Erika Rolfsrud

She's played Shakespeare festivals and appeared on soap operas and been directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and right now Erika Rolfsrud is appearing all by her lonesome in Arizona Theatre Company's one-woman Bad Dates. Here, she considers rug burns and lazy eyes and the horrors of slow-mo screaming.

I knew I wanted to be in show business when I saw Donald O'Connor doing the "Make 'em Laugh" number in Singin' in the Rain. I had rug burns on my shoulder trying to duplicate his dancing.

The worst thing about being an actor is the rejection. You have to train yourself not to take it personally and remember the reason you chose this profession in the first place: You simply love it.

My worst audition ever was for a commercial where we were supposed to scream in slow-mo -- and silently, because the casting director didn't want actors screaming at her all day. Which wasn't so bad until the casting director gave me notes on my technique for silent, slow-mo screaming, then had me do it over and over again. Nothing like being asked to do something ridiculous and then told you aren't doing it right.

The happiest day in my life was meeting my nephew William the first time. (Second happiest: meeting his siblings, Ben and Grace.)

If I could be anyone other than myself, it would be no one. Just me. I guess all that therapy's paying off . . .

It's not entirely true, but I sometimes tell people that I grew up in Seattle, when I actually grew up in Bellevue, just east of Seattle.

The fictional character I am most like is Stephanie Plum from the Janet Evanovich books. We have a similar sense of humor, gullibility, and propensity for clumsiness.

I am utterly terrified of snakes.

My worst bad date was a blind date. Literally. My pal who set us up said, "He does have a lazy eye. But it's only noticeable when he's tired." I went on the date and he must've been pretty damn tired!

The one thing I absolutely refuse to do on stage is gratuitous nudity. It takes the audience right out of the story. And I'm a modest person -- not so good at flashin' The Girls for the heck of it.

Something I have never admitted to anyone before is . . . I'm not telling you!

Currently I am reading The Valkyries by Paulo Coelho.

The first time I got drunk, I threw up. But first I did that sobbing, laughing, "I love you, man!" routine.

Appearing onstage all alone for 90 minutes is one of the greatest challenges I've ever faced professionally, and one of the most rewarding.

Like my mother used to say, [whenever I dressed sloppily for church] "Well, God's seen you in worse. Let's go!"

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela