Bringing Strength of Character to Stage and Screen
By Mary Fry
She is an example of how to use talent, a strong work ethic, and a drive for success to achieve your goals. Rosemary is a powerful actor, accomplished businesswoman, and stand-up comedian. I interviewed her at her beautiful hillside home in Southern California. I asked Rosemary to tell us a little bit about herself and her career.
When you were younger, did you always know that you wanted to perform?
I was always creative. Originally, I wanted to be a cartoonist. I was very gifted in drawing and writing short stories. One builds upon the other. I always thought theatre was incredible and a lot of fun. I thought it was the height of creativity. I lived in a state where theatre was not very popular. Not for about ten states away! It's not a part of the culture of the South. If you say you want to be an actor, people look at you as if you just left a mental hospital or you are working in porn films...or they associate being a performing artist with fame. Either your famous, you're working in porn or you're crazy.
Describe the steps you took to study theatre. Where did you study and how were you led to it?
I was an introverted kid. I had a great fear of getting up in front of people. I couldn't even raise my hand in class. I was always sitting in the back looking down or in the front looking down. I was really good at hiding. I was very good at playing the piano. I was good in music, drawing, and writing. I always had a real fascination with performing, but I was scared to death. I mean frightened! Then, I had a fate moment. I was approached by a modelling agent when I was in high school who encouraged me to be a model. It helped me come out of my shell. I began taking comedy classes and was told that I was "funny."
When I was in high school, I went to France as a Rotary exchange student. There, I was approached by a modelling agency. I lived in with a host family and went to a French public high school. I went there not knowing anybody, the culture or language. I was just really excited about getting away. I thought I would also get into acting. I planned on permanently living in France. I then had a change of heart and I decided to go back to the states and enter college. I have a degree in French and a minor in Italian. I also studied Spanish. I got a job as a District Sales Manager for a Hoist and Crane manufacturer. I was the second woman ever hired into that position. I really loved what I did. I'm an excellent salesperson. I will never take "no" for an answer. I am very good at building relationships and great with detail...I had tremendous opportunity. But I really had to pursue what I wanted to do.
During college, I got sick, which made me re-think my priorities: What is my purpose? What am I really supposed to be doing with my life? What do I really want? So here I am. It was very hard to leave that job, the security and the amount of opportunity and money - because Sales is money, and I am very good at making money. But I decided to pursue my passion. It's been a heck of a journey. It has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination. It's just a lot of hard work and preparation. I did relocate to France, New York City, and finally, California.
Did you study acting there?
I studied with a lot of well-known teachers: Penny Templeton, The Michael Howard Studio, and Tim Phillips. New York is all about Education and Theatre. I also sing. I'm an alto. I train with Gerald Sternbach. He is the musical director for all the major musicals in L.A.
What are your strengths as a performer and, what are some of your accomplishments?
Comedy is my forte. I have fantastic comedic timing. I'm very good at playing no-nonsense, quirky, neurotic types. I'm also very good at playing dark characters; I can cry on cue. I enjoy playing strong, commanding roles. I have two feature films which I have a starring role that are available DVD worldwide in all major outlets: Blockbuster, Netflix, Amazon, etc... Oil and Water is a romantic comedy and Fear of the Dark is a horror feature. They both have received good reviews and can be found on the web.
Fear of the Dark was my very first lead in a feature film with a first time director. I cried throughout that film; I played a split- personality. Then, I did a short film called Baby Doll. This was loosely based on Bette Davis's role from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. I was the spokesperson in all media for GlaxoSmithKline's pharmaceutical "Paxil" for six years, which did very well. I just completed two features: Alibi (thriller) as the lead role Elaine (Corporate Villainess) and a supporting role as Terri (Architect) in the comedy Late Night Girls. I have also performed quite a bit in Theatre in Los Angeles.
In acting, there is only so much power one has. The words are not yours because you did not write them, and if you don't say them, you will get fired. You can bring whatever you want creatively to your work, but if it does not "look" good on film or if the director does not like it, either you do what he says or you have no job. In stand-up, there is more freedom. You have an opinion. There is more of individuality to it. If you look at every comedian, they have their own character. Acting is all about watching how other people behave. As a kid, I was always watching because I was scared.
What was your most difficult role?
I played a featured role as "Mrs. Simple" in Andrew Sugerman's drama Soulmates. This character was a sexually-explicit, rich heiress who held wild sex-capade parties a la Eyes Wide Shut. I grew up not liking my body or the way I looked. I have had the same body measurements as I have now since I was in the seventh grade: 36D-26-36. I was considered a freak for the way I looked and was made fun of. Oddly enough, that role celebrated the way I look and have always looked. There was no nudity or any provocative actions in my scene or in the film, however, just playing that part helped me personally.
They say you have to give up something to get something. What sacrifices have you made along the way?
People don't realize all the sacrifices you make in this line of work. They don't see what you give up to be successful - the sacrifice of a normal day-to-day job and stability. I didn't grow up where there were any artists. Where I grew up, it wasn't the norm to do something like this - to give up everything, to always be "on call", and relocate. You have to find someone who is willing to live this kind of lifestyle. My husband is incredibly supportive. He's my biggest fan. I really couldn't have done this without my husband and God. God has given me an enormous amount of courage. This business is about selling, and if you are not constantly working, you will lose momentum. It is full-time job and not any different than building a career in any other field. You can't come and go as you please. You are constantly building a name and a reputation.
Who are your mentors or great inspirations?
My husband is my mentor and greatest inspiration. He's my very best friend in the whole, wide world.
How did you meet him?
I met him while standing in line to board the plane in North Carolina. I was relocating to New York on short notice for my employer and had only $500 to put towards an apartment in New York. While standing in line, I was arguing with the flight attendant over the number of my carry-on luggage: I was only allowed to have "two bags" but had four I needed to carry on. This guy behind me walked up and said, "Just give me your bags and let's get on the plane. You're holding everybody up!" We then boarded. He sat far away in the back. I remember putting on my headphones and thinking "I need somebody like that to keep things simple for me...that woman was driving me crazy!" I also remember looking for him and making sure he still was guarding my bags. I found him and I thought "Hey, he was kind of cute." When the plane landed, I retrieved my bags and asked him about the area and apartments. He said his roommate had just moved out and his room was now available, and the rent was paid on a month-to-month basis. I thought, 'Well...hmmm...I don't know..." This was SOME guy that I met on the plane who was asking me to live with him. Six months later we were engaged.
What do you want to be known for?
I just try to do the right thing. I go for what I want. I have enormous passion and professionalism. I'm great to work with, very focused, and good at taking direction. I'm somebody who just loves what they do. I am an actor who studies and is prepared. I love performing and being creative.
When people want to book you, who do they contact?
My agent, Naomi Kolstein, Kolstein Talent Agency in New York and L.A.
What are you doing now?
After completing 9 Days of Rain I have a few screenplays that I'm pitching. I am also one of several producers of a fun, a 1945 murder-mystery blockbuster feature which is currently in "development." It is about a fat, nursery-rhyme guy and includes a few A-list stars.
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