Kathy Patterson is a preacher’s kid who fell in love with acting at a young age. She received a degree in theater and speech from Rogers State University. She’s also studied at The Company of Rogues Actors Studio and Stella Adler Studio of Acting in Manhattan.
Tell us about your first acting role.
If you were to ask my mother, she would say just shortly after I was born! She used to tell me about how when I was about two years old, I would put on my crinoline slip (which I mistook for a tutu) if we had company. I would then demand their attention as I twirled and sang on the coffee table. Apparently this was a regular occurrence. But my first role on an actual stage was not until my Junior year of high school. I performed the role of Old Bessie in “The Twisted Loaf”. My Drama teacher wrote in the “notes” section on my report card: “Has a gift for acting”. It was a “lightbulb moment” for me; that I could possibly be good at something. I was always considered the Class Clown, so having a teacher point that out was a turning point. I still thank him, to this day, for being the one who not only directed me on stage, but gave me a direction in life.
What was the best acting advice you learned from The Company of Rogues Actors Studio? ”
Give film and television a try.” I had always been in theatre. My major in college was in Theatre and Speech, so I had never really thought about doing anything else. I’m glad that my instructor pointed me in that direction, since I have learned so much more about the art of acting for film and television…and I have met so many great people with fascinating stories.
Of the many hats you’ve worn, which do you prefer – theater acting, theater directing/producing, or film/television acting?
Wow – that’s a tough question! Can I say that I love different aspects of each one? Theatre acting because it is immediate; there are no “second takes”; you bare your soul each and every performance. The adrenaline, the applause, the total immersion into a role, the sense of family that you develop by working closely with other actors and crew…there is nothing else like it. Theatre directing/producing because it is like raising a child. You start by reading a script and then over time, you see it develop into a beautiful piece of art on the stage. You pour your creative heart and soul into a production, you eat, sleep and dream about it and how you can make it better. You form bonds with the cast and crew and encourage them to do their best. Film and television acting because you do get a second chance (and third and fourth, etc.) and sometimes you can really evolve during that process. You also get a chance to see your work. I find the behind-the-camera process fascinating, especially from the Director’s eye.
What do you think is the biggest difference between acting for stage and acting for film?
When working on stage, you have weeks to develop your character. You spend countless hours memorizing and dissecting lines; finding that subtext, looking for motivations, developing relationships with other characters, etc. Then once it is all pulled together, you perform. No second chances, no stopping and starting – it’s do-or-die. I love that! Acting for film is is like taking all of that and reeling it in and making it smaller and smaller. I had a teacher at Stella Adler Studio in NYC who used to say: “Make it smaller!!” while taking his hands and gesturing to form a small box. This was usually directed at students who were trained in the theatre (myself included). When on the stage, you have to tell the story with voice and with your physicality. It has to be seen and heard at the back of the house. When acting for film, you have to tell that story with facial expressions and body language. It’s about being real. While being perfect acceptable on the big stage, the same performance on the small screen would come off as “overacting”.
What led to you getting back involved in acting at a mature age?
Honestly, I have never really left acting. Since that first role in high school, up until now, I have always had my foot in the theatre. Whether it is assisting backstage or performing. I have always said that I don’t care what I’m doing in the theatre, as long as I am in the theatre! When raising my three children, I had to compromise and decided to do only one show per year. Since the time spent away from my family was sometimes considerable, my husband and I found that once a year was doable for us. Once my last child graduated and all three of them were out on their own, I decided to go full-steam ahead and start auditioning. I’m having a blast now, from modeling products for QVC to table reading screenplays in New York City. I am blessed!
Are you currently working on any film/television projects?
There is always something in the works; I have been booked on a Discover ID crime re-enactment show and there are a couple of possibilities that I’m hoping will come to fruition soon. In the meantime, I’m auditioning as well as mentoring other actors. I love to see people succeed, so I encourage other actors to work on their craft, send them audition notices when possible, and just keep them up in prayer that they can use their gifts. Being an actor without a role on-the-go is like a musician without an instrument. It does my heart good to see others enjoying this craft. Describe your dream role. I was very fortunate to portray one of my dream roles last year. I was cast as Sister Aloysius in the production of “Doubt”. She was a fascinating character that I absolutely LOVED diving into and bringing to life! The complexity of her character and what drove her was intriguing to me. For an actress, the process of bringing someone like Aloysius to life is what I call “delicious”. “This is a delicious role” is a common phrase for me when referring to a character that any actress would love to sink her teeth into; Sister Aloysius was that for me. Any role that would allow me to stretch myself, creatively speaking, would also be a “dream role”.
What are your dreams for the future?
To be doing this for the next thirty years, or the end of my life – whichever comes first! I look at the future with great excitement and anticipation knowing that God is at the helm. So many things: I would love to be involved in a faith-based film. I am also excited about the possibility of introducing theatre arts into my new church. I plan on developing further as an actress, continuing to learn and grow in my craft. I hope to be a role model for my children and my grandchildren; making them proud of me along the way. I will never underestimate what plans God has for me; they may be bigger than my own. How could I not be excited for the future when I rely upon HIS dreams for me??
I just want to encourage others who have been given this incredible gift – whether that gift is dancing, singing, painting, acting or in any area of the performing arts. You are a blessing to this world. You make this world beautiful. Every day. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see your name in lights, or your face on the cover of a magazine. Be content to create, wherever that may be: on the stage, in front of a camera, or singing on a street corner. Just create. And when you’re tired of the rejection; going from audition to audition and finding the doors keep closing, just know that God has something in store for you…just keep trusting in Him. Before you walk through the door to stand in front of a panel of judges, quietly say: “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me”. And as you leave, remember to look upwards, keep the faith and know that HIS will be done! Now – go out there and make this world beautiful and know that I am cheering for you!!