Keri Russell’s success as an actress used to be dictated by the length of her hair. The former cast member of the All New Mickey Mouse Club (that included young future superstars like Justin Timberlake, and Ryan Gosling), got her big break as the title character on Felicity, a soapy late 90s 4 season dramedy that explored the difficulties, complex friendships, love triangles, leaps of faith, part-time jobs, and life altering decisions of the college experience. Felicity Porter, a fan favourite, was known best for her trademark mane of cascading curls. When the showrunners decided to give impulsive free spirited Felicity a breakup haircut, the ratings plummeted.
In a 2000 article the New York Times examined the unusually strong backlash to the haircut. A network executive explained, “People were disappointed and angry at us and at Keri for cutting off her hair. Women kind of identified with her. When she cut her hair, they basically said, ‘I don’t want to be that person; it ruins the illusion for me.’”
To this day there are think pieces and essays on the haircut, like Hello Giggle’s Why I finally Forgave Felicity for Cutting her Hair, and it has become a pop culture punchline referenced on everything from the Gilmore Girls to Family Guy.
Keri Russell can’t hide her annoyance when she is still asked about the haircut almost twenty years later. On a deliver a message to your younger self segment on Late Night with Seth Meyers she jokingly vented, “Whatever you do, don’t cut your hair short. You will never, and I repeat never, forgive your fans.”
The A.V. Club laments, “It makes the furor over the infamous haircut in the season two episode “The List” all the more ridiculous—to think that her career suffered a setback because of a drastic change in her appearance, when her chameleonic ability is precisely what bolsters her current Emmy-caliber performance.”
After the end of Felicity, Russell wanted some distance from her iconic character, and transitioned to stage and film work, and turned in performances in romantic comedies like the fresh faced title character in the quirky and well-received Waitress. In a swift departure from her familiar roles Russell transformed her career by playing against type in the prestige TV drama The Americans as an icy early 1980s Regan era Soviet spy, keeping up the façade of a housewife in the Washington D.C. suburbs.
Drawing on her ballet, jazz, and street dance background, she trained in Krav Maga a form of hand- to- hand combat and self-defence to master the show’s complicated fight choreography. In embracing the dark edgy KGB operative, and skillfully balancing family drama and high stakes intrigue Keri Russell is no longer defined by her turn as Felicity, or judged by the length of her hair.
Sometimes we get too comfortable, too pegged in or pigeon holed. We need to break free of images from our past that no longer define us, and chart new territory. Here are 10 quotes from Keri Russell to help us open our minds to new directions.
10 Inspiring Keri Russell Quotes:
“There’s this freedom in being able to play a bad mom. Not being the best. I like playing a person who isn’t the perfect role model, who has this whole other life beyond making school lunches and putting kids to bed. Especially these days when we’re all supposed to be craft-making, cookie-making, have a career, be sexy, have a great body, go to Pilates. She’s not at home making Halloween costumes or inviting her kids’ friends over for cupcakes. It’s totally refreshing.” —Keri Russell
“I tend to think I can do everything myself. I don’t even like the word ‘nanny,’ so I call them babysitters. I recently read ‘A Moveable Feast’ by Ernest Hemingway, documenting a time in Paris when Hemingway and his wife were just starting out. They were totally destitute—literally, they had no money—and even they had a sitter!” —Keri Russell
“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” —Keri Russell
“I needed to be able to sleep past seven o’clock or not worry about how long my hair was or not worry about going to a photo shoot or not worry about saying the right thing in an interview. I didn’t know if I even wanted to be an actress anymore. I took my money, rented an apartment in the West Village, brought two boxes of books and a suitcase, and had my mattress on the floor.” —Keri Russell
“The whole point of life is to experience a little bit of everything, and I think it’s better when there are a few surprises thrown in.” —Keri Russell
“Acting happened to me. If I had pursued it, I think it would have been like someone going to a bar, desperately looking for love and not finding anyone.” —Keri Russell
“It’s sad when girls think they don’t have anything going on except being pretty.” —Keri Russell
“In a good movie, if there’s a girl in it, there might be a handful of scenes, and your job is to be supportive to the guy who’s messed up. Be the loving rock at home, or be the good mom, or be the attractive person.” —Keri Russell
“I think the good stories are those where the character decides to break away and do something different.” —Keri Russell
“There’s no shortage of female role models. They’re everywhere – in history, in literature, in the news. Just look around.” —Keri Russell
Author Bio: Tara Collum
Tara Collum lives in Toronto and grew up in Muskoka. She is the volunteer social media coordinator for the Death Row Support Project @COB_DRSP and co-writes a web serial at splitsvilleblog.wordpress.com. She is all about tea, books, mumblecore, music, long walks, and self-improvement. Follow Tara on twitter @99percentsun
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