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IML: You act, you sing, and you dance!Tell us a little bit about how you started performing. Kathy: Even though it takes place in the 1960’s, young people today are still living through the same issues that are part of the story. IML: How is Tracy Turnblad similar to Marcie Walsh, the character you play on One Life To Live? Kathy: When I first started doing Hairspray and One Life To Live, they were very similar characters.
Kathy: The best thing about my job at One Life To Live is that I get letters on a daily basis from young women and men about how I’ve affected their lives, and how they look up to me as a role model.
IML: Was there a teacher or adult who really inspired you and kept you focused on your dreams?
Kathy: As an actress, you learn to live day by day, so you don’t usually think that far in advance! But as Marcie Walsh on TV's One Life To Live, plus her recent run as Tracy Turnblad in Broadway’s Hairspray, she’s showed fans the amazing things that can happen when you believe in yourself. It was what I expected in the sense that I got to go out there every single night and have 1400 people applaud and have a great time and laugh. Especially when it comes to feeling insecure about what you look like, and friendships, and racism. I had confidence, but there were also moments when I would feel deeply hurt about my weight issues and my self-esteem. They really reacted to a storyline where Marcie wasn’t ready to get physical with her boyfriend.


What I did was focus on what was special about me, and that was the fact that I could sing and dance, and I cherished that.
This other girl started banging on the window where I was sitting, and started screaming, “I’m gonna get you, I’m gonna get you!” The next day, she was trying to keep me from getting on the bus.
She spoke to IML about smashing stereotypes and how young people can resist media pressure to look a certain way. I learned so much working there, because I did everything from cleaning the toilets to building the sets to running the lighting board during shows to performing onstage.
If you’re going to be an actor or a dancer, you really need to know all of the other elements of what you’re doing. Unfortunately, we still have racism in the 21st century -- it’s not something that’s gone away -- so people related to that part, too.
So I tried to put my own experience into my interpretation of both characters…especially Tracy Turnblad. With me as a person, they react to how confident I am, because in the entertainment business, I’m considered overweight.
Instead of focusing on what other people thought of as the “negative” part of me, I turned it around and focused on something that made me feel good and made me feel positive. What I did was ask my best friend Joshua to help me as a personal assistant, but kids can ask their parents. She was an army nurse in World War II, which was ahead of her time (she actually had to lie and say she was old enough to be in the army).
It teaches you so much about how it all works together, and that it’s not just about the actors onstage.


Most of the time, people will try to bring you down and try to tell you that you can’t do stuff. But a theatre piece is set in a certain time frame that repeats every single day, and the character grows within that time frame.
It was a big step for me because I’m really independent and don’t usually let anyone help me. To me, people telling me that I needed to lose weight or making fun of me for my size, made me feel negative, so I refused to focus on that. I think that’s a great message because you can apply to that so many different things in your life. I got a letter from a girl a few weeks ago who said she wants to be an actress, but her mother tells her all the time that she’s “too fat” to be one and has to lose weight. If I look at the things that came my way in the last three years, I didn’t expect any of them. Marcie has been picked on about her insecurity and her weight issues, too, and she’s still learning to stand up for herself. Even when I’m having trouble with scenes now, I’ll call one of them up and ask them, “How do I focus on this?” They really gave me a discipline to always believe in myself, and to remember that my abilities are a gift that I shouldn’t waste. I try to be as open as possible to all the positive stuff that comes my way, and I deal with the negative as I can.



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