Q&A: Andrea Peterson, Emily in “Straight”

Describe your role in “Straight.”

Emily is a spunky scientist which is fun. Although, she is crazy-smart and trying to cure cancer, she still names her mice and is obsessed with Taylor Swift. It great to not play a stereotype, but yet still find aspects of uniqueness in her millennial character.

Why is it important for audiences to see “Straight”?

I like that the play challenges stereotypes and expectations when it comes to relationships of all kinds—those that are new, old or different. I think as humans and as society, we try and place labels on things, especially on people—who they are and who they should be—and we miss the fact that we are all unique and what and need different things. But then in knowing that, being able to not judge what someone finds important and the pursuit of their life.

Why do you believe there is a lingering bias against gay Americans?

I think it is easier to be OK with something that you are not used or what feels like goes against the normal when it is further from home. It is a “concept” or an “issue” if it is from afar. People can view from a logical unemotional perspective.

But once it is a child, a family member, then people have to really deal with their prejudices or preconceived notions and becomes real and personal. As much as homosexuality might seem 100 percent normal for some of us, unfortunately society has not always felt that and so people are still continuing to adjust to things.

How have friends and family responded to the character you will be playing?

Most everyone I’ve spoken to is excited to see it and see how the playwrights explore some of the sensitive topics.

What elements of your life have helped you understand the storyline in “Straight”?

I’ve always been a person who goes against labels and norms, sometimes just because. Not always the smartest or most logical decisions. But I just have always hated how labels are just too black and white for an existence that is more grey. So I love how all three characters are trying to defy labels all while at the same ending up being controlled by them in some facet or another.

Name your three favorite roles you’ve played.

The three favorites roles I’ve played are LD in “Winter” at Salt Lake Acting Company. I got to work with such a talented and experienced cast where I learn so much, as well as, being able to work on a new work which such an exciting and engaging collaboration; Lily in Utah Rep’s “Exposure” at the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival. I got to play an avatar of one of the other characters, and it was fun to explore mirroring her—and then adding the elements that make my character different involving a lot of unique body work and characterization; and “he Woman in “The Other Place” with Utah Rep. The part requires you to play three different characters, almost within in seconds of each other, so it was a challenging but yet exciting experience to try to perform so the audience felt they were seeing three different actors vs. just simple costume changes.