She won a Tony award for Hair Spray, waltzed her way into our hearts (& the final three) on Dancing With The Stars, is currently launching both a brand new clothing line and a brand new talk show! And-did I happen to mention that she also has her first baby on the way! Is there anything Marissa Jaret-Winokur cannot do? Last month I had the chance and supreme pleasure to talk to this triple-threat performer, who, true to her warm & effervescent on-screen persona was both gracious and inspiring.
JJ: Well I have to ask you this right off the bat- What was your favorite dance?
MJW: It changed. Every dance was my favorite. I loved the tango but I have to say the waltz may have been my favorite because it doesn’t seem like me at all!
JJ: I loved that one too! What was it like being on Dancing With the Stars?
MJW: In rehearsals I would panic sometimes but when I put on the wardrobe it was like a dream. I was definitely fulfilling a drag queen dream! (laughing) But seriously, it was such a fantasy come true! I never understood ballroom dancing completely until I put the dress on.
JJ: Well you certainly transformed into a dancing Goddess that is for sure! You were definitely channeling Ginger Rogers in that waltz! How did this type of dancing differ from the kind you did on Broadway in Hair Spray?
MJW: I felt completely exposed. My heart and soul were completely exposed. I couldn’t B.S. anyone I had to be completely truthful. No Smoke and mirrors. I was creating something completely new for me.
JJ: What has your experience as an actress been in this industry? Do you experience any discrimination?
MJW: It has been somewhat of a struggle at times, I say no to a lot of things. I am very selective. I don’t want to play the poor, pathetic fat girl. I am very careful because I know that if some 16 year somewhere is watching I want to project a positive image. When I was cast in Beautiful Girl, they originally wanted to call it “Big Girl”, but I stood up to all the male executives and told them they should change the title. Little girls will watch this, I said. It’s important.
JJ: Wow Marissa that is incredible! I think you are officially my hero now!
JJ: What would you tell young girls who are struggling with body image?
MJW: Everyday you have to wake up and embrace your body. Do what you want to do with it. It’s about being healthy. The images we see on TV and in the movies are not real. What is real is you. Your mother, your sister, your aunt are real.
JJ: Hollywood’s standards are ridiculous!
MJW: It’s true. I have lost a ton of weight – I have never been skinnier in my life and I’m still considered a character actress.
JJ: What kind of roles would you like to play? What is your dream role?
MJW: I would love to be in a role like Jennifer Lopez played in Maid in Manhattan! I love romantic comedies! I’d love to be an unexpected, non-typical romantic lead.
JJ: I think you are perfect for that! Any other dreams?
MJW: Well my big dream right now is to have my own clothesline! It takes me so long to find something to wear you know that’s not just a sweatshirt! I like wearing clothes that are sassy and hot! You know- and bras that go way past a D and still look pretty!
JJ: I know I will be buying that!
MJW: I have gotten in the habit of bringing my own clothes to the set. Most of the clothes they have for me are dumpy so I bring my own things.
JJ: That is an excellent tip! Tell us a little about your upcoming talk show.
MJW: Well I would like the show to empower women to be strong. I have faced a lot of heartache and loss. I have been through a lot of stuff. So I want my show to be: let’s get through life together! I want to make a person’s day a little brighter. Dancing With the Stars really made me aware of how important it is to be involved with life affirming projects. I don’t feel strong everyday you know but I see the silver lining.
JJ: Well Marissa- I know I can safely speak for everyone at Plus Model Mag when I say we can’t wait for your clothing line AND your talk show to come out! You are an inspiration to us all and on a personal note congratulations on the upcoming birth of your first child! We know you will make the most loving and amazing mother!