Maliabeth Johnson is a multi-talented actress who you may known from shows such as Parks and Recreation, Cougar Town, Mad Men and American Horror Story: Hotel.
Despite already having an impressive resume, covering a variety of roles in TV, film and theatre, Maliabeth is about to take on her most complex roles to date, as she prepares to play Cassie in the new one woman show The Woman Is Perfected.
Written by Ruth Fowler and directed by Ryan McRee, The Woman Is Perfected will explore the “psychological breakdown of a single young woman entangled in abusive relationships and a crippling compulsion to perfect her body through plastic surgery”. It will receive its premiere during the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June.
We recently had the opportunity to ask Maliabeth all about her exciting new role in The Woman Is Perfected, in addition to finding out about her future dream roles and her stunning jewelry business.
Hi Maliabeth, welcome to CelebMix! You’ll soon be performing in a brand new play called The Woman Is Perfected. Can you tell us about the play in your own words?
Thank you so much for having me. It is a beautiful play about a woman named Cassie struggling between the tangled relationship with her mother, her past, and tumultuous relationship with her lover. All fueled by the pressure and obsession of what it means to maintain physical “beauty.”
The play deals with the struggle to achieve “perfection” when it comes to looks, something which is a hot topic in today’s society. How important was the subject matter to you when you auditioned for the role?
Very important. I am a feminist and supporter in telling women’s stories. Every day women are overwhelmed with unrealistic mantras like ‘take care of yourself,’ which inflicts psychological trauma on them. It’s hard to escape the pressure and keep it from tunnelling its way into your thoughts. I recently became a godmother and it would upset me when people would only comment on her beauty. Our worth as women is not dependent on our beauty. There is a Twilight Zone episode called “The Eye Of The Beholder” and it exploits its title. We all are beautiful and I hope that if I ever have a daughter I will tell her how smart and kind she is.
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Come see me in the flesh this June for the world premiere of the one woman show, The Woman Is Perfected @thewomanisperfected2018 Written by the brilliant @ruth_iorio and directed by the talented @rybreadmcree Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at http://hff18.org/5195. (Link is up in my bio ??) this is a beautiful and powerful play about a woman struggling between the tangled relationship with her mother, her past, and tumultuous relationship with her lover. All fueled by the pressure and obsession of what it means to maintain physical "beauty” in today’s world. ?? Photography @ruth_iorio #Twip #thewomanisperfected #maliabeth #art #onewomanshow #beauty #plasticsurgery #hff2018 #hollywoodfringe #hollywoodfringefestival #femalestorytellers #femalessupportingfemales #thebroadwater #justyouwait #play #losangelestheatre #actress #photography #photoshoot #iconpr
This is quite possibly one of your most complex roles to date. How are you preparing for the challenge?
I’ve basically been walking around my house and neighborhood muttering to myself for the last few weeks. Even though it’s just myself on stage, Cassie isn’t the only character I’ll be playing. (You’ll have to come to the show to see what I mean). Ryan McRee, the director, is very talented. We explore beyond the page and the technical aspects of Cassie’s mind. Basically, this play is really an actor’s dream.
The Woman Is Perfected is a one woman play. In the past you’ve been more used to starring in shows with a large cast – how are you finding the one woman play experience so far?
When I got the script and realized that it would just me, that scared me. But that is also how I knew I needed to be Cassie, because it scares me. I’m really enjoying the process and the discoveries I have made about myself, as an actor. It has been so long since I have been on a stage, and it feels like coming home. The theatre is a beautiful medium.
The play was written by Ruth Fowler. Has she given you any feedback or advice?
Ruth is brilliant, inspired and real. She says how she feels and what she thinks. Like many people, I find myself tampering my quirkiness. Ruth inspires me to keep being myself because we are rewarded for our individuality.
The play will be premiered during the Hollywood Fringe Festival. What do you hope that the audience will take away from the story?
Lead with empathy. We never know what private battles someone is waging. Whether that be psychological, physical or chemical. Everyone has a part of them they don’t like or share. Something they may be ashamed of, and if we can remember that in our day to day lives, we might just make this world we live in, a better, happier and kinder place.
You recently wrapped up filming as Elise in The Way You Look Tonight. Can you tell us about the film and your role in it?
I can’t wait to see this film! It’s a romantic comedy mystery. Boy meets the woman of his dreams and then…well, you’ll have to see it when it comes out. I did get permission to say that I co-lead as the romantic interest. The film is a fantastical one – with a secret agenda. I am very proud to have been a part of it all.
You’re probably best known for starring in Parks and Recreation but you’ve also starred in shows such as American Horror Story and How I Met Your Mother. What’s been your favorite role to date?
I can’t pick favorites! Every role has been my favorite because it gave me the chance to do what I love. I’ve been so lucky to work with such amazing people. My experience on the set of Mad Men left me speechless. I was watching the show from day one, and to be there on that sound stage was a surreal masterclass for me. I found myself silent between takes to absorb everything I could from these brilliant artists.
Are there any dream roles that you’d like to play in the future?
I would love to work with motion capture on a video game. I just finished playing Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and The Last Of Us. They really are movies! And the acting is amazing. Especially when you think about the fact that nothing you see when you play was there for the actor, it had to be all in their head. I really do believe motion capture is/will be a huge part of the future of acting and I want to be a part of that world. So, I’m putting that out into the universe.
Outside of your acting you also make your own jewelry, something which you started because of your mum. What inspires your creative designs?
All the places I have lived in my childhood have a strong influence on my jewelry designs and my art. Arizona, Hawaii, and here in California. As a child we would take family trips to hunt for quartz in a creek in Arizona. The quartz were so clear they resembled herkermier diamonds. My dad and I would hunt for hours and hours. And then with my mother we found a love for hunting sea glass on the beach. And the next step was to make jewelry out of our treasures.
Your pieces are beautifully intricate – do you have a favourite item that you’ve designed?
Thank you so much. I love my moonstone wave ring because it reminds me of the sun when it shines through a wave. But my favorite design is a custom one of a kind necklace. I use vintage beads found in Arizona, seeds from Hawaii, sea glass from California, gemstones and minerals. Everywhere I travel I look for beads or necklaces I can break so that they may be incorporated into many more necklaces. The end result is a very powerful and personal piece of wearable art. The very first one I made my husband walked up to me and asked if he could try it on, and then left the room! I said, where are you going with my necklace? And all he said was, this is mine now. He wears it every day.
We also hear that you’re a keen singer. Is this something that you’d like to pursue outside of the acting world in the future?
I studied vocal performance in college, and was trying to emulate sounds to please my professors. Since college, I’ve been reconnecting with my voice and finding that joy again. And it truly is a joy in my life, so who knows what the future holds.
Do you have any other plans for 2018 which you can tell us about?
This is my ‘year of YES,’ and so far that mindset has really opened new paths for me. It keeps you busy, saying yes.
‘The Woman Is Perfected’ will take place at Broadwater’s 2nd Stage during the Hollywood Fringe on June 1, 9, 16, 20 and 23. For more information, click here.