Ask Alexandra – January 2006
I am a huge fan of yours. My questions is this. What is your favorite media: TV, film or theater, and why?
To get my news, I think a good newspaper and articles on the internet (from international papers and independent journalists) are the way to go. I listen to the radio too, but the print media is more in-depth. I do think that American journalists and news organizations have gotten lazy in the past 5 years, however. Maybe it is because of the rush to get a story out ahead of the competition, but I suspect it was, after 9/11, a fear of seeming “unpatriotic” that no one questioned our administration enough and printed stories that parroted the government line.
I do not, and never have, watched television news. I find it sensationalizes topics (generally stuff meant to scare us, like, “what could be in your food that you don’t know about” or “the biggest killer of children could be in your own home”) to get ratings, and trivializes important issues into 20 second sound bites. It focuses on fires and car chases over what new legislation was passed. However, as an actress, I really enjoy working in television. I love the pace and I love that there are more good roles for women in television than in film. If you notice, generally there is only one lead role for a woman in a feature film, with maybe a couple female roles that have 3 scenes or so, and the rest of the cast is male! Also, on a tv series, I enjoy getting the chance to develop a character over time, and really get to know her.
I like film also. It can take much longer to shoot a scene in film, especially if the budget is high. That is good, because it means more takes for an actor, and maybe even rehearsal time, but waiting around for the intricate lighting and doing so many shots in each scene can be exhausting. On a typical cable movie, a day’s work means 8 pages shot. In a Mel Gibson movie, a day’s work might mean only 2 pages shot! On one project I did, we shot 22 pages a day (the movie was In Between and the budget was loooooow, but it was a ton of fun because it was so challenging). Film has more cachet, but television often has a larger audience.
For my own entertainment, I prefer film to television or theatre. I didn’t get television in my house until I was 37 years old,and I still believe my life would be richer if Ian and I did no tv watching. Not so much because of content, but because of how easy it is to turn on the television and while away the hours, instead of having meaningful interactions with people or doing enriching activities. I do have shows I like, for sure, (Nip/Tuck, Sex and the City, Prison Break) but a good books trumps a tv show any day, and I sometimes find myself watching things that I don’t even like!
Good theatre is great, but when it is bad, it is unbearable to me. My favorite genre is the one-person show, and I have been fortunate enough to see many good ones. I like musicals too (Miss Saigon, Hairspray, Phantom of the Opera, among others).
I just heard on my favorite radio show, This American Life (www.thislife.org), that of all the after-school programs, studies show that programs in the arts for young people are the most successful in getting kids to stay in school, get better grades, interact better with others, be successful in life etc. I believe it. All art is enriching in some way to someone, and I feel honored to be able to be creative in my job as an actress.
Thank you for your question. Best wishes to you for a wonderful 2006.
Do you have any new year’s resolutions for 2006? Wishing you and your family a healthy and safe new year!
Ian and I always sit down and discuss what our goals are for the upcoming year, in the categories of: Health, Sports, Love, Family, Friends, Work, Money. For some of my 2006 goals , I am aiming to have a stronger immune system (which means continued homeopathy and eating well. No sweets); to do a 9.5 mile ocean swim from one Hawaiian Island to another; to listen more and to be more judicious in speaking my opinion (I tend to want to put my 2 cents in!); to continue to work as an actress – I very much want to do a television series, so that is always high on my list!
I hope that 2006 brings you the fulfillment of your resolutions also.
I am a twin just wondering about another twin. I have an identical twin sister named Stacey. She was big into theatre when we were in high school and she is currently an EMT. I am just curious to know what your twins personality is like. I am a social worker and love to play sports.
Caroline is a writer, whose second book, titled East Wind, Rain, will be published in April. She went to Georgetown and Stanford Universities. She is very smart and she beats me at Scrabble every time. She was one of the first woman in the San Francisco fire department, and the first ever to be on the Rescue Squad there (the squad rescues people in all situations, not just from fires. She would be called to the site of an earthquake to search for victims and she would get a jumper off the Golden Gate Bridge, among other things). She wrote about her life as a firefighter in her first book, Fighting Fire. She is very adventurous: she got her pilot’s license at 16 years old; she hang-glided for years, but now she owns an ultralight that she flies often; she has biked across Bolivia and Vietnam; traveled around Europe by herself; rafted with the world’s best female river rafting team (ALL-WET) in China and Russia; surfed Hawaii and kayaked Mexico. She reads a lot too, and often recommends books for me. She is also very generous: she mentors a teenage girl and she gave half the proceeds from her first book to charity. Caroline is more social than I am – she has a lot of friends and she hangs with them often, but she is like me in that most of our friends are ones we have had for years and years. Caroline is gay and was in an 11 year relationship with a fantastic woman, Trish, who we still feel is part of the Paul family even though they are no longer together. Caroline has been dating Mindy for over a year now, and I like Mindy a lot. Actually, I have always liked Caroline’s girlfriends (and her boyfriends too, since she dated men also all through college and beyond). Both Trish and Mindy are in the Family & Friends photo section of this site.
I believe that being a twin was the most important factor in who I am as a human being. In fact, I feel I am twice the person I would have been if I had been a singleton. Because Caroline, my identical twin sister, was athletic, I became involved in sports. Without her inspiration, I might be a couch potato today! And she claims that because I was good in school, she pushed herself to do well also. She is daring physically, which inspired me to get my skydiving certificate (8 solo dives), and I am more daring emotionally. It is because of her prodding that I am an EMT. She helped me with my Baywatch character, Stephanie, (although she didn’t know it at the time), because Stephanie was more empowered and confident as a woman than I was when I was cast, so I used Caroline as my inspiration to play a woman who was a lieutenant lifeguard in a man’s world (Caroline was a firefighter at the time). Caroline is much funnier than I – I tend to be more earnest; you can see a bit of her sense of humor on her website, www.carolinepaul.com – by reading the captions on her photos.
I speak to Caroline every day. I feel blessed to be a twin. I hope you do, also.