Studio Visit appears in Sunday editions of The News-Gazette. Here, a visit with Amy Stoch, actor and director and interim part-time manager of the Champaign-Urbana Theatre Company.
Q: I just saw you on this blog called "Not Very Famous ... but should be."
A: That's Mike Trippiedi's. I did a film for him, "Amber Rose" (2010), as a professional actress. I had moved here from Los Angeles to get a doctorate in theater. Mike wrote this blog, and I was thrilled. I thought it was so delightful and very nice of him.
Q: Do you want to return to L.A. to act?
A: No, what I want to be is a working actress, producer, director and professor. I want to combine it all. I've worked hard enough and studied hard enough to have the knowledge to do it all. Now I just want to put it into practice.
Q: I was really impressed that you played Missy (Bill's stepmother) in "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" (1989). That's a classic.
A: It's become a little cult icon, with its Bill-and-Ted speak. I teach film at Parkland, and I actually showed the film to my students. I never did that before, and I will never do it again. It was agonizing to hear their reactions. I guess my students thought it was dated, but it remains one of my favorites, even though I also did "Dallas," "Gunsmoke" and other things. I was just privileged to work. I did commercials, and I did print. I did everything I could get my hands on. That was my job as an actress. I wasn't about to turn anything down.
Q: I read that you were born and raised in California and that your dad was a professor?
A: I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Yes, he was a health and physical education professor. So all my life, I've been introduced to sports, including golf, which I particularly love. When I would say, "Dad, I'm not hitting the ball well," he would say, "How often do you practice?" So that became my mantra: How often do you practice? With "How to Succeed in Business ...," the first show I'm directing for the Champaign Urbana Theatre Company, I cut the rehearsal time to four weeks and tech week because that keeps the excitement and freshness of the show. It makes the cast realize they have four weeks, so they decide they better get going — and practice.
Q: Do you have any professional acting jobs lined up?
A: No. I'm trying to dive in and manage CUTC, and I teach three classes at Parkland College and I'm the theater adviser for the competitive trial team at the University of Illinois College of Law.
Q: When and how did you first get into acting?
A: I came home in second grade from a career day, walked in the door and promptly told my mother I wanted to be a movie star. It never wavered. All through grade, high school and college and the advanced degrees — it's been theater and film.
Q: Why did you come here for a Ph.D.?
A: The UI not only accepted me but gave me a free ride for five years. They not only covered tuition and fees, they gave me an assistantship for the first five years. The last three or four years, I've had to fund myself, but I'm done with tuition and classes, basically. That's when I started teaching at Parkland and the law college to find other ways to support myself while working on my dissertation.
Q: On Herbert Blau?
A: Yes, I started studying Blau in my master's program at Cal State-Northridge. I took a theory class, and when I read his first book, "The Impossible Theater: A Manifesto," I thought I have to know more about this guy. He's great. He's still alive. He's 86 or 87. I've interviewed him, and throughout the process, he would tell me, "Here's somebody else you should contact." He's been very supportive of me finishing this dissertation.
Q: What was your first big break as an actress?
A: I guess that would be (TV's) "Star Search." I was living in Chicago at the time (1985), and they came through and did auditions, and I got on as a spokesmodel. I won six times and made it to the semifinals. I lost that round, but right after the show, one of the judges came up to me. She was Sue Cameron, from a pretty big agency, and she offered to represent me, and that's huge. That's what really started my career.
Editor's note: CUTC's "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" will be March 14-17 at the Parkland Theatre.