Women are powerful. There is no way around that. It is a mantra that actress Miriam Shor carries with her every day. From the theater stage to TV Land’s hit show Younger and everything in between, Shor embodies everything about being hardworking in show business. In reality, she sees herself as a working mother who wants to show her two daughters and the world that women can, and will, do anything they set their minds and hearts to.
“I read recently about an actor who spoke of acting like getting to take a vacation from yourself. That’s a really beautiful way of putting it,” said Shor, who in her 20 years of acting has taken herself and her characters on many trips around the world. “You bring yourself with you on that vacation and get to explore all these things with minimal damage, exploring some dangerous emotional places without the consequences and that’s fascinating.”
Shor grew up surrounded by culture and the arts. When she was only 1 year old, her family moved to Venice, Italy after her father received a Fulbright scholarship to teach. It was the first time her parents had been to the country, which looking back, Shor found unbelievably brave.
“My parents took their kids to whatever they were doing. I have a memory of seeing Aida as a little girl,” said Shor, adding that arts and culture are available to everyone, regardless of class.
Like many in the arts, writers, filmmakers and actors alike, Shor loves seeking out stories. She appeared onstage in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, starred in several independent films and guest-starred in episodes of My Name is Earl, The West Wing, had a recurring role on Damages and appeared in Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Royal Pains as well as HBO’s miniseries adaptation of Mildred Pierce. With every role, Shor only demands the best of herself and what she has to offer.
“You physically throw yourself into it; jumping into a story with every part of yourself,” she said. “Anyone who loves telling stories or being a part of them in any way knows what that love is.”
Sharing her thoughts on the powerful moment women are having in the media right now, she named Ann Dowd, Margo Martindale and Frances McDormand among actresses who most inspire her.
“It’s incredibly inspiring to watch the work that those ladies are doing because traditionally, in this business, women have been told there’s really nothing for us,” she said of the long-running debate of women in the workplace, especially in Hollywood. “These women are exploding that notion and bursting it to smithereens. Frances McDormand shows up and she’s like ‘I demand you see how amazing I am and I’m going to be myself while doing that.’”
Shor herself is no stranger to strong female roles. She currently plays the confident, fabulous fashion-forward Diana Trout, head of marketing at Empirical Press on Younger. Gearing up for its fifth season, Diana has come into her own as a more independent woman both personally and professionally.
“We’re very different in many ways, but we both have a love and appreciation for art, books and literature that is visceral,” she said of her and her character. “We’re both the same 8-year-olds who are nerdy to the core, sitting in a corner reading a book and feeling transported. That will always be me.”
Diana’s confidence in her ability at work is unwavering, which enables her to be a strong mentor for Liza (Sutton Foster’s character) and for female viewers at home. Shor also held a position of power behind the lens as she made her directorial debut.
“It was one of the best creative experiences of my life,” she said of the opportunity to direct an episode of Younger. “I learned more than I thought you could learn in such a short time about art and storytelling and myself.”
Shor inquired about the opportunity, noting that several things led her to start the discussion, including the dialogue about a woman’s place and how they see themselves in society.
“The global conversation going on and playing a boss, a woman who feels 100 percent unapologetically that she deserves to be in power, is what made me do it,” she said, adding that writer Darren Star’s (Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place, Sex and the City) response was “enthusiastically of course.”
Keeping busy, Shor also has a strong storyline on the final season of The Americans. She plays Erica Haskard, an artist who is at the end of her life, facing her death.
“That was an amazing experience to have. The writing is superb and I got to take lessons from the actual artist who created the artwork,” she said of her role of the artist who changes Elizabeth’s (Keri Russell’s character) perspective of her own life. “That was a tough role to play, someone grappling with dying. It was a real gift to play that character.”
Shor hopes to be back on the theater stage at some point as it is part of who she is. She describes theater as her “first love” and “an experience unlike any other doing a play.” For now, she occupies herself as a working mom and proponent for powerful women.
“I want to show my daughters what, in essence, my mom was able to show me: how a woman, if she studies and works hard and is creative in origin, she can and should pursue that,” said Shor, speaking on how society tends to denigrate working mothers. “Anytime you see a woman or an actress take a character and force you to pay attention and see the impact she’s having, those are the people who inspire me.”
Watch Miriam Shor in season five of Younger, which premieres on June 5 at 10 p.m. on TV Land.