Warner Bros.

Two-time Oscar nominee Mary McDonnell didn’t always see herself acting in front of the camera. Before she would take on such iconic roles in Major Crimes and Battlestar Galactica, she was committed to performing on the stage.

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After graduating college in 1974, McDonnell moved to New York to work on her career in theater. Over the years she picked up a lot of work, but always avoided anything with a camera. This was because she felt she could never find the right acting teacher that focused on television and film performance.

“I was not a really successful acting-class girl. Not until I found the right teacher. So I would go running from acting classes after the second session, said Mary McDonnell about her struggle to find an on-camera class.

Finally, one of McDonnell’s acting friends insisted she should try one last class before she gave up on-camera work. Not only was her teacher for the class a great fit, but he also happened to be the casting director for the 80s soap opera, As The World Turns.

“He recognized that I had something going on there. First, he got me a day-player job for a couple of days, and then he got me the audition for this guest-star role. And that’s how it happened!”

Not only would she find her love for camera work in the class but she would also land her first on-screen role as Claudia Colfax in As The World Turns in 1980. She would continue her work on television, even being cast in the original E/R series. In 1992, McDonnell would have her big breakout out movie role in Passion Fish, where she received her first Oscar nomination for best leading actress.

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