Danielle Skraastad & Kyra Kennedy on Starring in New Play “When Monica Met Hillary”

When Monica Met Hillary will be having its world premiere March 3 at Miami Beach’s The Colony Theater and playing through March 27. The premise of the drama is that while Monica Lewinsky and Hillary Clinton have never met in real life, what if they did meet?

Actresses Danielle Skraastad (who plays Hillary) and Kyra Kennedy (who plays Monica) were kind enough to answer a few questions about the play.

What drew you to When Monica Met Hillary?

Danielle Skraastad: Well, the title enticed me for sure. And of course, the playwright, I have always been a fan of Winter Miller. I had heard great things about Margot Bordelon, our director, through the actor grapevine….is actor grapevine an expression? Probably not, but I think you get my meaning. The word on the street about Margot was that she is an actor’s dream director and she has lived up to her reputation. Margot is an exciting and indefatigable artist with a deep understanding of what makes great theater…..oh, and she is hilarious!

Kyra Kennedy: The context and idea for sure and also it’s hard to resist a play with just women by women. A four person play is always interesting and a four woman play is even more!

What research did you do for the part?

Danielle Skraastad: Since the play is imagined it was possibly unnecessary to do a lot of the research I did…however, I couldn’t help myself and binge-dove into a lot of….what I would call noseyness…hahahaha…is noseyness a word? I binge-dove into noseyness….hahahaha….the theater is gonna regret letting me give this interview I  just make up words….but hey….what’s good enough for Shakespeare…Oh geez, anyway, what I am getting at is yes I did research because I couldn’t help myself; the lives of these characters are so interesting.

Kyra Kennedy: I watched Monica’s Ted Talk, Read Monica’s Story by Andrew Morton, perused her tweets, watched her Ann Coulter interview. I’m quite taken with her so researching her was easy. I really fell in love with the multifaceted woman she is and became more and more excited to do her justice.

Did you watch the recent miniseries Impeachment? If so how did you try to differentiate your interpretations of Monica and Hillary from that show?

Danielle Skraastad: Not yet but I cannot wait.

Kyra Kennedy: I did! Since our play spans almost three decades throughout the characters lives, I focus on how Monica matures throughout this experience and her life. I also made it a point to show her many other interests outside of Bill Clinton – her degrees, her intelligence, her killer sense of humor, her philanthropy, etc. Monica, like all of us, are quite different and more than who we were at 22.

What was the trickiest part of portraying your character?

Danielle Skraastad: Hmmmm….the trickiest part of playing the Hillary Clinton imagined in this play is the trickiest part of playing any character: understanding someone who is not yourself and I am definitely not famous like the women in this play.  The luxuries awarded me by anonymity are many; my personal favorite?  I get to make mistakes without repercussions that play out in the public eye. Hillary is particularly interesting in her true courage at facing non-stop public scrutiny and opinion and not shrinking . I doubt I would have it in me to handle such a public life. Also, I am a social creature and I derive a lot of pleasure in my interactions with strangers on a daily basis…people who know nothing about me and meet me as I am, in the moment, at the time they run into me. In my opinion, it  is one of life’s greatest pleasures; to have an adventure from myself based on what/how a stranger interacts with the me; or the “me” they see in front of them on that day….not the “me” they have read about or heard about. I get to be myself and “myself” gets to change based on how I feel on that particular day. I get to mess up all of the time and no one cares to snap a picture or write an article about it. I get to be a stranger.

Kyra Kennedy: Since Monica is someone I very much respect, balancing the pressure of “making her proud” and also keeping true to history. Also aging up to 50 is tricky as a newly turned 30 year old. Margot is brilliant and has such a great macro and micro scale precision to her directing which has been invaluable to this process. She has led our cast and this story with such power, grace, integrity and care. It has truly been thrilling.

What can audiences expect from the play?

Danielle Skraastad: Audiences can expect to be surprised. It is surprising to me and I am in it. I think they will be surprised about how much they forgot about this story. I think they will be delighted  by Winter’s mind and Margot’s point of view. They can expect to be thrilled by the unusual angle through which we view this story.

Kyra Kennedy: Audiences can expect to leave with a different perspective of this time in history – whether in a major or minor way. Our play peels back the layers of these ultra famous people and exposes the person behind the politics in a very real and very touching way.

Do you have any rituals before you take the stage?

Danielle Skraastad: I am superstitiously not superstitious? Is that an expression?  Maybe ritualistically unritualistic? Hahahaha! No, no ritual. Just the usual. I sign in. Put on my costume and wig and make-up, and go over my lines. Is that a ritual?

Kyra Kennedy: I have printouts of Monica throughout history that I like to look at as I’m aging through the play. She is so engaging and personable. Since we are still in rehearsals I haven’t solidified a particular pre-show ritual yet but I am definitely an early bird to the theatre.

What would be your reaction if midway through your performance you saw Monica or Hillary in the audience?

Danielle Skraastad: My reaction on the outside? I would continue to do the show. My reaction on the inside? My heart would explode.

Kyra Kennedy: My heartrate would rise to alarming levels. Both are such powerful, intelligent touchstones in history and absolutely incredible women. If I saw Monica in the audience I would hope she liked my wig and then immediately ask if she’d like to get a drink.

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David Rolland

David Rolland edits the Jitney blog. He is the author of the novels Yo-Yo & The End of the Century.