Sci-Fi Actress Speaks at Transy

by Jake Hawkins

Now that Cylons and humans can live together in harmony, Mary McDonnell can finally speak at Transylvania University.

According to Director of Special Programs Kathy Simon, efforts to bring McDonnell to campus were first made in 2003, but commitments to her role as President Laura Roslin in the SyFy Channel’s “Battlestar Galactica” series kept her from coming to speak.

When the show ended, however, Simon said she noticed the great amount of press surrounding the finale, and efforts were renewed to bring her on campus.

“When you look at the list of the speakers we’ve had you’ll see that we try to cover a wide array of disciplines,” said Simon, who added that the committee has always made it a priority to incorporate variety when choosing lecturers.

“We’ve never had a drama person before,” President Charles Shearer said. “We look for different disciplines and we try to say ‘Okay, last time we had a scientist. What do we need next time?’”

McDonnell’s resume is not comprised of a single television series, however. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Stands with a Fist in the 1990 film “Dances with Wolves.” She also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her role as May-Alice Culhane in the 1992 film “Passion Fish.”

Other notable roles include Dr. Virginia Dixon in the television series “Grey’s Anatomy,” Rose Darko in the film “Donnie Darko” and First Lady Marilyn Whitmore in the film “Independence Day.”

McDonnell will spend two days on campus. Scheduled events include the lecture itself on March 10 at 7:30 p.m. in Haggin Auditorium, and an informal question and answer session in the Campus Center Gym during Open Hour on March 11.

McDonnell will also be speaking during two drama classes: Jared Cole’s Introduction to Drama at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 10 and Tim Soulis’ Building a Character at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 11. Both classes meet in the Lucille Little theater and are open to anyone who wishes to come, according to Simon.

In addition to her work in television and film, McDonnell has also starred in several theatrical productions. In 1980 she won an OBIE (a theater award presented by New York newspaper “The Village Voice”) for her performance in the play “Still Life.” In 1996 she starred in the revival of the play “Summer and Smoke,” in 1990 she performed in the play “The Heidi Chronicles” and in 1986 she appeared in “Execution of Justice.”


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