Mallory Portnoy is making her Broadway debut in the Tony Award®-winning revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! as Gertie Cummings, a role she created at Bard SummerScape and St. Ann’s Warehouse. A graduate of Juilliard, other theatrical roles include Privacy at the Public Theater and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Public/Shakespeare in the Park, along with TV roles in series including Grace and Frankie. Co-creator of the comedy series Roger, The Chicken, and owner of the most irresistible and infectious laugh at Circle in the Square, this comedic genius is sure to bring the fun On The Couch!
What do you consider to be your best asset?
My sense of humor. Or that I’m a good listener. Both of which are traits that make me consider myself a very good friend to people, which is maybe my best asset.
What was your proudest moment?
Probably when Oklahoma! won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical. I feel like this production has been the “little artsy engine that could”, so after years of pouring our hearts and souls into this piece, to hear our name read as a winner at the Tony’s – let’s just say I was screaming and jumping up and down in celebration like a seven year old. The show continues to be a dream come true and I am so deeply proud of it.
What is your favorite drink?
Basic, but I love an almond milk latte from Joe Coffee. My favorite alcoholic beverages rotate by season.
What is your favorite food?
I love food. All of it.
What is your favorite condiment?
Are nut butters a condiment? If so, then that.
What is your current obsession?
THE NEAPOLITAN NOVELS BY ELENA FERRANTE!!!
If you could give up one of your vices, what would it be?
Mindlessly scrolling on Instagram.
What is the one professional accomplishment you long for most?
I create a lot of my own content, a la short-form comedy series, and I would love for one of my existing series or one that has yet to come into existence, to be turned into a TV show someday. That, and to play Allison Janney’s daughter in a movie. There’s more, but we’ll leave it at that.
What is the one thing you waste too much money on?
Bougie coffee and nice meals out.
What is the one activity you waste too much time doing?
See question about vices above.
What do you consider to be the single greatest threat to your health?
The sugar I consume as part of my dessert addiction.
What is the single best trait you inherited or learned from your parents?
My parents are kind, warm, hilarious, hip, hard-working midwesterners, so I can’t pick just one but the biggies are empathy, an overall positive outlook, perseverance, being a good communicator, and always finding the funny.
What is the single worst trait you inherited or learned from your parents?
While I often consider my parents the life of the party, I wouldn’t consider them the most adventurous people. I think because of that I never had much of an itch to travel. Slowly but surely I’m scratching that itch and seeing more of the world and embarking on new experiences when I can.
What in the world most thrills you?
I am filling out this questionnaire having just come home from being a guest actor in this really fun improv show at Upright Citizens Brigade called Gravid Water. Every time I do this show I think to myself right before I go on “never again Mallory” because I’m sick with terror, but then you’re out there and by some miracle the scene is working and people are laughing, and you don’t know how but the terror turns into something absolutely THRILLING.
What current trend in popular culture most irritates you?
I just really hate that we are now living in a world where our personal and professional worth is becoming contingent upon how many followers and likes we have.
What was the single most embarrassing moment you’ve ever experienced on the job?
In the song “Many a New Day” in Oklahoma! we have this whole situation with shucking and breaking corn, and as I crossed the stage with what is usually supposed to be a kind of seductive, intimidating, prowess, I slipped on a kernel of corn and almost fell to the floor like a spastic goose.
What is your favorite place in the world?
What is the most important trait you seek in a romantic partner?
Must be funny and emotionally available.
Do you prefer the company of dogs or cats?
Horses. I grew up riding horses. I love horses. But if not, dogs.
What would have to happen to make today the best day of your life?
If you took all the applicable answers to these questions regarding my favorite things and goals, etc, and put them all in one day, and surrounded me with my friends and family and my future (funny and emotionally available) husband, and it is 72 degrees and sunny, and Elizabeth Warren is president… I think that would be the best day of my life.
What is your personal motto?
If you believe, work hard, and stay in the game, it will happen!
Photo credit: Todd Estrin Photography