Sunday, April 2, 2023

Being blonde and judged before you open your mouth

Wilmington native Erin Sullivan and why she’s bringing Marilyn Monroe to the home stage.

When Wilmington native Erin Sullivan comes home on Friday to perform With Love, Marilyn at Thalian Hall, which is an homage to the American icon who still captivates, it’s easy to assume that Sullivan’s inspiration comes from her own talents as an actress, singer and, frankly, a blonde.

They would be a wrong assumption. At least partly.

“Where Marilyn Monroe gets into my soul, is that I have the utmost respect for her as a woman who fought to get what she wanted in an industry controlled by men in a decade where woman really didn’t have much power.”

But, here we are in 2017, sixty-five years since Marilyn Monroe rose to stardom. That whole thing about it being “a man’s world” has changed, right?

Not even close.

In a review of the 1000 highest paying companies in the United States, only 54 have female CEO’s, barely over five percent. And that is why she is inspired by the timeless star.
“As a child I always knew who [Monroe] was. It wasn’t until my late teens, I started being compared to her a bit — being a bold blonde young woman, who was a fighter in the industry,” Sullivan explains.

“I was also always very comfortable with my sexuality onstage and off. It actually made me quite different from the other girls my age doing theater,” Sullivan continued.

Stereotyping blondes began way before Marilyn Monroe, dating back to Paris in 1775, and Sullivan is no stranger to it.

“[I] can relate to something as simple as being blonde, and being judged by how you look before you even open your mouth,” said Sullivan. And the experience allowed her to look more carefully at what Monroe accomplished in her brief, and often rocky career, especially as a woman.

“No star knew how to work a situation and a camera better than that woman,” said Sullivan.

“She was truly a natural talent. Marilyn was a force to be reckoned with. She paved the way for women in Hollywood. I see her as a role model, even though she is a perfectly flawed human being, she continued.

With Love, Marilyn, starring Wilmington native Erin Sullivan plays at Thalian Hall on Friday, October 13.

Sullivan will not only star in With Love, Marilyn, she co-authored the performance.

She explains: “I was consumed in learning about her career and personal life, which strangely parallels my life in so many ways. I relate to this woman on such a deeper level than most woman who wear her image.”

The performance includes Sullivan performing some of Monroe’s most memorable songs, along with a look at Monroe’s “backstage” life, including her struggles with her image, men and being a star. Sullivan is passionate about With Love, Marilyn and how it can relate to everyone in the audience at some level.

“Every woman can relate to Marilyn/Norma Jean and feel a connection to her. Everyone can relate to Marilyn, and not just women on such multiple levels. It can be as raw as relating to her when she was Norma Jean; a girl with an unstable upbringing trying to grasp onto anything,” noted Sullivan.

“You can relate to the ‘front’ a lot of women in the position of power are forced to give; where you always have to be ‘on,’ which Marilyn did.”

“As for Marilyn, the actress, sometimes we play a role in our life, saying not necessarily what you want to say, but saying what you need to say to have control of a situation. We can relate to her sexuality and her confidence. We can relate to her loneliness. We can relate to her loss. We’ve all experienced it, whether it be a family member, a lover, or as deep as an unborn child. [And], we can relate to her accomplishments!”

Tickets for this grand opening event can be found on the website of Thalian Hall.


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