Getting to know the smart, lovely and spiritual Marlyne Barrett is a purely pleasant experience
Marlyne Barrett stars as Head Charge Nurse Maggie Lockwood in the hit NBC medical drama Chicago Med, but something most people don't know is that she actually studied to be a nurse before making the tradition to an actor.
Her journey to becoming an actor was an interesting one. Her parents emigrated from Haiti first to Brooklyn and later making their home in Montreal, Quebec. Her parents are incredibly well-educated, multilingual people who instilled in their kids the importance of hard work, serving others and making the world a better place.
After earning her RN degree, she decided to follow her passion and become an actor. She studied at Stella Adler Conservatory. She started in theater and short films. She was first seen as Ben Seaver's new girlfriend in the TV movie of Growing Pains in 2000.
In 2003, she stared in the romantic comedy Love, Sex and Eating the Bones. She appeared in many Law and Order episodes. Her big break came playing Nerese Campbell in the HBO crime drama The Wire. She also had a recurring role on Damages.
In 2015, a dream came true for her to be a regular in a Dick Wolf production when she earned the part of Nurse Lockwood in Chicago Med.
The beautiful, talented and thoughtful Marlyne Barrett spoke with Michelle Tompkins in March of 2018 for The Celebrity Cafe about her childhood, how important education is to her, how her career started, what makes Chicago Med so special, the importance of having faith, her unique approach to dealing with prejudiced people, why La Sortie: a charity that focuses on sex trafficking victims is so important to her, as well as goofing off about favorite shows, foodie destinations and more.
Michelle Tompkins: You're directly from Brooklyn. Grew up in Canada is that correct?
Marlyne Barrett: From Brooklyn, and I grew up in Montreal, Quebec, yes.
Michelle Tompkins: Can you tell me a little bit about your childhood, please?
Marlyne Barrett: My parents are immigrants from Haiti. Haiti is a French colony. And there's a tendency of wanting to move two specific places. If you go to the U.S., you'll either go to Florida, or you'll go to New York. And if you're from Canada— if you're from Haiti — you're also going to Montreal. So my parents had family that went to both sides. They were very bright people. They worked very hard at school. My father helped my mother get her papers together to come over here. Though we both originally intended to go to France but found themselves going to the U.S., and going to school, to learn how to speak English. And after a couple of miscarriages from what I understand, here I come somewhere in the middle of their studies. My sisters and I went back and forth from Montreal and the U.S., pretty much all our elementary years. Because my parents were going to school, they needed help from my mother's sister to be able to finish their education.
Michelle Tompkins: How many siblings do you have?
Marlyne Barrett: I have three siblings. Two sisters and a brother.
Michelle Tompkins: So, your parents needed some help with English?
Marlyne Barrett: Well, they needed some to get to school. So when you emigrate from a foreign country you don't necessarily have family in the country and as my father's family started immigrating from Haiti into the U.S. little bit more of the family started gathering in New York. But, by then it became so difficult that my parents decided to have us do our school years in Canada; we ended up with dual citizenship. So I ended up doing my elementary school mostly in Canada, and we came and spend some summers in the U.S. That was pretty much all my elementary and early high school years until 8th grade. That year, my parents had this thought of completely moving into the U.S. Now they were both fully functioning in their career. My mom became a NICU nurse (neonatal intensive care unit) and my dad became a, I want to say nuclear engineer but, high voltage electronic engineer.
Michelle Tompkins: Impressive. Wow.
Marlyne Barrett: Yeah. They're very bright people. And they managed to do it. So academia was a big thing in our family, huge. To be able to come in a foreign country and be useful members of society as my partner would say. You have to find a craft that's going to help society and my mother loved the idea of helping moms whose babies would normally not be able to make it without great care, so she became a NICU nurse. And I think it had something to do with her miscarriage, if you ask me now, but she always loved these little, little babies and she'll love on them all the way to their becoming independent and being able to be with their mommies. And my dad started working for Siemens and he started working in a hospital too because he works with high voltage systems like MRI machines, big primo machines. High voltage systems that you only see this big piece of hard plastic over that don't show you what's going on inside.
Michelle Tompkins: Which languages do you speak?
Marlyne Barrett: I speak French, English, Creole and I understand Spanish and I understand Italian and I can make my way around explaining myself, but I would not call myself fluent. Fluent is the other language I can speak and I can also write them.
Marylene on the awesomeness that is Chicago
Michelle Tompkins: Where do you live now?
Marlyne Barrett: Right now I'm a Chicagoan.
Michelle Tompkins: Nice.
Marlyne Barrett: I'm a Chicagoan I must say that we actually all relocate and spend most of our shooting season here and then the summers I mainly spend home in Los Angeles with my husband.
Michelle Tompkins: That's nice you have the season to look forward to then get to spend time in both places.
Marlyne Barrett: Exactly I actually miss the snow so I have to say that when you grow up in Canada if you're not used to winter and winter activities you'll be depressed in Canada. I think once I got here in the snow and the shoveling I was right back home.
Michelle Tompkins: Some of my favorite restaurants are in Chicago and I've only been there three times but I love your city.
Marlyne Barrett: Really? Which ones?
Michelle Tompkins: I like Topolobampo, but Publican is probably my all-time favorite and Joe's Crab, but Publican has pork rinds that are amazing. I dream about them.
Marlyne Barrett: Really? I love Joe's Crab.
Michelle Tompkins: It's so good. I think I went to eat there two or three times during a week-long trip. It was amazing.
Marlyne Barrett: Wow! I love Joe's Crab. I think Chicago's really good with food. I think it has to do a lot with the water but also I think it's just a prime place for great chefs.
Michelle Tompkins: I think so too, you got a nice variety of people there too, I love it.
Marlyne Barrett: Multi-cultural, yeah, I agree with you.
Michelle Tompkins: Now you actually went to school to become a nurse is that correct?
Marlyne Barrett: I did. My mom said, ‘What! We didn't emigrate from Haiti for you to become an actor, what are you going to do?’ And my mom couldn't understand the concept of an actor because Haiti is not known for its filmmaking. Especially when they were in Haiti my mom's father is a lawyer and became a judge. My father's father also was a massive politician who was unfortunately executed.
Michelle Tompkins: Oh my gosh.
Marlyne Barrett: Yeah, I know. Haiti was a very difficult country for them to get out of. So, I mean, everybody knows the history behind Haiti and all of its struggles and now it's just struggling land. But my parents had a hard time getting out of Haiti because of their love for the land and their love for the rebuilding of the land. My father's side, his dad was unfortunately killed, but my mother's side, his dad went on to become a judge to the Supreme Court of Haiti and passed away. But they always loved studies, they always loved academia, so when I told them I wanted to become an actor, my parents tested it. I think it was more of a test than anything else. And I was really good in school.
I mean, we were all really good in school. Really good in the sciences, biology, chemistry, physics and math. I've always been really good in school. We were primed A+ students. My sister's a doctor, another who's a lawyer and my brother is a mathematician. It's all very boring and academic.
Michelle Tompkins: So you’re now the black sheep?
Marlyne Barrett: Right. Literally, in a black family, I'm the black sheep I must say [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: Your family was supportive though when you made the change?
Marlyne Barrett: Well, my mom was supportive. Her response to me was, my sister was in med school already, and she said, ‘Well if your sister is going to school for nine years to be allowed to exercise her craft on what is visible about the human condition.’ She said to me, ‘Well, how long are you willing to study to portray what is non-visible?’
That was her approach to it. She says, ‘Well if you're going to do it, you have to understand what you're doing.’ So we went on to look at schools and to try to figure out where I was going to study and how I was going to study and I remember, oh man, it was just such an ordeal to just figure out what I was good at in arts and what I wasn't, so we can figure out what I was going to study in. And the classics were a must, because my mother who is again, very French, loved all the Tartuffe and all that. So, Shakespeare, it was and all the beautiful and classical training that came with that.
I did my conservative training at Stella Adler Conservatory in New York. And that was after an undergrad degree in Montreal. But straight out of high school you have an RN degree that you can do right away. And it's an RN degree, but it's not considered BS. You would have to do two extra years of studies for it to be a BS, but it was a certified RN and I'm board certified as an RN. I just never practiced. Literally went from doing my boards in August and starting school in September.
She takes all the credit for that, 'So you see by now, after 10 years you would have been a charge nurse anyways.' So there you go [laughter]. I'm like, ‘Okay, well I got to get into it.’ It's true that the friends that I did study with are all charge nurses now.
Michelle Tompkins: I think that's great. Are you still friends with most of these people?
Marlyne Barrett: Well, I don't spend much time in the east side of Montreal, which is where it all happened. When I do go to Montreal, I go to the west island. I work with an organization on the west island where we raise funds for homes for girls who are rescued from sex trafficking, so that's the only place I go when I land. It's literally I go there, I work with the girls on the west side of town and I just help with the organization that's raising funds. I'm very active there. But that's where I spend all my time. I visit one or two girls, but that's it.
Marlyne's beginnings as an actor
Michelle Tompkins: Now what was your first professional role that you took as an actor?
Marlyne Barrett: That's a good question. In the U.S.?
Michelle Tompkins: A lot of people laugh at this question say that they don’t even remember.
Marlyne Barrett: Ah, no. Let me think, because it's not that I don't remember. I'm trying to remember which came first, and I think it was—when they redid Growing Pains the movie on ABC, and I played Ben's girlfriend. She had gone chocolate, and I was the chocolate girlfriend.
Michelle Tompkins: Now you also have done some theater work. Is that right?
Marlyne Barrett: A lot of theater, yeah.
Michelle Tompkins: Do you have any plans to return to it?
Marlyne Barrett: Oh, of course. I have to.
Michelle Tompkins: What are some roles that you've played in the theater? Or some plays that you've been in?
Marlyne Barrett: I was in Death of a Salesman with Frankie Faison. We did it with James Glossman, and I don't know if you know Frankie Faison, but most people do.
Michelle Tompkins: Yeah.
Marlyne Barrett: They [Frankie and James] knew each other from NYU days, from what I understand. And he wanted to cast Linda in a different way. Most Linda’s were cast about his age, and she plays a younger Linda with him. He said, ‘I want to flip it for you. I think you can play the older Linda.’ And we had just finished The Wire together, and I had fired him on The Wire, and he said, ‘After what you just did on The Wire, I know you can do this.’ And I said, ‘Really?’ And I remember doing a read through with him and just loving it, loving the experience of seeing myself age on stage. So I did that, and I've done a lot of Shakespeare. I went to London to do some work at RADA, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and there I also ended up doing Twelfth Night. Loved it. And then all the regular Shakespearean plays you can think about.
Michelle Tompkins: Does your doing Shakespeare make your mom happy?
Marlyne Barrett: Yep, it does. Definitely. Those are the performances that she's seen the most, but I think because I was raised in Canada, I tend to revert to more in English, so. I mean, that was the introduction. I was introduced to Shakespeare in Canada and Canada has such a reverence for it because of, I guess, their relationship with the Brits. And just naturally I fell in love with the read through. My first time I read Lear I just knew that I had to play either Regan or Goneril one day. I never wanted to be Cordelia, I had to be Regan or Goneril. And I remember wanting to play Portia in Julius Cesar so badly and going to the U.S. to see Denzel play Brutus and then Eamonn Walker's Mark Anthony,] and I just talked about that, and hoping one day I could play with Denzel in one of those plays and going, well, we'll never be the same age, it'll never work. But anyways, it doesn't matter. But yeah, I love theater.
Michelle Tompkins: I mean, I also would hope we could see some older women with some younger men too. Play it up a little bit.
Marlyne Barrett: No, I agree. To me, I think all that is going to come to an end very soon. Less than two years the game's going to be leveled.
Michelle Tompkins: Now when I look at your resume, I love that you're in a lot of the Law & Orders playing multiple parts in multiple franchises. Do you have a couple favorite role?
Marlyne Barrett: In SVU with Alma Cordova, if I remember correctly, she was the woman who took children that were troubled and tried to rehabilitate them. And one of them was Elle Fanning and she ended up being that little girl who ends up putting houses on fire. I really love that one, it was a two-episode arc with Mariska and I remember we ended up doing that over a course of a month because one episode took that long to shoot. It was close to two weeks for an episode, so it was over a course of a month and I enjoyed it. I also did, I mean, this inevitability of working with the Wolfpack has to eventually actualize itself, because, I mean, I've worked with Dick on so many different projects. I think about Conviction which is another one that he did that didn't go far enough. I remember Trial by Jury with Bebe Neuwirth. That was another one.
Michelle Tompkins: She has the best legs in Broadway.
Marlyne Barrett: Right? And now the best legs are on the Madam Secretary [laughter]. Did you see her? She's really good in that too.
Michelle Tompkins: Oh, good. I haven't been watching that show very much, but I just interviewed one of the actors from it last week, Sam Daly.
Marlyne Barrett: Really?
Michelle Tompkins: I did. He's a really nice guy. And it was funny because we just compiled a list of the 30 hottest redheads. And so he was on that list before I actually got to chat with him. Now, tell me about the process to land the part of 'Nerese Campbell’ for The Wire.
Marlyne Barrett: Oh, wow. I was one of the ones that was late on The Wire. I think I had only seen the first season, and I remember at the time I was going to church in New York and this girl showed up and she was having a hard time. It was one of those Bible studies in the middle of Manhattan at Union Square, near that Barnes and Nobles?
Michelle Tompkins: Oh, sure.
Marlyne Barrett: I used to go there every Wednesday and this girl showed up and she was a wreck. I had this audition and I had just stopped in to say hi to some girls and leave, but this girl was a wreck and looked like she wasn't doing well. And I remember deciding, ‘I think I'm going to be a little bit late to the audition.’ Normally, there are four or five girls before me, so it's fine. I'm just going to arrive 10 minutes late. I ended up staying with the girl until she told me she was fine, which she was. Then I ran to my audition and when I got there Alexa—if I remember correctly—is closing down shop. Her assistant tells me, ‘She just left’ and I said ‘Listen, I am so sorry is there any way you can help me out?’ I started explaining to her the situation. I said, ‘I know this thing. Let me just do it for you on tape.’ She says, ‘I haven't even sent the tape yet. I could do it for you, Marlyne, if you wanted to.’ I said, ‘Cool, thank you so much.’ She puts the tape back in, puts the legs on that tripod. Meanwhile, I had put my afro in a bun [laughter] because I was going through that thing. And I have a big afro.
Michelle Tompkins: You just rock. This is great.
Marlyne Barrett: I take off the elastic. I fluff my afro until it sticks out like a 1970s Jackson 5 video - it's huge - I put on some lipstick and I decide that I understand this girl, and she looks at me and goes, ‘Marlyne, you look great.’ Then she says ‘Okay, so Nerese Campbell is the president of the city council. She's in her 40s.’ I said, "She's in her 40s? What do you mean she's in her 40s? Holy crap.’ So this is my trick, I grab my elastic again, I pull my hair back into the bun and I lower my voice. I took it down two octaves and booked the job.
When I get to set for my first day, two producers greet me. ‘Hey, Marlyne, it's good to meet you. You're the president of the city council. You're supposed to be 40. Do you know how long it takes to go to law school and how long it takes to be elected?’ I said, ‘Guys, I've got this.’ And then I just dropped the voice [laughter] and I put on those heels. I was going for it and they said, ‘This is going to work’ and I was like, ‘I'm not going back to that Amtrak and not getting the job [laughter].’ That was not going to happen.
I remember just understanding what I call ‘the political gangster life.’ The text had street language and politics in it, and for me, it all came together. It was just another version of Shakespeare. It was art. Sometimes I would have to grab the text and research the stuff I was saying. I used to say things like, "Are you going to be here and do some grump and grinding in front of the others?” Grump and grinding, what's that [laughter]? I am a black girl from New York, raised in Canada who had done some Shakespeare. I had to ‘gangsterfy’ myself a little bit [laughter]. I ended up taking vocal lessons on the side and I had a Jewish teacher in the Upper West Side of Manhattan who was training me out of my British type of English. It was brilliant, I had my grump and grind and I was holding my own.
Michelle Tompkins: And you were also on Damages?
Marlyne Barrett: Yes! I did that with Glenn Close and Rose Byrne. It ended up being a conflict with The Wire, so I had to give one up. One shot in Brooklyn and the other one shot in Baltimore. I played ‘Felicia Mercado,’ the character that was running ‘Patty Hewes’ (Glenn Close's) law firm. I think we were just naturally going to lead into some kind of war between Rose’s character ‘Ellen Parsons’ and mine, but I think it's because I was leaving to go to The Wire that it ended up being just a little less of a battle.
Michelle Tompkins: Yeah.
Marlyne Barrett: Completely and I have been blessed. I'm a strong person of faith. I pray a lot over my career because I want to do stuff that is going to serve society as much as a person's career. It's not just I'm becoming famous and I love the carpet. Not that I don't love those things. I do. They'll put me in heels and I'm a happy person [laughter]. But I also think that great art in film/television, has a responsibility to society, and that's what Dick Wolf does so well. I think he's part of those—his TV making almost feels like journalism at times.
They make things as relevant as possible. People are going to look at Chicago Med one day and say how ahead of its time it was. It ends up being this melting pot of a TV show. I know this goes back to all the other shows out there, but he is a man that is taking a great leap of faith with all these ethnicities that are being put together. He did it before a lot of people did it. I mean Shonda did it, but I think her pioneer ways are relevant to her upbringing. When you look at Dick you're like, ‘That's just a New Yorker that wants to do something in society.’ Look at all the Law & Orders. Everything has always been so multicultural. It's beautiful.
Marlyne and Chicago Med
Michelle Tompkins: Now for those who haven't seen it, can you please tell us a little bit about Chicago Med?
Marlyne Barrett: Oh my gosh. Chicago Med is a TV show laid out in the great city of Chicago, which is the great Midwest, the city that holds all the Midwest together if you ask me, and the ED trauma center at Gaffney Memorial is, season one, being rebuilt after an explosion that happened several months before, and that was seen on Chicago Fire. And after rebuilding this new ED, Maggie Lockwood, who was a captain, is now promoted to a charge nurse position, and it's her first time running the ED. She's been a nurse right now for well over eight years, nine years, and has worked very hard to either-- I believe her goal was to become either charge nurse or a doctor, after doing her medic degree at the same time, and also doing her midwifery, so she becomes the charge nurse of the ED trauma center with a fresh vat of graduating residents, and now is part of a team that is for running medicine in Chicago. And two new wings have been added to the hospital by Dr. Rhode's family. A psychiatric ward has just been added, which is the one that Dr. Charles is running. And the hospital is learning how to budget its money, take care of up-and-coming traffic. Anything from gun wounds, to burn wounds, to drug abuse, whatever you can imagine. So it's a hospital that services a city that has a very high crime rate with some of the best doctors in the game who are learning how to balance their private lives and the long hours they spend in the hospital with their social lives which is very much integrated with the hospital because of the amount of hours that they spend there to inevitably end up dating people in the hospital, even marrying people in the hospital. So it's a professional environment with a lot of social-emotional issues.
Michelle Tompkins: Now what do you think makes it different from other medical shows out there?
Marlyne Barrett: The city of Chicago. I think the city of Chicago is a melting pot of multicultural bliss and tension. And I think the tension that comes from all the different pockets of culture that exist in Chicago. Chicago is integrated and segregated all at the same time. So I think that's what you're seeing with the staff. It's an integration and a segregation all at the same time. Which is an awareness of each other, but learning how to culturally come together when they don't necessarily know each other well enough. And I mean in the social aspect, not the professional aspect. They know how to collaborate and rescue a life, but because of the different cultural aspects of Chicago, they're getting to know each other. And I think a city in which you set a show is very important. And I think that's what works so well for Grey's Anatomy. Seattle was such an interesting city.
Michelle Tompkins: It is, and I like it when it's mixed up and it's not only New York. Like in the Good Wife was all about Chicago too. If I was going old school, I would say ER. I think Chicago was a character…
Marlyne Barrett: Exactly. Exactly. There you go. That's the best way of explaining it, what you just said right there. I think out of all the shows I've ever seen, Chicago Med—Chicago Med looks like ER shut down, ran out of money, and then that hospital went up [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: Okay. I like that. Now, what do you like best about your character on Chicago Med?
Marlyne Barrett: In a show that has so many characters, it's hard to figure out how to develop a character, but that was one of the things that I was excited to find out is because originally I think Maggie was supposed to be a character that was going to hold all the things together. And I think because of the collaboration between Andy and Diane—Andy Schneider and Diane Frolov who are the showrunners of our show, and Dick and Peter we ended up creating a character that they wanted to blossom into a full character as much as the others, but I'm not sure that she was supposed to be as involved as she is right now. I showed off, because of how much I know about nursing and everything. A charge nurse holds a hospital together and knows a lot about everyone and you get to know their lives because a smooth operation is something that takes a while to notice.
Michelle Tompkins: It's sort of like good manners. You don't notice them unless you notice the absence of it. A well-run business we know is well run you don't always see the person getting credit for it but when it's badly run you know it's badly run.
Marlyne Barrett: Exactly. And that's great because I just shot an episode where that was one of the lines.
Literally, they just said that in the episode Maggie has to go away for a second and comes back—and one of the characters comes back and says, ‘You've got to come back? We can't run without you.’ And when we shot the scene I was just so surprised because actually, it brought tears to Maggie's eyes but I never thought it would generate tears in the moment. But I remember thinking Maggie does this thing— I can't give it to y'all. I can't give it to y'all. But Maggie does this thing and ends up being something that could make her lose her job and she has to fight for her job. And the ED comes together for her and this woman comes back who is a nurse, comes back and says to her that it's just been chaotic without her. And Maggie, when she comes in she does see the chaos. So I'm going into the following episode which I start shooting tomorrow where it's about reorganizing the ED.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, you became a regular on episode 14 on season 1. Congratulations. How did you celebrate?
Marlyne Barrett: I cried [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: I wasn't expecting that. The answers that I typically involved booze, a restaurant or a purchase.
Marlyne Barrett: I cried. My dream was to be part of the Law and Order series. That was my dream. I mean, I literally prayed about that thing. It was literally my dream coming out of school and being part of that everyday New York lifestyle. And when my husband and I moved to Los Angeles the big question was how are you going to be on one of Dick's shows if you're in Los Angeles? That's what I said. I'm like, I can't be part of one of Dick's shows if I'm in Los Angeles. It doesn't work. And I got a phone call to audition for Chicago PD and I remember it was part of the TV shows and I said, but it was just a guest star. I did it and they gave me the job and then I got a phone call within 24 hours and the phone call was 'we're more than happy but we would like to offer her a run at Chicago Med to see if it's a possibility to make her a full-time member. We love what she does.' And they went on and within 72 hours I was moving to Chicago for an undisclosed time to do those first 13 episodes. On episode six they asked me to become a full member of the family and it was going to be effective on the 14th.
Michael Waxman, who is our director onsite which is our EP director, he played such an integral role as to helping me, wants to try things. And sometimes when you're gifts are— you're asking yourself, ‘Can I try it?’ And I will just try it. I wouldn't ask any permission, I just knew that it would make it a better story. I just did what I knew how to do, and it was to be a bad-ass actor. I just jumped in there, and I was just closing curtains, jumping over things and just getting that compassion that I believe that I've seen nurses doing. I got that letter, and that letter brought me to tears because the gratefulness was genuine in my heart.
Michelle Tompkins: Well, please allow me to backtrack for a second. Tell me about the film you did with Hill Harper.
Marlyne Barrett: Yes. Love, Sex and Eating the Bones. Canadian film. First-time director. It won best up-and-coming director at the Toronto Film Festival. I did it straight out of school. It's a fun, romantic comedy about a guy who's addicted to porn, meets the girl of his dream, and he needs to stop using porn because she doesn't want to try what he's seen. And she won't be converted into the porn star that he's fallen in love. He has a porn star that he's fallen in love all his life and she's just a girl that started her own business, and she's trying to figure out how to develop a relationship and also be a bad-ass businesswoman or working girl. And working girl meaning professional working girl [laughter]. Yeah. So it was just a great romantic flick, and I had fun doing it. We shot it in Toronto. David Sutherland was the director. He was fun to work with, and it was just one of those really fun projects.
Michelle Tompkins: What is your dream part?
Marlyne Barrett: I have this film that's shooting this April.
Michelle Tompkins: Are you allowed to give any information on it?
Marlyne Barrett: I can't. Not yet. But I promise you when April comes around, you can holler at my publicist, and I'll even let you come in and spend some days with us on the set.
Michelle Tompkins: Ooh. That would be lovely. I'd love that.
Marlyne Barrett: I think this role is going to be really exciting. So there's a lot of debut going into this. I just can't share everything yet. But I promise you, you could contact me during that time. You can come in at least-- spend the day on the set and see what's going on.
Some of Marlyne's favorites
Michelle Tompkins: I'll take you up on that. I'd love that. It sounds great. Now, what are some of your favorite movies and TV shows to watch?
Marlyne Barrett: Oh my gosh. So, again, because I love storytelling. And I have a very wide, broad stroke, okay? So I love Broadchurch, the British Broadchurch [laughter] not that I don't love them both—I watch both, but there's a clear understanding they're different shows when you think about culturally everything that's happening in Broadchurch in England. And I loved the pace of the show, I love the grit. I love that the Brits give room for women to be women and to dimensionally explore the idea of being a professional, the idea of being a woman, being a mother and to carry all the emotions but still be a kickass, badass woman. So, Broadchurch is one. Dark, a German TV show currently on Netflix, which is a lot of fun. Let me think. Top Boy, over in England, was a great TV show that I enjoyed. It wants to be a bit of a British Wire—with less politics, though. What else am I watching? Happy Valley will be one of my legendary favorites—I love that woman. I think she is one of the secret gems right now in the industry. And then, in the American side of filmmaking and TV shows, I think we had a relatively good year in filmmaking. TV shows— I love our franchise and everything that we're doing, but I'm a big fan of Madam Secretary. Big fan of Tea Leoni. I'm a big fan of her work. I think she's an emotional genius.
Michelle Tompkins: I even liked her in A League of Their Own. I don't even think she spoke! But I just thought she had a badass kind of thing.
Marlyne Barrett: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I liked her in Bad Boys, too. Yeah, Bad Boys. I thought she held her own with the comedy. There's one scene specifically where she's with Martin Lawrence and she's going through what is Will Smith's department, and Martin Lawrence is pretending, and she's just holding her comedic timing with Martin Lawrence with no other. I think she's an emotional genius. I look forward to working with her. I just put it out there. I love Shonda Rhimes. I love Shonda Rhimes. Early Grey's Anatomy, I was a big fan of. Not that I'm not a fan now, I just don't watch it. I'm doing our show [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: Only room for one medical show, I think that makes sense.
Marlyne Barrett: Exactly. But I do Scandal. Scandal is a fan favorite for me. And Viola Davis is a gem. But I love the legends. There's a TV show right now, a French TV show, called Dix pour cent, which means "ten percent." But in English, it's translated, Call My Agent. Brilliant comedy. Brilliant comedy in there. And I love the French. By heritage, I am French. I think I consider myself more French than Canadian. And more French at heart than American, but my blood is American [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: Great blend to have! So, the niceness of Canada with the culture of Europe and the fight of America.
Marlyne Barrett: There you go. Yeah.
Michelle Tompkins: And they still have to ghetto you up a little bit…
Marlyne Barrett: Every week. Yes. Totally. Totally.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, when you're not working, what do you like to do for fun?
Marlyne Barrett: I love spending time with my friends. I'm married to a Pastor, so my husband and I are very involved in our church. And I'm a TV binger. So, a day off is a TV show [laughter]. An entire season, without even blinking. I love to read. I love, love, love road trips. It doesn't matter what country I'm in. I love road trips. So even if I land in Paris, I will take a road trip to the South of France. Just like that.
Michelle Tompkins: Well, that goes perfectly into what my next question was where is somewhere you really want to visit?
Marlyne Barrett: Wow. I was in Europe for the holidays and I did a couple places there. I like to spend the holidays in Europe. Although as soon as you land over there, the first thing they tell you is, "Great time to be here to dodge the terrorists!" basically say that and you're like, "What?" Because you just never say that when somebody lands in your country. And Germany I love to visit Eastern European countries. Sweden, Norwegian lands, there's a couple of great chefs. Do you watch Chef's Table?
Michelle Tompkins: Chef's Table? No. I watch many of the cooking and chef shows, but not this one.
Marlyne Barrett: Chef's Table is on Netflix and Chef's Table follows the great chefs of anywhere. So you can find the great chefs in the U.S., in Europe, they'll take you anywhere and tell you about these great chefs. So I'm compiling a list together of these chefs that I have to travel to eat with [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: I think you will build a nice list of foodie friends.
Marlyne Barrett: This to me goes hand-in-hand with the good orgasm [laughter]. I think there are some simple pleasures in life that must be experienced. There's a chef in Spain that they say cooks with coal and will put some of these foods and bury it in the sand and put coal over it and with foil they'll let the natural heat. Watch Chef's Table. In pretty much every country you see in Chef's Table there is a chef is in I have to travel to.
Oh, and I workout a lot. I workout a lot. And again, I think that's because, my husband prior to being a pastor was a baseball junkie and who was drafted by the Cardinals, but he threw his arm in the minors and never played. But he works out like we're going to the Olympics [laughter]. Pretty much every week I always expect for him to be either drafted or picked up to go somewhere and it's finally time to win the game but now we're just working out for the sake of working out. So our vacations always involve some kind of working out schedule. Always. I love Pilates, so I do a lot of Pilates.
Marlyne on faith, marriage and dealing with adversity
Michelle Tompkins: Although I normally don't go personal but you mentioned this a few times and if you don't want to I'll drop it but it seems like your spirituality and faith is important to you. Is there anything you'd to say about how you integrate your faith into your professional life?
Marlyne Barrett: Oh, I think pretty much everybody always does it they just never talk, I think we're spiritual beings. To think that we don't incorporate our spirit would be, ‘How do you function?’ I don't really think about it, I'm just a person of faith. Which I think it has to do with the way I treat people, the way I see life, the way I appreciate people. I often think that I want this conversation to be fine. I'll give you a perfect example. The conversation we're having right now. I hope I get a chance to meet you one day. I hope we get a chance to break bread. I don't know what you're going through, but what I can do is make it a pleasant experience and if even the transaction is an interview for a story it's still two human beings are taking time to spend some time together in the history of their life. So I want you to have a good time. And I want to have a good time doing it, if not why the heck am I doing it? Because my publicist told me to do it. I got other things to do [laughter]. There has to be a greater purpose in this whole thing. I think I get a chance to do what I love and meet some great people that have careers that collaborate with my career. And if I can help you get a great article to promote your career, why not? That's how I see it, and I think that that has to do with my spirituality and honor I have for other people's lives.
Michelle Tompkins: I love that. It sounds so great. The people that I like interviewing the most use one word that you've used a lot and it is gratitude, grateful. And I always can tell the difference between the people who are happy with what they have, and their life. And it always makes a far more pleasurable interview experience with people who like their lives and like other people.
Marlyne Barrett: I love people. I love great people. And greatness has nothing to do with what you're doing. I think greatness has to do with knowing who you are, and appreciating who others are.
Michelle Tompkins: Is there anything you'd like to add about your husband and your family?
Marlyne Barrett: My husband's awesome. And he's handsome. And sexy. I met him in New York. I mean, he just looks like a jock. And the end of the day, he just looks like a jock. A Giants fan and I'm okay with that.
Michelle Tompkins: That would be for Giants or New York San Francisco?
Marlyne Barrett: No. New York Giants. So it was non-negotiable when I got married. I had to inherit that. The miracle Mets are his team. Keyword miracle because I don't know where we're going [laughter]. And he's not willing to let go of them. We've managed to embrace the LA Dodgers, and that has been quite a battle. We go to a lot of sporting events because we both love sports. I love players on those teams. It's a great marriage. That way I don't have to just be depressed about the Mets losing all the time, or the Giants. Or is Eli Manning going to get traded because I think he should? But that's neither here or there [laughter]. When football season is going on, big, big conversation. Any sporting event that happens we a huge win when Mayweather was fighting McGregor; Huge event in the family, huge event. We wager with each about who's going to win, and we're very competitive about it. We're very competitive people in our marriage and very loose about it, all at the same time. And we study together. We take a lot of classes in school together. Right now we're even going to school together. He's my best friend. We don't have any kids yet, but we will, little rainbow kids. Our kids are inevitably going to be multi-cultural, multi-racial. My husband is English-Irish heritage. So he doesn't tan much. That is a discussion in our lives a lot [laughter]. Race is a conversation we have on a regular basis because of the cultural differences that we've had to learn. I've had to accept that his family's very quiet and mine is very animated. New Year's our entire family, both sides of the family, came together and I think his family just decided they're going to be loud.
Michelle Tompkins: Oh, so they'll be well-adjusted. That's great.
Marlyne Barrett: They have no choice. I mean, when we laugh it goes from laughter, to hysteria, to the entire room rolling. If you're not comfortable with that, our laughter and it's like when something's funny we're in your face laughing at the joke you gave and my dad said, "I never thought I was that funny [laughter]." We just enjoy life. When you come from the struggles of Haiti, and at the end of the day you're like, "Dang, we made it. We didn't get shot." You have to laugh [laughter]. You just have to laugh. And I think that's why our family is determined to have a good time because of the struggles we had getting to America. Literally, coming to America. We're here now, and you know? Yeah, it's tough sometimes, but so what? Let's laugh about it and have some good wine. What do you want me to do?
Michelle Tompkins: So have you dealt with any prejudice from having a multi-racial marriage?
Marlyne Barrett: We're in America, of course [laughter]. It's been so intense. I just what do you want me to do. I have a great way of dealing with racism. I think I have a great way of dealing with racism. Most of my friends-- this is a great-- I remember my friends when we were all at the fight, everybody's wagering, my husband and I wagering with each other, and we're standing there and people are like, "Do you know that McGregor could be racist?" And I was like, "Oh, really? Oh, no." And I look at everybody and say, "But I want him to win." They said, "But he's racist. I look at them and go, "I forgive him [laughter]."
Michelle Tompkins: Oh, I love that.
Marlyne Barrett: What do you want me to do? If I meet a racist person, this is my theory. If I hug you, let's see what happens. Maybe you hug back. If you push me away, at the end of the day, what do you want me to do? I've been called all the names under the sun. Growing up the nickname they gave me at school, because I was in an all-Caucasian school was Black & Decker. It wasn't very kind. I've been called the n-word more times than I can possibly imagine the industry has so many issues about multiculturalism. But I have faith for them.
Michelle Tompkins: And also being a pleasant and kind person. It's to battle all sorts of racism, discrimination or any kind of prejudice these days.
Marlyne Barrett: Totally. Yeah. And I think based behind ignorance. And if you knew me and you knew where I came from, and I took the time to get to know you, we would probably see that we have a lot more in common than most human beings. So that's pretty much it. How are you? Where do you live?
Michelle Tompkins: Well, I normally live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. But right now, I'm in Davis, California, but I'm often in Sacramento, California. I'm in a parking lot of a dentist office today [laughter]. But I've been in California now for all for a little more than a month. It will be six weeks before I go back home to New York. I'm dealing with issues with aging parents—so just home and making them happy by being here and enjoying family time. And then back to my life in New York.
Marlyne Barrett: Oh, I hear you. Wow. Yeah. There is a responsibility of kids running around with aging parents. Yeah. My parents are about to retire. I hear you. I used to live on the Upper West Side. That's where I was when I met my husband.
Michelle Tompkins: How do you like your fans to connect with you?
Yeah, social media. Social media is great and my handles @barrettmarlyne for Instagram, and Twitter and they can just reach out to me on that. I love to respond to them. I'm now coming into this area of comfort with the fame. For many years, it was just confusing to me. Because I felt like everyone could just do what I'm doing, what was the big deal?
So I think this is where the Canadian comes in and the European influence is that, I believe that people that are not American, you acting as a profession rather than a way for fame. And it seems to be a little different just in the way people look at the career -- I mean, and I'm not even saying that American actors are lazy or anything else, there's just a difference in perspective of the work aspect of it, culturally, I think.
Yeah. I think that's what it is. I had to figure that out for myself because it almost feels like adoration sometimes, and I just feel like I'm telling a story and the awe aspect I'm just getting used to. Even the social media, just interacting, ‘Why do you care about what I'm going to say.’ And it's just something that has to do with that.
Her work with the charity La Sortie
Michelle Tompkins: There's one thing that I know is important to you. Your charity work regarding the sex trafficking girls with La Sortie. Can you tell more about that, please?
Marlyne Barrett: Yes, that is actually what the movie is going to be about. This is a cause that’s very close to my heart. I had an unfortunate event where I was assaulted and something happened to me where I decided to really get involved, wanting to help others heal from events that emotionally and privately affected their body and their mind. And that's when I partnered with this organization that helps women who have been rescued from trafficking, working to get them back on their feet. A lot of these women have been abused or have had substance abuse problems and we want to help them find a way to manage the rage, hurt, confusion and the overwhelming emotional imbalance that has surfaced through years of abuse. We really try to help these women with a spiritual perspective so that they can start owning their thoughts again. I've been involved with them for a few years now as an ambassador and I’m very inspired by their mission and the work that they do.
Michelle Tompkins: It all starts with one.
Marlyne Barrett: Yes, absolutely, it brings you so much joy to see the work help these women.
Michelle Tompkins: You save one, you save the universe entirely.
Marlyne Barrett: Exactly. And you have to be patient because you have to deal with so much-- the trafficker is not there to receive the punch that is well deserved from the person's that's been hurt. So they end up punching what is closed. So very often it's you. They end up wanting to hurt you because there's no one there to yell at through all those times they did want to yell and no one was there to help them or take care of them.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, what's next for you?
Marlyne Barrett: In which area of my life?
Michelle Tompkins: Well, actually any of them. I mean, when do you get to see your husband again?
Marlyne Barrett: Tomorrow. He comes in every week. So he leaves back and forth. He does the traveling instead of me so that's one. I think that, for me, is just slowly graduating into becoming a mommy [laughter] and that's a case of that we want to have kids. And then my parents are retiring so that's a big transition for them in their lives and seeing how we could have them move from the East Coast to the West Coast. And after that, this project that's coming up is a big one for me and just-- it's finding great collaborations in life. People that I want to collaborate with, make projects with and see what God has in store for me in this life pretty much. So, for now, I'm in Chicago and I have I don't know how many seasons of Chicago Med left, but God willing it's a lot.
Michelle Tompkins: With a Dick Wolf show you know it's going to be a long time…
Marlyne Barrett: Right, right. It's exciting stuff.