It is easy to assume that someone with so much talent and so many accolades could very easily lose touch with the real world, but (when not in character) Ebersole is refreshingly grounded and insightful.
Fans of Ebersole can enjoy her comedic insights at Night of the Stars, a Baltimore Hebrew Congregation event honoring community leaders Martha and Stan Weiman, and that will benefit religious school scholarships and youth programs. Fans can also read on to catch a glimpse of the Ebersole's wit:
What projects are you working on now?
Well, I'm leaving for LA on the 18th of April. I got a TV series called Sullivan and Son. It just got picked up. We shot the pilot in November. It's going to be airing in July. It takes place at a bar in Pittsburgh; I'm a cougar that works at the DMV. I'm just playing myself.
So you're a cougar who works at the DMV?
Not quite. [Ebersole chuckles]
I know you must be busy. How do you juggle your time?
It's always really hard when you have kids. It's hard to create a balance, that's what I try to do. I think when you're on the stage it's really hard. You're never there at night; you don't get to see your family as much. You have off one day a week. That's really hard. This part that is coming up will be hard. The show shoots in LA, and I live in New Jersey. I'm going to be flying back and forth, which will be hard.
Do you have any advice for people who, like you, struggle with a busy schedule?
Creating balance is about being present so that when you're with your kids you're really with them. Whatever time that you have, you are present and engaged.
What is your favorite role so far?
Tell me about Grey Gardens! What was it like to be Big and Little Edie?
Big Edie was more out of my imagination. Little Edie was more from studying the documentary because that was on film. There was nothing about them, except for photographs, about what it was like during their heyday.
Why do you think Grey Gardens is so popular with the gay community?
Little Edie has always been sort of an iconic figure that is revered in the gay community because she represented a staunch character that really stood for her beliefs. She was marginalized and made fun of. She was an outsider in that way, but it didn't really stop her from expressing herself. I think that's how people feel in general, but particularly people in the gay community (a marginalized community that is fighting to have recognition in humanity).
What role are you dying to play?
I can't say right off hand, but I know that there is some fantastic role that will bring me back to Broadway.
Tell me about your awards. How does it feel to receive so many?
I think that it's about balance because I appreciate all the awards I received, but at the same time that's not why we pursue a career in the theater. We do it because we love it and we feel we have something to offer (I can't speak for everybody). It's also a challenge to not put so much stock in it, because it's too much pressure. Art, by its nature, is not competitive. That's kind of an odd thing when you start to compete for a prize in an artistic endeavor. It doesn't match up. It's always thrilling to receive one of those awards, but you have to keep it in perspective.
Do you have any advice for actors and actresses who are currently struggling to get roles in New York?
Of course you have to be passionate about your art, and passionate about your work. It's really about the journey. The journey in life and in art is about knowing and accepting yourself—the good the bad and the ugly. It's sort of the art of living, isn't it? That when you receive rejection like that it doesn't stop you. There is a lot of rejection, but there is a lot of rejection in the world. It's kind of designed to reject you. If you pursue your passion, eventually the universe supports you in your endeavor. It really never comes the way you expect it. That's the great thing about it, it's full of surprises.
Have you had any surprises that you would like to share with readers?
It's all kind of a surprise to me. I'm going out to LA to do a TV show. I did a major motion picture last year that is opening in October (The Big Wedding). I wrote a song for the movie end credits. I don't know if it will end up in the movie, but it was a surprise for me. There are always surprises that are right around the corner. You just get a call from somebody. I know that there are wonderful things in store up ahead, but nothing that I know about right now.
You have an impressive theatrical career, but you have also appeared on the screen. Which do you prefer?
I think probably the hardest work is on the stage and yet it is the most fulfilling. I think television and film are a lot of fun, but they are more like going fishing.
It's not so arduous. It's not nearly as arduous as writing a cabaret show or participating in a Broadway musical; even plays are easier than musicals. Nothing is harder than that, really. But at the same time, nothing is more satisfying or more fulfilling, I think.
What was your most difficult role?
I think that doing Grey Gardens was really difficult; it just demanded everything of me. At the same time when the night was over I had a deep sense of fulfillment; the well was full. What I gave of myself and what was given to the audience, what I got back was more than what I gave. There was this sort of sense of communion; it was a spiritual experience. When its working, that's what art really is. It's an offer of spiritual transformation. The audience and performers can [undergo] a spiritual or emotional experience, not just an intellectual endeavor, but something that involves your heart.
Is there anything else that gives you the same satisfaction?
My greatest satisfaction, on a personal level, is loving my children. It makes show business easy.
How does it make show business easy?
That's just your career. You attempt to make relationships with your children that are enduring so that you can grow with them. As you teach them they teach you. There's always this striving to find ways to communicate through the chaos of just growing up in this world and culture. Finding ways to connect is enduring. It's kind of learning a language of love, really. And what is that? But I think that's really the greatest journey in my life, personally—my family, my children and husband.
What should people expect at Night of the Stars?
Have a good time. It'll be a fun show. It's the show that I did at the [Café] Carlyle in February. The title of the show is "The End of the World as We Know It Cabaret."
What is it about?
It's about our perceptions. It's examining our perceptions about the end of the world.
How does the cabaret compare to other things you have worked on?
It's very intense in creating it. It's a very concentrated intense sort of creative time, and that's why doing the TV series is going fishing. ■
Night of the Stars
Saturday, April 28 • $75-150
6-7:30pm reception • 8pm show
Baltimore Hebrew Congregation
7401 Park Heights Ave.
443.524.0284 • BHCong.org