Gearying Up!

Northern Exposure's Golden Girl

From Onsat Magazine 7/19 - 25/93 • Donated by Meg-a-moose

By Melanie Gettys

Beautiful Cynthia Geary has everything going for her. She's in a hit TV series and is starring in her first film. Shelly Tambo would consider all this "way cool."

TALKING VIA TELEPHONE FROM SAN ANTONIO Texas, Cynthia Geary displays many of the distinguishing qualities of Shelly Tambo, the beautiful, carefree, yet wise, 21-year-old waitress she portrays in the popular CBS senes, "Northern Exposure." In an upbeat, friendly tone, she casually described all the things going on, and so far, going right, in her acting career. It was as if she had sat down to chitchat with one of the locals at The Brick, the popular bar/hangout in fictional Cicely, Alaska.

Emmy-nominated Geary was in Texas during her eight-week hiatus from "Northern Exposure," shooting what will be her theatrical film debut with Luke Perry and Steven Baldwin. "Lane Frost" and "Eight Seconds" are the two titles being tossed around for the movie which is directed by Academy Award winner John Avildsen ("Rocky," "The Karate Kid") and produced by Michael Shamberg ("The Big Chill"). Perry plays rodeo icon Lane Frost and Geary portrays his wife, Kelly.

"The movie is the true story of a world champion bull rider. Lane Frost led a really exciting, charismatic life and was tragically killed at age 25," Geary explained. "It's got all the elements of a really great film. It's a love story and it's also exciting with lots of action." Geary enthusiastically noted that the movie will feature music by artists McBride & The Ride, Vince Gill, Brooks and Dunn, Karla Bonoff, and Garth Brooks. The film is tentatively scheduled to be released in February, 1994.

Although she talks in a very relaxed manner about acting, 28-year-old Geary certainly does not view her career as trivial. She knew she wanted to perform at a very early age. Growing up the youngest of four children in Jackson, Mississippi, she studied ballet, voice, and piano. Her mother, a voice and music teacher, encouraged her daughter's talents and Geary began, at the age of six, starring in all the school musicals. It was while attending college at UCLA that Geary fell in love with the West Coast and decided to move there after graduation. She eventually found commercial work and appeared in national spots for Coke and General Motors.

Her big break, the role of Shelley on "Northern Exposure," had a lot to do with luck, she says. "I was pretty lucky in that it didn't take me a long time. I had finished school and was waiting tables and studying acting and, to make a long story short, I was discovered waiting tables by a female manager. She liked me and put me with an agent. My first pilot season was when I got 'Northern Exposure."'

The Sound of Music

This fall will mark the fifth season Geary has starred in the critically acclaimed series, playing the role of Shelly, the innocent, totally together, totally cool, Lolita-like waitress who is married to 62-year-old Holling (John Cullum).

"I am different from Shelly as far as my background. I had a very sheltered upbringing," Geary said. "I graduated from college and grew up in a very stable home. My parents are still married. Shelly grew up with no parental supervision whatsoever, and left home from high school with this old guy. But there's definiteIy parts of me in Shelly. I think I'm still hopefully kind of naive." Geary laughs and then adds, "But after living in L.A. for four years, I don't know. Los Angeles is different from any other place I've ever been in the world. It's unlike any other place." She now lives in Seattle, Washington, the backdrop for "Northern Exposure."

When Geary speaks about the future, she sees lots of changes in store for Shelly and, hopefully, some new challenges for herself. Music has always been her first love (she majored I' in music at UCLA), and she loves to perform. As "NE" fans already know, Geary performed through the entire season finale on May 24. Just recently discovering she was pregnant, she woke up one morning so totally happy about her condition that she wasn't able to speak a word; she could only sing. "This was my frst professional singing gig," Geary jokes.

Geary seriously hopes to do other "gigs," maybe even a broadway show, will follow. "I would really like to be in a musical in future. Some of the stuff for the season closer I did live and some of it I did in a recording studio. After getting a little tiny taste what it's like to be in a record studio, I'm hooked. It was really fun. My co-star, John Cullum, is a big Broadway star and has won a couple of Tonys. He has encouraged me.''

As for Shelly Tambo and drastic changes that await her next season, Geary is looking forward to it. "This should be very interesting for me because I've never been pregnant. I think the producers are heading in a new direction with Shelly, which is great. They are finally putting her in situations where she has to grow up some." Geary laughs, adding, "Since I'm nearing my 30s, about time.


Created4/18/02
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