Call Answered: Carey Cox: "Glassheart," "The Glass Menagerie," and more!
Carey Cox, Photo Credit: Lauren Toub GriffithsAlmost everybody that knows me, knows what a sympathetic person I am. Maybe it's because I was born premature or because I grew-up with a learning disabilty, or because I felt like an outsider growing up, but whatever the reason, I love learning about people's lives and their struggles.
When I heard Carey Cox's story, I knew this was an interview I had to do! Carey is an actress with a mobility disability called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome who just made her Broadway debut understudying "Laura Wingfield" in Sam Gold's Glass Menagerie starring Sally Field.
Now, Carey is taking on her next role in Everyday Inferno's production of Reina Hardy's GLASSHEART a surprisingly modern and thoroughly adult spin on the classic story of Beauty & the Beast. Hardy's re-imagining explodes the limitations of traditional fairy tales, focusing its attention away from the ideal of conventional romance and toward something darker and much more complex: the question of what makes us human?
From being physically abled to disabled, Carey is showing the world, she is just like everyone else and we really get to the heart of it all...from acting to Lin-Manuel Miranda to life struggles to an exclusive heartbreaking story you'll only find here at Call Me Adam!
GLASSHEART will make its New York premiere at The Access Theater (380 Broadway) from October 19-28. Click here for tickets!
Carey Cox, Photo Credit: Malloree Delayne Hill1. Who or what inspired you to be an actress? Since my first school play at six years old I've had kind of a one-track mind. I always loved becoming other people and getting to live vicariously through characters. I think that I liked being able to do things that I couldn't do in my normal life. Over time, theatre gave me an excuse to learn and a jumping-off point to do research I never would have thought to do by myself. I was kind of a shy kid when I wasn't at home, and I still am in some ways, and theatre always gave me a way to connect with other wonderful weirdos. In high school, I became obsessed with Carol Burnett and was cast as "Winnifred" in Once Upon a Mattress, a role she originated. It was silly and over the top and to this day some of the most fun I've ever had. It was then that I also started to appreciate the special connection that can occur between an audience and an actor, and among all of the people witnessing the event, and that touched me deeply. Theatre had always been my passion but doing that play definitely sealed the deal!
2. Did you ever let your disability prevent you from pursuing this career path or did you keep telling yourself, "I can do this"? I was born with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, but wasn't diagnosed until a few years ago, and it's only been a couple of years since I became what the world sees as physically disabled. My disability was never really an obstacle in high school or college. It began to affect me a lot more in grad school, and I had an especially difficult time in my movement classes, I think because there isn't a format for how disabled people should be trained in a field that tends to favor athletic able-bodied people. My disability never affected my decision to become an actor because when I fell in love with acting I was able-bodied, and I could run and dance and pull all-nighters, and no one questioned my place in the theatre. My experience is different from other people I know who have been disabled their whole lives, and who have had the added obstacle of people questioning their place in theatre from the get-go. Becoming disabled has taught me a lot about people and a lot about my body, and I think I've become a richer artist because of it. The main way I let it hold me back currently is through auditioning. I have a very bad habit of looking at a casting call and thinking, "well surely they wouldn't want ME." I need to get over that because I don't think I'm giving directors and casting directors the benefit of the doubt, and I'm not representing my community in all its disabled glory! One thing is for sure: I'm not quitting any time soon.
3. What made you want to audition for Glassheart? My friend Malloree Delayne Hill, who is a wonderful actress, has been involved with Everyday Inferno for a while, so when I saw the audition notice, there was a little "ping!" in my brain. When I read the plot summary and the sides I was smitten. It was obvious to me that this play is funny and special, and that I would have a ball being a part of it and getting to say those great words.
4. What do you relate to most about you character "Aoife"? What is one characteristic of hers you are glad you don't possess yourself? That's a tough one, because I think I possess all of "Aiofe's" qualities to some degree. What I like most about "Aiofe" is her self-awareness. She has a lot of problems, but she knows she has problems and she wants to do better. She knows that she hurts people and makes mistakes, but she always comes to a point where she can confront herself and see the truth of what she's doing. I certainly hope I haven't hurt people in the way that "Aiofe" probably has, but I can appreciate the frankness with which she looks at herself. Something else I really appreciate about "Aiofe" is her open heart. When she meets the "Beast," she is ready to help and accept him, despite his strange behavior. I think that "Aiofe" has a lot of empathy and when she looks at someone she quite literally sees the human before the beast.
However, "Aiofe" and I are in very different places in our lives. At the top of the play, "Aiofe" is barely capable of functioning and her ambitions are heart-breakingly simple. "Aiofe" is starting over, whereas I feel like I have been building a life that I love for years, so I don't envy her. Though for "Aiofe," starting over is the right thing to do.
Carey Cox5. What do you think this show will teach people? I think that people might see this show and think about how we see our lives as stories. The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves have a huge effect on our behavior and what roles we play in life. I see so many juicy lessons in this fairytale but my favorite one is this: sometimes we are trapped by our own narratives, and sometimes, when our life doesn't follow our projected story, the only way to find contentment is to let the story go.
6. Glassheart explores the space between light & dark. With all the recent tragedies we've been having from the deadly hurricanes, the shooting in Vegas, and so many others, how do you find the light in the darkness? Knowledge is a light. Lately I am trying to listen and to keep my mouth shut. I'm trying to question what I think I know and actually hear what people say when they talk. I'm finding light in other people. I'm reaching out to friends, I'm meeting eyes on the street, I'm talking to people on the subway. I'm laughing as much as I can. When I look at people, I'm trying to see the human before the beast.
7. The show also shows the sacrifices we make in search of an ordinary life. What sacrifices, if any, have you made in your life and art? I don't think I've made any sacrifices on a grandiose scale, but having a painful chronic illness means I sacrifice a lot of little things every day to be able to remain reliable in this collaborative art form. I was always taught that real actors never get sick. Well, no disrespect, but I'm literally always sick. To make sure that I am strong and alert enough to work during rehearsal hours, I don't do a lot of the things I want to do. I work a job with very flexible hours so that I can work a ton when I'm healthier but take it easy on myself when I'm not doing so well. I have to ration my energy because if I overdo it one day, I will pay for it for days after. It gets me down being so young and having to treat myself so delicately, but there are beautiful spiritual side effects from living life at a slower pace in this city. That sounds cheesy but for me it's been so true!
Carey Cox, Photo Credit: Lauren Toub Griffiths8. Glassheart is a take on the classic story of Beauty & The Beast. If you were to star in a revival or remake of Beauty and the Beast, Who would you want as "The Beast" to your "Belle"? My best friend thinks the last beast should have been Dev Patel and I think she's seriously onto something. However, Lin Manuel Miranda. Though to be fair, if you asked me that question about pretty much any show, I would say "Lin Manuel Miranda."
9. I find it quite funny that you recently finished your run in the Broadway revival of TheGlass Menagerie starring Sally Field and now you are starring in a show called Glassheart. So, both shows have the word "glass" in them. Since glass is so fragile what is the most fragile thing about yourself you keep hidden, but maybe now, with so much uncertainty around us, you are ready to reveal? Something I don't talk about much is the loss of my brother and sister. I lost my brother when I was 16 and my sister a couple of years ago. I've had the support of wonderful family and friends and moving to New York has been incredibly healing, but it's something I struggle with. You never know who might be harboring a secret pain. Maybe even the guy being a jerk on the train. I promise I didn't intend for that to rhyme, but I'm keeping it.
10. What was it like acting with Sally Field? What did you learn from her? Sally Field was wonderful! She kept everybody laughing and was incredibly kind. I got the chance to act with her one time when I went on as "Laura's" understudy, and she made me feel so comfortable and safe. What I learned most from her came from watching her in the rehearsal room. For me it was a terrific example of how great work is not only emotionally connected, but also logical and smart. I was so lucky to get to watch that caliber of work in process.
In my own rehearsals I worked mostly with Sally Field's incredible understudy, Kathryn Meisle, who is fiercely talented and was a joy to act with every week. She gave me wonderful acting and life advice and boosted my confidence with her kindness. I was lucky to work with amazing people then, and I'm working with amazing people now! I've been very lucky. New York has been very kind to me!
Carey Cox, Photo Credit: Malloree Delayne HillMore on Carey:
Carey Cox is an NYC actress with a mobility disability called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. She received a BFA in musical theater from Santa Fe University of Art and Design and an MFA in acting from UNC Chapel Hill where she performed with PlayMakers Repertory Company in Three Sisters, Seminar, Mary’s Wedding, We are Proud to Present…, Trouble in Mind, Into the Woods, Metamorphoses, and others. Carey recently made her Broadway debut understudying "Laura Wingfield" in The Glass Menagerie directed by Sam Gold.