 

Michael Costello, acting and directing professor at Texas State University, met Fultz in 1985 while working with an acting troupe in Austin. They have since acted together in the movie “The Convict” and as husband and wife in the PBS series “The Real Adventures of Sherlock Jones and Proctor Watson.” 

“She is both a very talented teacher of actors and an actor herself,” Costello said. “Having such a constantly successful career for over 40 years is an extreme achievement in our profession.” 

According to Fultz, many aspiring actors come to her because they believe acting is an opportunity to become famous, but that was never been Fultz’s motivation. 

“All of the arts are healing arts,” Fultz said. “Acting is an opportunity to get to know yourself and develop a core of who you are — a secure place within you that you can depend on — and I am much more interested in acting from that healing perspective.”

The Atherton Group Talent Agency has represented Fultz for five years.

“[Fultz] just has this unique, spiritual energy about her, and she captivates anyone she comes in contact with,” owner Liz Atherton said. “She is just so sweet and immensely talented.” 

Fultz said she is grateful her career has given her an opportunity to explore so many different facets of storytelling. 

“Between all these things — acting, screenwriting and coaching — I feel so utterly balanced and satisfied” Fultz said. “I have worked a long time in the business, and I have endured out of love. You just love it all so much it becomes your crack habit.”