Tell us about your education?
I have enough to get into trouble, but not enough to perform surgery on anyone, anywhere for any reason. But seriously, I went to high school in Mequon, Wisconsin (Go Homestead Highlanders!) and then decided I was cold and didn’t apply to a single school north of the Mason Dixon line. Really. Ended up at TCU because they didn’t look at me crazy when I said I wanted to double degree - not double major - degree. I wanted a BFA in theatre and a BM in music (ended up with a BA). They said yes.
If you could take any role from a TV show or Film, what would it be and why?
I’d kill to do what Tatiana Maslany is doing in Orphan Black. She just completely immerses herself in the (8+) different characters she plays on that show. Different but subtle changes with each one - an accent, a vocal register placement, speech patterns, walk, center of energy, and then of course the costumes and wigs she gets to wear. And of course, I wouldn't sneeze at being a Golden Globe and Emmy nominee, and multiple award-winner.
What was your most challenging character to date and why? Is it your favorite? If not, what is your favorite role to date?
I recently did the play Midsummer by David Greig at City Theatre in Pittsburgh. It is a two-hander (only two actors in the show) where Randy Redd and I had to speak in Scottish accents, play guitar and accompany ourselves singing, create 27 different characters and be incredibly physically active for two hours straight, no intermission. I’ve never worked so hard in my life. However, Randy is now one of my best friends, and the achievement I feel from doing that show will stay with me forever. I think my favorite role, however, was playing Irena Hasanovic in Tim Ruddy’s The International. Tim was doubtful at first that I could pull off a Bosnian farm woman who is older than me, but ask him now and I’m pretty sure he’d say he can’t imagine anyone else in the role. I just understood her, in the most profound sense. It was an incredibly complicated part in a devastating scenario, and people would ask me every night how I managed to get through it. If that role taught me anything, it was that when grief is that profound, the natural human reaction is not to wallow in it. We put on a brave face but what is going on underneath shows through, creating the poignancy we often see in those going through hard times. I put on a brave face as the character, and the reaction was that the audience was able to connect in a way they wouldn’t have been able to if I was doing all the feeling for them. They went on the ride with me because I could step back and let them come forward to join me.
Tell us about a time when you had a really bad day but had to perform that night. How did you get through it?
Oh my, we’re getting personal now. Well, I’m divorced, and the summer when all that was happening I was performing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Much Ado About Nothing in rep at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. The day I found out my marriage was ending was a night we had a show, and while this was several years ago and I’m not quite sure I can recall all the details, I’m fairly certain we were doing Cat that night. I was playing Mae, the sister-in-law who is full of venom toward Maggie for being the favorite daughter-in-law when she and her husband, Brick, haven’t carried on the family line or proved in any way that they are deserving of inheriting the family property. Eleanor Handley, one of my favorite people, was playing Maggie, and our fight that night was particularly explosive. As actors we have a fine line to walk. We only have ourselves as the tools through which we create these characters, but carrying personal baggage on stage can potentially derail a carefully crafted character that is a cog in the wheel of telling the story of the play. We are storytellers, and our job is to tell the story, not use the show as therapy. The show must go on, as they say.
What is your hybrid?
I’ve been told I’m Julia Roberts' and Kyra Sedgwick’s love-child. I’ll take it!
What was the biggest audience you have performed in front of?
When I was Grace in a tour of Annie. We played to audiences of at least a thousand, if not more.
How did you get started? When was your first role as an actor?
I was 10 years old and the local high school was auditioning for The Sound of Music. I apparently decided on my own I wanted to audition, and was cast as Brigitta, the know-it-all. Anyone who knows me would not be surprised by that at all. But my most important contribution to that production was that during the show I got chicken pox, and gave it to two high schoolers who hadn’t had it yet. Oops.
Who is your favorite actor? The actor you would like to share the stage/screen with…
Ellen Burstyn. Anyone know how to get that information to her?
How did you get started in VO?
I’ll try to make it a short story. Sixteen years ago when I moved to the city, I was told I should have a VO demo, so I did one, then sat on it for 3 years and let it gather dust. On the Annie tour, a fellow actor mentioned I had a good voice and asked if I had a demo. Eureka, I did! So he sent it to his agent, who called me in and started submitting me. One of the first auditions I had, I booked, and that turned into a 7 year account with K-Y Brand. Yes, that K-Y. I booked other gigs during that time, and found my current agent, CESD, through a recommendation. They’ve been my agents for 11 years and I adore them. I should hashtag and tweet and tag them in this post, shouldn’t I? Anyway, 3 years ago K-Y ended and I immediately got another gig, this time as one of the voices of L’Oreal. You can hear some of these spots on my voiceover page, along with the other fun stuff I’ve done. Also, I did a podcast that explains a little more in detail about my work as a VO artist and me as an artist in general. Here’s the link:
What are you known for?
My drive, my love of Shakespeare and my back muscles.
Where are you from?
This is a complicated question for me. I was born in Milwaukee, WI, but at the age of 6 we moved to Brentwood, TN, outside of Nashville. Six years later it was back to Mequon, WI (where I went to high school and froze my @$$ off), then off to college. My folks moved back to Franklin, TN (also right outside of Nashville) when I went to college, and have been there for 20 years. So I’m half WI and half TN. And my accent is completely neutral…maybe that’s why.
Stupid human tricks?
I make baby-crying sounds. And when I was growing up I created a barnyard of animal noises as well - mooing, clucks, baaas and oinks.
Worst and best audition story?
I feel like I’ve had lots of both. I do remember going into an audition and calling the casting director by the wrong name, however. Never lived that one down.