I have lived a fairly peripatetic life. I was born in the DC area, moved to Houston around the age of 2 years old and spent most of my childhood there. Then my family moved to Michigan for several years where I went to high school. I attended college at Emory University in Atlanta where I received my BA in psychology. I then moved to NYC to become a professional actor, eventually moving to Boston for graduate school at Brandeis University. I received my MFA in acting and moved back to NYC. I began working right away and soon moved to LA. I spent 5 years there and found my way back to the Northeast after a brief 2 year rest in my hometown of Houston. I have had the opportunity to work in theater, film, television, and the audio world.
I was married to an Aussie actor who encouraged me to pursue acting early on. He established a standard of talent, tenacity, and hardwork to which I still hold myself and every artist.
I am now married to a South African/Texan (!) who inspires me to explore every corner of this earth and teaches me daily about honesty, integrity, courage, and love. We have a 5 year old daughter who lights the way and a new baby arriving soon.
“I’ve never fooled anyone. I’ve let people fool themselves. They didn’t bother to find out who and what I was. Instead they would invent a character for me. I wouldn’t argue with them. They were obviously loving somebody I wasn’t.”
― Marilyn Monroe
Though this quote is from a tragic legend who we heaped our own fantasies, desires, illusions, and paranoias upon, thereby transmogrifying her very personhood into something that fit our salacious need for scandal and intrigue, it occurs to me that we often or perhaps always see only what we want to see when it comes to our fellow human beings. We rush to immediate conclusion based on largely visual data that represents a moment in time or has been digitally manipulated. When did we stop seeing a whole person – when the visual became king? when we got too busy to read or listen or watch? when we began to prefer sound bites to real discourse? when we became lazy or too distracted or too overwhelmed to look for anything beyond surface information?
Throughout my adulthood, I have had every color of hair and every hair style imaginable. As an actress I’ve always enjoyed how these superficial changes can inform a character. In life, I’m fascinated how they effect the way people see me and how they interact with me. What does long, blond hair telegraph? How about short, dark hair? Am I sluttier or more fun as a blond? (You know the old adage…blondes have more fun.) Am I smarter with short hair? Am I a person to be taken more seriously with no-nonsense hair? How do these assumptions spill over into other surface qualities? What if I gained 100 pounds? Would I be lazier? Dumber? Less worthy of being heard? Even further, what if my skin were darker? What assumptions would you make about me? An African American friend recently told me that when he wears a shirt from his alma mater (a prestigious, highly ranked private university), he is often questioned about whether he really went there or he just bought the shirt. What are the implications of that question? What judgements and prejudices are implicit? Would he be asked that if his skin were lighter?
I’d love to hear from you about similar experiences you’ve had. Have you ever drastically changed your looks? If your skin is brown, were you ever told to stay out of the sun so that you didn’t get darker? Have you ever been surprised that a change in your looks made people react differently to you?