PHOTOGRAPHY BY TINA TURNBOW
INTERVIEW: KATINA GOULKAOS
Marina Squerciati started her life performing on stage as a ballerina. The Manhattan native has always loved performing and that is exactly what she does. Marina plays the fierce Kim Burgess on the hit television series “Chicago PD” and we got a chance to chat with her about acting, being a new working mom and about who inspires her. She is inspiring to all women and especially all moms and her realistic and honest views on life is what we love most about her.
Imagista: Are you of Italian descent?
Marina: I am of Italian heritage but I was born in New York City and grew up on the Upper West Side.
Imagista: Do you still live in New York?
Marina: I am not in New York that much these days because I am in Chicago ten months out of the year. When hiatus happens I do go back to New York.
Imagista: How do you like Chicago?
Marina: I really love it. I feel like I had a bit of New York snobbery when I first came to Chicago like nothing is as good as New York but I really do love Chicago.
Imagista: When did you start acting and how did that come about?
Marina: I studied ballet at The School of The America Ballet for many years. I decided I really loved performing but I also liked being able to talk which you can’t do as a ballerina on stage. Also, my mom knew I was not going to be a ballerina the first time I tried toe shoes. All the other little girls walked out on their toes and I came out walking on my heels, it was painful.
Imagista: What was the first job that you felt really put you on the map?
Marina: I think “The Americans”. When I first did “Chicago PD” a lot of the producers said that they watched my role on “The Americans” and wanted to know who I was after watching it. I’ve had a lot of roles but that is the one that sort of grabs people I think.
Imagista: What was that experience like, being part of “The Americans”?
Marina: It was the most incredible experience. I am actually embarrassed to say this but when we finished and I wrapped as Irina I cried because it was the first time I fell in love with my character. I love acting very much but not everyone gets the career they want. As an actor, you take jobs in hopes of it bringing you to roles you dream of playing and Irina was that role for me. Matthew Rhys was so wonderful to work with, I fell in love with the job after that role.
Imagista: Currently you are on “Chicago PD” as you mentioned before, can you tell me what that experience has been like?
Marina: My character sort of started out kind of green and joyful. She has seen a lot now and she does not take any BS. She has hardened as a character due to the experiences she has been through. What’s great about playing any character for this log is that you get to grow up with them. She has really, really changed and that has been exciting to explore. Sometimes I miss the old Kim and I wonder if you could ever get that back, that innocence and joy, I don’t think so but I think it would be nice to see if I can find some of that again and bring that joy back in her life.
Imagista: Kim Burgess, who you play on “Chicago PD”, is a very strong and empowered woman. Do you ever consider the impact playing her might have on women viewers?
Marina: I don’t think that how other people perceive it has ever factored into what I do. I feel like once you are thinking about how other people will identify with it you get into a trap. You can’t be true to your character if you are worried about what the audience will think or perceive. My character does some things that I am not proud of and if you worry too much about the role model aspect of it I think you are in dangerous territory.
That being said, a lot of people call her a badass and that makes me happy.
Imagista: Who inspires you most as an artist?
Marina: There are actors whose careers really inspire me. Tilda Swinton’s ability to inhabit such different characters is something that inspires me. Tilda is able to do any role and inhabit it so well and I would love to get to that place where I can be seen in any role, that is my goal.
Imagista: Besides “Chicago PD” are you working on anything now that you are excited about?
Marina: I wrote a pilot with my comedy partner Patrick Webb and right now it has been sent out to a bunch of networks. It’s funny because as an actor, sometimes I lose confidence but as a writer, I feel very, very confident. I have a super-ego and I don’t know why but I am very confident it will be sold. It’s a good story, it is based on my life as a new mother and how sometimes it is not as glorious as it portrayed in the media.
Imagista: Congratulations on being a new mom! That must be a really exciting new job to have no?
Marina: Thank you, it is a new job and I am surviving, it’s fun. I’ve said it before but I do like to always be honest, everyone always asks me how it is and I always lead with the fact that it is hard. I think people sometimes look at me askew that I didn’t lead with the typical “its amazing” or “she is so awesome” which she is but I feel like saying that it is hard helps other mothers who don’t have this “instagramable” experience feel less bad. It is amazing and rewarding and hard and difficult all at the same time.
Imagista: What advice would you give your daughter in regards to acting?
Marina: There is a book that my kid has called You. It is one of those rhyming books and its like “you could be anything you want like a pilot or astronaut or live in a tree” and I always add “but you can’t be a actor”.
It is not that I do not want her to experience the joy of it, I just remember every phone call I ever made to my mother crying about the constant rejection. There were a couple of years where I almost got every role but didn’t get any roles. The pain is something I don’t want her to experience. I don’t want it to be misconstrued that I want my kid to have a cream puffed life and I am just going to make everything easy for her. However, I feel like acting is a particularly brutal industry and I don’t know if I can take that for her. Who knows, maybe she will be stronger than me.
Imagista: How have you dealt with the rejection; did you have any methods that helped you get through those times
Marina: I guess there are two things I did. One is that I always knew I was going to do it. There was never a point where I was going to give up ever and I just always knew I was going to act. Every rejection sucks but you have to keep going because I did not want to do anything else. This was it and if I had to have a day job my entire life, I was still always going to act.
I also never found the advice of “get over it” to be helpful. I felt like it didn’t let me wallow in my misery and then I would be mad at myself for getting upset. So I always let myself be really upset for 24 hours. Just Netflix and a pint of ice cream and I would just feel bad for myself for 24 hours and then I would move on. I would make sure I let myself feel it and then I would be ready to just move on.
Imagista: How do you feel like social media has impacted your career?
Marina: I don’t know about my career because I was already on the show when it started blowing up so I am not sure if it has had any impact on my career.
I do know that I want to place more limits about how much I look at social media because I don’t want my child looking at me, looking at my phone all the time. I read this article once that said if you want your kid to read make sure she sees you reading. So I try to scroll less and read more in front of her.
Imagista: I love that you are a working mom, do you have any advice to all the working moms reading this article?
Marina: I would just say survive the best you can until you can thrive.
Imagista: Tell me something we can’t find about you on Google?
Marina: I think that celery and blue cheese are the most disgusting foods and I eat everything. It is very hard to find a tuna salad sandwich, a sandwich that I happen to love, without celery.