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Women at Work

Montreal Gazette - Friday, November 23 1984

Micki Moore is sleek, sexy and sophisticated. She has the kind of cheekbones women kill and men die for. She has a sense of humor and intelligence.

And it’s difficult to imagine her ever struggling for success in anything.

But struggle she did, after arriving in Toronto as a shy young wife longing for a career in television, despite a Louisiana accent that was well-nigh indecipherable to the people of her adopted country.

“The streets of Toronto are filled with indentations made from me falling on my face.” Moore said in a fine piece of understatement during a Montreal interview.

But Micki - short for Miriam - made it.

She became hostess of a syndicated television talk show, conducting interviews with the likes of author Gay Talese, singer Englebert Hunperdinck and Canada’s only scandalous woman.” Margaret Trudeau Kemper.

She became a comedy writer, producing material for such television personalities as Anne Murray and Alan Thicke.

She became an actress, recent credits including a featured role in the highly successful Seeing Things television series, a cameo part in the film Heavenly Bodies due out in January, and a supporting role in the Frankenstein Factor currently being shot in Montreal.

And she wrote a book about it all.

The book, appropriately entitled Making It (Methuen, 1995), is due in major Montreal book stores this week.

Written with freelance writer Helen Bullock, it is an upbeat, sometimes humorous hymn to the virtues of hard work, persistence and, most important, positive thinking.

While the temptation might be to dismiss it as yet another “how to win success at everything” handbook, it is at least a Canadian version of an overworked theme and Moore is an appealing guru.

“It’s common-sense advise with a lot of fun attached and I think every mother should get one for her daughter.” Moore said.

“It reminds people that it’s not easy out there - my overnight success took 18 years to achieve - but it shows that anything is possible.”

Moore’s first hurdle in her quest for success was to shed her accent, which she did with elocution lessons.

She also had to conquer her shyness, which existed despite a degree in radio and television arts from Ohio state University and further studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

There then followed 20 years in “show business” doing thousands of commercials, then acting, then writing and, finally at age 37, getting her own television show.

She interviewed the world’s celebrities for Toronto’s CITY-TV station for six years, leaving it behind a year ago, “because I felt myself laughing only from the neck up, not feeling anything, which is a scary thing for a creative person.”

“It was hard to walk away from success, from the very good living I was making, but one of the important things I’ve learned over the years is to trust your instincts.

I felt that for my mental health, for my future, I had to rejuvenate myself. So I wrote a book, which drove me crazy in another way.

She is now on a cross country promotion tour to sell her book and confesses it’s a strange sensation being on the other end of interviews.

“It’s funny because I’m not used to selling anything and all of a sudden here I am going everywhere with my book attached to my ear.”

It’s also strange, in a pleasant way, to be experiencing what she calls “the best part” of her life at an age when women are supposed to be all washed up, she said.

“I’m 44 and I’m not uncomfortable about it. I’ve paid my dues, I’ve done a lot and I’m proud of it. I am really sick of people telling women they can’t do something because they’re of a certain age.

“I think that is one of the accomplishments of the feminist’s movement - the realization that it’s not all over at 40. You can’t compare my 20 years’ experience with that of the person of 20 without it.”

She said women should ignore the “scare messages” emanating for the media.

“They’re to keep women in place and you don’t have to buy it. It’s not true that you will have it made if you wear purple eye shadow and pantyhose that don’t run.”

“It’s not enough to be Vogue on the out side and vague on inside. The answer to your life is within you and you have to build from the inside out instead of the opposite. If you believe age is a problem, it will be.”

Women should also be combating the outdated concept of “a women’s place” from within their homes, which are “a microcosm of the world” she said.

“If you have one group of people, men, sitting around doing nothing and the other group, women doing everything, your children will go out into the world with that vision. So the important thing is to have as egalitarian a household as possible.”

Moore has two children from her now-terminated marriage: Lisa, 19, a student at the University of Colorado, and Lance, 21 who has been on his own since 18 and now has his own windsurfing company.

He can cook and do everything for himself but now he’s too busy.” She noted with a laugh.

Moore said it was an adjustment to step out of her “mothering shoes” but finds her changed relationship with her children highly satisfying.

“We’re more friends than parent and children now. I give opinions but they make the decisions about their lives.”

She now shares a home with her “co-vivant” of three years, businessman Leonard Simpson. They were, she said, two “empty-nesters” when they met and may some day make her mother happy by marrying. But not just yet.

“We both feel it’s so nice this way that I guess in the backs of our minds we’re afraid to mess it up.”

Once her book promotion tour is over, she will “probably” return to television work, but hopefully in a prime time situation. She would also like to do more films but realistically accepts that there aren’t that many movies being made in Canada and not that many roles for a woman in her category.

“I’m not 20 anymore, dreaming of becoming Katherine Hepburn.”

Beverly Mitchell
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