Articles about Ellen
Curtain Speech, from Pen & Anvil Press
In addition to my published book of poetry, I'm currently working on my first novel, The Universe of the Gods----although, at the current word count, I'm anticipating what I thought of as a three-part book may actually be a trilogy of novels.
My first television series, "Balls and Strikes," a comedy about baseball writers, was a finalist at the Big Apple Film Festival and Screenplay Competition, a semi-finalist at the Orlando Film Festival and the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival, and a selection at the Austin Under the Stars Film Festival.
I'm currently working on a second television series about working at a historical site, and my first feature-length script, a horror comedy.
I assume you've heard of it.
More at Vimeo tbh
A Brief Autobiography.
I can't imagine these details being very interesting, but you were the one to click on 'About,' so I will indulge your kind curiosity.
For a geographical overview, I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but also grew up partly in Indiana. I went to Boston University, and stayed in Boston for a few more years, working in the lovely, warm theater community there. Now, I live in dear dirty New York: Queens, specifically. When the state of domestic or global affairs fills me with angst or ambivalence, I still always feel that I would fight and die for Queens' right to exist, exactly the way that it does. If anyone knows where to find a gold necklace with the word "Queens" in script-----not Queen, to be clear-----I am in the market for one.
I also lived for a brief time in Oxford, England, studying abroad; Oxford is so beautiful that either it should not exist or the rest of the world should not exist. Anyone who visits Oxford should be forewarned that leaving it may ruin the rest of the world for you. I also lived in Istanbul, Turkey when I was a wee child. I don't remember anything about actually living there (though I do remember Turkey from other visits), but I learned in my adulthood that it was the origin of a tiny scar in the middle of my forehead. My father came home with a broken leg because he fell into a kiln, and out of some attempt at empathy, I ran and bashed my head into the wall. This may be why I do not remember anything about living in Turkey. It may also be why I am the way that I am.
Falling into a kiln is the kind of professional hazard one has as a professor of Folklore, which is what my father does. My mother is an Art Historian. This is also why I am the way that I am. Both of them written way more books than I ever will, though really, one of my greatest aims in life is to write several, if I possibly can. I am deeply grateful that their professions afforded me, as child-in-tow, many travel opportunities. So, for example, as I alluded to, I do remember other trips to Turkey, since I’ve been there about ten times. Fieldwork and conferences for my parents also led us to Mexico, Newfoundland in Canada, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, France, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, China, Japan, India, and Bangladesh. Though I may have somewhat hazy childish memories of some of these countries, this blessed childhood is also why I am the way that I am. As an adult in charge of my own finances and time, I have also been to: Italy. It's really hard to take vacations as an actor. But anyone who visits Florence should be forewarned that it ruins the rest of the world for you.
When I was in first grade, my parents took me to see the film version of Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V. I think I fell in love with Shakespeare, Henry the Fifth, and Kenneth Branagh simultaneously. I made my parents take me back to see it------five times. Ultimately, I wrote a letter to the movie theatre, asking for the poster. As I imagine that not many other children were requesting that particular poster, they sent it to me. I still have it, but it's about as tattered as a prop of a war-torn flag, and it reads ‘I saw Henry V five times’ in first-grade penmanship. But the fact that at age five (young for my grade) I ran around the house yelling some variation of ‘Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more’ has a lot to do with why I am the way that I am.
But the Shakespeare/Henry/KennyB triumvirate is not the first man that I loved. The first man that I loved was either Charles Barkley, when he was playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, or Von Hayes, of the Phillies. I don't know why these were the athletes I selected; I was in pre-school. But when Charles Barkley was out for an injury, I drew him a drawing of him in bed with his teddy bear, and all of his teammates standing around like ministering angels in their basketball jerseys. He sent me back an autographed photo that read ‘To Ellen Best Wishes Charles.’ I still have the photo. It less resembles a prop war-torn flag because it came in a frame.
Most likely, if you're this deep into the website/autobiography, you already know this: I have an unhealthy love of baseball. People will say, "Ha ha, how can love for baseball be unhealthy?" and I say to them: "You have not seen me when the Phillies have lost a game because of bad defense." But the Phillies are my life partner; I have no memory in my life of not loving the Phillies. Love of my parents (you read the paragraphs above; they're pretty great, right?) and love of the Phillies are the only things that stretch back unto the first syllable of my recorded time. But also, I have so much baseball-love to spread around that I have an always-changing complex flowchart of baseball allegiances allowing me to root for many teams. Given any random match-up, I will be able to find a reason to root for or against one of the teams, including particular players that I like. But know that I would never, not in this life or the next, root for the Yankees.
But truly, my favorite thing besides acting is writing, both the act of it myself, and the reading of others' writing. My favorite all-time book is Joyce’s Ulysses (you can see me reading some of it here). Generally, the more complex the language and the storytelling, and the more you could plausibly use the heft of the book as weapon, the more I like it. This tracks with my second-favorite book, Infinite Jest. I'm aware that this opinion is far more obnoxious than cool, so I hope you believe my sincerity. Other favorite books include Cloud Atlas, Middlemarch, The Years, Mrs. Dalloway, The Corrections, War and Peace, Absalom Absalom, Blood Meridian, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Brothers K, Persuasion, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. I also love Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials series.
Also, as the author of a book of poetry, one might surmise I like poetry. I am about as uncool here as the previous paragraph might lead you to imagine. W.B. Yeats is my favorite poet, and I challenge anyone to persuade me that there is a better poem in the English Language than “The Second Coming.” I am also a great fan of the English Romantics, particularly Shelley and Keats. Other favorites include Dylan Thomas, Seamus Heaney, Whitman, Tennyson, Eliot, Rilke and Louis MacNiece. Non-favorites include people who do not use interesting words or images and just have a ragged right-hand margin in a gesture of profundity. That's great if those are your favorites! Just not for me.
Apropos of Tennyson, he wrote a poem titled “Edward Grey” about a woman named Ellen Adair. I was not named after this Ellen Adair, as much as I might be pleased by this Victorian heritage. I was named after Ellen Cutler, an Irish woman with whom my father did fieldwork, and a maternal ancestor of mine named Ellen Adair White, who was the wife of a Florida statesman and purportedly a famous nineteenth-century beauty. I suppose I'll get my Victorian heritage one way or another.
My favorite genre of TV and film to watch is People Fighting with Swords. Be it 300 or The Three Musketeers, I will be there, even if I can tell from the previews that it will be bad. I am drawn to it like the proverbial moth to the proverbial movie projector playing films of people fighting with swords. I also enjoy Anything Set Before 1950, and Philosphical Science Fiction, particularly the sub-category of Universe/Reality-Hopping. Everything Everywhere All At Once? "Severance"? "Russian Doll"? "Loki"? "MANIAC"?! I can never stop thinking about "Maniac!" I'm IN. I think "The Good Place," an all-time favorite, plausibly belongs in this sub-category. However, I do enjoy shows and movies in every genre.
My sweet and long-suffering husband, Eric Gilde, is also an actor and a writer. We've been lucky to do five plays and three different films together, and, of course, regularly collaborate on our podcast. We have a shih tzu named Mabel, who is much beloved, and we delight to watch her go through the five stages of shih tzu between haircuts, which I have named: Lamb / Muffin / Muppet / Walt Whitman / Cro-Magnon Dog.