Just like I promised, I’ve got a bit more Haviland Stillwell for y’all. She was gracious enough to let me interview her recently. I asked her everything y’all asked me to ask and she answered them all (except for giving out her phone number, sorry buddy)! And when she immediately, without a second of a delay, answered which Cher song was her favorite I was thoroughly convinced. This woman is fabulous.
…And we’re rolling:
Your name is very unique. Is there a story behind it (that you have already told 42, 000 times)?
When I was a baby girl, I would tell people, “I’m Haviland; like the China, not like the Motor Oil.” I was named for my very beautiful, very southern grandmother – a real character!
At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be an actor/ singer?
I exited the womb with aplomb…belting, if you will. Evidently, I was very excited to be alive. So you could say it was from birth? But the moment I consciously thought, “I want to do this” happened while watching Bette Midler’s outstanding performance(s) in BIG BUSINESS when I was eight.
What is your favorite Cher song?
My friend Diane Warren’s song, “If I Could Turn Back Time.”
How did you go about starting what has turned into a successful career?
I was highly aware, always, of the difficulties of working in the entertainment industry and how hard a person had to work to make things happen. My mom was a casting director when I was growing up, so I was always on sets and in theatres. I listened. I studied and trained and absorbed answers to everything I knew to ask both about the business, and about myself as an artist. I was terrifically fortunate to grow up in a family that valued education. I also made mistakes that ended up teaching me even more than expected. I am one of those people who attempts to plan everything out to the second, but of course, most of life doesn’t happen according to plans. I’m still learning to be flexible. And it’s all working out. It’s all a process.
Were you frightened at all when you realized you could do a flawless, spot on impression of Sarah Palin?
HA! I don’t know about that…but she is a helluva performer.
Tell us one of your favorite moments as an actor/singer.
My Broadway debut, opening night. It was FIDDLER ON THE ROOF and Alfred Molina was speaking the first words of the “Tradition” monologue. I looked around the stage at the other actors and then fixed on my friend Joy, and tears just streamed. I felt so grateful.
When you perform, like in Fiddler or when singing for a large crowd, you seem so confident and present. Do you have stage fright? If so, how do you deal with that?
I’m sometimes more comfortable on stage than anywhere else, because I feel fully in control. And if the audience is with me, then we’re good to go.
Are you a dog person or a cat person?
Dogs! I have a little rescued terrier who is pretty much perfect.
What is your sign?
If you could be the leading lady (or leading man) for any movie ever made, what movie, who and why?
Scarlett O’Hara, obviously. But updated and with musical numbers!
Right or left handed?
Do you consider yourself a political person? If so, why and how?
Oh, yes. I am obsessed with the news – watching, analyzing, conversing with others who know more than me, and with people who are open to hearing different sides. It’s such a bizarre and transitory time right now in the world, so I am really paying attention.
What would the ideal acting/singing gig look like for you?
I think of acting/singing more in the grand scheme than in specific gigs, but some specifics? I want to be a series regular on a show where I’m encouraged to create and collaborate – ideally something like “Ally McBeal,” “Glee,” “Modern Family, “Murphy Brown”. And of course, still do movies, plays, musicals, voiceovers, albums and concerts. I want to make you laugh and sing some great music. I have a lot of energy and I love working!
If someone was to buy you a drink and have it sent over to your table, what would be the perfect order?
Cold Diet Green Tea, lots of ice.
If there was going to be a made for TV movie all about Haviland Stillwell who would be your first pick to play you?
Lady GaGa. Or um, myself. Or I’ll play her and she could play me?
You were the president of your GSA in high school, right? Tell us about this.
I was one of the leaders in my high school’s GSA. I wasn’t technically out in high school, but I wasn’t in either. I felt highly uncomfortable slapping a label on myself, because I didn’t feel like I had enough experience and knowledge of who I was and what I wanted and needed to be at that point, and I didn’t want one word to stigmatize me. (Side note: I am still not comfortable with labels, it’s just that now I am comfortable with myself. That’s the difference.)
I have always been into equal rights and I loved the political and educational aspects of the club. All students and faculty were invited, and we met once a week. It was really not cool to be a bigot at my high school, so if people were negative, they kept it quiet. When I heard about something being said, I handled it. The GSA was important to me personally, because I was struggling with my identity at the time, and it was good to know others were, too. And it was important in a larger sense because its mere presence encouraged honesty and community.
If you could have either the super power to fly or the super power to be invisible, which one would you pick?
Ooh, nice metaphor! A few years ago I would have chosen invisibility, but now I choose to fly.
Who/ what inspires you and why?
Kindness and productivity. Great work – like someone just killing it in a performance of any kind where there is truth. Passion, joy, intelligence and conviction…and seeing the people I love kick ass. Oh! And laughter! Lots of it.
What are you most proud of?
My family – which includes my best friends, who keep making it happen.
Don’t you think I should go on the Ellen Degeneres show and talk about how important GSA’s are? When I do get the invitation, want to come with me and sing something?
I do think you should, and obviously I’m there. But only if we get the whole studio audience to dance.
Oh. They’ll dance.
Well, Miss Haviland, I really appreciate your taking the time for this interview. Thank you for playing along and for being so willing to answer my many questions. I look forward to following the continued success of your career in all of its many talented forms.
…Hey you, readers, want even more Haviland?!? Here you go: