Actress Mimi Fletcher, who was raised in Columbia, has steadily found acting work on some of television’s hottest series: “Ozark,” “Shrinking,” “Shameless” and “Better Call Saul.”
Her next role, as jury member Lori Rae on the drama “Waco: The Aftermath,” starts streaming Friday on Showtime. It airs on that network at 10 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s a blessing to be able to work consistently in this business, as hard as it is. I am so thankful to be able to do what I love on a regular basis and knowing that directors, casting directors, producers and other studio execs believe in my abilities and want me to be a part of their productions makes me feel great,” said the actress, who splits her time between living in New York City and in Los Angeles. “I’m glad I have been able to see some of my dreams come true as an actor.”
Born in Great Lakes, Illinois, Fletcher was raised in Columbia with her parents — her late father was a federal investigator, and her mother worked in student affairs at UMBC — and her three older brothers.
A soccer injury while she attended Centennial High School changed her career trajectory and resulted in her gravitating to theater.
“I thought I wanted to do plays and try my hand at TV commercials and shows,” she recalled.
When her high school’s production of “A World of Difference” was featured on WBAL, she became hooked on that medium.
“Once I got in front of the TV cameras, I knew I no longer wanted to do plays but instead, wanted to be on TV,” said Fletcher.
She made her first movie appearance in 2000 as a movie theater patron in “Cecil B. Demented,” a John Waters-directed movie, starring Melanie Griffith, Stephen Dorff and Alicia Witt.
The Baltimore Banner asked Fletcher a series of questions in anticipation of her latest show, a limited series that consists of five one-hour episodes.
How did you become involved with acting?
When I was growing up, there was a TV show called “Fame,” and I was obsessed with it because I had a crush on one of the actors — Carlo Imperato, who played Danny Amatullo. I wanted so badly to be on the show and convinced my parents to get me an agent so I could make my way to L.A., where they filmed “Fame.” I didn’t get very far, though!
How did growing up in the Baltimore area prepare you for life as an actress?
Growing up in the Baltimore area gave me great exposure to different types of people and experiences. We lived between Baltimore and D.C., so I was exposed to two major areas with a lot of cultural activities. It was great!
What has your favorite role been so far?
I’d have to say it’s probably my role as Jasmine on “Shameless.” The show itself is hilarious, and the episode I’m in was extremely funny and so well-written. That was my first time booking a comedy, and I found out I really liked comedy. I’d always shied away from it because there’s this whole rhythm to comedy, and I know you can’t tell from looking at me, but I have no rhythm. So getting the timing down for comedies has always been a struggle for me, and I was shocked when I booked that role. I had such a great time on set and got to work with people who had been doing comedy for a long time, so it was nice to learn from them.
What should audiences know about “Waco: The Aftermath”?
“Waco: The Aftermath” is a follow-up to the “Waco” series that first aired back in 2018. It focuses on the events that took place after the initial tragedy with the Branch Davidians, including a trial involving some of the survivors. It also touches upon how it led to other domestic terrorism acts, including the Oklahoma City bombing, which was in retaliation for Waco and Ruby Ridge. It shows how Waco was a catalyst for the American militia movement, which has grown considerably since then.
Tell me about your current character and role?
In short, because I don’t want to give anything away, I play Lori Rae, who is a member of the jury. There is an incident involving my character in Episode 4.
Have you gotten to bond with your costars? What have you learned or observed from them?
When you spend six weeks with the same people, in a close environment, you can’t help but to form a bond. Because my role as a jury member allowed me to sit and listen to testimony most of the time, it allowed me the chance to watch some great actors at work — specifically Michael Shannon and Giovanni Ribisi. It was like I was in a master class, and I made sure I learned as much as I could from them and also the other actors on set. I will always cherish the time I got to spend with all of them.
What is your dream role?
At this point, I think my dream role would be playing someone’s mom on a TV series and getting to be in in most, if not all, episodes of the series. I do currently play a mom on “Shrinking” on Apple TV+, but because I was committed to “Waco: The Aftermath” at the time “Shrinking” was filming, I was only able to do one episode of “Shrinking.” Now I’m hoping and praying that they bring me back for Season 2, which should be starting in the next couple of months.
How difficult is it to being a working Black actress?
Sometime it feels like it’s pretty difficult, but recently, as we are seeing more Black writers, showrunners, producers and directors, I feel like we definitely are making waves and more doors are opening for us.. There are definitely more opportunities for us now than there have been in the past, which is fantastic.
I would like to see better roles for us — not always the sassy friend/coworker or struggling blue-collar worker. It’s great to see us as legal and medical professionals. I feel that some of my opportunities were limited based on where I was living at different points in my life. Unfortunately, when you’re in a local market, for some reason the bigger roles tend to go to actors out of L.A. or New York, which I’ll never understand. There are plenty of talented actors in local markets who can carry shows as well as actors from bigger cities. It’s crazy that productions would rather pay for actors to come from other places instead of considering the talent that is already there. It’s funny, of the productions that shot in the Baltimore/D.C. area, I never got a chance to audition for them. … for whatever reason.
Are there any actresses you currently admire? And whom you admired growing up?
I love, love, love Viola Davis! She is just amazing. Yvette Nicole Brown. I really admire her, not only as an actress but also as a friend. I really like Octavia Spencer, too. Growing up, it was great to be able to see Kim Fields on TV.
Is there a director you want to work with?
I want to knowingly work with Malcolm D. Lee. I say knowingly because I was an extra in a Walmart commercial several years ago, and I was only told that the director was named Malcolm. It wasn’t until after I got home and saw a social media post from a friend who had also worked on the commercial that I found out it was actually Malcolm D. Lee. I was flabbergasted.