Molly grew up on a little farm just north of NYC with 4 destructive and hyperactive older brothers, a dad who mastered every profession and creative outlet he felt like, and a mom who broke new ground on Madsion Avenue at a time when women weren’t even allowed to step foot there. Molly’s family was WAY funnier and cooler than her but she held her own till she went off to Cornell…to study…Geology…and then Psychology. It’s true. She loves rocks and brains. Never mind that her childhood dream was to be a singing painting doctor and that she’d been in every school play and musical since she was 5. She had more important things to do. So after she graduated she moved to Alaska and became a commercial salmon fisherman.
What? Why would she do that? She wanted to be an actor! Well, you’re right, she was a little lost, I’ll admit, but at least she did some cool shit.
Eventually she made it to NYC and studied her acting ass off. She interned at the Actors Studio and took classes everywhere. She performed far off Broadway and went to plenty of open calls for things she was very very wrong for. It was during a summer acting conservatory at the Actors Center, doing a scene from Angels in America wearing a Balinese mask with special powers, that she decided it was time. She was ready. To move. To LA. So. She. Did.
7 years later she’s still workin her butt off trying to get her interests in order. Acting is still #1 but she spends a lot of time working on her headshot photography business and romanticizing about being a banjo pluckin’ folk singer and environmental activist. Thank goodness there’s improv. Whether she wants to be a singing painting doctor, a geologist, psychologist or an Appalachian mountain woman, she can always be anything she wants on the stage at iO!
(CO) Brick Entertainment, Kenneth Suarez -818-784-2000
1. Where are you originally from and what was the improv scene like there?
I’m from Ossining, NY, home of the famous Sing Sing Prison. I don’t think improv has made it to Ossining yet. Maybe iO should do a US Prison tour!
2. What made you want to start doing improv?
I met Woody Drennan on a film project 7 years ago. I started watching his shows at iO and wishing that I could be up there performing too. He kept telling me I should play with him. And I was like, “What? Are you out of your mind? I have no idea what the f*&^ you guys are doing up there. That Harold thing is weird and complicated. I’d be lost.” I think it took me about a year to actually come to my senses and start taking classes.
3. What stumbling blocks did you have to overcome when you first started studying improv?
My stumbling block, past and present, is my brain.
I used to be deathly afraid that everyone would find out how stupid I was. Little did I know, you all knew that already and didn’t care! If Dr. Spock was mentioned in a show I would panic. If my scene partner brought up the stock market or wanted to compare religious sects I would shut down. If a president, a war, or some sort of historical document was mentioned, forget it. I would retreat into my head and hide there for the rest of the scene or show. How selfish of me! These days I just try to let it go. I mean, God knows I ain’t gettin’ any smarter no matter how hard I try. If I don’t know what people are talking about I have a few options: 1) I call it out 2) I embrace the opportunity to make up my own reality and even go so far to teach the audience something even they don’t know about said reference or 3) I latch onto the relationship I have with my scene partner and try to make the scene about the two of us…rather than about that president who did all those awesome things for all those important reasons in that very specific year. You feel me?
4. How long have you been doing improv?
8 years, if you count the level 1 class I took at UCBNY in which I was completely lost and the Groundlings class I took in ’03, in which I was shitting myself the whole time. I really started having fun with improv when I got to iO…that was around the fall of ’04 – I think. So, 6 years and a few months?
5. What’s your favorite part about improvising?
The hippie artsy stuff. Those inexplicable moments that come out of group work – and when those moments explode with such clarity that they can carry the whole team away to something completely unexpected and then magically resolve themselves into something that makes complete sense…as if it had all been written. How does that happen? It’s so great and crazy. Teams are awesome. Teams. THEY are my favorite part about improvising.
6. What is one of your best memories on stage at iOWest?
Max Braz and I used to do a two person show called Loose Tea. In one show we started a scene on our knees, huddled near each other. We figured out that we were under an office desk and there had been a catastrophic earthquake. When we decided that it was safe to come out from under the desk we began to crawl…and crawl…and crawl…and crawl. We must have crawled for at least 30 seconds or a minute around the whole stage. When we finally stood up and brushed ourselves off Max said, “Thank God we bought that desk.” Alright…listen, maybe you had to be there, but I will never forget the laughter and the feeling of being on the EXACT same page as my scene partner. Come back to LA Max!
7. What’s some advice you would give to someone that’s starting out?
So many things! OK. OK. Oh God. Trust blindly! Improv is an art form. Respect it. Read what Tilt Tyree wrote below…he’s right! Be creative. Be dorky about watching shows. Immerse yourself in improv. Audition for Harold teams and keep trying if you don’t get on the 1st or 2nd or 3rd time. Take workshops when you’re done with the classes. Tell your scene partner how you feel about him or her! It will save you when you have nothing to talk about. Get on stage. Everybody at this theatre is super geeky about improv. Jump on the train.
8. Who is someone you really look up to in the improv world and why?
I go through phases, but right now:
Dave Hill taught my level 2 and level 6 and he’s been coaching my super amazing Harold team DHT for over 5 years, but I never really realized what an amazing improviser he was until I started playing with him on iO Rep. He just blows me away in every single show. He’s got unique characters, perspectives, and ideas that will push a show into the next level. He’s always at the ready with his quick wit, he’s never afraid to say something a little heavy handed if it grounds the scene or moves the show forward, and he’s always there to support you. I feel so lucky that I get to play with him.
9. Other than your own, what is your favorite show at iOWest?
I’m a big time Dasariski fan. The three of them are already so wonderful, individually, but when you combine their patience, moment-to-moment presence, wit, charm, and intelligence they’re just the greatest.
And I know you said not to toot my own horn, but iO Rep is pretty awesome, with or without me.
Although the team doesn’t really talk about it, I think that there is an understanding that this show’s goal is not exactly to be funny, but to be moving and to create art. And I think the show succeeds. That makes me happy.
10. How do you use improv in your professional life?
Well, first and foremost, I’m an actor…so on the rare occasion that I do get to audition for something improv definitely helps me to be a human being and not an actor reading a script.
I’m also a headshot photographer, so improv helps me interact with my clients. I am open and present and I find that being that way forces my clients to be themselves. I’m also pretty good at making them laugh and smile without forcing it for the camera!
11. If you could sum up iO in one sentence, what would that be?
Enter here to be and find a friend (OK, that was inscribed on one of the doorways at my highschool, but I think it works!)