Get to Know...SUSAN JEFFRIES
Questions For And Answers From Susan Jeffries (Sylvie)
1. When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
I went to a Catholic school and during the Spring of ninth grade we did a Passion Play in the Church basement about the crucifixion of Christ that turned out to be quite hilarious. A painting attached to the upstage wall that was meant to be a window looking out upon Calvary and the three crosses was sent crashing to the floor every time the entire cast - following direction - leapt to our feet to exclaim “He is Risen”. This caused our audience - comprised mostly of our parents - to laugh uncontrollably each time this happened while we young actors struggled to remain serious and solemn – there were also nuns in the audience. I thought – “If I can concentrate through this, I can do anything”. During my remaining years of high school, I was cast in better (ingenue) roles in plays by great authors such as Kauffman and Hart and have been hopelessly in love with the theatre ever since.
2. What are some of your career highlights?
Some years ago, I worked Off-Broadway in a play written in the early 1950’s by Dorothy Parker and Arnaud D’Usseau called The Ladies of the Corridor. It was a wonderful experience for me because the leading character of Lulu Ames provided me with a broad range to tackle ranging from very witty comedy to serious heartbreak. My performance and the whole show received wonderful reviews by the New York Times and The New Yorker Magazine among other press and that was very gratifying for me. Another highlight was when doing a part in the TV Show – “30 Rock”. I spent a lovely day working with the very talented Tina Fey and Jon Hamm. In the early days working in the background, I got to see and actually be directed by some of the great film directors including Mike Nichols and Woody Allen. I most recently worked on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and that is one of my favorites - so it was marvelous in more ways than one for me!
3. What has acting taught you?
I have always loved literature - the classics as well as contemporary drama - and especially comedy. I learned early on that working hard on the understanding and interpretation of the script and always serving the writing when making acting choices is the key to doing a successful job in bringing my part of the piece to life when acting in any theatre or film project. If you love it as I do it is always a welcome and exciting challenge.
4. Do you prefer one medium to another?
I love them all, theatre, film and TV, web series and cabaret! Nothing is more rewarding to me than successfully creating a character and hopefully making people feel something. I just love working!
5. What are your passion projects or hobbies outside of acting?
I love to read. Right now, Edith Wharton has me captivated. I also love crossword puzzles. Learning to read music and play the piano became a fairly recent choice I made in order to better understand music.
6. Is there a teacher, acting or otherwise, who has inspired you?
I was very fortunate to study with some of the “greats” including Lee Strasberg. That said, Robert Lewis was my favorite teacher. I spent three years in his workshop and if I seem to know what I am doing at all as an actress it is because of him. He taught me how to analyze a script and gave me concrete ways to make it come to life. I recommend his book “Advice to the Players” if you can get it.
7. Do you have a favorite blog/site where you like to learn about what's going on in the entertainment industry?
An avid theatre goer for most of my life (in non-Covid times), I haven’t consulted a
blog or site to find out what was happening because we live in New York City and have travelled to London every fall to see what’s cooking in the West End and at the Royal National and up at the Almeida. We subscribe to and support a number of favorite theatres here in NYC and they always let us know what’s going on via email and even snail mail and, of course, I read the New York Times and The New Yorker Magazine.
8. Have you ever taken on another position besides acting in the entertainment business?
I taught acting for film in the Studio Program at New York University for three years. I wrote, created, and produced two cabaret shows and sang with four amazing jazz musicians. Currently, I am learning how to accompany myself on piano while singing some favorite songs – so maybe another cabaret show will take shape! And now with "Searching for Sylvie", I am Executive Producing a web series!
9. Do you have a dream role?
Drama – I’d like a crack at Mary Tyrone in O’Neil’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Comedy - so many! I have to say - you name it – I’ll do it! I really love to make people laugh.