When I asked Patti Murin what the mission statement for her life would be, she simply said, “Love and Puppies”. And let me tell you, that’s the perfect mission statement for her. Patti is the embodiment of love and I am so beyond thrilled to have her as our first interview for Fête Talks!
As many of you know, I’ve been partying with Patti for almost a year now. She initiated this wonderful challenge to celebrate every ridiculous holiday for a whole year and it’s been the best thing to happen to our family in a long time. It was only appropriate to have Patti’s interview hit the blog on Thanksgiving Eve because I’m truly thankful for the light she’s brought to our lives this year.
Patti Murin is a seasoned Broadway star (Lysistrata Jones, Xanadu, Wicked) and I have, by coincidence and total fangirl status, seen almost every single show she’s ever done. She is a giant ball of talent and I am so grateful and lucky to have had the chance to speak with her last week. For those of you not completely obsessed with Broadway like I am, you can see her as Dr. Nina Shore on Chicago Med. Oh, and PSA: watch that show. It’s 100 kinds of awesome.
The reason I wanted to interview Patti is because she is a strong, empowering, hard-working woman who uses her platform and her voice for good. She was the perfect person for my first Fête Talk so read on to learn how she relaxes, her love of loyalty…and puppies.
Rachel: We’ll just start right off the bat. If you could have a mission statement or you established a mission statement for yourself, what would it be?
Patti: Probably love and puppies. It’s not a very long mission statement, but that pretty much sums it up. It’s love in general, for everything and everyone, but then also puppies.
Rachel: So good. You can never go wrong with love, or puppies.
Patti: Exactly. We have to remember that more than ever these days .
Rachel: Now, this is a bit of a weird question, so bear with me because I grew up in a very male-dominated culture and this whole women’s empowerment thing is relatively new to me. My culture is very much “women make babies and pies” and I can’t think of a moment when I was told I could do whatever I want regardless of my gender. What is your earliest memory of a woman showing you that your gender had nothing to do with your ability to do whatever you wanted?
Patti: You know, no one ever told me no, in terms of you’re a girl, you can’t do this. I will say, my parents were incredibly supportive of everything I wanted to do and everything that my sister wanted to do, whether it was sports for her or for me. I ran track and my dad and mom came to my track meets just as much as they went to my brother’s baseball games. They were always very supportive of my talent and of what I wanted to do. They never thought anything was a bad idea. They helped me make campaign signs when I ran for class officers and stuff.
You know, I kind of grew up in a town where I remember my mom was a stay-at-home mom, but she had four of us. All of my friends, not all, but most of my friends’ moms worked, so it wasn’t weird to see working mothers and also to see stay-at-home moms. It was like, “That’s your choice. No big deal.” I’m going to say I never had a moment like that because I grew in a family and in a place where that was never…
Rachel: In question?
Patti: Yes, never in question. For me, personally. It wasn’t until I was older that I started to realize like, “Oh my.” I’m also in an industry where, when you say this is the minimum, for theater, this is a Broadway, equity minimum, blah blah blah”, and you’re like, “Okay, great,” and that’s what you get. It doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or a girl. Obviously, in a case, it’s happened, but I was never in the 78 v to the dollar thing to such an extreme. I’m going to say it wasn’t until recently that I’ve started to look around and be, “Oh my goodness, look at all of these men in charge.” These men, for the absolute majority, I can’t think of anything off the bat where I was treated differently or poorly [because of my gender] , but they’re wonderful. They’re good at their job. Even recognizing it now, it’s more of an observation than something to make me angry.
Rachel: Absolutely. I like that.
Patti: I hope that I answered your question at all.
Rachel: Of course you did. That was a good answer because you didn’t know any different. That’s the good thing. I hope my girls can grow up not knowing that there is any real difference between what men can do and what women can do. I want them to not know any different. Ok, let’s continue. One of the big things that I love to hear from other women is how challenges have shaped you. I have had many and I definitely would not be who I am without them. As terrible as they were, they have absolutely plotted the course for my life and made me grateful for them in a very weird way. That sounds awful to say.
Patti: No. I don’t think so. I think that’s the way you should look at them.
Rachel: If you’re comfortable talking about it, are there some challenges or instances where you have definitely felt like a letdown or a challenge has helped you more than you thought that it would hurt you?
Patti: Yes. I’m divorced and stuff. That was difficult. Honestly, that wasn’t as difficult as, looking back, in hindsight, my battle with depression for my whole life and feeling, at first, that it was something like, “Oh I’m clinically depressed or diagnosed depressed person.” In the very beginning, it felt like something very dramatic to say. I took myself off my medication for seven years because I was like, “I’m cool. I’m going to do this myself.”
Finally, after my divorce actually, I decided, in my new relationship, I was a year into my new relationship and stuff, but I knew that was incredibly important. I was like, “I am going to do this.” It was not easy. Man, I was so nauseous for so many months. It was not pretty. I still remember the moment when I said to my husband, Colin, about ten days after I went on the medication, “I was like, I feel different, am I different?” He said, “Yes, you are.”
Obviously, every solution is not for everyone. Since, oh my God, 2001, when I was first started, first recognized, I have a real thing going on. It’s been a 15-year fight, and that’s not even counting all the times in elementary school when I was so despondent and didn’t know why. That also has given me, I feel like, extra license to be able to say to other women and other people, this is a real thing and it’s okay. It is not your fault.
Rachel: That is one of the things that I admire most about you. I also struggle with depression and anxiety and knowing there are amazing people out there that struggle as well, it’s sort of a comfort.
Patti: It always blows my mind that this thing that everyone feels, depression, is when people feel so alone, but there are so many people feeling so alone because we don’t talk about it. If you just say something, you’ll find someone to talk to.
It’s the most cliché thing, but the most true thing, is you are not alone. No matter what you are dealing with, you are not alone. I have known other people, since my divorce, who are getting divorced. I’m fortunate enough to have what I call a divorce friend now, which is someone who was going through exactly what I was going through at the exact same time. She was, and still is to this day, indispensable.
Now there’s been a couple of people, a couple of friends, who have been going through the same thing and I always says, “Talk to me whenever you need it. Everyone can ‘understand’, but this is something, it’s like having a baby, they don’t actually know what it’s like until you’ve squeezed a human out of your body.” Obviously, I don’t tend to understand.
Now there’s been a couple of people, a couple of friends, who have been going through the same thing and I always says, “Talk to me whenever you need it. Everyone can ‘understand’, but this is something,
Now there’s been a couple of people, a couple of friends, who have been going through the same thing and I always says, “Talk to me whenever you need it.” I would say all you have to do is reach out or something and you will find somebody.
Rachel: I love that. And thank you for that. Thank you for helping people know it’s OK to not be 100% all the time. Next up…I’m a big self-care person. If you’re discouraged or if you’re just blah, where do you find comfort? What calms you? Do you have a strategy for self-care?
Patti: Yoga. I know you’ve followed my yoga journey. I was not a yoga person, at all. Then, all of a sudden, when I went to Chicago, I found this amazing studio. It’s called Bare Feet Power Yoga and it’s the most incredible community of people. It’s a small studio. I’ve been to some more corporate ones and I was like, “This is terrible. This is literally the exact opposite of what this should be.”
I just kind of tried it through ClassPass. The day I tried it, they were doing a 30 dollars of three or four classes, but they were also starting a challenge, which was practice 21 times in 31 days. I was like, “Well, I just moved to this city. May as well. It’s getting cold.” After that, that was it. It was like, “Oh wow.” Actually, honestly, I stopped going to yoga when I came back to New York over the hiatus from Chicago Med because I couldn’t find a studio that I really loved like that. Then when I did start going back, I was like, “I miss this so much.” So it’s yoga and also puppies. Volunteering with puppies. Reading. Honestly reading, if I can be successful in unplugging myself truly and turning off all the ding and airplane mode everything and I sit down with a book, I can decompress that way. It helps.
Rachel: It really does. Those are excellent ways to decompress. Yoga, puppies, and reading. Ok, next question…what led you to Broadway?
Patti: I guess I was a bit of an energetic child. I always liked dancing and stuff and I had rhythm and I had pitch, generally. I decided when I was in sixth grade, we did a production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, and that was when I was like, “I can totally sing”, so I did. I was a mouse. I was a really committed mouse. Then, I don’t know, I think my dad really encouraged me because he was the one that called me a good actor. He was the one that in junior high and in high school, he said, “I know you like to sing and you’re a great singer, but I actually think that you’re a really great actor.”
At the time, I think he said you were better actor than you are a singer. Saying it now, he didn’t mean what that sounds like. He wanted to impress upon me that he really thinks that I was not just someone who could sing and was cute. That’s always stuck with me in times when I don’t feel like the best singer.
I’ve had to come to terms over the years of like, “I love to sing and I do have a great voice.” I do know that, but I do not have one of the natural voices. I cannot just be shown a song and be like, “Okay, sing it,” and be like, “Okay.” I’ve learned my voice as I’ve grown up and sang more. I am aware of my basic, I hate to say limitations, but I know what I do well. That reminder has always been in my head because sometimes I’m like, “You know what, yeah, but I can act.”
Between that and also I went to Syracuse and I think they teach you how to ACT at that school. That is for sure. That’s always been really important to me. Then, I don’t know, I kept doing it and I was like, “Oh, I’m good at this and I’m getting parts in plays.” There was never a question. When I wanted to apply to college, it was like, “Where’s a musical theater program.”
I graduated. I grew up just north of New York City, so moving to New York City was not a big deal because it was my city. Then I was a swing in Xanadu for my first Broadway show five years after I graduated college. When Anika Larsen left, I moved up to her track and so I had a part and I understudied Kerry Butler, which was amazing. She taught me so much about being a leading lady and also timing comedy, of course. She was just … After that, I stopped understudying. I was like, “That was fun, but that’s not what I want to do.” I feel so fortunate to have gotten that experience with her, for my first one.
Rachel: Awesome – such an organic and awesome path. Those of us who follow Broadway, we are super psyched that you continued on that path. Very good. Last one, what are qualities you admire in other women?
Patti: I love loyal women. I don’t think that’s something that I recognize as a quality, but then when I look at my best women friends, it’s exactly what all of them are. Loyalty. I mean, I have so many incredible woman friends. I could not be more fortunate. I have two best friends that I’ve known since I was four. I have a group of seven best friends from college that we all still are on a group text. We text every day. When I come back to my phone and I’m like, 50 text messages, I know that it’s them.
I have my friends, Cat and Lindsay, who I knew, but really worked with in Lysistrata Jones and spent a lot of time with them. I have them. I also now have this incredible group of women friends in Chicago. There is a common theme with all of them. They’re all strong, strong but not overwhelming. They know who they are and they’re calmly independent. Does that make sense?
Rachel: Yes. I love that.
Patti: I think I do admire strength so much. I love when women are maternal and that doesn’t even mean to their own kids, but just like to humans in general. I love when, how do I put this, I love knowing that any of these ladies are going to have my back at any given time. I guess that would still be loyal, but they’re fiercely protective of what they love – children, family.
Rachel: Those are great qualities. I don’t know you very well, but I think you would easily fall into all of those categories. You become what you surround yourself with.
Patti: If that is true, then I am the luckiest, coolest person on the planet, because that is who I’ve surrounded myself with.
This is where I gush to Patti about how much she’s helped me keep my little band of people together this year…
Rachel: I know it sounds kind of silly, but I think it’s fun to give other women, for them to see that there are people like them out there, regardless of who they are. And don’t think that what you do goes unnoticed because every single day, I’m telling you, every morning we wake up, my little boy, who can barely string three words together asks, “What national day is it, mommy?” It has been a huge, dare I say, blessing in our family this year. If anything, there is this random, weird family in South Jersey that you have helped big time. So, thank you, so much.
Patti: Of course. Thanks for including me.
I can’t thank Patti enough for her time and her willingness to talk to some nobody like me. She is truly one of the brightest gems out there. And just for fun, watch this woman belt her gorgeous face off!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!