Martina Deignan : «I was happy to be a part of Santa Barbara.»

 By Maarten, exclusively for Capridge, February 2012

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On February 21 2012, Martina Deignan, the interpreter of Jackie Parks, answered the questions of the site Capridge, now disappeared. Its author, Maarten, proposed that this interview would be hosted on Santa Barbara : le site Francais.

Can you tell us a bit about your early life ? Where were you born and raised ? School life ?

I was born in Newark, New Jersey and raised in East Orange, New Jersey. I went to the Lacordaire School in Upper Montclair where I fell in love with the theatre and was cast in several plays.

How did you begin your journey to acting ?

I went to Loyola University in Los Angeles and became a Theatre Arts major and had the privilege of being tutored by acting teachers at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. After I graduated, I moved back to New York and tried to get acting work while I studied with Uta Hagen. I was cast in a contract role on As the World Turns and during that time I continued to audition for theatre and film.

Did you have a role model ?

I would have to say my role model was Uta Hagen who I admired very much. She taught me everything I know about acting.

You appeared on As the World Turns and Code Red. What were those experiences like ?

On As the World Turns I made many friends and still am in touch with a few of them. It was a terrific experience because you have to work very quickly and memorize scripts in very little time. We were a close knit group and I fondly look back on those three years. Code Red was also a wonderful experience. My only wish is that it could have been extended. I learned a great deal about working in front of a camera and Lorne Greene was a very generous and helpful cast mate.

As an actress, did you prefer to act out dramatic or comedic storylines ?

I love comedy and feel that's what I'm best at but more often than not have been cast in dramatic roles.

How did you become involved with Santa Barbara ?

I simply auditioned and was happy to be a part of it since my friend from As the World Turns, Judith McConnell was also on it.

How would you describe the character of Jackie Parks ?

I think the character was at a crossroads in her life and didn't know which way to turn. I don't think the writers knew how to resolve it, which is why I was written out.

Most of your scenes were with Todd McKee as Ted. Do you have any recollections of him and the other cast members ?

Todd is a very nice and sincere person. I enjoyed working with him very much. I also remember Robin Wright who I also liked very much.

Why did your role as Jackie end ?

As I mentioned above, I think the writers were at a loss as to what to do with my character.

One of your last acting projects was a very well-known movie : Ghost with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. What prompted you to retire from acting ?

I continued to audition but as you probably know it's hard to get cast as you grow older. I would still like to be part of the acting community and now that I'm older I'm in a different age range and perhaps might find some work, but I like writing and may stick with that.

Can you tell us what you've been up to since then ?

I got married in 1993 and my husband and I adopted a little boy from China seven years ago. Xiao, our son, is now 11. I stopped auditioning when Xiao came home because he really needed me full time. I took a job as a writer and editor at a publishing house in New York and was able to work from home much of the time. When that job ended, I continued to do freelance work and I wrote a play.

Can you describe what a typical day in your life at the moment may hold ?

Today I'm still working as a freelance editor and I'm revising a draft for my play. I have a director and hope to have a reading of the play very soon. The goal is to have a full production of it. I spend a lot of time with my son and tomorrow we're looking forward to seeing the musical Anything Goes on Broadway. He's got a week off from school. I've also started another play and once my first one is off the ground I hope to concentrate more on the second one.

Do you have a favorite of your roles ? Do you ever watch Jackie and some of your other characters on YouTube or elsewhere ?

I don't watch myself at all. All of that seems so long ago. I did do a PBS movie with Eric Roberts called Miss Lonelyhearts and I loved working on that.

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be and why ?

I don't think I'd trade places with anyone. I have been a very fortunate person in my personal and professional lives. I've been very lucky to have good friends and a wonderful family. I would have liked to have met Ulysses S. Grant and Mark Twain because I think they were very interesting men. I'd also like to meet President Obama because he, too, is fascinating.

Thank you very much for taking the time to share with your fans. Is there anything you would like to add ?

I'd just like to say I'm flattered that you remembered me and appreciate your wanting to know a little more about me.