Journalist and Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA) member Joan Agajanian Quinn recently interviewed actress Andrea Martin who is starring in an upcoming AIWA fundraiser Broadway in LA: “An Evening with Andrea Martin hosted by Seth Rudetsky.”
Known for her unforgettable role as Aunt Voula in the breakout hit, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” Andrea Martin has received more Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations as a featured actress in a musical than any other actress. Her career began with “My Favorite Year” in 1993 for which she won both awards as well. Martin has also been Tony nominated for “Young Frankenstein,” “Oklahoma,” “Candide,” and “Noises Off.” Her additional television credits include “Hairspray Live,” “My Big Fat Greek Life,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Modern Family,” “30 Rock,” and the current Hulu series, now in its third season, “Difficult People”
Martin is a dedicated advocate for the Children of Armenia Fund (COAF). She grew up in Portland, Maine and her life, in and out of show business, is in her collection of Autobiographical Essays “Andrea Martin’s Lady Parts.”
Joan Agajanian Quinn: I remember meeting you years ago in Boston. Were you living there?
Andrea Martin: I had just returned from a trip to Armenia. I believe I was a guest speaker at AIWA. I think this was around 1992, when Gorbachev had just been ousted and Armenia gained its independence. A very exciting and tumultuous time for the country.
JAQ: Our friend Olga Prudian, an AIWA founder, said you are a princess…she always called her favorite women “Armenian princesses.”
AM: I have always considered Olga an Armenian Queen, so it is fitting that I am one of her princesses.
JAQ: How did you know Olga?
AM:The Prudians and my family were part of the Armenian community in Portland, Maine, when I was growing up. I have known her all my life.
JAQ: You are starring in NBC’s hit T.V. show Great News. How did you find the time to commit to a fundraiser for AIWA
AM: Contributing to AIWA and COAF, (Children of Armenia Fund) is an honor. Anything I can do to support my extended Armenian family, here and in Armenia, I am so pleased to do. Nothing is more satisfying than using the celebrity I have for organizations I believe in.
JAQ: We are thrilled and excited about the show. What should we expect to see?
AM: Expect to laugh, to eat, and be merry. In the dark times we are living in, I love that I can bring some levity to my fellow Armenians. There will be recognizable songs from Broadway shows I’ve performed in, sketches from SCTV, banter with radio host extraordinaire, Seth Rudetsky, and interactions with the audience. It’s a fun filled 90 minutes!
JAQ: Did you come from a showbiz family?
AM: My father was a grocer and restaurateur. But my grandfather was an amateur thespian in Turkey, where he grew up before immigrating to Portland,Maine in 1920. I started acting in children’s theatre as a hobby. I stuck with it, and it stuck with me!
JAQ: Was your Armenian heritage a help or a hindrance?
AM: Being Armenian is who I am. Being authentic and genuine is what defines you and contributes to a long career. I am beyond grateful to have the roots I have in Armenian culture and history. I wear my heritage as a badge of honor.
JAQ: Quoting Olga, let me say “you are an armenian princess”…thanks for talking to us.
AM: My pleasure. I am so thrilled to perform for all my Armenian sisters and brothers. We will have fun!