Susan Lisovicz with  Carl-Bernstein & President, William Paterson University Kathleen Waldron

Extraordinary People: Susan Lisovicz

 An Interview with Susan Lisovicz

Mover & Shaker Journalist, Educator, Consultant 

by Susan J. Farese,

SJF Communications

Susan Lisovicz
Susan Lisovicz

Susan Lisovicz is a dynamic renowned Journalist (well known for her Business/Financial reporting) and mass communicator with an incredible resume. A 1978 Communications Graduate at William Paterson University in New Jersey, Susan received the President’s Medal in 1999. Ms. Lisovicz is a former Reporter/ Anchor for CNN, CNBC, and during college was a reporter for WOBM-FM.

This Spring, 2015, Susan is a returning Donald W. Reynolds Center visiting professor at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.  Ms. Lisovicz formerly taught at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism and William Paterson University.

Susan also consults as a Media Coach/Host and her clients have included Brown-Forman, UPS, Aegis Financial and Eco Ed Council. She has interviewed Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jack Welch, Barry Diller and Sumner Redstone. Ms. Lisovicz was the emcee for the UPS Executive Retreat in Palm Beach with keynote speaker Condoleezza Rice.

Per her website (www.susanlisovicz.com) Susan was “live on the air when former President George W. Bush made a surprise visit to the NYSE and was the only reporter to get an on-air comment”. Susan has covered breaking general assignment stories such as September 11th, the death of Pope John Paul II and Hurricane Katrina.

Cronkite-School-Susan-Lisovicz
Susan Lisovicz at the Cronkite-School of Journalism

Side note: Susan and I were grammar school classmates in the quaint town of Wallington, New Jersey until my family and I moved “down the shore” the summer before 8th grade. We both share a love for and treasure the Jersey Shore and the art of communications. We have continued to keep in touch throughout the years. I admire Susan’s professionalism, dedicated work ethic and enthusiastic zest for life. Susan Lisovicz is a truly a role model. I am proud to interview Susan Lisovicz, (“the other Susan” on the “other side of the interview table”)!

SJF:  Please tell us a bit about your upbringing…

SL:  I grew up in a small town in suburban New Jersey. One of four children, a middle child. My father’s nickname was Easy Ed. All of our friends liked my parents. Anybody who came over for dinner was entertained with an endless supply of true and embarrassing stories about each of the children. My mother went right back to work as a nurse in the hospital as soon as we all were in school. She worked weekends and weird hours. In return she was able to get off the entire summer.  Thus began my lifelong love affair with the Jersey Shore, where we still have a house where we all congregate. Our big Saturday night dinners at the shore with my brothers, sisters-in-law and me cooking for a dozen or more people is one of my favorite things.

SJF: Yes, I remember that quaint small town, Wallington, N.J., where we were parochial school classmates. We also mutually treasure the Jersey Shore. My Grandparents owned a bungalow a few streets from your former home (which sadly washed away during Hurricane Sandy) at Ortley Beach. We had fun times at Barnacle Bill’s playing pinball back in the day! Where has the time gone? Moving on…How long have you been a journalist/reporter/professor? (Did you always want to be one)?

SL:  I have been a journalist since I was 15. My best friend was a year older and editor in chief of the high school newspaper. She suggested I write about a recent rock concert I attended. I gave it a lot of thought, handed in the article and realized this was my life calling.

SJF:  Serendipity! Who knew??? What a great way to take that first step. Speaking of steps…What have been your life hurdles? successes?

SL: It is not easy to stay balanced. It is a constant struggle. For much of my life I’ve worked in a high-octane environment. You are working with people who are smarter, better connected, prettier… you name it. It’s a constant reminder to recite the Serenity Prayer.

Susan Lisovicz at the NY Stock Exchange
Susan Lisovicz at the NY Stock Exchange

SJF:  One would never know that you have struggled, you make it all seem so easy! So inspiring! Which brings me to:  who is “your” inspiration ?

SL: Nelson Mandela, who forgave. Pope John Paul II, for his courage. Paul Newman, for his integrity. Ted Turner, for his commitment to the environment.

SJF:  That is an incredible line up. Can you tell us about three significant/pivotal  events in your life?

SL:  First heartbreak: Love hurts. My sister’s death at 29: There are no guarantees. My first layoff: The glass is half full, not half empty. It’s a time to check out new frontiers and sometimes it’s destiny.

SJF:  Do you have any fears?

SL: Oh, sure. Fear of losing my independence, physically, financially. Fear of not reaching my potential. Fear of getting lazy and tired and worst of all, jaded. But there are a lot of things that I worry about in a larger sense. I worry about a growing lack of civil discourse in this country…I don’t even want to give voice to my worst fears about that. I worry that despite an infinite number of examples about how we abuse our natural resources (air, water, wildlife) that we continue to be lousy stewards of this beautiful planet and I worry about the Middle East. It always seems that when things can’t get any worse…they do.

SJF: What do you usually dream about?

SL:  I can’t remember my dreams. Maybe that’s a good thing.

SJF:  What is your strongest asset? What do you need to work on??

SL: Everyone comments on my high energy (and I’ve never been known to drink coffee) as well as my enthusiasm and love of adventure. As for what I need to work on: patience, living in the moment, maximizing time efficiency.

SJF: Do you “give back”? if so with which groups?

SL:  I am on the board of the Y in my town and I am actively involved in projects, I am a Eucharistic minister at my church, I’ve done volunteer work at a  hospital in Bangladesh and a children’s camp in Massachusetts. I am a member of the Sierra Club, Audubon Society and Nature Conservancy. And I teach.

SJF: What’s up next for you??? Teaching at Cronkite, Consulting etc.

SL:  I’m still exploring this new career. It’s a lot of fun and I’ve done lectures in Poland and consulted privately all over the country and Europe.

SJF: Do you miss reporting/anchoring?

SL: I’m still a news junkie. I do get totally entranced when reading some news stories. I will stare at a TV monitor at work on a big story. I think sometimes.. that would be fun. But TV news is an all or nothing game. Energy, focus, stress levels, b.s. It will push you. I did it for a long time. I wouldn’t say I’m out of the news business 100%, But I am doing things differently now. And it feels right.

 SJF: How does it feel to be interviewed (as opposed to being the interviewer)?

SL:  Well, I know what can go wrong in an interview. I know words can get taken out of context. I know that the focus in the piece can be on something completely different than the interview that it was based on. But there’s something called trust and respect.

SJF: Any regrets in life?

SL: I should be fluent in a second language, should have learned how to eat like a lady.

SJF: Big smile after that last comment!  Now, onto a more serious topic: How did 9-11 impact you?

SL: It continues to be a sickening reminder of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. Yet the resilience of man is also extraordinary. One of the most memorable weddings I ever attended was that of a friend who remarried several years after losing her first husband in the South Tower.

SJF:  Do you have any particular role models? Male/Female, in and out of your profession?

SL: Derek Jeter, for the combination of clean competition and a quiet dignity.  Of course I have an endless number of female role models. My mother, who raised four children and worked full time as a hospital nurse. She teaches by example how to live your life. Christiane Amanpour: brilliant and gutsy. Malala Yousafzai: eloquent and fearless. And countless women I am lucky enough to call friends who are strong, compassionate and fun.

SJF:  What qualities should the younger generation aspire to have that you think are important in this day and age?

SL: Tune in. Vote. Care. Do better than the generation before you.

SJF:  How do you feel about how much tech people are using all the time? Do you think we should connect more in person?

SL:  Yes. Smart phones and tablets can actually be very alienating when used to excess. We need to connect in person.

Susan Lisovicz
Susan Lisovicz

SJF:  Funny stories about anchoring?

SL: Oh, there was the earring that fell off mid sentence. Or  Richard Simmons trying to hijack my live shot or getting a call close to midnight to anchor the overnight when I was sipping a beer in a hot tub.

SJF: Funny! But you are so resilient, I have faith that you handled all of those well.

SJF:  How do you handle loss????

SL: It makes me appreciate life and love that much more. And it makes me recognize that loss is part of life.

SJF: On that note…thank you, my friend, kindred spirit and “extraordinary person”,  Susan Lisovicz for sharing your story!

Much more about Susan Lisovicz at her website: www.susanlisovicz.com

Follow Susan Lisovicz on TWITTER: https://twitter.com/susanlisovicz

Photos: Courtesy of Susan Lisovicz

Articles:

http://money.cnn.com/2007/01/31/news/newsmakers/markets_bush/index.htm?postversion=2007013115

http://www.wpunj.edu/news/detail.dot?id=343319

http://cronkite.asu.edu/node/1129

http://cronkite.asu.edu/node/2757

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-lisovicz/air-travel-tips_b_2488373.html

Videos:

Goodbye Friend: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WBRsUuB3_8

Former CNN financial correspondent Susan Lisovicz:  http://vimeo.com/10816188

CNN All Access, NYSE Susan Lisovicz Reporting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKG_9Wc8fdE

An especially poignant article: http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/06/05/dday.lisovicz/index.html?eref=onion and video with Susan Lisovicz and her late Uncle Lenny, a D-Day Hero: http://us.cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2009/06/06/lisovicz.dday.hero.cnn

Erica McDermott as Tar Ecklund in The Fighter

Watch Out World! Erica McDermott’s Star is Rising!

Extraordinary People Sharing Their Stories…

***

An Interview with Brainy, Feisty, & Funny

Erica McDermott

By

Susan Farese, SJF Communications

***

 

Erica McDermott
Erica McDermott

 

Remember those feisty sisters in the 2010 Award-Winning Film, THE FIGHTER (starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo)? Get off the porch why dontcha!!! ! Meet Scituate, (Pronounced Sit-choo-uit) Massachusetts‘ very own Erica McDermott: actress, celebrity, model, RN, wife of Bob McDermott and mom of 2 tween daughters, Maisy and Kate. Erica’s amazing breakthrough role was portraying “Tar Ecklund”, the “sister” with the BIG HAIR in THE FIGHTER, along with other “Sisters”; Actresses Melissa McMeekinBianca Hunter, Dendrie TaylorJenna Lamia,  Jill Quigg  and   Kate O’Brien, (sister of late night host Conan O’Brien). Erica also appeared as Carl Elway’s Assistant in “American Hustle” (working with Director David O. Russell on both films) and several other Independent feature films as well as a variety of theatre performances and celebrity hosting events.

Erica has a really interesting story to tell…so…Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m thrilled to introduce you to my “kindred spirit” from New England, Erica McDermott, a.k.a. Erica McD.!

SJF: Let’s start at the very beginning! Please tell us a bit about your early years.

EMcD: Sure. I lived in Somerville Massachusetts until the sixth grade. We moved to Quincy, where I did the majority of my “growing up”.  My parents married very young and soon after they welcomed me into their world. They’re still  married today!

SJF: Sweet! Do you have any siblings?

EMcD: I am an only child and I LOVE IT!! It was very challenging to play the game Connect Four all by myself – I had to get creative.  (Hahhaha I’m only half kidding)!

SJF: I marvel at your solo game playing abilities!! OK moving on… You know you’re a kindred spirit of mine-we’re both Registered Nurses, and we share the zodiac sign “Taurus” (no wonder), which is a premium! Where did you study Nursing and what is your specialty? Do you still practice?

EMcD: Yes,  I’m a Registered Nurse.  I earned my BSN (Bachelors of Nursing) with a minor in Chemistry & Biology in 1995 at Salem State University.  Although I don’t currently practice, it’s important to me to maintain my license.  I worked hard to earn it – it’s something that means a great deal to me. My specialty as a nurse was Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury and Neuropsychiatry.  I often look for continuing education classes that focus on these areas.

SJF: Very impressive…and your credentials made me think about another funny nurse who is also an actress, Bonnie Hunt! How did the acting bug bite you? What propelled you?

EMcD: When my children were entering full day school, I decided it was time to get back into nursing.  At the same time, I was asked to perform in a One Night Only benefit performance in my home town of Scituate. The show was called MOMologues, a comedy about Motherhood.  The director Lisa Rafferty, was looking for funny Moms from my town, and people suggested they ask me to take part. I had been in exactly 1 play in Junior High School, and public speaking really never bothered me.  After some thought, I agreed to do the show.  When the show was over, I had an overwhelming feeling of happiness.  Without question, in 2008 I had found a part of me that I didn’t know existed.

SJF: Incidentally, Lisa Rafferty was kind enough to send me a note about you:  “We’ve been so lucky to have Erica be a part of the development of two our MOM shows. Her talent shines through our material – her commitment and fearlessness sparks the comedy every time”‘

SJF: So…MOMologues was extremely serendipitous! And after the MOMologues?

EMcD: A few weeks after the MOMologues show, I received an email from Plymouth Rock Studios. PRS was planning on building huge Hollywood style Studios in Plymouth MA.  They invited me down to see the plans.  I still don’t know how they found me?? While I was there they offered me free acting classes over several weeks. I decided to go & didn’t share this new activity with any of my friends. I was fearful that they would think I was having some sort of a midlife crisis.  I loved the classes, and was strongly encouraged to send a head shot and resume to local casting and modeling agencies. To my surprise, I started working the next week. My first job was a photo shoot for stock photos for a magazine.

 

Erica McDermott on Modeling Photo Shoot in Boston
Erica McDermott Modeling Photo Shoot “Trash the Dress” in Boston. Photo credit: Dina K. Photography

http://www.dinakphotography.com/

 

SJF: Very cool! Such an amazing start to your acting/modeling career! How did they find you??? Talk about mysteries! Free acting classes are usually unheard of! And then a photo shoot to boot! Alright, now for the fun stuff…Come on..Tell us about your breakthrough role in THE FIGHTER and how it came about!

EMcD:  Not long after that photo shoot I was called into Boston Casting for a film called The Fighter.  They were looking for background actors to be “tough girls”.  I was called into a room with about 20 or 30 other people, Casting Director Angela Peri spoke to the group.   She walked by each girl assessing if they could get the “job done”.  Girls were passed by over and over again because she didn’t think they looked “tough” enough.  I had been taught in my acting classes that sometime you need to take a risk.  I went for it.  When Angela told me I was “too pretty to be tough”, I stepped out of line, got in her face and aggressively told her that she was going to give me part in movie. I may have dropped an F-Bomb…. or two.  Little did I know that this was the first of 5 auditions that would ultimately earn me a supporting role in the Oscar Nominated film The Fighter.

SJF: That’s phenomenal! Ahem. I was at that casting call too, (LOL) but on a different day and placed in a different group of women…Angela took one look at me in my get-up: wig, bandanna, in snake pants and snake sandals with my supposedly “tough broad” stance & garb and matter-of-factly said: “Nah ah…Go over and talk to my casting associate, I want you for  featured as a nurse in that other film, which was ultimately called “Locked In“. Yep I was one of those “passed over” but it’s all good, and then I was fortunate to be cast featured as a British Reporter in The Fighter anyway!! I really admire how you took the risk! That takes chutspah!

SJF: What are your “secrets” for newbies breaking into “the biz” or for those who aren’t booking roles or just need more opportunities? Any particular tidbits of advice?

EMcD:  I acknowledge that what happened to me is ridiculously unusual.  It’s almost hard to believe.  I wish I had some magical advice to share with other people looking to break into the business.  Classes, owning the choices I make during auditions and being prepared are some of the things that I try to do to stay on track.

SJF: Those all make a lot of sense! Can you tell us who your inspiration is as an actress?

EMcD: My family are very supportive. They believe in me and route for me.  They all inspire me to work hard and to do my absolute best. We try to sit down for dinner, together, as often as possible.  We really connect at this time, and talk about our day.  When possible, I book auditions during the day while my girls are at school.  I’ve learned how to juggle as so many Moms and Dads do.

 

Erica McDermott and her Daughters Maisy &  Kate
Erica McDermott and her Daughters Maisy & Kate

 

 

Erica McDermott with Family in NYC
Erica McDermott with Family, left to right: Maisy, Bob Erica and Kate in NYC

SJF: Now for a little nitty gritty, how do you “get into” character?

EMcD: If I am being considered for a role in a biopic, I research everyone involved in the story.  I look at photos, read books and watch documentaries if they are available. This process helps me see the whole picture before zoning in on one particular person. Kristin Swan from Swan Communications Therapies is my Dialect Coach.  If I need to pick up a new accent quickly I can always count on her.

I often visit a coffee shop in Hingham to try out a new accent for the first time.  It’s weird to speak to someone in a new voice for the first time.  I feel that if I can do it, in front of strangers, and truly pull it off without anyone raising an eyebrow – that I have perfected the accent.

SJF: Erica, Kristin Swan was so kind to send us a note about working with you. Here’s what she had to say:  “I will very gladly speak about my work with Erica!”

….”Erica is a talented actress with an acute ear and an excellent handle on accents. She makes my job as her dialect coach very easy as she comes prepared and is easily directed. To prep for a new accent, we research and chat specifics about the target accent and then with some additional pointers from me, Erica typically dives right in and starts practicing. I will check in and phonetically transcribe a paragraph or two from her speech, providing periodic check-ins until it is mastered. It never takes long, as she is a quick study. What is the most impressive about working with Erica is how analytical she is.  She wants to understand not only the accent she is prepping for but also her own native Boston accent. Her level of awareness, her preparation and her tenacity leads to an end result that is natural and believable.”

SJF:  Kristin really admres your work ethic! Very impressive!  “Pahk the cah”, eh? (Can you tell I miss Boston)? Also quite a task, to research all the characters! Monumental!

SJF:  Do you “give back” and if so, with which particular groups? Do you feel that it is important for other actors and celebrities do so as well?

EMcD: I support a few local charities and organizations here in Boston.  I’ve been a fan of The Ellie Fund for years. They are a non-profit organization that fights breast cancer by easing its effects on patients and their families. I’ve followed The Home for Little Wanderers since I was in Nursing School. They’ve been open for over 200 years and have earned the reputation for doing whatever it takes to strengthen vulnerable families and to keep children safe.

 

Erica McDermott at "Home for the Little Wanderers" Event
Erica McDermott at “Home for the Little Wanderers” Event

 

SJF:  How often have you hosted events as a celeb, which is a different “role” than acting. Is hosting events difficult? How do u prep?

EMcD: I’ve hosted quite a few events – sometimes I’m a solo emcee and sometimes I’m part of a group. Most recently I hosted the Imagine Magazine Awards Show at the Boston Hard Rock. It was fun because the room was filled with peers, colleagues and friends from the New England Entertainment Industry. I was able to poke fun at my friends and tell a few jokes – it was easy to prep for this event. What I loved about this specific party was that I truly celebrated the success of some pretty special people in my region who work in the film & television business. To hear exactly why they were given awards was inspiring to me.

SJF: Here is another recent interview link featuring you in IMAGINE MAGAZINE by Publisher Carol Patton:  http://imaginenews.com/getting-know-erica-mcdermott/

SJF: How about that physical transformation of you (hair/makeup etc.) in THE FIGHTER and AMERICAN HUSTLE? (

Side note, folks…Below are a few photos of Erica’s metamorphosis as very different characters in those two films!

Erica McDermott as Tar Ecklund in The Fighter

Erica McDermott as Tar Ecklund in The Fighter with Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams and her other “Sisters”

 

Erica in American Hustle Channeling Tippi Hedrin's Hairstyle
Erica in American Hustle Channeling Tippi Hedrin’s Hairstyle

 

Erica at Press Event for American Hustle
Erica at Press Event for American Hustle

EMcD: – It took over 2 years to grow my hair out after filming The Fighter.  Not a complaint, just an observation. I’d bleach my hair again in a second if a character called for it. I also had to keep the pounds on during filming.  I can’t say that part was hard. Hahhaaa!

I ate a few bagels to get my curves on for American Hustle. We wanted my characters look to have a hint of Tippi Hedren’s style from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. The hair was spot on!

SJF: WOW! I think that your hair in THE FIGHTER (and that porch scene) is unmatched and will always be historic as was your cleavage (ahem) in American Hustle! Bagels or prosthestics???

SJF: I have a little surprise for you…One of your Sisters in “The Fighter”, another sassy, silly, serious actor, Melissa McMeekin has a little to say about you: “I just am so honored to know Erica. I have said so many times that being part of The Fighter was an amazing gift, but truly the best gifts were the friendships I formed with the amazing women that played my sisters. And Erica and I have become so close that I honestly can’t even believe that I didn’t know her 5 years ago. She is an incredibly talented and fearless actress. She is a complete natural, it’s like she just knows exactly what to do, her instincts are incredible. I really think she can do anything and she is probably one of the absolute funniest people I know. Her comedic timing is off the charts. She is one in a million and as beautiful as she is the most stunning thing about her is how truly amazing of a person she is”.

Melissa McMeekin
Melissa McMeekin

SJF: That was so nice of Melissa and so true about you, Erica! Keep on shining!

So, what’s next for you on the big screen?

EMcD: I recently worked on the Warner Brothers Pictures’ biopic, directed by Scott Cooper, about Whitey Bulger called Black Mass.  My character is Mary Bulger, wife of ex-state senator Billy Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch). It was an incredible and memorable experience. The movie is set to hit theaters on September 18th.

SJF:  I am sure we’ll stay tuned for that film! Benedict is nominated for several awards for his portrayal of Alan Turing in this year’s “The Imitation Game” at the top of his game as well!

SJF: Thanks so much Erica, for sharing your extraordinary story and for all of your photos!!

You can follow Erica McDermott on TWITTER!

Here is another recent article about Erica from IMAGINE MAGAZINE  http://imaginenews.com/getting-know-erica-mcdermott/

 

 

 

 

Torrey Pines State Beach 1.13.15 Photo by SJF Communications

Torrey Pines State Beach: My Local GEM!

At Torrey Pines State Beach Pelican Staring Right at Me!
At Torrey Pines State Beach Pelican Staring Right at Me!

Awe at Torrey Pines State Beach

In my opinion, an absolute gem in the San Diego area is Torrey Pines State Beach! Every time I visit, I notice different aspects of nature, such as spectacular rock formations, pelicans flying overhead solo or in groups, the magnificent waves crashing, high and low tides, people strolling & jogging, children playing with pails and shovels, sand castles being built, etc.

It always invigorates me to walk to my special “rock” and back which is about 5000 steps!

I have an annual California State Park Visitors Pass.

(It’s a terrific value if you frequent California State Parks).

Today I ventured out to grab some sunshine and walk briskly before an evening meeting.

As always, I was captivated by the sights, sounds, & scents surrounding me.

I snapped several photos and invite you to revisit my wonderful time!

tpsb.pelican11
A pair of pelicans !
Pelican Prepping to Fly!
Pelican Prepping to Fly!
Pelicans Perched atop Rocks...on Land and Sea
Pelicans Perched atop Rocks…on Land and Sea
A Pair of Pelicans with Different Opinions
A Pair of Pelicans with Different Opinions
Pelican with Seagull, Edited with Picasa
Pelican with Seagull, Edited with Picasa
One More Pelican with Seagull Edited with Picasa!
One More Pelican with Seagull Edited with Picasa!

Camel Close-up Cameo  at the San Diego Zoo! Photo by SJF Communications

A Few of My Views For All of You From The San Diego Zoo!

Happy New Year!

I love living in San Diego!  Of all the phenomenal attractions here, one that stands out among the rest is the world famous San Diego Zoo.  

I thoroughly enjoyed a long overdue zoo visit with family over the holidays. It was fantastic exercise walking throughout the zoo & the quality time spent with family was priceless!

We were fortunate to peer at one of the pandas that day, among many other species such as gorillas, orangutans, pelicans, hippos, lions, egrets, camels, eagles, elephants, giraffes etc.!

What a fun day (with such beautiful weather)!   

My favorite exhibits (as always) were the orangutans and gorillas- I could watch them all day!

Here are a few collage images to enjoy! Click on each collage to enlarge it…

Oh…and what are your favorite animals to see at the zoo?  

Feel free to like this post (and others), add your comment(s) and follow this blog!  

 

 

San Diego Zoo Collage 1 by SJF Communications

San Diego Zoo Photo Collage # 1 by Susan Farese, SJF Communications

 

 

 

San Diego Zoo Collage # 2

San Diego Zoo Collage # 2 by Susan Farese, SJF Communications

 

 

San Diego Zoo Collage # 3 by SJF Communications

San Diego Zoo Collage # 3 by Susan Farese, SJF Communications