Currently on screen in the latest Marvel blockbuster Captain Marvel alongside Brie Larson, Sharon Blynn has an impressive resume of work to her name having appeared in several hit TV shows and movies. As an individual who has fought and beaten ovarian cancer, she’s also the founder of Bald Is Beautiful, an organisation which supports ovarian cancer programs and raises awareness. With a number of projects “in development”, ThisIsTheLatest spoke to Blynn about her fond memories of her time on the CM set, the one role she’s the most proud of and what the future has in store.
TITL: Prior to becoming an actress, did you ever have any other career plans or ambitions?
Sharon Blynn: Before I started Bald Is Beautiful and pursuing acting and modeling. I worked at a record company in NYC, specifically in jazz. My dream at the time was to eventually have my own record company or do artist development (Berry Gordy-style) to help bring gifted artists to the world. I spent many years collaborating with incredibly talented artists, forging lasting friendships, and hanging out in the legendary New York City jazz scene into the wee hours every night! Soon after leaving the music biz, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and that journey inspired me to create my Bald Is Beautiful movement, which encompasses ovarian cancer awareness advocacy, motivational speaking and community outreach, as well as acting.
TITL: What is it about acting and performing that you love so much? Now that you’re a well-established actress, could you ever envisage yourself doing anything else?
SB: Ironically, before my cancer journey and starting Bald Is Beautiful, I could never have imagined that I would first of all remain bald much less become an actor! What I love about performing is what I love about LIFE — digging into emotion, honest self-reflection, connecting to another person, listening to people share their stories and holding space for them to feel safe doing so, telling stories that cultivate empathy and understanding, and expand our perspective about people and the world around us. Before I began acting, it terrified me, frankly, but I very quickly caught the “acting bug” from my first time performing on stage in a very special interactive, immersive theatrical show called Off the Muff (conceived, produced, and directed by my twin sis Elisa), and have found a true passion for it. Bald Is Beautiful is still the fuel behind my acting fire, so what I do in terms of acting always goes beyond performing and delves into passionate (and compassionate) activism and advocacy.
TITL: You have a varied resume of roles that span several genres including drama and comedy, and have appeared in Shameless, Body of Proof, and Lie to Me along with many other shows. How important to you is it that you’re able to take on a wide variety of roles and genre styles in the work you do, and is there one you prefer over the other?
SB: I thoroughly enjoy exploring characters in a wide variety of roles and styles, because in the end. It comes down to telling story from an authentic and grounded place. Working across genres and styles also gives me the opportunity to explore different parts of myself, and I love digging into all of those rich emotional layers. I can be a complete goofball and also a sensitive and intense woman, and I can draw from all of that for every kind of role.
TITL: Which of your past performances/roles might you say you’re most proud of and why?
SB: One of my favorite roles was a 12-minute one-woman performance piece I wrote and presented called “How Are We Feeling Today?” I originally wrote it as part of an event called “The Big C”, for which all of the featured performers were cancer survivors sharing their stories through this artistic avenue. This was the first time I’d made a scripted-sculpted representation of the full emotional arc of my ovarian cancer experience, and the director I was paired with helped shape my story into a unique expression that I would like to someday develop into a full one-woman show.
TITL: If you could appear in any other TV show past or present, which would it be and what kind of character would you like to play?
SB: This is such a tough question! There are so many shows of all genres that I have loved watching throughout my life — the first thing that actually popped into my head was to be the guest star – aka the killer – on an episode of Columbo, especially one of the longer-form 90-minute or 2-hour episodes! I think that’s because I just recently happened to catch both the Johnny Cash and Leonard Nimoy appearances in the wee hours of my insomniac cable-surfing! If I’m looking to what’s happening now, I am excited about the bold and compelling stories being told through the limited series or anthology series formats, like Big Little Lies and Sinner or True Detective, and also woman-helmed productions from powerhouses like Shonda Rhimes, Reese Witherspoon, Ava Duvernay, Gina Rodriguez, and others with whom I would love to work. I relish the opportunity to explore a variety of character types, from sensitive and soulful to sinister and dark to quirky and offbeat.
TITL: How did you hear about the audition for the role of Soren in Captain Marvel and did you consider/audition for any other parts? What can you recall of your audition itself?
SB: The audition for the role of Soren came through my rep, and there was actually very little information provided at that time as far as the project and the character, and even the surrounding storyline. There was no dialogue in the audition scene, all I was given was a couple of sentences generically describing a complex scenario, so I had to create an emotional arc just using that information. It was an exciting challenge to bring a scene like that to life; in some ways more challenging than having lots of dialogue to prepare!
TITL: As a huge fan of Marvel, how does it feel to now be a part of such a huge and globally loved, brand/Universe?
SB: As an MCU and Stan Lee fan and as an actor, it still feels a bit surreal, and I think I will always be over-the-moon giddy about it. Being in such a special role and compelling scenes, and in particular to be part of a Marvel movie that has its own landmark qualities — first female superhero lead in a Marvel movie, first female director in the MCU — is especially rewarding and meaningful as it relates to my Bald Is Beautiful message to empower women to find and define their strength, courage, beauty, and the womanity of it all!
TITL: Do you have any favorite moments or memories from your time on set that you can share?
SB: Every moment on set for this shoot is a favorite memory for me! Genuinely! Of course, connecting and working with Ben and Brie in particular was a joy. They both have an ease and warmth that helped make the scenes feel present and relatable. Also, I adored working with Auden and Harriet as my daughter. I’d never worked with children that young who therefore had to shoot in alternating shifts, so working with the two of them was fascinating, both personally – I’m an identical twin myself – and as an actor!
TITL: Captain Marvel is smashing it at the box office on both sides of the Atlantic. Aside from the fact it’s a Marvel film, and has huge support behind it for that reason alone, what do you think it is about this film that fans and critics are loving so much?
SB: I think the wide appeal of Captain Marvel comes from a few different angles for existing fans and newcomers alike. There is the nostalgia of the ’90s setting, the boldness of the futuristic sci-fi elements, the engaging action sequences and cool visual effects, and the combination of humor and heart. The fierceness and power of the feminine underpinning the movie at its core gives the movie an added layer of appeal not only for female viewers, but also speaks to male viewers – younger and older – in showing how balance and respect help us all rise to our highest potential.
TITL: The film has been championed by many for the way in which it – and Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers – empowers women, reminding them that they are just as strong and capable as any man. Given the recent MeToo movement and all the attention around the way women are treated in the business, just how important and timely do you think the film and this message is?
SB: The messages of this film have always been important. The timeliness of it comes from the renewed groundswell of momentum and awareness for issues that impact women all over the world, and people are more activated and engaged in the social and political significance of it all. I like to think that the worldwide theatrical release of Captain Marvel occurring on International Women’s Day was both purposeful and magical!
TITL: Away from acting, you founded the organization Bald Is Beautiful after successfully beating ovarian cancer, with the platform helping to raise awareness and support charities and programs. Given that 1 in 2 of us will be affected by cancer in our lifetime, would you like to see more people in the spotlight, and those affected by cancer and other such diseases, speak out in support of those people and organizations working tirelessly to help beat it? What can people do if they want to get involved with Bald Is Beautiful?
SB: Actually, my acting work began specifically as part of my Bald Is Beautiful organization’s message. It is the visual component of engaging the print, TV, and film industries in expanding how beauty and femininity are depicted. There are many ways to be of support of people and organizations in the cancer trenches, and everyone has their own comfort level with sharing about what is a very private, intimate experience, be it their own or that of a loved one going through cancer treatment. My main hope, then, is that those who do have visibility or are in a position of influence use that platform in whatever ways they feel willing or able.
As far as involvement with Bald Is Beautiful, I always invite people to share my site www.baldisbeautiful.org with anyone for whom they think it can be of comfort, inspiration, resource, encouragement, and hope.
TITL: How do you feel about social media and the impact it can and does have on industries/professions such as yours both personally and professionally? Do you think we as a society are too attached to the likes of Twitter and Facebook or is it simply another tool that for the most part is beneficial to people and projects looking to reach an audience?
SB: As with most technological advancements, there are pros and cons to what those developments bring to our personal or professional lives. It seems to always depend on the users and their intent. Social media can be refreshingly connective, and in some ways it can certainly level the field of play in terms of self-generating and disseminated our art. It can save cost and time, while also eat away at that precious time, because so many people are getting lost in their devices and not engaging with humanity and nature that abounds and surrounds us. It’s vital to have a sense of awareness around both the benefits and potential pitfalls, and be mindful about it all.
TITL: Actors often have very demanding schedules what with filming and press tours etc. How do you unwind after a busy period or hectic filming schedule?
SB: I cherish spending time with people who are dear to me. I equally appreciate times of quiet solitude to decompress. Exercising is a form of release and reinvigoration that I do often – daily if possible – including the gym, hiking, going for a bike ride or just walking around the neighborhood. I also thoroughly enjoy diving into a Law & Order marathon! I’ve probably seen every episode, most of them more than once, but it doesn’t matter . . . that show, original and SVU, is a sort of mental “soul food” for me.
TITL: Are there any upcoming projects in the pipeline you can tell me about?
SB: I have a couple of exciting things in development and, in the meantime, continue with the Hollywood hustle of auditioning and “working out” in classes, and enjoying Life!
TITL: What advice would you give to any aspiring actors and actresses out there who are looking to make their way in the industry? Is there any advice you were once given that you would pass on?
SB: I would encourage aspiring actors to understand both the creative and the business side of the industry. Take classes, connect with other actors, do the discipline and work to hone their acting skills. And then . . . live life! One of my acting teachers stressed the importance of living a full life in order to be a full, embodied, and authentic actor and human being. That insight still holds true for me, and I strive to do that in some way every day.
TITL: Finally then, looking to the future, what’s the long-term ambition for you, both personally and professionally?
SB: Professionally speaking, I hope to continue building my acting repertoire and I’m excited about all the possibilities of what’s to come. The same goes for Bald Is Beautiful and reaching more people through this medium of TV and film work or in other ways. Personally, I hope to maintain good health, enjoy my relationships, and overall continue learning and evolving — mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – and experience unconditional joy and love in all areas of life.
Captain Marvel is in cinemas everywhere now. For more information on and to keep up to date with Sharon Blynn, follow her on Twitter. Header photo credit: Alexis Dickey.