Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sarah Jessica Parker by Marc Shapiro

Marc Shapiro. Sarah Jessica Parker. Toronto: ECW Press, 2001.

Sarah Jessica Parker grew up in Nelsonville, Ohio, the fourth child of parents who divorced. Her father was only occasionally present in her life for most of the rest of her life. The first word it is claimed she spoke was “dangerous”. She grew up wearing armbands supporting one of her politically liberal mother’s causes. Her movie seldom took the children to the movies and kept the television on PBS.

Sarah Jessica Parker was active in school theater productions, following the footsteps of her talented older sister Rachel. Sarah later stated she acted to have time away from her family. She auditioned in a local low budget television play. Her small size and poise allowed her stand out amongst the approximately 500 others she competed against. Her brothers observed this and they too auditions for roles, and soon Sarah and numerous siblings were winning roles in regional theater presentations. With this now a family endeavor, her mother took Sarah and her brother Timothy to try out for a Broadway play. They both won roles. Other siblings followed and they too found acting jobs in New York City.

Sarah Jessica Parker starred on Broadway in “Annie” for two years. After that run, she faced unemployment and the realization that there were far starring roles for young people to wait around for. She took a position signing in the Metropolitan Opera’s children’s choir, noting “I needed to be one of 25 kids and not be treated specially.” She did some small roles in televisions and movies. She became comfortable before cameras. At the age of 16, shoe won the lead role on the TV show “Square Pegs”. She won praise portraying nerdy high school role, a role the author stated was a natural one for her. The show ran for one season and was then canceled.

The TV exposure led to movie roles, including the hit movie “Footloose”. She dated Robert Downer Jr. whose slide into alcohol and drug use seriously challenged and eventually ended the relationship. Parker got a role on the TV series “Equal Justice”. Recalling the long hours needed to film a TV show, she almost declined the offer. When the show went on what was to be a permanent hiatus during its first and only season, Parker won a role in the movie “L.A. Story”. She credits that movie’s star and screenwriter Steve Martin for helping her learn to play a challenging role.

The positive reviews Parker received from the movie led to other offers. She refused any roles calling for nudity, a position she has kept. She also became involved with the American Civil Liberties Union. Planned Parenthood, the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee, and fundraising for UNICEF.

After appearing in a few movies that were financial disappointments, Sarah Jessica Parker appeared in the hit film “Ed Wood”. Her comedic role in the independent film “If Lucy Fell” showed she could handle a wide range of roles.

Sarah Jessica Parker then won the lead role on the TV series “Sex and the City”. Her insistence on no nudity and on trimming back some of the foul language were accepted. The show was a hit and was awarded the Best TV Comedy series. Parker took on some producer responsibilities including making some fashion and hair decisions with characters. This led to a dispute with actor John Corbett over what pants to wear with Corbett finally agree with Parker’s choice. Parker also insisted none of the actors accept commercials and other roles that might cheapen the show’s image. Some were concerned she might have been inconsistent when she then did commercials for a hair coloring company.

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