This week on Talk Learn Connect, I have a very special guest. Alison Arngrim played Nellie Oleson from Little House on the Prairie but Alison is much more than an actress. She is also a stand-up comedian, author and queen of reinvention and has kindly agreed to share some TLC (Talk Learn Connect)
You were born to be on the stage, it's in your family genes, but if you had not gone down the path of acting, what do you think you would have chosen as a profession?
Good question! I'm not sure, I definitely enjoy talking to people and I'm fascinated by how the human mind works, so acting might still have been a possibility.
Although, in high school, I became very interested in psychology and seriously considered pursuing a degree and becoming a therapist or psychiatrist.
From listening to your conversation on the Women’s Inspire Network virtual conference in October 2020, you are the queen of reinvention, how many times do you think you have reinvented yourself?
Hahaha! Oh, seven or eight times at least! Honestly, it started in childhood.
I had totally reinvented myself when I was on Little House as a twelve-year-old girl in order to not let my shyness stand in the way of working with others on the set. As an actor or any kind of performer, you need to stay 'current'and 'relevant'.
That can be a lot of work, but I have managed to adapt to the circumstances over and over again.
Actress, Author and Public Speaker
Your comedy act is a huge hit in France, would you bring your show to Ireland Post Covid and have you any deep connections here?
Oh yes! That would be great!
And I HAVE TO get over there at some point, to see the home of my ancestors! Like many Americans, I'm of Irish decent, my father's birth name was Wilfred James Bannin.
I'm on Ancestry and all that!
Did you find it liberating writing your book “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated”?
Yes. Thankfully it wasn't the first time I had EVER talked about these things.
I had many, many years of therapy, which I think is a good thing. I know a lot of people feel that writing an autobiography IS therapy, but I think it can be dangerous, emotionally and psychologically to just jump in and "tell all" without having worked through the heavier issues with a professional of some kind.
And of course, I'd been telling bits and pieces of my life story on stage in my one woman show for awhile.
But to see all those stories come together and see the reaction of readers was VERY rewarding.
I grew up as did many, watching Little House on the Prairie. I have to ask; did you love playing the boldest child in the village and tell us more about your Walnut Grove family? Were you sad to see it end?
YES! I admit, I LOVED playing Nellie Oleson! It was so much fun to say and do all those terrible things that I would never do in real life! LOL
And indeed the set of Little House was a very supportive environment. Wonderful people. And unlike most shows in Hollywood, the cast of Little House all still speak to each other! LOL
When it ended, I had mixed feelings. In some ways I was glad to be grownup and 'done' with it - I had been there seven years! - but yes, I knew I would miss being there with my friends every day.
I think that's why I'm so glad we still speak and interact on Twitter and Facebook.
Alison, can you share any words of wisdom that you received that helped you in your successful career?
Oh so many! Between my crazy manager father and all the people I've met in Hollywood, I've definitely collected a lot of advice.
Appreciating what's happening right now and trying to limit how stressed out you get about the future - as my father put it - "You could be hit by a bus tomorrow!"
If you would like to follow Alison's adventures and her social media, here are her links: