Sunday, April 22, 2018

Wondercon - Star Trek: Discovery - Mary Chieffo Interview

Photo Credit: James Vallesteros

The statuesque 6 foot tall daughter of successful character actors Beth Grant and Michael Chieffo, Mary Chieffo has possessed an innate desire to perform ever since she can remember. Grant loves to tell the story of her daughter's "acting debut" at age three when she played a "sleeping girl" in Making Sandwiches (1998), a short film directed by Sandra Bullock, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

A 2015 BFA graduate in Group 44 of The Juilliard School's Drama Division, Chieffo is the first legacy in the Division's nearly 50 year history. Her father was in Group 6.

A four year merit-scholar and recipient of the SAG Foundation John L. Dales Scholarship during her time at Juilliard, Chieffo also received the Elizabeth Smith Voice and Speech Prize and the Saint-Denis Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Drama.

A self-proclaimed and unabashed Feminist, Chieffo has taken on many strong female and male roles in the Shakespeare canon. Having played Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra, Queen Dionyza in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, Doll Tearsheet in Henry IV, Part 2, Lear in King Lear, and Queen Elizabeth in Richard III, she culminated her Shakespearean achievements at school as the title character in award-winning Erica Schmidt's all-female Macbeth. In June 2016, Chieffo reprised the role with Schmidt for Seattle Rep's The Other Season.

After portraying Iago in October 2015 for Harlem Shakespeare Festival's all-female Othello, Chieffo is developing a Virtual Reality miniseries Operation Othello - set in the modern world of US Navy SEALs - with Viola Davis and Julius Tennon's JuVee Productions. Eugene O'Neill Directing Fellow Jeff Liu (Yellow Face) will direct Chieffo's female Ensign Iago to Tennon's Captain Othello.

Since the fall of 2015, Chieffo has been developing the role of Southern Gothic novelist Carson McCullers (The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, The Member of the Wedding) in workshops of Lover, Beloved: An Evening With Carson McCullers, a one-woman show written by Grammy Award-winning Suzanne Vega (Tom's Diner, Luka) and Tony and Grammy Award-winning Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening), directed by Jackson Gay (MFA Directing, Yale School of Drama). She portrayed Carson at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas in August 2016 and hopes to eventually share the role with her mother (as younger and older Carson) as part of James Franco, Scott Haze, and David Van Asselt's Rattlestick West in Los Angeles.

In 2012, Chieffo appeared opposite Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, Lauren Miller Rogen, Frances Fisher, Ahna O'Reilly, and Jen Zaboroski in The Perfect Fit, directed by Beth Grant and winner of the Audience Award at the SoHo International Film Festival and Best Ensemble Award at Women's Independent Film Festival. Chieffo can also be seen in the independent films Natural Disasters (2008), Herpes Boy (2009), Miss Dial (2011), Odyssea (2013), and Shelby's Vacation (2017), as well as the Disney Channel pilot Jack and Janet Save the Planet.

Despite being chased around the playground in kindergarten for "singing too much", Chieffo has developed a Legit singing voice under the guidance of Deborah Lapidus that lends itself to tunes such as "Surabaya Johnny" (Happy End) and "Will He Like Me?" (She Loves Me). While many Musical Theatre roles inspire her to continue to hone and exercise her 5-Octave range, Chieffo has always dreamed of doing a female interpretation of Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar.

Favorite stage roles include Kris in a workshop of Juilliard playwright Max Posner's Judy, Nat in Rabbit Hole, The Singer in Caucasian Chalk Circle, Mrs. Webb in Our Town, Jessica in This Is Our Youth, Chris in Dancing at Lughnasa, Grace in Bus Stop, Madame Dubonnet in The Boy Friend, The Baroness in The Sound of Music, Star-to-Be in Annie and, in her first gender-bending role, Moses in her Waldorf School's third grade production of The Child of the Nile.

An All-Star Soccer Goalie for ten years, Chieffo is a trained modern dancer, studying Martha Graham technique since the age of three. In 2012, Chieffo discovered a deep love and passion for Vinyasa Flow Yoga and now has a daily practice that she joyfully infuses into her acting technique and life.

Chieffo spoke at Disney Hall in Los Angeles as Valedictorian of Campbell Hall School's graduating class of 2011 with a cumulative 4.401 GPA. In her junior year, she was inducted into the Cum Laude Society and presented with the Princeton Book Award. As a senior, Chieffo received the Performing Arts Dance Award and the Headmaster's Award - an award given to a senior whose loyalty, spirit, and vitality have added to and will continue to benefit the school in years to come.
Content from IMDB.

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY follows the voyages of Starfleet on their missions to discover new worlds and new life forms, and one Starfleet officer who must learn that to truly understand all things alien, you must first understand yourself.

All episodes of season one are now available to watch on CBS All Access, CBS Network’s digital subscription video on demand and live streaming service, and is distributed concurrently by CBS Studios International on Netflix in 188 countries and in Canada on Bell Media’s Space channel and OTT service CraveTV. STAR TREK: DISCOVERY is produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Alex Kurtzman’s Secret Hideout, Bryan Fuller’s Living Dead Guy Productions and Roddenberry Entertainment. Alex Kurtzman, Bryan Fuller, Heather Kadin, Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts, Akiva Goldsman, Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth serve as executive producers.

Creators: Bryan Fuller, Alex Kurtzman
Stars: Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, 
Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman and More.

Photo Credit: James Vallesteros

Videographer: ERIK WERLIN

Video: Erik Werlin. Audio/Edit: James Vallesteros (@jamesvallesteros)
  • Daughter of Beth Grant and Michael Chieffo.
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