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Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am | With Rebecca Hall

(David Chelsea for The New York Times)
(David Chelsea for The New York Times)

Don't be an open book on a first date. The general (and of course debatable) theory is you shouldn't scare people away by unloading all of your secrets at the same time.

But when you're suffering from a mental illness, telling the truth at any point in the relationship could be a deal-breaker. Or at least, that's what Terri Cheney thought.

Actor Rebecca Hall reads Terri's essay this week. You may know her as "Vicky" in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." Her latest role is "Christine" in the dramatic film "Christine."

This week she takes us deep into the inner life — and inner workings of Terri's mind. Here is "Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am."

Voices in this Episode

Rebecca Hall is an acclaimed British-American actress who was recognized almost immediately as one of the most exciting actresses of her generation. In a career that encompasses the multiplex, the art house cinema, and the world’s most respected theaters, she has worked with many of the industry’s greatest artists and established herself as a leading talent, one who continues to challenge herself with each new role. This fall, she stars in Antonio Campos’ "Christine," with Michael C Hall, Tracy Letts and Maria Dizzia. Based on events in the life of Christine Chubbuck, the film follows a young, hard-working and troubled newscaster at a small town television station in the 1970s. (Watch the trailer for "Christine.")

(Courtesy of Rebecca Hall)
(Courtesy of Rebecca Hall)

Hall recently wrapped the independent feature "Permission," with Dan Stevens, Gina Gershon, and Jason Sudeikis. The film-in which she stars and which she also produced-is the story of a couple, Anna (Hall) and Will (Stevens), who have only ever been with each other. On Anna’s thirtieth birthday, a friend jokes that they should sleep around before their inevitable marriage. The joke lingers and eventually Anna proposes that they try it. As they venture outside the boundaries of monogamy they are forced to evolve and finally, grow up. She has also completed production on "The Dinner," a mystery thriller based on Herman Koch’s novel of the same name. Directed by Oren Moverman, the film explores the lengths to which some parents will go to protect their children. Hall was recently seen starring alongside Jason Batman and Joel Edgerton in his box office smash thriller "The Gift." Hall and Bateman play a young married couple whose lives get turned upside down when an acquaintance from the husband's past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than twenty years. She was also recently seen in Steven Spielberg’s "The BFG," with Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill. The film is an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s book classic, in which a Big Friendly Giant and an orphan girl he befriends set out to take on people-eating giants who plant to take over the world.

On screen, Hall received critical acclaim for her starring role in Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" alongside Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson and Javier Bardem. For her performance, she received Golden Globe, BAFTA Orange Rising Star, London Critics Circle and Gotham Award nominations in the performance and breakthrough categories. Hall’s other film credits include Sean Mewshaw’s "Tumbledown" opposite Jason Sudeikis; Wally Pfister's directorial debut "Transcendence," opposite Johnny Depp and Paul Bettany; Patrice Leconte's "A Promise," starring alongside Alan Rickman; John Crowley’s "Closed Circuit;" Shane Black's "Iron Man 3;" Stephen Frears' "Lay the Favorite;" Nick Murphy's "The Awakening," for which she earned a British Independent Film Award Nomination and Gotham Independent Film Award nomination for Best Actress; Ben Affleck's "The Town," which received the 2010 National Board of Review Award for Best Ensemble; Dan Rush’s "Everything Must Go;" Nicole Holofcener's "Please Give," for which the cast and filmmakers were honored with the Independent Spirit Robert Altman Award and a Gotham Independent Film Award nomination for Best Ensemble Performance; Oliver Parker's "Dorian Gray;" Ron Howard's "Frost/Nixon;" for which she shared in a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Cast Performance; Christopher Nolan's "The Prestige," for which she received UK Empire Award and London Critics Circle Award nominations for Best Newcomer; and Tom Vaughan's "Starter for 10," her feature film debut.

Hall starred in Susanna White’s acclaimed miniseries "Parade’s End" for HBO and the BBC, adapted by Tom Stoppard from Ford Madox Ford’s novel. For her portrayal, she received a Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actress, a BAFTA TV Award nomination for Leading Actress, and a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for Best Actress in a Movie or Miniseries. Her other television credits include Julian Jarrold’s "Red Riding: 1974," for which she won a BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress; Philip "Martin’s Einstein and Eddington;" Stephen Poliakoff’s "Joe’s Palace;" Brendan Maher’s "Wide Sargasso Sea;" Stuart Orme’s "Don’t Leave Me This Way;" and Peter Hall’s "The Camomile Lawn."

On stage, Hall received an Ian Charleson Award for her West End portrayal of 'Vivie' in "Mrs. Warren's Profession," and the following year she went on to be recognized with a special commendation Ian Charleson Award for her portrayal of Rosalind in "As You Like It," which opened at the Theatre Royal Bath and later toured in both the UK and U.S, and later still she received the same commendation for her portrayal of Hermione in The Bridge Project’s production of "A Winter’s Tale." She made her Broadway debut in the Roundabout Theatre Company's "Machinal," written by Sophie Treadwell and directed by Olivier-winner Lyndsey Turner.

(Courtesy of Terri Cheney)
(Courtesy of Terri Cheney)

As a successful entertainment attorney in Beverly Hills, Terri Cheney represented the likes of Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, and major motion picture studios. But beneath her seemingly flawless façade she was struggling with a dangerous secret: ever since childhood, Terri had been battling a debilitating case of bipolar disorder.

Despite wild mood swings and repeated suicide attempts, Terri managed to keep her condition secret from everyone—but at a terrible price. Finally, in an effort to save her own life, she wrote a searing account of her mental illness. "Manic: A Memoir" quickly became a New York Times bestseller, was optioned by HBO, and translated into eight foreign languages.

Following the book's publication, Terri received hundreds of emails from parents of bipolar children, asking about her own childhood. In response, she wrote "The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing Up Bipolar"—a groundbreaking personal portrayal of the emerging phenomenon of childhood bipolar disorder.

Terri’s writings and commentary have also been featured in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post, NPR, and countless articles, documentaries, and blogs, including her own ongoing blog for She speaks nationally and internationally about her experience with bipolar disorder.

Terri now devotes her advocacy skills to the cause of mental illness. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics at USC, and the Honorary Board of Directors of the International Bipolar Foundation. She also served on the Community Advisory Board of the UCLA Mood Disorders Research Program, and the Board of Directors of Project Return Peer Support Network. In recognition of her public service, she received an official commendation from the County of Los Angeles, as well as the Advocates Award from Mental Health Advocacy Services, and the Imagine Award from the International Bipolar Foundation. She also founded a weekly mental health support group at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute.

Terri graduated with honors from Vassar College, and attended UCLA School of Law. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

Jessica Alpert Managing Producer, Program Development
Jessica Alpert is the managing producer for program development at WBUR. In this position, she develops new podcasts and programs while also launching and nurturing WBUR’s newest projects.



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