The 1991 film Defending
Your Life is based on
the idea that we are here, on Earth, to overcome our fears on order
to “move on” in the universe. If we don't conquer our
fears, we have to return to Earth and try again. In this existential
charmer, the neurotic Albert Brooks, who is defending his life,
asks the cool Rip Torn, his “lawyer” if he has been
back to Earth before. Torn says, “Oh, yes.” Brooks,
terrified, asks, “How many times?” Torn answers, “Oh,
20 or so...” Brooks stutters, “Is that a lot?” Torn
laughs, “I know people who have been back 100 times, I wouldn't
want to hang around with any of them, though.” This delightful
slice of art offers a simplistic, almost childlike commentary on
what keeps most of us from living “dangerously.”
In 2008, after teaching college sociology
for 15 years, I left St. Paul, Minnesota, and moved to New York,
New York to work as an actor. When I announced this, almost no
one I know well seemed very surprised about it. Others I don't
know well gushed over how courageous such a move is at this time
in my life.
But this is effortless, and I
have felt along-for-the-ride ever since I began seriously training
acting in 2007. It's like a love affair you know is right and so
it gives you very little trouble (still, even in the best affaires
des cours, there are always some little issues to hash out, non?).
And when I “defend my life,” I will have very little
to quibble about with the judges about whether I have been afraid
to take chances in life. Dozens of fears can keep people from performing,
not the least of which is that fear of public speaking shows up
in the top three fears, after cancer, AIDS, terrorism, and nuclear
war. But I am not afraid to perform.
I am originally from Duluth, Minnesota.
I did not complete high school, hating it beyond belief; I have
a GED. By the time I was in my early 20s, I was working three jobs
(bartending and delivering newspapers) and going to college full-time.
I got a graduate degree in sociology in the early 90s and started
teaching at a small community college. I often get the question,
Did you always want to act? I respond, I am from the Midwest, and
if I did, I wouldn't have admitted it. We are a modest culture
in the Northland.
I admire the class of Kathryn Hepburn, the swank
of Julianne Moore, the versatility of Meryl Streep, and the heat
of Jessica Lange. I emulate all these woman. I am a smart, outgoing,
outspoken, sensitive woman. I am a hard worker. I love being immersed
in ideas and pushing my intellect to move into new places. I have
always read literature with an eye to the larger social commentary
and imagine ways to move those ideas out into the world through
performance. I want to do smart film and television, particularly
that with social commentary. My stage presence is palpable, honed
by years of singing sitcom theme songs for students and lecturing
from the desktop (literally).
The more I know about the entertainment industry,
the more I know how little I know about it. I can see myself doing
more than acting; I can write with ease, have a terrific imagination
that might allow for some directing; and have great organizational
skills that are required for producing. No matter what, I have
a lot to say about the world.