A kindergarten disappointment may have shaped Susannah Rogers’s career as a professional actress.

“We were doing Winnie the Pooh, and I really, really wanted to be Kanga, but got cast as Eeyore,” she recalls. “My mother said, ‘That’s a much better role: Kanga is boring.’ She was right.”

That early lesson planted the seed for a love of interesting characters. Rogers says she tends to play strong, even problematic, roles on stage, film, and television, ranging from the infamous Hedda Gabler to an exacting political consultant. In South Coast Repertory’s recent production of Amy Freed’s The Monster Builder, she portrayed a sharp-witted architect opposite theater arts professor Danny Scheie—her first acting teacher at UC Santa Cruz, and a professional and personal mentor.

Among her many roles, Rogers appeared on Broadway in All the Way—in which Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston made his Broadway debut—and toured with the national company of Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile. She lent her talents to the groundbreaking film The Diary of a Teenage Girl and appeared in two award-winning television series, Mr. Robot and Younger.

“My husband is much more famous,” she says cheerfully about actor Reg Rogers (known for roles in television’s Hell On Wheels and Boardwalk Empire, and in Present Laughter with Kevin Kline on Broadway). “We’re never competitive: I’m such a fan of his.”

A family photo shows their 4-year-old son, Rowan, visiting on set with Kevin Kline. Combining acting and motherhood is challenging but wonderful, says Rogers.

“Acting is what I’ve always wanted to do. I grew up watching rehearsals and hanging out with actors: They were my teen idols.”

Her advice to young theater students at UC Santa Cruz: “Do everything. Do main-stage shows and experimental shows. And take advantage of where you are: Choose all kinds of classes.”

Top: Photo by Jordan Matter

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