Interview With Actress/Author Shari Shattuck 

By Ruth on July 5, 2016 in author, book, interview, movie, television

As I have stated on many occasions, I was never necessarily a “soap opera” fan. Having said that, my mom and grandma were hooked on a couple shows when I was growing up, but I barely remember a thing about Days of Our Lives or As the World Turns. However, what I will say is that my respect for those in the soap opera acting community has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years as I have discovered the unbelievably difficult job these professionals tackle on a daily basis in this sect of the entertainment world. One such person I have only just discovered is Shari Shattuck, and as I was doing a bit of investigation about her, I found myself completely astounded by her varied talents and accomplishments. Recently, I had the opportunity to ask Shari a few questions about her life as an actress and as an author–truly an intriguing combination, in my opinion.

RH: What inspired you to become an actress? What kind of training have you had?

SS: I never really aspired to be an actress, per se. I was an ice skater, and I loved the old Peggy Fleming specials. For me, it’s all about creativity. I could have been a musician or a painter, but I had to express art. I was enchanted with the creative expression in those old specials as much as the skating. I started studying acting in New York with Kate McGregor-Stuart and haven’t stopped learning yet! Once I got a taste for playing different characters, I was hooked, I think it was my multiple personality that enjoyed acting the most!

How did you get involved with Young and the Restless?  What was it like joining an established soap opera?  What was the cast and fan reception to your character?

Mmmm. Actually, I read for the part of Ashley Abbott seven years before I took it. The producers and the Bells {Lee Phillip Bell, William J. Bell} offered me the part, but I wasn’t ready to just do one character full-time. Then when Joanna Johnson left Bold and the Beautiful, Bill asked me to come play Caroline, but she decided to stay. So, I stuck with film and TV roles, and when Brenda {Epperson} left, they asked me again, and since I wanted to be with my girls, (and have another baby) I said yes!

I have stepped onto so many sets that it felt fine to me. Of course, many people on the show, especially the producers and directors, already knew me from my marriage to Ronn {Moss}. A show that big is a constantly revolving door for all kinds of people, so everyone is used to it. As for being embraced by the fans, well, they were much nicer than the soap magazines. The one thing you cannot do is play another actress. I could only play the part; I never tried to be Eileen {Davidson} or Brenda. Fans were great. I made a lot of good friends!!

What has been your favorite role (or one of your favorites) so far? What has been your most challenging?

So many favourites. Definitely Sally Bowles, the lead in Cabaret, which we did to sold-out audiences for eight weeks at the Knightsbridge Theatre. It was gritty and funny and heart-rending and challenging. There was dancing, and I got to belt some of the best songs ever written for stage. It was a remarkable experience. I also loved playing Kate in Taming of the Shrew and Beatrice in Much Ado. TV-wise, probably playing Ms. January on Life Goes On was the best-written guest star part I did. In movies, On Deadly Ground was special to me because I got to work with the amazing Michael Caine, a real bucket list item for me. I love comedy, and got to play an outrageous character in Mad About You. Other than that, there are so many roles I can’t even remember them all. Perhaps the most challenging was the last, Scream at the Devil. I really buckled down into the schizophrenic past of the character, and it was very fulfilling. Once you find crazy, it’s very liberating. Shooting in Venice, Italy was amazing too. Best catering ever!

Why/how did you transition to becoming an author? How do you juggle acting and writing?

I have always written. I know most people really want to be famous, but I really wanted to write!! I’ve been writing stories since I was in second grade. I adore being an author. The lifestyle is much better than acting–privacy and creativity!! I wrote my first published novel mostly in my dressing room at CBS. I never felt like I was juggling, just doing what I loved! I’ve been so lucky to be able to do both in my life.

How do you balance your work and family time?

I used to take the girls on set with me, and then I had to have a caregiver when they started school. As an author, I have to regulate my own work schedule. That was harder when the girls were little, but now that they are both beautiful young women, it’s much easier for me to block out six or seven hours a day to work. Filming a movie, I have to take a break from writing, but TV leaves you lots of time off, usually. My family time is precious to me, but with one girl at college and the other heading off next year, our time together is more likely to be a weekend outing or vacation rather than an every night sit down dinner. Things change when your kids start driving!

Any upcoming books/works you can mention?

I have a book out at the publishers now. I can’t say much about it except that it is about a woman who has a death experience, meets her spirit guide, and brings her back with her. My Best Dead Friend is the tentative title. (Editors have final title say.)  It’s a comedy, with plenty of angst about living and dying, but it’s mostly fun, and tells some stories I’ve always wanted to share.

What would you say is the difference between acting on stage as opposed to film and television?

The fact is, as an actress, theatre is your true medium. Film and television are about the director and the editor; you can’t control the final performance or the outcome. Once I leave the set, my influence is over. I can do sixteen takes in sixteen different ways, and the editor will decide how to piece it together–altering my timing, cutting lines, etc. When you are on stage, you can get the audience howling, crying, or breathing with you. There’s really no comparison. Lady Macbeth is another of my very favourites, but balance that with the wildly funny, crazy church lady in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and you get an idea of what theater ensemble work is like!

What is your favorite thing about acting on stage? For films/TV? What is the most challenging thing for you as an actress transitioning between the two? 

My favourite thing about acting on stage is the community experience, not just the other actors, set designers, technicians, but the audience too. And I can set my own timing and intensity, within the director’s guidelines. Film and TV are fun, commercials too, because you jump into a different group of people, and play a different person for a few days, months or even years in the case of series TV. My favourite thing about those was really understanding how to combine lighting, camera angles, acting techniques, emotion, and experience to do something new every day. Except on soaps, that’s pretty much the same day in and out. Too much explaining. It’s like giving the expositional monologue from a movie every single day. Hard to write, not as much fun to do. Unless you play a psycho, I would have enjoyed that much more. Three or four camera sets are very much like stage, in that there is a fourth wall (the audience or the cameras), and it is edited as you go. For sitcoms, you often have a live audience, that was my favourite!! Work all week and do two shows where you get to fix anything later. Sweet!! The only difference between switching between the two is finding the intimacy of your audience. ON stage, I have people five feet away, and a camera might be close up twenty yards away. It’s crucial to see how the shot is framed so that you can judge the intensity.

If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, whom would you choose and why?

I’d have to say Jesus, because I’d love to hear what he has to say about everyone abusing his message for so long. Can you just imagine him talking to the Westboro Baptist Church? “No, I didn’t say to hate anyone, I said to love everyone!!” Thunderbolt for you!! Blam!

Second would be some great author, but there are so many, it’s almost impossible to choose. I mean, would I go with Dante? Dickens? Wodehouse? Probably I’d go with Tom Robbins, because I think he and Jesus would really like each other, have a lot of laughs, and I’d like to have one living person on the list.

Third, Harriet Tubman. That woman rocked! If you have ever had time to really learn about what she did, you are probably as much in awe as I am. The biggest problem, of course, would be what to serve. Wine, for sure.

For someone like me who has never read your books, what might be a good recommendation as a first read from your books? 

I would start with Invisible Ellen. It’s one of my favourites, and I think it has the most going on. The Callaway Wilde series is great fun if you like fast action, great mystery and lots of romantic suspense. The first of those is Loaded. Then comes Lethal, Liar, and Legacy. The Greer Sands series, Eye of the Beholder and Speak of the Devil are about a reluctant psychic. They are much darker, but still with lots of laughs and fun! It’s just my nature to be entertaining, I guess.

After ruminating on Shari’s responses for some time, my respect for her has been magnified immensely. This woman has done more in her lifetime than some people ever do in half of the time she has been on this earth. It is women like her that give me great hope for my future because she has demonstrated that it is possible not only to attain and fulfill your dreams, but to do it with flair, veracity, and a sense of humor. Shari is one who wishes to contribute her positive and thought-provoking ideas in an entertaining style that will genuinely connect with diverse multitudes of people from all walks of life. Whether she is bringing music and impassioned stories to life on the stage, drafting a book that allows the reader to escape the humdrum for a time, or delineating a spirited story through television or film, her attention to excellence and her willingness to be sincere are both commendable and refreshing. While I have only seen her works in passing and have not picked up one of her books yet (yes, that book question WAS a personal question that I plan to act upon), her pragmatism and creativity speak to me even in her clever and ingenious responses to this interview. Furthermore, we strong, successful women need to stick together and support each other, especially in a society that sometimes proposes just the opposite–which is why it is such an honor to feature her. Be sure that you check out all the links below to find out and discover for yourself this phenomenal woman who is impacting this world in her own way through the arts. 






About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher


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