Annie Potts has come a long way around in a career that is now in its fifth decade.
Following a few TV appearances, she earned a Golden Globe nomination for her big-screen debut opposite Mark Hamill in "Corvette Summer" in 1978. She has appeared memorably in all three "Ghostbusters" movies, "Pretty in Pink," TV's "Designing Women" and "Any Day Now" (one of her personal favorites), and about 100 others.
Now she is the personification of Sheldon Cooper's Meemaw, the beloved grandmother of the "Big Bang Theory" character on the spinoff "Young Sheldon." The show is set in Galveston, Texas, circa 1989.
"I am Southern, I came from there," Potts said of her models for the role during a live-streaming chat in the Los Angeles Times video studio. "There are a lot of women from the South who loom very large to me. They're all sort of in my DNA. Everything she says, I hear them coming out of … this very deep bench of wild, fabulous Southern women who I descended from and who were all around me, growing up. Sometimes I just feel like I'm channeling other people who I used to laugh at, myself." She chuckles: "And with, too."
Potts, also a Broadway veteran ("God of Carnage" and "Pippin"), had some strong ideas about the character.
"They gave me full flexibility to bring what comes with me naturally and to invent on top of that."
One of her primary concerns was to let the grandmother's hair be gray. "Everyone's having their #MeToo-Plus moment; I think we all need to kind of grab a hold of our authenticity. It's like, what's wrong with being gray? Just because most actors – actresses – don't go, 'You know, I can't wait to be gray …' I myself had just recently stopped dyeing my hair. Because it was like, 'Who am I kidding?' It was stupid. I was just over it. I wanted her to be totally authentic in that way."
The actress was delighted when the showrunners acquiesced.
"I think it's a moment for all women to be OK with who they are, no matter what age or where they come from, East Texas or South Orange. They should be true to themselves.
"She just is who she is. She's so in the room, I find. She's so enjoying it all."
You can watch the entire interview below.