At Home With Miriam Shor

GCB actress Miriam Shor shares what home life is for her.

Miriam Shor

A worldview in life and a working mother's focus makes being an actress a joy and a challenge for Miriam Shor, who stars in the new ABC dramedy GCB, based on the novel Good Christian Bitches by Kim Gatlin. The series, which premiered Sunday, March 4 at 10:01 p.m. Eastern, centers on a group of women in an affluent Dallas suburb where jealousy, gossip and broken commandments reign. Miriam, who has appeared in films including Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Bedazzled, was a series regular in CBS' Swingtown and appeared most recently in FX's Damages and HBO's Mildred Pierce. We caught up with Miriam to talk about her new project and life on the home front.

It must be exciting to start a new series. Tell us about the show and the character you play.

It's very interesting when you start a new series because you don't know what will happen. It's nerve-racking, but a lot of people who are drawn to acting are also drawn to adventure. I play Cricket Caruth-Reilly, and she's the type of person who will introduce herself with her full name. She's an incredibly successful woman in Dallas high society and has a secret that could cause her carefully planned life to crumble. She's ruthless -- a woman in a man's world in Texas, which adds a whole other layer of fight to her. She's fiercely protective of those she loves, and to say she's duplicitous is an understatement. It's a society full of slings and arrows. The only time she can let her armor down is with her husband, who happens to be gay. They have a beautiful friendship behind the fortress. She's so different from who I am. She can't afford to be vulnerable, and I live with my heart on my sleeve.

Will the women of Dallas recognize themselves in the show's characters?

There's an interesting mix of love and satire in the way the writers have written these women. It was such a different world for me. The show is about a very specific area of Dallas called Highland Park. There's a strip mall there with shops where you couldn't drop less than $12,000 to buy anything. I think the women who live there will identify with the characters, but I think everyone knows women like the ones on the show. Hypocrisy is universal.

With the show's female characters so conscious of status, is success defined differently for women than men?

It depends on who's doing the defining. I think you have to define success for yourself, or you'll be disappointed every time. Women are held to a different level than men, for sure. I have a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter named Ruby, and becoming a mom has opened up a different view of the world for me. Being a working mom and feeling judgments — either way — has been a challenge for me. Women who choose not to have children have battles, too. I'm lucky to be a mom, and I'm lucky to be working. I love hanging out with my family, so my time is that much more precious to me. But being an actor, sometimes a job is fulfilling on another level.

What was your childhood like, and where did you live?

I was born in Minneapolis, and when I was almost a year old, we moved to Venice to live because my father got a Fulbright to go there. We lived there for a couple of years with my mother and sister, then we moved to Detroit, where my dad's a professor. We lived in downtown Detroit, then moved out to the suburb of Pleasant Ridge. My parents split up, and my mother had fallen in love with Italy, so she moved back to Torino, which ironically is called the Detroit of Italy because Fiat is located there. So my sister and I moved back and forth between Italy and Detroit through my childhood. I loved that experience. It made me realize that borders are superficial, and you can go anywhere you want to go because we all live on one planet.

So do you prefer living in the suburbs or the city?

My home in Detroit was idyllic. It was a two-story, brick and wood house with an attic, basement and a nice yard. The screen door is an indelible memory. Our apartment in Italy was beautiful. The architecture was prewar with marble hallways and big doors from the kitchen to the courtyard. We were on a quiet street with an old church across the way. There are wonderful things about growing up in a suburb, but I have to say, growing up in a city with museums and cultural attractions right there with public transportation is my preference. My first vision of any architecture was in Venice, then Detroit's urban architecture and Italy's historical places. It's no wonder that I'm drawn to New York City, which has a marriage of old and new architecture.

Where do you live now, and what do you love about the neighborhood?

When I first moved to New York, I lived in the East Village, with all the restaurants, bars and music you could want. I looked up at a building one day, and said, "Someday, I want to live there." Now, 10 years later, we own an apartment in that building. Square footage is not something we have a lot of, but that's normal to me. It's got two bedrooms, and the kitchen bleeds into the living room and dining room. My husband, Justin, is incredibly handy and redid the kitchen and the floors, which are old hickory. We rent a studio apartment on the same floor that's used as an office and guest room. My husband and I both play a little music, so we can do that there without waking Ruby. I love the neighborhood. There are always people everywhere, a dog park nearby and trees I can see outside my window.

What's your favorite room at home?

Ruby has her own room, and that's my favorite place in the house. We painted the ceiling sky blue, and it's so cozy to sit in the rocking chair with her there.

What was the first place you ever bought?

When you're a starving artist in New York, you live in sublets. But I saved up a nest egg and bought a tiny place around the corner from here. I sold that place in 2004 for almost twice what I bought it for four years earlier. Now the housing bubble has forced me, and others, to think about what home means. You invest so much emotionally into your home, and families are losing their homes. Maybe the definition of home should be something you can take with you. If you get too tied to things, the most important things get lost. If a house has too many things, you lose the space. My sister says a house only has the value you give it.

So what does home life mean to you?

Wherever I can be with family is home. As much as I love being in New York City, home life is just being with my husband and daughter. There's a lot of chaos, infused with joy, and there are quiet moments when we're together, just cuddling.

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