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TELEVISION Caroline Aaron talks social justice, podcasting,'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel'
by Emily Reilly
2020-07-21

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Caroline Aaron is known for her many captivating roles in film, TV, Broadway and, most recently, as Shirley Maisel on the award-winning show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Talking with Windy City Times, Aaron described the values and commonalities that she shares with Maisel, the title character's mother; as a married Jewish mom on the show and in real life, Aaron said feels that those attributes are easy for her to relate to.

"That was part of building the character for Shirley, but I had certain things I wanted to bring to the character, like how she's crazy about her husband," said Aaron. "It's the first time I've ever played a character that I think is truly happy. She really loves her life, which is a fun thing to play."

Aaron described Shirley as ahead of her time, considering the time period of the show. Rather than being a "decorative" wife and mother who surrenders to the standards of the time she feels she can bring her own sense of strength to her role.

"When you have this kind of writing and you're playing the game with these kinds of people; everywhere you look there's always an A+ person," said Aaron. "They always say, 'If you want your tennis game to get better, play with people who are better than you.' And that's the way I feel—ike I'm constantly improving just based on having to raise my bar based on who I'm around, which is really wonderful."

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has become relevant during the #MeToo movement and satirizes 1950s conservatism. Aaron's take on human-rights issues is deeply woven into her life. She spoke reverently of her late mother, who marched on Selma alongside Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement.

"I was talking to a friend about how my mother would be so sad right now—it feels like CandyLand, when you draw a card and move down to the bottom of the mountain. She worked so hard," said Aaron. "But I think this period of time has created activists out of people who were not activists before. I was always well-informed and always voted, but to actually get out there and knock on doors and to understand politics at the local level is so important."

Aaron co-hosts a podcast with Steve Saporito called Angst & Daisies, which discusses activism and relevant stories on what's happening in government and society.

One story from the podcast dives into the riveting world The Lincoln Project, which involves ex-Republicans strategizing and speaking out against President Trump.

"We were listening to them speak about what they can do—that this is no longer their party. It's been hijacked, and they would do anything in their power to make sure the democratic candidate won," said Aaron.

The episode features guest speaker Ron Steslow, a young LGBTQ+ man who co-founded The Lincoln Project. They spoke to him about the project, and the intersectionality between his sexual orientation and his fundamentalist family. Other stand out stories include discussions about the front lines of the detention camps at the border and podcasting in the age of social distancing. She continually emphasizes the importance of activism and making one's voice heard.

"We're all like children in that we want our parents, ie. the government or our elected officials, to make the world right and we can't rely on that," she said. "We have to do it ourselves. If we see injustice, we have to make noise and try and fix it in any way we can."

Aaron spoke of her great-aunt Caroline, the woman she is named after, who continuously wrote to world leaders throughout her life, whether she believed they would respond. One day, she heard back from Winston Churchill in a handwritten letter that was later gifted to Aaron.

"She would write to world leaders because she believed in the power of the lone voice," said Aaron. "The world is so big and so complicated, it's hard to feel like the lone voice has any sound at all. I had to constantly tell myself: it makes a difference."


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