CMU grad Molly Griggs has nabbed a few ‘beautiful’ roles
Less than a year after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University, Molly Griggs is making a name for herself in New York theater.
As Amy in Penelope Skinner’s play “Linda,” Griggs portrays an eviscerating All About Eve-ish schemer eager to push her much older boss, Linda (Janie Dee), off into the sunset at a beauty supply company.
Linda might have her senior moments and a history of accomplishments to her credit, but the 25-year-old Amy has time on her side and her sights on Linda’s executive position in this blistering British drama having its American premiere through April 2 at the Manhattan Theater Club at City Center.
Despite its beauty industry background, there is no balm for the backstabbing and bloodletting that emotionally bludgeons the title character: After years as the pretty face and brains behind the company’s success, Linda discovers just how ugly and petty are those who want to give the business a younger makeover.
The role of Amy is a great for anyone let alone a recent college grad, but it’s not the first time Griggs has grabbed a beauty of a part since graduation: She made her off-Broadway debut within months of leaving CMU in “Ultimate Beauty Bible.” Does the actress, winner of CMU’s Helen Wayne Rauh Award for outstanding actor, have a thing about beauty? No, she says, just a fortuitous coincidence that both of her introductory forays into off-Broadway would be so on-target about beauty being skin deep.
She prefers to dig a bit deeper, an opportunity she relishes especially in “Linda.” And training at CMU gave her just the right theatrical tools to approach the tasks. “The first two years I spent at CMU were the hardest in my life,” says the actress. “But it prepared me for everything. I came out of school with a confidence that I could do anything.
“You take 18-year-old kids out of their hometowns,” says the native of Fayetteville, N.C., “and ask them to go places in their emotions that are greater than they ever did during their normal high school days.”
When she came to CMU in 2012 to study musical theater, “I knew it was the right place for me,” she says. “It had such an electric atmosphere.”
Soon after she doffed her cap and gown, she was showing up for fittings in a supporting part for “Mindhunters,” a new Netflix series shot in Pittsburgh. Based on the work “Mind Hunter: Inside FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit,” by Mark Olshaker and John E. Douglas, the series, starring Pennsylvania’s Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany, will premiere on the cable network in October.
“I had a small part but it was so amazing to be part of the show,” she says, “especially working with David Fincher.” The prominent director is best known for “Seven” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”
Griggs is gearing for yet another role in HBO’s “Succession,” a limited series about families of unlimited wealth and political power.
She’s also hoping to bring her one-woman show, “Jane Doe,” to more places. The docudrama, created while she was in college, is a take on the notorious rape of a teen at the hands of two Steubenville, Ohio, high school football players in 2012. Griggs has already taken the show to several college campuses.
Michael Elkin is a Tribune-Review contributing writer and an award-winning arts writer and playwright, as well as author of the novel, “I, 95.”