I don’t know about you – but I LOVE this woman. There is an air of certainty, peace and confidence that exudes from her. She shares a smile that is quick and generous. Behind those wide eyes is a uniquely creative mind that challenges and engages those who spend time on her side of the room. Fawz Mirza is all that. She is a gift to the Arts in this city – and I had the opportunity to throw a few questions her way and she was cool enough to answer….
The L Stop: Tell me a little bit about your family – where you grew up – siblings – schooling and all that fun stuff:
Fawz: I was born in London, Ontario but grew up in Nova Scotia in Canada. I call it Canadian Maine. My family moved when I was in high school to Indiana. There are four of us – I’m basically the middle child, so I had overdeveloped personality to survive and thrive amongst my siblings since I was the ‘neglected’ one. I went to college at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana (Go Hoosiers!) and then actually moved to Chicago for law school, at Chicago-Kent College of Law. So I graduated law school, practiced law for a few years as a litigator, before leaving it all and becoming a full-time actor.
The L Stop: What was it inside of you that took you to the stage?
Fawz: I’ve loved making people laugh since I was a kid. And my mom was the classic over-achieving-Asian-mother-on-behalf-of-her kid and put me in everything from soccer to taekwondo to band, ballet, piano lessons and she even made us do plays. Then in high school, I was part of the speech team and drama club. But acting as a career path was never an option.
It actually wasn’t until law school as a member of the Chicago-Kent Trial Advocacy Team that I reconnected to my actor side. You see, in Trial Advocacy, schools compete in mock trials giving opening and closing arguments, direct and cross-examinations of witnesses, objections, etc. I LOVED that. That spurred me to take my first acting class at The Acting Studio in River North.
The L Stop: Working at the Goodman – what does that mean to you?
Fawz: When I started pursuing my acting career in Chicago, my younger brother and I were walking around the loop. We walked past The Goodman Theatre and he said to me, “Why don’t you work there?” I laughed. You see, I’d just gotten my first head shots, I had no training, no agent, no auditions, not even any actor friends yet. I said to him, “That’s one of the biggest theatres in the city and recognized all across the country. I doubt I’ll be working there anytime soon.” I feel blessed that this will be my second show in 2013 at The Goodman Theatre. It means a lot.
The L Stop: Tell me about your role in this production – challenges – realizations….
Fawz: THE HAPPIEST SONG PLAYS LAST is set in two very different cities – Jordan and North Philadelphia. The play follows Elliot, an Iraq War veteran and former Marine-turned actor and his cousin, Yazmin, a professor who spends all her free time helping and volunteering in her Puerto Rican community.
I play the character ‘Shar’. Shar is the lead actress filming the movie in Jordan opposite Elliot. It is a play about love, about our roots and about hope.
This play is the third play in a trilogy. Playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes won the Pulitzer Prize for the 2nd play in this trilogy, “Water by the Spoonful”. The Elliot character is the protagonist in each of the plays.
This play blends a lot of different elements with the live theatre: live Puerto Rican folk music, projections, Skype technology and fight choreography. But the connection between the cast, has really been the thing that has made the work always fun. And that is a beautiful thing, always finding fun in your work.
The L Stop: Outside of this production – what has been keeping you busy?
Fawz: KAM KARDASHIAN is a huge project in my life; it’s a web series about the long lost lesbian Kardashian sister. My platonic creative husband Ryan Logan and I make this series come alive. We were just named by Indiewire as one of the top female-centered web series! You can watch all our new episodes every Wednesday at www.kamkardashian.com.
I’m also working on a one woman show called Me, My Mother & Sharmila Tagore, about 3 women, me, my mother and a legendary 70s Bollywood actress. That play will have a limited run in Chicago this May.
Fawz: I think opening yourself up to the truth of a role, of a character and of a story is hard whether it be something funny or serious. Honesty on stage is hard, but essential and that is not bound by genre.
The L Stop: What’s on your bucket list?
Fawz: To stay at an Ice hotel. To climb K2. To attend the pilgrimage, the Khumb Mela in India.
Fawzia Mirza is making things happen. Her energy and commitment to ground breaking work brings us to a common ground. If you see her out and about – buy her an expensive whiskey – neat – and tell her the Guz sent you. I look forward to watching her take over the world one amazing performance at a time.
“The Happiest Song Plays Last” runs at The Goodman April 13 – May 12, 2013. This poignant new play from 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner (Water by the Spoonful) and Tony Award nominee (In the Heights) Quiara Alegría Hudes chronicles a year in the life of these two kindred souls as they search for love, meaning and a sense of hope in a quickly changing world.
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About K. Guzman
Kathy grew up all over the US - lots of east coast time. She is a surfer girl with an unabridged curiosity. A woman whose mid life awakening continues to bring her to the place she was meant to be. Her degree in Journalism/Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida is being yanked from the archives and put to good use. Her two kids are grown and rock stars in this wild world – her Harley is ready for some serious summer miles – and her heart remains open to life, women and the possibilities each day brings.