The breast cancer campaign for a cure receives a cinematic jolt in the form of an emotional film from Hallmark, Living Out Loud. Television veteran Gail O’Grady stars as a high school choir teacher who discovers she has breast cancer. Her ensuing fight inspires a community.
O’Grady is a three-time Emmy nominee. Whether it is O’Grady’s years on NYPD Blue, American Dreams, to the actresses’ memorable guest starring spots on CSI, The Mentalist, CSI: Miami, Ghost Whisperer and or course her riveting four-episode run on Desperate Housewives in 2008 — she disappears into her roles.
O’Grady’s tenure on television now has a personally emotional credit for the deeply talented actress. In Living Out Loud, O’Grady taps into a realm where actresses tend to reap awards.
Living Loud lands legendary lead
The star has her personal reasons for taking the part and none of them include accolades. O’Grady has close friends afflicted by the disease. If one viewer is struck by the power of Hallmark’s latest original film, O’Grady will consider the entire project worth the emotional roller-coaster that is Living Out Loud.
SheKnows: After seeing the movie, I could not think of a better title.
Gail O’Grady: No, I can’t (laughs).
SheKnows: Did it come to you in the script form with that title?
Gail O’Grady: No. In fact, the cast and the crew – sometimes the producer will say come up with a great title that would fit.
SheKnows: That’s even better. You came up with that so organically.
Gail O’Grady: I don’t know who did. It wasn’t me (laughs).
SheKnows: Now, you are also no stranger to tackling difficult subject matters on television, what was it about this particular story in Living Out Loud that you needed to be a part of it?
Gail O’Grady: First of all, I love working for Hallmark. When the script comes I know it’s going to be something that has quality and that I’m interested in doing. I’m always, as an actor, looking for different types of roles – not necessarily a message role because I never know what the message an individual pulls from something. But, I liked the theme, which for me was about living your life and living without regrets, and second chances and how you would live if you could start your life over today – what choices would you make?
SheKnows: In a lot of ways it’s very timely. With America experiencing the difficult times we are, a lot of people going through some reflection.
Gail O’Grady: I think so. I think it’s an introspective time. I also think that it is a pull together time for families. I think it is timely.
SheKnows: Speaking of pulling together, it is really a movement in the search for a cure for breast cancer. What does it mean to you as an actress to be able to contribute through this film to that building movement?
Gail O’Grady: It means a lot to me as a woman that has had friends that have gone through this and if it connects anybody that makes them move aware of the illness or what it can do to a family, then that it’s important to me.
SheKnows: Did you have to any kind of research beyond your own personal experience with friends and family with breast cancer?
Gail O’Grady: No, I have had some girlfriends that have gone through this, and was aware of the impact that it has on the individual and the family.
SheKnows: An integral part of this film is the work of Michael. I wanted to ask you what it was like to work with him.
Gail O’Grady: He’s wonderful (laughs). He is a funny guy. He has my kind of sense of humor. Sometimes when you’re working on a set and you’re dealing with subject matters that are not (sighs) always the most uplifting, you need to have a sense of humor. I don’t mean to make light of that, but because the subject was so heavy, it was so great to have somebody like Michael around because when he had moments where we were off – it was good to laugh.
SheKnows: Tell me about your various experiences on television. You have had such a varied career. Is there a different effort for you going to being a regular series member versus the guest star or the television movie?
Gail O’Grady: They are, and that’s what keeps it alive for me and keeps me interested. Every set you walk on is different. I’ve never cared about the medium of the art whether it be television or film. I love doing TV because I love the routine of it. I love doing series television because I like going home at the end of the day. I have a son. I don’t have a gypsy mentality to go off to Morocco for three months and then somewhere else. It’s nice to have a family on a set and then go home to your family.
SheKnows: Of the dozens of shows that you’ve appeared on, are there one or two professional experiences that stand out for you?
Gail O’Grady: Definitely American Dreams. The writing was so fine on that show. We had such a great time. And of course NYPD Blue – I can’t complain about any of the jobs that I’ve had. My bumper sticker is the worst gig in our business is still the best job around.
SheKnows: I saw you worked with Carl Reiner, he is such a treasure.
Gail O’Grady: Oh, lovely!
SheKnows: What was it like to share time with him?
Gail O’Grady: He is like a beam of light. He has more energy than anybody. He is a kind person. He is a funny person. He is uplifting and positive. I treasure every moment I got to be around him. He’s an interesting storyteller and he has a lot of them (laughs).
SheKnows: The other one that stands out for me personally is John Landis.
Gail O’Grady: He gave me my first job out here. He hired on the spot. That was one of the most exciting moments I’ve had in my career. I was in the room and he literally said, ‘OK, let’s do this.’ He’s, again, he’s another person who’s fun to be around and enthusiastic. He has a love for the craft. American Werewolf in London, Blues Brothers, I was watching those before I moved out here. To actually get to work with him was so exciting.