A Conversation With: Tovah Feldshuh
By Lindsay Andarakis
Tovah Feldshuh, recently known as the courageous and no-nonsense mayor of Alexandria in AMC’s hit show, “The Walking Dead,” has a long history on Broadway, and television experience under her belt. In fact, the beloved role of Deanna Monroe on “The Walking Dead” was originally the male part of Douglas Monroe in the comic book series, but nevertheless, a gender swap she took over with grace and dexterity on a show she had never watched before reading for the part. Feldshuh fills audiences with empathy, as fans find themselves getting attached to the roles she plays. She discusses advice for aspiring actors, her positive outlook on life and her upcoming show at Bay Street Theater, “Aging is Optional,” which combines comedy and cabaret.
After playing so many interesting roles in your career, from an attorney on “Law & Order,” to a Czech freedom fighter in “Holocaust,” and of course, Deanna Monroe in “The Walking Dead,” which did you find most challenging, and enjoyable?
Each role is like a different child. You love them all, they are all distinct in character and in the way they affect your life.
I read that you called “‘Aging is Optional’ a booster for the soul and a probiotic for the heart.” How did you manage to make a show that gives that feel to the audience?
I employ the following maxims:
- Happiness is a choice
- Gratitude is the path to happiness
- Watch me do over ten thousand steps with a Fitbit on during the show. If I can do it, so can you.
What is one of your favorite memories from the set of The Walking Dead?
I have two favorite memories. The first was getting the job and being flown in from Cartagena, Columbia to do it. I arrived in Atlanta to commence filming with a nine-page scene opposite Andrew Lincoln.
Another, is everyone, the entire cast, coming to the set for the death of Deanna to lend their support for the body of work I was able to contribute to ‘The Walking Dead.’ Coming to the set to honor an exiting character/actor in the ‘The Walking Dead’ family is a tradition on that series. I have rarely been part of a kinder, more generous artistic community.
With experience in both television and live theater, do you have a preference? Or are they both so totally different, that it’s hard to say?
Exactly. I do not have a preference. Just give me a great part in a great piece and I couldn’t be happier.
What advice would you give to young people aspiring to have a career in acting, despite discouragement?
The first thing to understand is that the ‘no’ is part of our business. If you’re batting one job in ten, you’re doing great. Secondly, never give up. Look for the sunshine and keep going. Happiness is a choice and you are working a profession you love. Pursue it, full tilt. Every day is a new day, and every audition can be a turning point in your career.
Tovah Feldshuh will perform her cabaret and comedy show, “Aging is Optional,” at Bay Street Theater on August 5 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $55 to $75 and can be purchased online at baystreet.org or by calling the box office at (631) 725-9500 from 11 a.m. to show time seven days a week. Bay Street Theater is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor.