The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Tate brings ‘Pink Lady’ back to school

‘Grease’ actress speaks at lecture

Having a career that has spanned over 30 years, actress StockardChanning believes that we often picture ourselves on the stairwayto heaven and find ourselves on the road to hell instead.

“Life isn’t always what you planned,” Channingsaid. “We may plan one path and end up on another.What’s important to remember is that during the times whenyour down … keep your eyes open for other opportunities.

Don’t lock in on a particular mindset or vision of whatyour life is supposed to be or you won’t survive in anycareer.”

Channing shared her experiences during a spirited discussionwith her old friend, dramatist John Guare as part of the TateDistinguished Lecture Series in McFarlin Auditorium on Tuesdaynight. Channing, who currently plays First Lady Abigail Bartlett inthe hit television series “West Wing,” is also knownfor her role as Betty Rizzo in the movie Grease alongside JohnTravolta.

“Grease was a great money-maker,” Channing said,”But it wasn’t too great for the careers of the peoplewho acted in it. Everyone thought of it as a kid movie. They mightthink of it in a different way today. Today, box-office take is anindicator in an actor’s career. After Grease, things werepretty crappy for a while.”

Channing said that there were times when she lost track of whereher life was heading. During those times, she kept her eyes open toother options and kept in touch with old friends.

“There were so many times when I would be offered a greatjob, then the rug would be pulled out from under me,”Channing said. “I have crashed and burned so many times overthe years. It’s been hard sometimes to keep up-beat andlevel-headed about the whole thing. I just had to keep an open mindand something else would come along.

When things became the most confusing for her, she returned toher roots in the theater. From there, she was invited back forother movie and television parts.

It was during one of those times that she received the call toplay Abigail on “West Wing.”

“I really like being in ‘West Wing,'”Channing said. “I believe that it allows people to see thingsabout how things work in government that they never knew before.… Mostly though, I think people like the characters. I amwelcomed as Abby wherever I go.”

Channing said the funniest thing that had happened was when fiveelderly women met her backstage at a play.

They commented on her performances in “West Wing”and said that they were happy because Rizzo had turned out allright.

Channing began her acting career in the theater with a group ofyoung students at Harvard who were performing in their own stagetroupe. Among the students that she worked with were Tommy LeeJones and John Lithglow.

“We were just a bunch of smart-assed kids, highly educatedand hungry,” Channing said. “That time in the‘60s was so unique. … You just felt that you couldmake life whatever you wanted it to be.”

Channing said that as an understudy, she feared that she wouldnever get her “big break.” But after the lead actressgave her a chance to perform one night, she began her career onstage.

Guare, who worked with Channing when she performed in “TheTwo Gentlemen of Verona” in 1971, first saw her when shebegan work as an understudy.

“She had made such an impression on me during her readingat the audition and the one night that she played the lead in [a]play, that I just had to have her,” Guare said.

Channing’s performances have garnered her two Tony Awards,an Obie and several Golden Globes.

“The important thing to remember in the future is to keepan open mind,” Channing said. “Life may not be what youplanned. It may, however, turn out to be moreinteresting.”

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