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Barrier Breaker

Do you like guessing games?  Frankly, I don’t but here are a few hints for those of you who are interested.  She’s a Canadian actor known by many for her role in the ABC medical drama series Gray’s Anatomy. For that work she earned a Golden Globe award.  Another hint – where did this gal come from?  Sandra Oh was born on July 20, 1971 in the Ottawa suburb of Nepean.  At the early age of four she began acting and dancing.  She also played the flute and focused on drama classes and acting.  Oh told her parents that she would try acting for a few years and if that failed, she would return to Carleton University.  Reflecting on foregoing university, Oh said, “I’m the only person in my family who doesn’t have a Master’s in something.”  Oh was born to middle class Korean immigrant parents who had moved to Canada in the early 1960’s. Her father is a businessman and her mother a bio-chemist.  Growing up, only one of four youths of Asian ancestry in Nepean, Oh came to prominence for her lead performance in the Canadian film Double Happiness (1994).  She won an award for best actress.  In addition to her work on Gray’s Anatomy, Oh continued to appear in films and continued to win awards.  At the Golden Globes, Oh hit a surprisingly emotional note about representation in the film and television industry. This season on the night of the Golden Globe awards ceremony, it featured people of color and her job for the night itself was a barrier breaker.  Oh was the first woman of Asian descent to host a major American awards show.  She was also the first woman of Asian descent to win two Golden Globe awards. Many projects are ahead for this gal. It’s easy to see that we will continue to enjoy the work of Sandra Oh in the near future.  I’ll drink to that – a Pinot Noir, please!

Library Lion

Ethan Greene Hawke – now that’s a really unusual moniker – fine for an unusual man.  He was born in Austin, Texas.  I became aware of his talent as an actor as I watched him in several films, especially the 1989 drama Dead Poet’s Society.  Then, later on, I was treated to his work in the romantic drama film, Before Sunrise and later, the sequels Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2013).  They received critical acclaim; very well deserved I might add. Hawke has appeared in many theater productions.  His parents were high school students at the time of his birth. After they divorced, his mother re-married and they moved to New Jersey where, in high school, he developed an interest in acting. Hawke made his stage debut at age 13 and even at that age, critics found his performances subtle and strong.  From 2013 to the present he received many awards including Golden Globes and Academy Awards.  As for me, I really enjoyed his role as jazz musician Chet Baker.  That film is set in the late 1960’s and focuses on Baker’s turbulent career comeback plagued by heroin addiction.  Many films followed although Hawke has described theater as his “first love, a place where he is free to be more creative.”  In 2010 Hawke directed a play by Sam Shepherd.  One critic found the production “scary.” Hawke was praised for eliciting a performance that “connoisseurs of precision acting we’ll be savoring for years to come.”  The multi-talented man returned to Broadway for a revival of True West.  Currently, he lives in Brooklyn (I grew up there but I don’t have any of those talents).  He was married to two women – not at the same time – and has four children.  There’s even more to be admired in Ethan Hawke.  He is an activist of gay rights and supports same-sex marriages.  Last November, he was honored as a Library Lion by the New York Public Library and later joined the Library’s Board of Trustees.  A multi-talented actor, director, screenwriter and novelist continues to add more to his achievements.  I hope he keeps taking multi-vitamins. Ha!

Much to be admired

When I found information about this lady it left me breathless.  In her 72 years she’s been there, done that! I’m referring to actress, producer Glenn Close.  As of this year, the sixth time Academy Award nominee tied the record for being the actress with the most nominations without a win, more than any other living actor.  But don’t feel sorry for her.  She can handle anything.  She has been nominated for four Tony awards, fourteen Emmy awards, thirteen Golden Globe awards and even more, but I don’t have space for it.  I do have the space to tell you about her early life and family which is an interesting saga by itself. She was born in Greenwich, CT. Her father was a doctor who operated a clinic in the Belgian Congo.  Her mother was the socialite, Bettina Moore Close.  Glenn Close has two sisters and two brothers plus an adopted sister. Her parents adopted her while living in Africa.  During her childhood Glenn Close lived with her parents on her maternal grandfather’s estate in Greenwich, CT.  She has credited her acting ability to her early years.  “I have no doubt that the days I spent running free in the Connecticut countryside with an unfettered imagination simply playing character games always seemed natural to me.” Although Glenn Close has an affluent background, she has stated that her family chose not to participate whenever asked because she did not want people to think she was a “dilettante who didn’t have to work.”  When she was 22 and attending the College of William and Mary she began to train as a serious actor. There’s no question about the fact that she did well.  She was elected to membership in the Honor Society of Phi Beta Kappa.  Throughout the years this lady continues to do much to be admired.  She returns to William and Mary to lecture and also visits the theater department.  There’s much more to tell you about Glenn Close but I’m running out of space.  If you want to see Glenn Close in action, try to get a rerun of Fatal Attraction. That will help you to understand why that role propelled her to stardom.  She continues to receive a plethora of award nominations.  She is regarded as an extraordinary, versatile actress with an immersive acting style.  Close does extensive research and preparation for each of her roles. One film historian has stated, “When you look at the top ten actresses of the past eighty years, Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn and Meryl Streep, Glenn Close is definitely on that list.”  I think it would be understandable to learn that her daughter is an actress.  Oh, if you’re interested, Close is a New York Mets fan and has sung the national anthem numerous times.  She campaigned for many issues like gay marriage, women’s rights and mental health.  She frequently promotes her charitable causes through her Twitter account.  Enough said.  Glenn Close is a lady much to be admired.

You can e-mail June Sturz at intunejune@optonline.net.

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