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‘Radio’ Actress Sarah Drew Tunes In Priorities

About a year ago, Sarah Drew—newly wed and newly graduated from the University of Virginia—found herself in Walterboro, S.C. The former drama major was about to start shooting her first feature film—Columbia Pictures’ “Radio,” starring Ed Harris and Cuba Gooding Jr.

Drew, giving interviews to journalists at the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Waldorf Towers in New York City recently, recalled Harris’ generosity:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
“The first time we put down a take on the first day that I was shooting, he got up and said, ‘Everybody listen. This is Sarah Drew’s first take. Everybody give her a round of applause.’ He just was so kind.”
 
Harris, a four-time Oscar nominee, made a big impression on Drew, who plays his character’s daughter in the film about a high school football coach (Harris) who befriends a mentally challenged man (Gooding) in the community. It opens nationwide Oct. 24.
 
“Ed is incredible,” said Drew. “He’s definitely my hero. He’s incredibly humble. He does not do the whole star thing at all.” Drew also said Harris took her under his wing during her 11 weeks of shooting in Walterboro, helping her prepare for scenes and become emotionally ready for being on camera.
 
But Drew is no stranger to acting, having been performing nearly as long as she’s been talking.
 
Drew, whose father is a Presbyterian minister and mother is a teacher, was born in Charlottesville, Va. She spent her first few years there before the family moved to Long Island. Drew took to acting and eventually enrolled at the University of Virginia.
 
In fact, she missed the first five weeks of her senior year because she landed the role of Juliet at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, N.J. Her drama professors encouraged her to take the role, according to a university news story. And it paid off.
 
Drew earned the praise of critics, including Alvin Klein of the New York Times, who wrote: “Ms. Drew’s exploration of a teen-ager’s heart and her awakening to desire are defining, and from now on, indelible, aspects of Juliet.”
 
Despite rave reviews and increased acting opportunities, Drew opted to return to Virginia and finish her degree. That decision exemplifies Drew’s approach to life, which takes into account more than her love for acting.
 
As another example, she now sifts through potential roles with her husband, Yale divinity school student Peter Lanfer.
 
“Peter and I, we really sit down with every script that I get, before I even audition for anything, and talk about it, find out where it’s going to be, how long it’s going to take,” she said. “I’m not auditioning for any TV series because most of them shoot in Los Angeles, and I’m just not doing that because you have to sign a five-year contract if the pilot goes.”
 
Drew and Lanfer live in New Haven, Conn. She commutes into New York City when acting duties call—just as he traveled to South Carolina every weekend when she was shooting “Radio.”
 
The journey was 16 hours, round trip, for Lanfer, then a first-year graduate student studying the Hebrew Bible. Drew recalled he took his book bag, full of reading, everywhere he went.
 
But that’s part of the sacrifice Drew and Lanfer make in order to be together. And Drew, an evangelical Christian, believes everything will work out in the end.
 
“The right jobs will come along. I absolutely believe that,” she said. “I really just desire to be an artist who honors God with my work.”
 
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.
 
Visit the official Web site for “Radio.”