Mary Ann Rodgers
* Please tell our audience a little about your background and what made you want to be an actor?
I’m that kid who was making my friends act out movies we had just seen, but my family was not the kind of family that saw acting as a job for us. I was the first to go to college, and my parents’ aspirations for me were more modest. The problem was that my all-girl’s Catholic high school hired a 6’2″, 28 year-old, handsome theater teacher when I was a junior. I suddenly became very interested in the Mime elective he was teaching, and then more interested in the characters he was giving me to play. By the time I got to college, I wanted to understand people, to walk in their shoes. I’ve been doing it now in one form or other for almost 40 years.
* What have been some of your favorite performances so far?
Oh, my wonderful Will Shakespeare! I’ve been lucky enough to play Beatrice, Gertrude, Titania. I love the language, but I also love the trust I have that he created a real person and that if I work hard enough I’ll find her. On the other hand, I’ve also had a great time with new works and with American classics like “Bus Stop”, which I was finally able to work on this year. The fun is in the variety.
* What are your influences? Your favorite movies, TV shows, plays, etc…?
I loved Elizabeth Taylor. I think I saw her in Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolfe, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Suddenly Last Summer before I was 13. I was just fascinated by the way she revealed herself. Yes, she was beautiful, but it was more than that; I believed her. I also love comedy – Some Like it Hot probably topping the list. The first play I saw in high school was Cyrano de Bergerac at ACT here in San Francisco. It changed my life. I saw real people who were calling this great pretend thing their JOB! There are more TV shows that have made me say “I’d love to be in that” than I can name. I’m still doing it. Most recently, I’m loving Schitt’s Creek (OMG, Katherine O’Hara!), Jane the Virgin, and Orphan Black. And I go to romantic comedy quite often. I just love them! Right now, my favorites are:
Movie: Casablanca (Still!)
TV Show: Those above and The Black List, Frankie and Grace. Past obsessions: West Wing, MASH, Frazier (really skilled actors!) and Slings and Arrows (if you haven’t seen this and you love theater, you must!).
Musical: Hamilton, A Little Night Music, Guys and Dolls
Play: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Living Writer: Martin McDonagh, Emma Thompson
Actress Role Models: Emma Thompson, Helen Mirren, Dames Judi and Maggie, Frances McDormand. Meryl’s not on this list because she’s a prodigy, so I’ll just bow to her. Carol Burnett belongs on this list, too.
TV at home: Masterpiece Theater and all of the BBC murder mysteries. I find them comforting, for some reason.
* What is your favorite thing about being an actor?
Finding connections with my characters and being in relationship with the other characters.
* You also direct and teach. What advice would the director/teacher side of you give to the actor side of you?
Stand in confidence and humility. You have something to give and something to learn. If I were younger, “When you say you’d give anything to be an actor, would you be a businessperson to be an actor?” Be a curious human. Be friendly and helpful. Know your boundaries.
* Tell us about your current projects.
I just finished a run of a wonderful play, filmed “Going Out”, and had a supporting role in a film written and directed by Moez Solis called “The Mentor”. I’m also studying with Richard Seyd at Seydways Studios and continuing to develop my craft. This is a time for wrapping up the year and setting goals for the next. I’m determining what kind of theatre projects I really want to give time and energy to while developing more relationships and opportunities in film/tv.
* What is a dream of yours that you would like to share with our readers?
I actually missed out on a dream this year. I had always hoped to work with Sam Shepard. He had a unique artistic voice. A dream that I have is that I will be able to continue to work on a variety of creative projects. That I will have a steady stream of opportunities to act and direct that will provide income and keep me engaged and excited about the art. Fame and Fortune are awesome, and I welcome what comes, but a simple career that keeps me anonymous to the public, well-respected by my colleagues, and also comfortable is my ideal. And I’d love to have a role in the successful TV series that my daughter Thea, a writer/actor in L.A., will write and get produced!
For More Info About Mary Ann Rodgers: