I confess: For two years I have had a mistress…Why not? She’s beautiful, sexy, talented, and authentic, which is what makes her perfect for her character April Malloy on the ABC series, “Mistresses.”
Two seasons ago, Rochelle Aytes called me up to ask if I would work with her on the new series, “Mistresses.” We didn’t know each other but she heard about me through the grapevine and wanted to work on creating a life that was deeper and more specific. She wanted to live up to her full potential. Our first meeting came during dinner time at my home. Little did she know that as a nice Jewish mother, I would feed her chicken and vegetables before we started our session.
It didn’t take long to find out we were made for each other—at least as coach and student! Rochelle hadn’t worked with me before, and wasn’t familiar with my philosophy, but she soaked in every morsel of my process,“Stop Acting! Live the Life.” And I couldn’t have been more impressed. Each week, before her table read, Rochelle would come to my house and explore the life of April in a very different way from working on the episode of the week. She embraced the concept that “living the life” is not only what is written on the pages, but more about what is not written. Through imagination, sensory, and imagery work, Rochelle stepped into April’s life with all its complications, joys, and sorrows, experiencing them rather then analyzing them. She had to look at the similarities and the differences between herself and April so that she could bring herself into April’s life, but know that the differences between herself and April had to be owned as well.
We found out in the first season of “Mistresses” that April has a husband who she thought had died, but is alive and was secretly living with his “other” family. For April, the hardest part was protecting her young daughter from the truth. Rochelle doesn’t have a child so this was a big difference between her and April. Though not written in the scripts, nor discussed by the writers or directors, I wanted Rochelle to go back to the beginning of April’s life with Paul (her cheating husband) to fill in those important events through images and imagination: how they met, their first kiss, the joy of their daughter’s birth, cuddling in bed while waking up to a beautiful day…and then the devastating crash when Paul died and her life fell apart. In the first season, I asked Rochelle to get to know the daughter off the set, to sit with her in her dressing room, play games, eat some ice cream together—to not rely solely on the scenes. They had so much fun creating this life!
Now a second season of “Mistresses” has begun. April has changed and the writers have given her more idiosyncrasies, which we gladly embraced. So much is going on and it gets more complicated as the season progresses (I have promised to keep it a secret, but the twists and turns of this year will make you laugh, will make you angry, scared, and full of what one should experience: the life of a true human being with all the flaws and the beauty.) I am grateful to have had the opportunity to help Rochelle grow as an actor and a human being, and look forward to our next season together. Meanwhile, enjoy this one as you sit on the edge of your seat!
Rochelle Aytes on Working with Margie.
“I love working with Margie. Our connection is amazing. I feel that I am able to go deeper into the life of this person. Each time we meet, I feel a better understanding of April. Margie reminds me always to bring humor to her life and explore her life through my imagination. She always finds something specific that I may not have noticed, and like a surgeon, dissects it with precision. I love her philosophy of ‘living a life’ rather than intellectualizing it. Margie has helped me not only grow as an actor, but as a person. I feel more open and available to access the life of a human being. I am grateful to Margie for her knowledge and her commitment to making me the best that I can be. Thanks, Margie. You are the best!”
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