Having most recently appeared as a guest-star on the UPN hit sitcom, THE PARKERS, Mariann Aalda launched her acting career with OFF-CENTRE THEATRE, in a summer job for the N.Y.C.Parks Dept., doing street theater "...for seventy-five bucks a week and all you could beg in the street...it was a tough audience," says Aalda. "Having rotten produce thrown at you from the rooftops of tenement buildings in Hell's Kitchen, propels you into warp speed at thinking on your feet. You've gotta get 'em laughing and on your side pretty quickly so they'll stop thinking of you as a moving target." On a more auspicious note, the OFF CENTRE gig also introduced Aalda to actress Annie Korzen (YENTA UNPLUGGED), who went on to become one of her best friends and years later co-starred with her in the female version of Neil Simon's THE ODD COUPLE at the 1500-hundred seat La Mirada Playhouse in Los Angeles.
After her daunting introduction into show business, Aalda was accepted into the prestigious Negro Ensemble Company theater training program, where film actor Laurence Fishburne and comedian Robert Townsend were among her classmates. Along with Townsend, she made her first major theatrical appearance in Woody King's New Federal Theater production of TAKE IT FROM THE TOP, opposite Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.
Later, she embarked on a two-year national tour with the acclaimed improvisational comedy group, THE PROPOSITION, along with award-winning RUGRATS actor-director, Charlie Adler. It was with "THE PROP" that she developed her yen for comedy. "I love walking that tightrope of making it 'wacky' while keeping it real," says Aalda. "The funniest characters have absolutely no idea that they're funny...that's for the audience to decide."
Aalda then came off the road for what was supposed to be a three-month stint on the ABC soap opera, EDGE OF NIGHT, and instead ended up staying for three years, earning an AFTERNOON TV award as "Outstanding New Female" for her portrayal of feisty, young attorney, "DiDi Bannister." When the show went off the air, she moved to Los Angeles and gained attention, first as "Ellen Parker," the long suffering wife wife of football coach, "T. D. Parker" (played by O.J. Simpson) in HBO's first adult hit series, FIRST & 10; and then as "Lita Ford," Meshach Taylor's "yuppie-from-hell" girlfriend on CBS' DESIGNING WOMEN.
She reunited with Taylor several year's later as "John and Julie Pinderhughes," the clueless parents in the Warner Bros. teen cult-comedy, CLASS ACT, opposite rappers Kid 'N Play. Other Films include co-starring in NOBODY'S PERFECT with Chad Lowe and Gail O'Grady, and featured roles in BEACHES and PRETTY WOMAN for Garry Marshall.
Aalda was also one of the stars of CBS' THE ROYAL FAMILY, the sitcom that was destined to be Redd Foxx's "comeback" series, until he met with his untimely death after suffering a heart attack on the set. After numerous guest-star appearances (VERONICA'S CLOSET, CHICAGO HOPE, FAMILY MATTERS, KENAN 'N KEL and GRACE UNDER FIRE, among others) it was back to daytime, again, with a recurring role on NBC's SUNSET BEACH as "the tragically disfigured Lena Hart."
After more than twenty years as an actor, Aalda says she can usually guess a person's age from what they remember her from. "Boomer's and up are a fan base from all my tv appearances in prime-time...teens and twenty-somethings know me from film -- CLASS ACT, and occassionally NOBODY'S PERFECT. But I get stopped most often by thirty-somethings who tell me how much they enjoyed watching me on EDGE OF NIGHT...when they came home from (junior high) school!"
In a recent retrospective of the show (11/18/03), SOAP OPERA DIGEST, which profiled Aalda and fellow cast-member, Frances Fisher, cites Aalda as being a "hell-raising" representative of the women of her generation. "Let's face it," says Aalda, "we baby-boomers are used to being spoiled and catered to...and we are not aging in the way that previous generations have. In fact, if we had any say-so about it, we wouldn't age at all!"
Addressing this issue, Aalda, who has a certification in hypnotherapy from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in Tarzana, CA, and has been conducting empowerment workshops for women, wrote a book of comic essays entitled, SNAP OUT OF IT: YOU'VE ONLY BEEN HYPNOTIZED INTO BELIEVING YOU'RE OVER THE HILL!
"I got such a terrific response from it, that I developed it into a one-woman show... performing it to standing ovations! So, I decided to record it live and turn it into a comedy CD. It's now available on my website at www.voiceoftheboomerchick.com. Check it out!!!"