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               THE LONG ROAD BACK TO SERIES TELEVISION WELL WORTH 
                       THE JOURNEY FOR ACTRESS MACKENZIE PHILLIPS

 

            Mackenzie Phillips has seen it all.  She’s been on top of the world, and she’s been down 
and out.  Now, she’s returning to weekly television for the first time in nearly 20 years.  Mackenzie
 will star in Disney Channel’s newest series, So Weird, a half-hour family drama which explores the
 world of paranormal phenomena through the eyes of a 14-year-old computer wiz with an 
obsession for all things strange.  In the series, which TV Guide has named one of the “top 10 new 
kids’ shows,” Phillips plays Molly Phillips, a 1970s rock singer traveling the country on a comeback
 tour – with her two kids in tow.  The role is a far cry from anything Phillips has done in the past, 
but one she relishes with great enthusiasm.

            Born into musical royalty, Phillips is the daughter of legendary musician John Phillips, 
whose Mamas and the Papas took the world by storm in the 1960s with chart-topping hit after hit. 
 
To say the least, her childhood was anything but normal.  As she recalls, “I spent half of the time 
with my strict, Eastern seaboard mother.  Then when I was with my dad, I’d hang out with the 
Stones and the Beatles.  It was really a trip for a young girl.”  Mackenzie clearly idolized her father,
 and wanted to be a rock star from an early age. That desire is actually what landed her her first 
movie role – in American Graffiti, George Lucas’ blockbuster big-screen homage to life in the 
1950s.

            “I was really into rock ‘n’ roll, and I attended school with a lot of the music industry kids. 
When I was twelve, some of us formed a band and went to perform at an open mike night at 
Hollywood’s famous Troubadour, just off the Sunset Strip.  Fred Roos saw me there, and asked 
me to audition for the movie.  I never expected to get the role, but a few days later they called to 
say they wanted me for the part.  It was pretty heady stuff for a twelve-year-old.”

            Her role in the hit film led her to other movie roles as when she was 15, Phillips was cast 
as Julie Cooper in Norman Lear’s new comedy series One Day At A Time.  The show about a 
single mom struggling to raise two kids alone became a hit and went on to run for nine seasons.  
However, Phillips departed the show after five seasons to seek help for a widely publicized battle 
with drug addiction.  She subsequently returned for two more seasons, but left again, unable to 
remain sober.  “ I lost a lot of credibility when I was fired from One Day At A Time – the second
 time,” she reflects.  “ I had wanted to be like my dad, and thought that living in the fast lane was 
the way to do it. I was wrong.”

            The actress took some time off before her next big venture, which united her with her dad
 professionally.  For the next ten years, the father-daughter team, accompanied by the original Papa 
Dennis Doherty and singer Spanky McFarlane, toured the world as the newest incarnation of The 
Mamas and the Papas, playing some 200 concerts a year.  The experience brought Phillips and her 
dad closer than ever, and refueled her love of singing.

            Asked how her won touring experience compares to that of the character she plays in 
So Weird, Phillips says it was quite different, admitting, “we trashed hotel rooms, and did the 
whole rock star thing. Molly is much more grounded then I was at that time in my life.”

            Ha she learned from her experiences? “You bet.” She proudly offers. “I’ve matured a lot 
since those days. I have a son who depends on me, and that is more important than anything.”  
Getting sober in 1992 has made all the difference for Phillips, who counts the experience among 
the most difficult and rewarding of her life.  Since then, the actress has taken what she calls a series 
of “baby steps,” getting her priorities in order and setting a good example for her son.  She 
performed the role of Rizzo in Grease on Broadway, and has appeared in episodes of Caroline 
in the City, Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place and Chicago Hope, among others.

            Phillips finds particular joy in being selected to play a mom in a Disney Channel Series.  
“I went in to audition for this role and saw a room full of actresses some ten years older than me. 
 
I thought ‘I’ll never get this. They want someone much older.’  But then they called me back to 
sing. I performed Bonnie Raitt’s Nick of Time, and got the part.  I just couldn’t believe that 
Disney Cannel
wanted me to play somebody’s mom.”

            How does it feel to be back in the series television?  “Just great,” Phillips says.  “We film in 
Vancouver, so we have formed our own family unit up there.  Being this farm from home makes for 
a tight group.”  It’s been a long road for the actress who came to national prominence at only 
twelve years old, but she wouldn’t change a thing. “I never liked the word  ‘comeback,’ because 
it seems to imply some big, flashy return, and that’s just not me. I appreciate the extremes I’ve 
lived, because they have made me who I am today, the sum total of my life experience.” When 
asked what her life is like today, Phillips says, without hesitation, “I wake up grateful nearly ever 
day, happy to be on this planet.  I love being a mom and I love playing one on TV.”

Want to know more about Mackenzie Phillips? Check out the Lifetime feature here!

                                     

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