Introduce Yourself(ie): 10 Questions with Usual Girls Star Midori Francis

Last updated October 30th, 2018 by Midori Francis
Introduce Yourself(ie): 10 Questions with Usual Girls Star …

After co-starring as #8 in the big off-Broadway hit The Wolves and winning a NYIT Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress for Connected, Midori Francis stars as Kyeoung in the Roundabout Underground world-premiere production of Ming Peiffer’s Usual Girls

. The play follows a small group of friends from elementary school through adulthood.
Usual Girls-Midori Francis-Roundabout Theatre Company-NYC-Off Broadway
Photo by Joan Marcus

Scroll on as Midori talks about the "dangerous and explosive" new play, the most memorable parts of The Wolves experience, and her upcoming film.

1. What stood out most to you about Usual Girls when you first read it?
The role of Kyeoung and all the words that were written next to her name. I had never seen or read a play with an Asian heroine like that before. Everything she said rang true to me. It also felt a bit dangerous and explosive. 

2. Is there a line or moment you find yourself thinking about most outside the theatre?
I think about the play all the time. I am always curious how the audience responds to certain moments. Sometimes I can hear audible gasps and I am so intrigued as to why and how they find certain elements of our play shocking. It’s exciting. I suppose I try not to dwell on the darker moments of the show albeit challenging. There is a scene in the play when the boys are mooning us and our director, Tyne Rafaeli, told us we could say “butts!” We all took that note to a celebratory extreme and overdid it for sure. I try to think about moments like that because they make me laugh a lot. 

3. What’s your pre-show like for this performance? How do you get yourself where you need to be?
I need to be amped! It’s important to start the top of show with a child-like energy and openness. Luckily, I have an amazing cast who loves to dance in a circle and jump up and down during the pre-show. I have a few mantras I rely on and then I always find a few minutes to check in with Kyeoung before I go out. Sometimes we play tag in the lobby.

4. What’s been the biggest pinch-me moment in your career so far?
I got to act opposite Cate Blanchette in Oceans 8 which was ... dope. I admire her and the transformative work she does greatly.

But, if I’m being honest, the biggest pinch-me moment was when Ming called me last year to tell me Usual Girls was being produced. I just couldn’t believe it. It’s the only time I’ve cried upon receiving news of a job. 

5. What’s your most cherished memory of The Wolves?
A Christmas Eve show during our first run. It was after all the hoopla of press and reviews. Our director and playwright (who we adore) had left us by then and the show was ours to play with. It was a magical show and then at the end we all came out and wished the audience a happy holiday. Another memory is when we were up at New York Stage and Film and our director, Lila Neugebauer, had us train during a hurricane. It was super intense and wild. We had only known each other for a week but I could feel us becoming a team. 

6. What was it like to spend years with that piece and with the other ladies?
It was dreamy. When I say “family” I am not being hyperbolic. Those women changed my life. I cannot even begin to articulate the spiritual powers of being surrounded by strong, passionate, weird wolves for 2.5 years. They were my sisters and I cherish our time together. By the way, at our final reading of Usual Girls every single wolf was in the audience! Now that’s cool. 

7. What’s the best time you’ve had on screen?
This summer I shot my first leading role on screen. I play Lily in the upcoming Universal Studios film, Good Boys. I had a lot of fun. The team was very open to improvisation and I learned how to make a role my own. The best day was when I shot my chase sequence. I’m a pretty decent runner so I got some good speed. Also, I jumped head first through a car window.

8. When did you know that you wanted to pursue performing professionally? 
I was 10. I got cast in a local community theatre production of Titanic. I was frustrated because there were many scenes where we had to look out at the empty space and pretend we were seeing the most impressive ship on earth. I felt like such a phony. I called my aunt who was an actress and she told me to imagine a ship carrying all my favorite toys and ice pops. That changed the game for me. I was suddenly free up there and was like, “oooh yes, I want more of this feeling.” I didn’t start acting professionally until I graduated from college in 2014 though.

9. Tell us a memorable audition story.
They all feel like terrible blurs to me. I was really close to landing a theatre role last summer for a murderer and there were a couple of times in my auditions where I made the casting people and creative team jump up in their chairs a bit, which was fun.

10. If you could host a dinner party with three actresses you admire, who would you invite?
Sandra Oh—the work she is doing on Killing Eve is extraordinary and her journey as an Asian actress in an industry that is discriminatory towards Asian people is truly remarkable. I’d love to talk to her.

Marin Ireland—I actually already know her because she was a Wolves fan but I’d love to sit down and listen to her talk about her process. She has a weight and purpose onstage that I admire greatly.

Young Jean Lee—I know she’s not an actress but ... come on!

Seriously, don’t miss Midori Francis in ‘Usual Girls’ at Roundabout Theatre Company’s off-Broadway Black Box Theatre through December 16.