Deerfield 'Family Guy' mom now stars on HBO series
Everyone loves the voices that actress and Deerfield native Alex Borstein does -- except maybe her 6-year-old son.
"Every stuffed animal he has, I give a voice to. He has a centipede that is a little Italian lady," she says, starting to speak in the Italian accent she uses. "It drives him nuts. He'll say, 'Stop that!' But then he tries to do it himself and it's cute."
Borstein's voice talents go way beyond stuffed animal characters. She's the voice of Lois on FOX's "Family Guy" and two different characters on this spring's animated FOX movie "Bordertown."
Her voices are so unique that fans regularly come up to her and ask to speak into their phones.
"They'll say, 'Oh, do the voice!'" she said. "They'll have me leave voice mails for their friends."
You can see Borstein, and not just hear her, on the current HBO series "Getting On," where she plays a nurse in a dark comedy about a women's extended care facility operating in an overwhelmed health care system. It co-stars fellow Illinois native (and founding member of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre) Laurie Metcalf and "Reno 911!" actress Niecy Nash.
"A lot of people say, 'I don't want to watch a show about old people and death.' People in L.A. like to pretend they're not going to die. I'm from Chicago. I know seasons are real. People are going to die.
"It's something that's hard to watch. But I really believe if you tune in and watch it, it's really funny and beautiful," she said. "You don't want to turn your back on the hard times, because there's beauty in those moments, too."
When Borstein's grandma was dying, for example, the family came to visit and realized she didn't have her dentures in. "We'd say, 'Where are her teeth?'" and found humor in the fact that they were all scouring the house looking for Grandma's teeth.
The daughter of two therapists, Borstein started doing voices as a kid, impersonating family members including her Hungarian grandmother and making everyone laugh.
The family moved to California when Borstein was only 7 or 8, where she developed her acting and comedy chops. But she came back to Chicago every summer to visit family and friends and considers it home. She goes to at least one Bears game each year at Soldier Field.
"I love Soldier Field. I love the colors. I love the 'Bear Down' song. It's being there in cold weather. ... For me it's about having grown up with it. I'm a nostalgia fan," she said. "Even when we lose, I still love the Bears."
Another one of Borstein's passions is the National Hemophilia Foundation, for which she is a spokeswoman. Many of her family members suffer from the bleeding disorder, including her 2-year-old daughter. She turned to the foundation during her pregnancies, and they helped her so much with valuable information that she wants to pay it forward.
Borstein says it's important to educate people about the condition, which is more about internal bleeding and not just the "if you cut yourself shaving you could die" reputation it has.
"My hope is to build awareness," she said.
The mother of two young children -- Barnaby, 6, and Henrietta, 2 -- with actor Jackson Douglas, Borstein still finds time to write and has contributed to scripts on "Family Guy," "MADtv" and the Showtime series "Shameless."
She's writing a new stand-up comedy special that she hopes to pitch to HBO. It's a follow-up to her 2006 stand-up show "Drop Dead Gorgeous (in a Down to Earth Bombshell Sort of Way)."
Borstein's not only an entertaining actress and comedian but an entertaining mom.
"That's what they're going to be on my tombstone: 'She definitely was entertaining,'" Borstein said.
-- Jamie Sotonoff
• Dann Gire and Jamie Sotonoff are always looking for people from the suburbs who are now working in showbiz. If you think you know of someone who would make an interesting column, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com