Stephanie Faracy's showbiz career began at Elk Grove High School when she was cast as Annie Sullivan in "The Miracle Worker."
"That was the first time I understood you could enter another world by being someone else," Faracy said. "It was a great transformation in my understanding of the world. You could learn so much from doing and being someone else."
That high school experience would launch an acting career that's spanned more than four decades.
Faracy, 62, has since appeared on dozens of popular TV shows, from "The Love Boat" and "Murder, She Wrote" to "Castle" and "Modern Family." She also did a handful of movies, including "Sideways" and co-starring with John Candy and Dan Aykroyd in "The Great Outdoors."
Put it this way: Her resume on imdb.com is five pages long.
In the last few months, Faracy has played Kevin Connolly's mother-in-law on CBS' "Friends with Better Lives," Amanda Peet's mother on HBO's "Togetherness" and a small role on "The Crazy Ones" with Robin Williams.
"I was always very good at knowing what was needed specifically to enhance a small role," Faracy said. "It's actually harder to do a small role. You need everything you need for a big role, and then you have to make sure you don't do too much."
Then she adds, with a laugh, "And I'm always happy to jump in and be invited."
After leaving Elk Grove Village, Faracy studied acting at Illinois Wesleyan and Yale universities. Next came stage acting in New York, then Los Angeles. When sitcoms became popular in the 1970s, there was a demand for theater actors. Faracy got tapped for a small role on "Laverne & Shirley."
One job led to another.
"I have been pretty blessed," Faracy said. "It's been a wonderful way that's supported my life. It brought a lot of abundance."
Her siblings also grew up to become actors. Her brother Brian, in Wisconsin, and sister Peggy, in Kentucky, both act and do voice-over work.
Faracy said growing up in Elk Grove Village during the 1960s instilled kindness that's carried her through her long Hollywood career.
"I love the suburbs. The suburbs are about anchoring that simplicity and sweetness in you that can stay a lifetime. I really have always carried that with me," she said. "It was that dear time that we had to grow gently and feel safe, and the connection of community, with kind and generous people all around you."
Being an older, female actress in Hollywood has not been a challenge for Faracy. She enjoys a steady workload.
"As an artist, there's always the next challenge. Do something new," she said. "You always see the freight train coming. It's what you do when you see the freight train coming that matters."
-- Jamie Sotonoff
• Dann Gire and Jamie Sotonoff are always looking for people from the suburbs who are now working in showbiz. If you know of someone who you think would make a good column feature, email them at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.