Noted Actress Also Took Time to Talk Shop with Students
For one of the biggest events in recent Ohio Wesleyan history, one of its biggest stars lent her wattage.
Actress Wendie Malick ’72 returned to campus for the first time in 12 years to help kick off the public portion of the Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign, serving as emcee at two events.
And, although she flew in on a redeye from her home outside Los Angeles on a Friday morning and had to return 36 hours later, she paused during her Delaware whirlwind to sit down with a group of theatre and dance students to share career advice, the importance of getting politically involved (civilly), and her guiding principle “never forget to have fun.”
After graduating from OWU, Malick moved to Washington, D.C., and worked for Jack Kemp, the congressman from her home state of New York, during the height of the Watergate scandal. “It was fascinating, but I knew I did not want to go into politics,” she recalled.
Instead, her “gradual ascent” to stardom included waitressing in New York and traveling the world for five years as a Wilhelmina model, before eventually being cast on a soap opera. She has been working steadily for decades since, starring on the television series Dream On, Just Shoot Me, and Hot in Cleveland, among many others.
In October, Malick wrapped a four-week run of Big Night, a play by Paul Rudnick about chaos in a nominated actor’s life on Oscar night, in Culver City, California. She said there’s no comparison to the thrill of stage acting, although she noted with her trademark throaty laugh that film and television are the reasons she has a ranch with horses and donkeys. But no matter the setting, acting is “an opportunity to play with your friends and tell stories.”
She discussed change, including in Delaware (“I can’t believe you have an olive oil shop!”) and in the business, where casting agents now factor in an actor’s social media following (she’s a reluctant tweeter).
She remembered her early days of protesting for women’s rights on campus and urged students to “find issues that are important to you and make your voice heard – in a calm way.”
Malick’s co-host for “Spotlight OWU,” an informal program that highlighted some of the areas of emphasis for the campaign, was Ares Harper ’19, a theatre and dance major who recently concluded a starring run in Fahrenheit 451 on campus. Harper said the experience of sharing the spotlight with Malick was “surreal” and a reminder that “no matter where one’s life takes you after you graduate, OWU stays with you.
“To be able to hold my own on stage and in the presence of an award-winning actress, bonding over our Bishop pride, was like no other experience,” he said. (Read about Malick’s latest honor in the Winter 2018 Class Notes Photos story.)
President Rock Jones expressed his appreciation for Malick’s willingness to help make an important weekend in OWU history that much more special. “That someone as busy as Wendie – not to mention the thousand-plus other alumni and friends who returned for our big weekend – joined us to kick off our campaign speaks to the lasting impact of the OWU experience,” Jones said.
Malick, for her part, said she was happy to do it. And although she was at ease and charming in her onstage OWU roles, she happily admitted of the opportunity to meet with current students: “It was my favorite part!”
Wendie Malick ’72 and her “Gathering of Old Friends (GOOF)” who have remained close since OWU recently established the GOOF Endowed Scholarship. The endowment provides unrestricted scholarship support in recognition of the profound lifetime impact of an OWU education.