A Salute to Women's History Month
In celebration of Women’s History Month, The Actors Society spotlights a selection of inspirational alumnae and honors their contributions to the entertainment industry. From legacy alumnae like Agnes Moorehead (Class of 1929) to recent alumnae like Jasmine Haver (Class of 2019), The Academy classrooms have been graced with countless visionary female storytellers that have helped progress the craft of acting for the past 137 years.
Zuleikha Robinson (‘97)
Actress Zuleikha Robinson (Class of 1997) first caught attention starring as Yves Adele Harlow in the 2001 series Hidalgo a conspiracy fiction thriller drama and spin-off of the famous Hidalgo series. Following this, Robinson’s first lead role brought her to Morocco, where she filmed Disney’s Western epic Hidalgo alongside Viggo Mortensen and Omar Sharif. Keeping with the period piece garb, Robinson had a supporting role in HBO’s Rome, the acclaimed series starring Ciarán Hinds.
Also starring in Shakespeare’s work, in 2004 Robinson played alongside Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons in the film adaptation of The Merchant of Venice, and played Lady Capulet in Still Star-Crossed, a “follow up” to Romeo & Juliet that aired on ABC. Robinson joined the fifth season of Lost as Ilana Verdansky, and was promoted to series regular for the subsequent sixth season. No stranger to police dramas, Robinson can be seen in New Amsterdam, Law & Order: SVU, and The Mentalist.
Martha Millan (‘97)
Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Martha Millan (Class of 1997) caught the acting bug at a young age. Enthralled at starring in high school theatre productions, she made the choice to study at The University of Sydney before attending The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.
Making her daytime television debut in As The World Turns, Millan’s career has continued moving upwards, seeing many credits including: Madam Secretary, The OA, Entourage, and all across the Law & Order franchise. She can be seen most recently in the feature film The Drummer, with Danny Glover, and on the network anthology series Two Night Horror Stories, and HBO’s critically acclaimed series Succession starring Bran Cox.
Agnes Moorehead (‘29)
Legacy alumna Agnes Moorehead (Class of 1929) is one of the most recognizable actresses in Hollywood history. With a career that spanned several decades and saw Moorehead dot cinemas across the country, Moorehead cemented a legacy as one of the finest actresses in history.
Best known for her role as Endora on the series Bewitched—one of the most famous television series of all time, starring Elizabeth Montgomery. Moorehead also starred in Citizen Kane, Dark Passage, All That Heaven Allows, and Show Boat. During her career, she earned four nominations for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for: The Magnificent Ambersons, Mrs. Parkington, Johnny Belinda, and Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte.
Jennifer Coolidge (‘82)
Character actress Jennifer Coolidge (Class of 1982) is one of the most recognizable faces in entertainment. From her first appearance on the Seinfeld episode “The Masseuse,” Coolidge began gaining recognition—afterward she appeared in small roles in A Bucket of Blood, Plump Fiction, and A Night at the Roxbury, and a recurring role on King of the Hill.
Continuing with comedic roles, Coolidge received widespread acclaim for her performance as Jeanine Stifler in the 1999 film American Pie—a box-office success that grossed almost a quarter of a billion dollars. She reprised the role for the sequel, American Pie 2, in 2001, and starred as Paulette Bonafonté in Legally Blonde that same year. Coolidge had a supporting role in the romantic comedy A Cinderella Story, playing the evil stepmother.
Most recently, you can find her talents in HBO’s The White Lotus, the comedy-drama series by Mike White.
Annabella Sciorra (‘80)
Graduate of the Class of 1980, Annabella Sciorra got involved with performing arts at a young age, studying dance and taking drama lessons. Her attendance at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts came as little surprise—and neither has her career.
Making her film debut in the 1989 comedy True Love, Sciorra received overwhelming praise from critics with Janet Maslin of The New York Times writing: "Ms. Sciorra, with her gentle beauty and her hard-as-nails negotiating style, perfectly captures the mood of the film, and makes Donna fully and touchingly drawn.” The role garnered an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Female Lead. What ultimately placed Sciorra on the map was her performance as Gloria Tillo on HBO’s acclaimed The Soprano’s—critical reception was equally as favorable.
Sciorra’s additional noteworthy performances can be seen in: Internal Affairs, What Dreams May Come, Jungle Fever, Cop Land, and The Addiction, just to name a few.
Anne Bancroft (‘50)
Anne Bancroft (Class of 1950) had acting chops and a versatility that set her apart from so many other actresses. Receiving an Academy Award, three BAFTA Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two Tony Awards, and two Primetime Emmy Awards, Bancroft is in a group of only 24 to ever receive the Triple Crown of Acting.
Not only did she study at The Academy, Bancroft trained under Lee Strasberg at the legendary Actors Studio in New York. In 1952, Bancroft made her film debut in Don’t Bother to Knock, and in 1958, debuted on Broadway with the play Two for the Seesaw, winning the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play. The following year, she starred as Anne Sullivan in the Broadway production of The Miracle Worker, winning her second Tony Award.
Loretta Swit (‘59)
Becoming a household name for her work on M*A*S*H, Loretta Swit (Class of 1959) is one of the quintessential character actresses in the business. Recipient of two Emmy Awards for her role on M*A*S*H, her performance as Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan still remains recognizable to audiences today.
With extensive work in the theatre, Swit’s first off-Broadway appearance was in An Enemy of the People, with the Actor’s Playhouse. Swit played in Jean Genet’s The Balcony in 1961 at the Circle in the Square Theatre. Other notable performances can be seen in Bonanza, The Love Boat, Lose or Draw, Password, Gunsmoke, just to name a few.
Hayley Marie Norman
It’s no surprise Academy graduate Hayley Marie Norman found her way onto this list: she’s always popping up with a new role on television. Of course she is, the comedic knack of Ms. Norman has allowed her to carve out a place in the business, securing roles left and right and dotting our screens.
Last year was one of her busiest yet, and chances are you saw her in one of the many roles she nabbed. Here are just a few of her credits: Janay Brooks in Kenan, the comedy series featuring comic actor Kenan Thompson, the Peacock comedy A.P. Bio, and the Netflix comedy The Upshaws.
Catch Ms. Norman on season 2 of the star-studded series Dollface, exclusively on Hulu.
Read a Profile on Norman here.
Jasmine Haver (‘19)
A recent grad, Jasmine Haver (Class of 2019) immediately captures the attention of audiences with her charisma and impassioned technique. Her abilities were obvious from the start, and her hard work continues to push her to new levels of her career, and so soon after graduating. With a lifelong love for cinema and the golden age of Hollywood (namely, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn, whom she idolized growing up), Haver had no other option than to pursue a career in entertainment.
Her screen credits include: D.A. Henry’s Cover Up, One Bad Day, Heated, and It’s a Girl Thing, the following stage credits: Gloria, Women Behind Bars, and the following commercial work: Dollar Shave Club, Moroccan Oil, Il Makiage, Function of Beauty, and Noom. I was lucky enough to catch her in both Gloria and Women Behind Bars, and it was some of the best stage work I’ve ever seen.
Zuleikha Robinson – The Hollywood Reporter
Martha Millan – IMDb
Agnes Moorehead – Flapper Press
Jennifer Coolidge – Deadline
Annabella Sciorra – LA Times
Loretta Swit – IMDb
Hayley Marie Norman – TV Insider
Jasmine Haver – IMDb/Dana Patrick Photo