Five Things: Actor Teresa Willis On Marriage, Ambition, And Her Very Famous Cousin
A situation almost guaranteed to produce dread: Your friend says, "Hey, I'm performing the one-woman play that I wrote about my life, you should come!" I hadn't known Teresa Willis all that long when she invited me to come see "Eenie Meenie," but I wanted to be supportive, even though a solo autobiographical show sounded like a cringe-inducing couple of hours. As it happened, however, the show was terrific — smart, funny, self-deprecating, enlightening, and authentic — much like Teresa herself.
I'm so pleased to have Teresa as a guest on Five Things this week. We had a great conversation about her creative journey, her upbringing in Louisville, and how her famous cousin has impacted her life. Listen to our conversation in the player above.
On what she learned from her parents about marriage:
"My parents could have written a how-to book on relationships, but it would really just be a couple of sentences: Daddy's always right, but Mother always gets what she wants. She just did what she wanted, and he loved her so much, she could do whatever she wanted. My parents were great at compromise. They were very old-fashioned in many ways -- Daddy was the daddy, and Mommy was the mommy -- but Mother had strong and deep beliefs, and they knocked heads sometimes but they never fought in front of us. What I learned from that was nothing said in anger is productive."
On her relationship with her cousin, when they were both young, unknown actors:
"And about that point in time, we're kind of at the same spot: I'm an aspiring actress, he's an aspiring actor, he's already done some stuff, but we're kind of in the same spot. And about a month later, he leaves and goes to California and never comes back. Because he auditioned for a little show called 'Moonlighting,' and got the part, and when that show premiered the next March, within a couple of months everybody knew who Bruce Willis was."
On art and vulnerability:
"The key to all of the art that I've made -- that has had any kind of an impact -- is my ability to be vulnerable. Just being able to be who I am, and put that out for people, take it or leave it, when the fear of that falls away and I have the courage to just be vulnerable, that's when the gifts have come to me in life."
Louisville-area theatregoers can see Teresa in Taylor Mac's "Hir" at the Liminal Playhouse, beginning August 31.
Five Things is available wherever you get your podcasts.