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Shelly Pfefferman Is the “Fragile, Tender” Guide Judith Light Needed

The Transparent star on her character’s Season 3 journey—and why it’s just the beginning.
 

As Emmy nominations approach, Vanity Fair’s HWD team is diving deep into how some of this season’s greatest scenes and characters came together. 

The Character: Shelly Pfefferman, Transparent

The lights dim and a projector rises as the final scene of Transparent Season 3 opens on Judith Light. In Shelly Pfefferman’s signature silver bob, she wears a long black dress and a shimmering black-and-gold jacket as she steps into the spotlight of a cruise-ship stage to perform her one-woman show, the aptly titled To Shell and Back. “When I was a young girl, something happened to me that made me stop being who I really was; I stopped growing . . . Who am I? I didn’t know, and I didn’t want to know. I was in a cocoon,” she says. She takes a measured breath, looks to the audience—including her family—and launches into Alanis Morissette’s 1995 hit “Hand in My

 

The song, famous for its litany of conflicting emotions, acts in this moment as Shelly’s personal theme. Three seasons into her journey as the ex-spouse of Jeffrey Tambor’s Maura—a transgender woman who came out in the series’s first season—and mother of three adult children on their own equally convoluted journeys, Shelly is finally getting a moment of her own. Read more

Judith Light (‘Transparent’) reveals desire for LGBT advocacy signed her to the show without even seeing a script [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO]

Judith Light (‘Transparent’) reveals desire for LGBT advocacy signed her to the show without even seeing a script [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO]

Judith Light On Shelly’s Season 3 Breakthrough in ‘Transparent’

June 8, 2017
By: Joey Moser
Judith Light
Judith Light talks about Shelly’s emotional breakthrough on Transparent Season 3 and her working relationship with old friend Jeffrey Tambor.

Judith Light is a force to be reckoned with. When I revisited the third season of the critically acclaimed Amazon smash Transparent, I had forgotten what a breakthrough Shelly Pfefferman has in the very last episode. Shelly has always been a big ball of energy throughout the course of the show, but this year we start to learn about an incident that traumatized her as a young girl. Light won several Daytime Emmy® Awards for her work on One Life to Live, but she deserves to take home her first Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in Transparent.

You don’t watch Transparent. You feel Transparent.
Throughout the course of the third season, Shelly goes through several life changes. She must take a realistic look at her relationship with live-in boyfriend Buzzy, and she excitedly begins building herself as a social media brand. As she takes her one-woman show to a more serious level, we learn in flashbacks that she was assaulted by a teacher in elementary school. It’s a very unexpected turn that calls back to a certain moment in Season 1 that Light can easily recall, and it was very freeing to explore that history of the character.

Judith Light gives a performance that pulls back the layers so carefully and earnestly that it might make you look at your own mother in a different way.

Was it freeing to have Shelly break out in this last season?

It was in a lot of ways and on a lot of levels. It’s funny because people tend to not remember that in the first season there is a discussion about music and Shelly turns to the kids and says, ‘I don’t care for music.’ Just like that. If you go back to Season 1, you’ll find it somewhere in there. I always thought how interesting. How fascinating. What is that about? Two seasons later, we come to find out what has been going on. In a lot of ways it was very freeing.

You have to understand when you work with the people that I have the blessing and the good fortune to work with it’s thrilling. It’s an incredible writer’s room. These are an incredibly funny, smart, deep substance of people. It’s not only freeing to have done that, sing ‘Hand in My Pocket,’ but what’s also freeing is to work in the way that we work. There’s a kind of freedom in the experience that is unlike any other experience that I’ve ever had before in television or even in a play for that matter.

There is an experience of working in a system where everyone is valued for their talent, and I mean everybody. I’m not just talking about the actors and the writers. That makes you very free to create, and that’s very unusual. Read more

Judith Light Honored with O’Neill Center’s 2017 Monte Cristo Award

by BWW News Desk May. 22, 2017  

It was a night full of Broadway and TV reunions for beloved stage and screen star Judith Light at the 2017 Monte Cristo Award ceremony last night, presented by the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and held for the first time at 583 Park Avenue. Light’s LOMBARDI co-star Dan Lauria and “Ugly Betty” co-star Michael Urie joined in on the celebrations, and Director Thomas Kail presented Light with her honor. Scroll down for photos from the evening!

An alum of the O’Neill, Judith first performed at the O’Neill’s 1977 National Playwrights Conference. The Monte Cristo Award is presented to a prominent theater artist each year in recognition of a distinguished career exemplifying Eugene O’Neill’s “pioneering spirit, unceasing artistic commitment, and excellence.”

Past recipients of the Award include Meryl Streep, Christopher Plummer, Michael Douglas, James Earl Jones, Nathan Lane, Harold Prince, Kevin Spacey, Neil Simon, Jason Robards, Jr., Edward Albee, August Wilson, Zoe Caldwell, George C. Wolfe, Brian Dennehy, Karl Malden, Arthur & Barbara Gelb, and Wendy Wasserstein.

Additional guests included Shakina Nayfack, Lena Hall, Tom Kitt, Margo Seibert, Tom Viertel, Susan Blackwell and more.

Photo Credit: Jenny Anderson/Getty Images for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center

Photo Flash: Judith Light Honored with O'Neill Center's 2017 Monte Cristo Award
Honoree Judith Light

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Judith Light, Billy Porter return to Pittsburgh to accept Carnegie Mellon alumni awards

 

Judith Light and Billy Porter pose for a photo at the Carnegie Mellon University Alumni Awards on May 19, 2017 at the Purnell Center for the Arts at Carnegie Mellon University in Oakland. Light was awarded with the Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award and Porter was awarded an Alumni Achievement Award.

 
 
 
Judith Light (Class of 1970) and Billy Porter (‘91) were back on campus Friday as honorees for the 67th annual Carnegie Mellon University Alumni Awards, given for career achievements and service to the university.

Ms. Light, 68, the Emmy-winning actress known for TV roles from the daytime soap “One Life to Live,” to primetime’s “Who’s the Boss?” and “Ugly Betty,” and more recently, the Amazon series “Transparent,” has a long theater career as well. She took best actress in a play Tonys in 2012 and ‘13 for “The Assembled Parties” and “Other Desert Cities.”

This weekend she also will receive the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s Monte Cristo Award, given to an artist whose work has had a major impact on American theater. “Hamilton” director Thomas Kail presented Ms. Light with the award.

At CMU, Ms. Light and Raymond W. Smith (‘59), a pioneer in wireless technology and retired chairman of Verizon, were recognized with Alumni Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Mr. Porter, 47, the Pittsburgh native and Tony- and Grammy Award-winning star of “Kinky Boots,” was a recipient of an Alumni Achievement Award. He was surprised during the awards ceremony with a tribute by Pittsburgh CAPA students -— he attended Pittsburgh Allderdice and CAPA before heading to CMU. 

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A Shining Light

March 31, 2017

By Nicholas Ducassi (CFA 2010)

Judith Light’s distinguished acting career and her active support for the LGBTQ community will take center stage at Carnegie Mellon University this May, when she will be presented with the Alumni Association’s most illustrious honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Light’s career has spanned five decades and garnered multiple awards, including Tonys and Daytime Emmys. A 1970 graduate of the School of Drama in CMU’s College of Fine Arts, she stars in Amazon’s groundbreaking and Emmy-award winning television comedy “Transparent,” a role for which she has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, and I owe a lot of that to my training at Carnegie Mellon — to be flexible, powerful and resilient — and to use our instrument in all different ways for all different avenues of the business,” Light said.

“WHAT I HAD HOPED AND LONGED FOR CAME TO FRUITION FROM MY CARNEGIE MELLON TRAINING — FOR THE SCHOOL TO HONOR ME WITH THIS KIND OF RECOGNITION IS TRULY BEYOND MY WILDEST DREAMS.”

Judith Light

Judith Light to Receive O’Neill Theater Center’s Monte Cristo Award

By Gordon Cox
Legit Editor@GCoxVariety
MARCH 16, 2017 | 07:00AM PT

The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center has named actress Judith Light the recipient of its annual Monte Cristo Award, handed out each year to a theater creative whose work has had a major impact on American theater.

“Hamilton” director Thomas Kail will present Light with the award at a May gala. Although Light is most widely known for TV roles in “Transparent” and “Who’s the Boss?,” she’s also won two Tony Awards, one for “Other Desert Cities” in 2012 and one for “The Assembled Parties” in 2013. In 1977 she spent a summer at the O’Neill Center’s National Playwrights Conference, performing in new works that included Wendy Wasserstein’s “Uncommon Women and Others.”

The actress, whose TV credits also include “One Life to Live” and “Ugly Betty,” joins a list of Monte Cristo recipients alongside prior winners Meryl Streep, Michael Douglas, Nathan Lane and George C. Wolfe, among others. Kail previously worked with Light in the 2010 Broadway play “Lombardi”; at the O’Neill Center’s Music Theater Conference he collaborated on “In the Heights” with Lin-Manuel Miranda before that show moved to Broadway.

The O’Neill Theater Center, located in Waterford, Conn., oversees a range of new-work initiatives that include the conferences for playwrights and for music theater, as well as the National Puppetry Conference and the Cabaret and Performance Conference. The O’Neill also runs undergraduate training programs through its National Theater Institute.

The 2017 Monte Cristo Award gala is set for May 21 at New York event venue 583 Park Avenue.

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Actress Judith Light Talks GOD LOOKED AWAY and Working with Al Pacino

BWW Interview: Actress Judith Light Talks GOD LOOKED AWAY and Working with Al PacinoActress Judith Light certainly needs no introduction. A familiar face to television audiences, she co-starred in the soap One Life to Live winning two Daytime Emmy Awards and in prime time with Tony Danza in Who’s the Boss?She has also won two Tony Awards for her stellar work on Broadway. She is a gay rights activist and she and her husband Robert Desiderio have contributed greatly to the gay community in Los Angeles over the years. Co-starring in Amazon’s web series Transparent, she is currently performing double duty: the TV show by day and at night a workshop play God Looked Away at the Pasadena Playhouse sharing the stage with none other than icon Al Pacino. I caught up with her this week, and she talked briefly but joyously about the play, her role in it and working with Pacino.

Tell us about the play God Looked Away and your role in it.

I play Tennessee Williams’ very close friend Estelle who is based on a woman in his life named Maria St. Just. There was a book that came out that she wrote that was called Five O’Clock Angel, and there are a lot of stories about them and their relationship. She married well into English society; she married a man who was – he told her – bisexual, but he leaned toward being gay. It was a difficult time for her all through her life, but that’s not what this is about. This is about their relationship (with Tennessee). It’s really the story of the need … the story of Tennessee Williams and the last 14 years of his life … and with this woman and with his companion during that time period, whom he called ‘Baby’. The play is written by Dotson Rader, a journalist…and Dotson was ‘Baby’ who is in the play, and it’s their story. It takes place during this last production that was done in Chicago of the last Tennessee Williams play produced called A House Not Meant to Stand. It was received mildly well to mixed reviews in Chicago but it really began in some sense the downward spiral that Tennessee was in and eventually led to his death. It’s about the drugs and the drinking and the process that he was going through during this one night in a Chicago hotel the opening night of this play.

BWW Interview: Actress Judith Light Talks GOD LOOKED AWAY and Working with Al Pacino

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DOUBT ep. 102

A Conversation With the Beloved, Compassionate, Indefatigable, Very Wise Judith Light

Vanessa Lawrence

 
Photo by Victoria Stevens. Produced by Biel Parklee.
There are many ways to be a fan of the actress Judith Light. Anyone who owned a TV in the 80’s and early 90’s probably adores her for her role as the divorced single mother Angela Bower, in the long-running show “Who’s the Boss.” The streaming generation likely feels equal affection for Shelly Pfefferman, the ex-wife of the transgender Maura (Jeffrey Tambor), on Amazon’s “Transparent,” now in its third season. Even theater purists must harbor immense goodwill for Light’s Tony Award-winning performances in the plays Other Desert Cities (2012) and The Assembled Parties (2013), among others.

But we should also be grateful Light’s enormous body of activism on behalf of AIDS/HIV awareness and LGBTQ rights. Since the beginning of the AIDS and HIV pandemic in America, Light has worked tirelessly towards illuminating the facts of the disease and the attendant stigma and bigotry aimed at those who have suffered and died from it. She has spoken at galas for practically every major organization devoted to AIDS and HIV; has marched, bicycled, lobbied and fought at too many events to count, and is on the boards of more non-profits than can possibly be listed, among them The Point Foundation, which seeks to empower LGBTQ youth through educational scholarships and mentorship (Light is currently a member of its honorary board). On December 7, Light will be honored by ACRIA, a nonprofit devoted to HIV research, with the Elizabeth Taylor Award at its 21st Annual Holiday Dinner in New York City.

Here, Light, 67, talks about the catalyst for her activism, her work on “Transparent” and her love of mega-jewelry.

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