Soccer Mom: Monica Lacy
In 1889, Oscar Wilde in his essay “The Decay of Lying” opined that “Life imitates Art more far more than Art imitates Life.” To this we assert that there is a third state – as yet unexplored – where Art and Life are occurring in equal measure. Please meet the woman with a foot firmly planted in each world – actress and mother of two, Monica Lacy.
I&S: Of our interviews of actors and their beginnings, your story of growing up on a farm is unique. Did the life of daily chores leave your mind to imagine what you might do when you were older? Is there something about life on a farm that gives you grounding?
ML: I grew up on what I would call a mini urban farm. We had horses, goats, steer, chickens, rabbits, turkeys, and even peacocks at one time. Basically, my dad let me keep almost any animal I wanted. I learned how to care for animals and about the whole cycle of life through the various breeding, births and deaths we had to naturally deal with. I don’t really think it prepared me for acting, but I think it grew my empathy as I learned to care for animals and nurture them. Being an actress is all about putting yourself into imaginary circumstances and using your empathy to relate to each character you play. You tend to be very compassionate when you care for animals on a daily basis, which was a wonderful way to grow up.
I&S: Now let’s add the fact that you are one of three…as in a triplet…and that, at least for a time, you all performed together. Fill us in on your young life on the screen and also why you are the only one still in the business.
ML: We convinced our classmate in high school who was working in the entertainment business to introduce us to his agent…and the agent surprised us by actually agreeing to meet us. Then we booked our first audition: a commercial for the Nissan Stanza GXE. We thought it was lots of fun, but only a one-time thing. I never dreamed I’d be an actress; I didn’t even think it was possible. We then booked a student film and a part on “Growing Pains”, and things quickly picked up for us. Disney signed on to develop a show for us, which became “Parent Trap III” and “Parent Trap VI: Hawaiian Honeymoon.” We had such an easy introduction to this business and got so many opportunities because we all looked alike. We started to study acting, but soon all our friends were enrolling in college and we were torn. Leanna and I kept acting and attended UCLA. After college, I was the only one who stayed with acting. I was surprised to learn that I loved the creative process of invention, the storytelling and, I admit, I thrived on the competitive element as well. I’m still at it, even though I took a 10-year break when my kids were little.
I&S: What drives you to continue in your profession? What do you gain personally from performing?
Who among the current actors inspires you with regards to their skills?
ML: I love acting because I find humans endlessly fascinating. I love learning about myself and what makes us all do the things we do in life. Acting is about noticing and then portraying various motives and instincts in people. I will admit, I’m a ham and part of me is desperate to share my story or my creation with a wider audience. Maybe it’s because I grew up a triplet, but I’ve always been hungry to “make my mark” and be distinct from the crowd. Other actors I know also share this almost masochistic drive for sharing ourselves and our pain with the world. I admire fearless actors who bravely reveal the unlovely parts of humankind that we all share. Right now I’m obsessed with Alicia Vikander in “The Danish Girl”. She so plainly is alive onscreen, and there’s an entire range of emotions playing on her face. She’s remarkable.
I&S: Professional Screenwriting – as in the program you completed at UCLA – are two words that lead to a whole different path in your future. What prompted you to explore writing and where would you like to take it?
ML: I always wanted to be a writer. Acting just dropped into my lap, so to speak. I enjoy writing everything: from poetry to personal essays to screenplays to my husband’s bio on his business website. I love words, the odd parts of people and exploring our desires. I have learned that acting and writing are co-dependent Arts. So while I’m working with someone else’s words, I’m helping to write the story with my performance. But it all starts with the page, and what’s on it, and that’s why the script is the first essential, and most important, piece of any production – over and above casting and directing, in my opinion.
I nearly enrolled in UCLA to get my Masters in Screenwriting after college, but my acting career was heating up at that time. I will continue to write when my schedule allows – that’s my first love. I’ve come to terms finally with being alone in a room with my laptop! Perhaps this will be the next chapter?
I&S: Tell us about the Amazon series “The Kicks” and your role of the idealistic soccer mom Sharon Burke.
ML: I’m very proud to be a part of “The Kicks.” First of all, it’s a show that portrays a teen girl focused on developing as a soccer player and achieving her dreams, not just another teen girl overly focused on her looks, fashion, and boys. Very refreshing! I hope other parents will relate to my character of Sharon Burke. She’s a mom who is earnestly trying to keep her family together through the crisis of moving across country. She offers support and suggestions to her family, and is constantly trying to do her best, but she also screws up occasionally and “blows it” — just like real parents do all the time. The kids are amazing actors as well, and the show appeals to both kids and their parents – it’s the kind of show you can watch together.
I&S: What do you think this series’ casting director saw in your previous work that prompted them to offer you this part? What strengths do you think you will bring to this role? Is being a real-life soccer mom one of them?
ML: I have appeared in both drama and comedy, so perhaps that was appealing? I also didn’t play Sharon Burke as hapless or overwhelmed, but rather focused and driven… which just happens to also be her Achilles’ heel. I suspect the producers could see the “real” mom inside the actress: I have two kids the exact same ages as my TV kids, so it was a cinch for me to identify with 10 and 12-year old kids. Sometimes I’ll get home and have a conversation with my kids and I’ll think, “hold on…I just filmed this scene today and now I’m living it in real life.” I love the honest portrayal of a regular American family, and the daily struggles and triumphs that so many of us can identify with.
I&S: From a writer’s perspective, how is “The Kicks” structured for success? We admit that this question is a bit out of our depth, but with your knowledge, the answer might be interesting and informative.
ML: Okay, my writers hat is on! This series has a lot of hallmarks of successful shows: an appealing lead cast with talented kid actors that everyone can identify with, and it’s set in the insanely popular world of girl’s competitive soccer. Even if you don’t play soccer, you may have been a kid who played another sport, or you may have had a sibling who hogged the spotlight with their sports career and you resented that. Every person can relate to having been part of a team, and will relate to the struggles, and triumphs, of that experience. Plus, the situations the writers have cooked up are going to appeal to everyone, the way a great sports movie inspires us all. Plus, there are plenty of teen antics, pranks and girl conflicts to keep the kids interested, and the parents are not just the butts of jokes or relegated to the fringe….so the parents will appreciate that. The fact that your entire family can watch this show together…that’s what sweetens this already sweet deal. How’s that?
I&S: Tell us about PhotoPiece and your involvement with that organization. What drew you to them specifically?
ML: PhotoPiece provides cameras, equipment and pro-level photography instruction and mentorship to at-risk youth in Los Angeles. The program concludes with an art exhibit where the kids get to see their best work framed and hanging on the walls for the public to appreciate, admire and purchase. These kids have a unique perspective on Los Angeles life that we literally get to be privy to via their photographs. It’s gratifying to see these kids try on the positive labels of “artist’ and “photographer” when perhaps they’ve only experienced the burden of a label such as “immigrant” or “undocumented.” These kids get to experience the invaluable and life-affirming process of making art, which is increasingly becoming available only to the wealthiest among us.
For more information on Monica Lacey Please follow her social, website, media (and writing) links:
ML: I’m @monlacy on Instagram (my favorite form of social media)! I’m @monlacy on Twitter too. And I have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/monlacy/
Season One of The Kicks can be found at https://www.amazon.com/The-Kicks-Season-1/dp/B00Z89OR0W
Positive programming for both youngsters and adults. We look forward to a fresh look into the American family and thank Ms. Lacy for accepting our interview. We at Image & Style Magazine wish her all the best in both her roles.
Please Credit photographer, Lesley Bryce