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Anna Gunn

Star Award-Winning Show 'Breaking Bad'
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Biography

An actress who has led a successful career on both stage and screen, Anna Gunn recently garnered national acclaim for her Emmy Award-winning role as “Skyler White” on AMC’s hit show Breaking Bad.

Born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Gunn discovered acting at a young age in a drama class at the Santa Fe Preparatory School. She pursued theater at Northwestern University in Illinois where she had the opportunity to study abroad and to perform at the famed Royal Court Theatre in London.

Prior to Breaking Bad, Gunn played a variety of complex characters both in film and on television. Her breakout role came in 2004, when she portrayed “Martha Bullock” on HBO's seminal show, Deadwood. She has appeared on NYPD Blue, The Practice, ER, Boston Legal, Law & Order, and Seinfeld, with feature film credits including Nobody’s Baby, which premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival; Enemy of the State, opposite Jon Voight and Will Smith; Without Evidence, opposite Angelina Jolie; and Red State.

Also a highly regarded actress of the stage, Gunn made her Broadway debut in 1997 alongside Roger Rees in “The Rehearsal” at the Roundabout Theater. She went on to receive starred reviews for her turn in “Uncommon Ground” at the Northlight Theatre, and for her role opposite Jeremy Piven in Keith Reddin's “Peacekeeper” at the American Blues Theatre.

Drawing from her varied experiences in the acting business, Gunn reflects on successes and failures she faced along the way, covering topics ranging from balancing life and career to a women’s role in society, which was highlighted in her New York Times Op-ed I Have a Character Issue. With a message that appeals to audiences ranging from organizations and associations to women’s groups and college students, she offers a unique presentation on the power of perseverance—and the importance of having a vision—as we strive to reach the goals we set in life.

Topics

I Have A Character Issue: Perception of Women in Society

Based on her New York Times Op-ed I Have a Character Issue, Anna Gunn discusses the perception of women in society in correlation with her role as Skyler White on the award-winning television show Breaking Bad. As the one character who consistently opposed Walter White, the show’s protagonist, her character became an antagonist and a flash point for many people’s feelings about strong, nonsubmissive, ill-treated women.

Although Gunnn was prepared for not being the show’s most popular character, she was unprepared for the vitriolic response she inspired. Thousands of people have “liked” the Facebook page “I Hate Skyler White.” The consensus among the haters was clear: Skyler was a ball-and-chain, a drag, a shrew. Could this reaction ignited by Skyler reveal that audiences can’t stand a woman who won’t suffer silently or “stand by her man”? That they despise her because she won’t back down or give up? Or because she is, in fact, Walter’s equal?

In this speech, Gunn provides answers to these questions through personal reflection, analyzes why Skyler didn’t conform to a comfortable ideal of the archetypical female – which turned her into a measure of society’s attitudes toward gender – and questions why male characters don’t seem to inspire the same kind of public venting.

An Evening with Anna Gunn

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Resources

Speaker Article: I Have a Character Issue