Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest today, actress and author Cindy Williams who is best known for starring as Shirley Feeney in the television situation-comedy series Laverne & Shirley and for her role as Laurie Henderson in the classic film American Graffiti and in The Conversation. Her autobiography Shirley, I Jest will shortly be released.
Norm: Good day Cindy and thanks for participating in our interview.
What was your training as an actress and when did you know you wanted to become an actress?
Cindy: My earliest training was the backyard shows my sister and I put on as children. We sold them out! My professional training as an actress came about from the rigorous and disciplined theater arts program at Los Angeles City College.
Norm: Are you aware of any particular influences on your acting?
Cindy: Watching all the marvelous actors in old movies on television as a child.
Norm: How much research do you undertake for a role?
Cindy: Mostly I rely on my experiences and instincts. And if the writing is good, everything I need is there on the page. However, if I were asked to play a brain surgeon, I would certainly have to do my research!
Norm: What are the qualities in actors you most admire?
Cindy: Empathy, confidence and self-humor.
Norm: Have you turned down any roles and of so, why?
Cindy: There are a few that I try not to think about but the major one was Home Alone. For some reason I couldn’t relate to the part of a mother who forgets her child. Now I try to forget that I turned that part down!
Norm: What do you want to achieve with your performances as an actress?
Cindy: I first try to be true to the character. I anchor the character I’m playing in honesty, whether it’s drama or comedy, because the audience can feel it.
Norm: What would you like to say to actors and actresses who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep acting, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?
Cindy: Acting is like anything else in your life you might aspire to. You know in your heart what you are truly capable of and you should always listen to your heart.
Norm: What motivated you to write Shirley, I Jest and where did the title come from?
I hadn’t really thought about writing a book until I was asked to
do it. I’ve written for TV and movies, but books are a totally
different animal. I wasn’t interested in writing a tell-all. I
wanted to write something upbeat and fun. In fact the first title I
thought about was “If you can’t say something nice…”
Shirley, I Jest is a play on the expression “surely, you jest” and my character, Shirley Feeney, in “Laverne & Shirley.”
Norm: Could you tell our readers a little about the book and what are you hopes for the book?
Cindy: The more I worked on it, the more the book took shape. It covers my childhood, getting my start in acting, and working with some amazing entertainers. I want to take readers with me on all of the interesting adventures I’ve had. From starting out as a child in Irving, Texas to being punked by Jim Morrison at the Whisky a Go Go and the fun of being on a hit TV series and all that brings with it.
Norm: What was the most difficult part of writing your book? Did you learn anything from writing your book, if so, what was it?
Cindy: Writing this book was very challenging for me. The experience of looking back on my life and putting things in order, making sense of them, and saying this is me—the happiness and the sorrow. It was daunting, but now looking back, I loved every minute of it.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and Shirley, I Jest.
Cindy: I’d invite you to my house for dinner and tell you all about it except for the fact that I’m a lousy cook. So I suppose it would be best if people went to My Website. You can also find me lurking about on Facebook and Twitter.
Norm: What is next for Cindy Williams?
Cindy: Right now I’m in rehearsals with Eddie Mekka, my dear friend and costar from Laverne & Shirley, for the wonderful musical Meshuggah-Nuns at the Meadow Brook Theater in Michigan. After that I have a book tour so I’ll be a busy bee.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Cindy: Would you change anything about your life? My knee-jerk reaction would be to answer yes, but giving real thought to it, the answer would have to be absolutely not. If I hadn’t had the life I had, I may have never ended up with Penny Marshall on Laverne & Shirley and having the great pleasure and privilege of making people laugh.
Norm: Thanks and good luck with all of your future endeavors