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5 Things We Learned from Cynthia Nixon

5 Things We Learned from Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon

Rasheeda Speaking opened this week Off-Broadway to rave reviews.

As of this week, Cynthia Nixon is officially a director. The actor and advocate's play Rasheeda Speaking, starring Tonya Pinkins and Dianne Wiest, opened Wednesday night and has garnered positive reviews so far. Nixon recently chatted with Tim Murphy for T magazine about her first time directing, her opinion of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and how Miranda's doing.

Nixon on how she found her way to the director's chair:

Scott Elliott, the head of the New Group, and I have known each other since 2001, when he directed me in The Women. Three years ago, I did a reading for him of a play for a celebrity benefit gala, and I guess I was very bossy in the reading -- he said to me, "Well, I guess you're going to be directing next year's gala, because you're already directing this one." But he was serious; six months later, he asked me to direct the next gala's reading! So I did, and it went really well. He said, "You seem to have a knack for this, so I'm going to offer you a New Group directing slot." I read a lot of plays they presented me, and Rasheeda Speaking is the one that spoke to me.

Nixon on the directing process:

[It's] thrilling. This play is a little claustrophobic at times. It's extremely tense, like time-lapse photography. It's also a painful play. Getting an audience in there was great to get some more oxygen in the room for the actors to play off. Yes, there's laughs, but it was still a painful play to rehearse at times.

Rasheeda Speaking

Credit: Monique Carboni

Nixon on her side projects:

I took a quick break to go to Sundance, where I was in two films: Stockholm, Pennsylvania and James White. In May, I have another film coming out, 5 Flights Up. Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman play an aging New York couple, and I'm their niece, who's a realtor, who convinces them they need an elevator building. It's a comedy about New York real estate and getting older. It's also about old versus new New York, and I represent the hustle and the bustle and the marketplace. And then in April I'm shooting a film called A Quiet Passion, in which I play Emily Dickinson.

Nixon on de Blasio.

I think he's doing an amazing job. The pre-K for all is great. My wife is working with the city now on the roll-out of his community schools project, which is giving struggling schools wraparound services, like bringing in more guidance counselors and having things like an optometrist on-site for low-income kids who are having trouble seeing the blackboard but whose parents maybe can't afford a second pair of glasses if one pair breaks.

Nixon on what Miranda's Up to.

I think she's doing pretty well. When we saw her before, she was driven into the ground with her job, and I think she's made some changes in her life and she's living in a more balanced way. She's given up trying to do it all, and she's better at taking vacations. I get a postcard from her every now and then.

Rasheeda Speakingcontinues through March 22 at the Pershing Square Signature Center, New York City.

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