Fast & Furious with 9 to 5's Stephanie J. Block
By Noah Michelson
The song “One Day” is a bold choice for a debut album. Are you worried about receiving backlash to this song about your support of same-sex marriage?
I’m sure there is going to be a section of my fans or listeners who may take an issue with some of the things I’m singing or statements I’m making. But if it’s worth the discussion, I’ll be happy to have it, and I hope it does create discussion. I think that’s exactly what people need in order to open up the doors to understanding.
Growing up, you dreamed of becoming a nun. What was that about?
I grew up Catholic and went to a Catholic school from kindergarten through 8th grade. Then I went to an all-girls Catholic high school for my freshman and sophomore years before going to an arts school. It just felt safe. I had this amazing principal -- Sister Sarah Shrewsbury -- and she was the coolest lady you could ever meet. She played basketball, the guitar, sang and didn’t even wear the habit. Then I turned 8 and that was about enough for me.
All of the music in 9 to 5 was written by the legendary Dolly Parton. You also duet with her on her classic “I Will Always Love You” on your album. What was it like the first time you met her?
I didn’t quite know what to say. I told her, “Meeting you is like meeting the Easter Bunny.” You want to believe that this joyous, fluffy, wonderful character that hands out treats exists, but you’re not quite sure until you’re standing face to face with the person. She’s one of the smartest women you’ll ever meet. I think when a lot of people see her they immediately see the blonde wig, the nails and sparkles, but her spirit is so genuine.
What is something we’d be surprised to know about Dolly?
She makes the meanest peanut butter fudge in her trailer right out of her microwave.
The Tony Awards were just handed out. 9 to 5 was nominated for four, but didn’t win any. Were you disappointed?
I was relieved. Award season brings out a whole different sort of noise to any cast or show. It’s amazing and exciting, but to me art is subjective. So what certain people think is the best, others may think, “You’ve got to be kidding me?” Going back to work the day after the Tonys was like a new beginning, and it felt like the show was all ours now and we can do it without the question mark of who is out in the audience judging the show.
But your co-star Allison Janney was nominated for Best Leading Actress in a musical. Did it upset you that you weren’t?
Yes! Even after that long answer I just gave saying it doesn’t matter, it does in the sense that you would love to be recognized by the community you adore. But, it didn’t happen. You always hope to see your name on the list the morning the nominees are announced, but when it’s not, you just continue on. Of course, though, I've very happy for all the nominees, and I couldn't be happier for Allison.
In 9 to 5 you play Judy Bernly -- the role Jane Fonda played in the film. She came backstage to meet you at the opening of 9 to 5 in Los Angeles and gave you the thumbs up. What is your impression of her?
Even though we see Jane in the media as a serious, strong woman and activist, she has so much heart and enthusiasm. She's also VERY observant, and I love that about her.
Have you ever had a 9 to 5 job?
I’ve done everything from being one of the Three Little Pigs at Disneyland to a barista in a coffee shop. But I’ve never worked in an office, nor do I think anyone would want me in their office. I’m not really tech savvy.
You once said you have mixed feelings about all of the films being translated to the stage because as an artist you “always strive to do original material.” However, are there any films that you would love to see put on the stage?
Sabrina would make a gorgeous, gorgeous musical. If they mixed the movie with the play Sabrina Fair, it would be perfect. I wish they could do Sense and Sensibility, too.
With everything you’ve accomplished, what are you the most proud of?
I’m still reveling in the completion of the CD. Every choice from start to finish was mine. I got to say “yay or nay,” and I’m really excited and pretty proud of it.
Stephanie J. Block’s album, This Place I Know is available now. For more information, visit her official website www.stephaniejblock.com.
-- DUSTIN FITZHARRIS
Previously > Fast & Furious: Deborah Cox goes green for LA Pride