Meet Caris…With A Dash Of Pepper

FabOverFifty Please tell us a bit about your education and career.

Caris “I got a degree in public relations from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. I also have a Masters in Acting and Directing from the  University of Missouri, Kansas City. I’ve had a recurring role as Detective Louise Campesi on Law and Order, Criminal Intent and SVU for over a decade, which has been a really good foundation for me. I’m very grateful for it. I’ve also had  numerous episodic guest starring roles,  but I wasn’t auditioning for roles with more substance. Those often are designated for younger women or stars.”

What do you think caused this attitude in Hollywood?

“It’s a male-dominated industry. There’s a perception that people would rather see a 25-year-old than a 45-year-old,  because they don’t want to be reminded where they’re heading themselves. Men my age want to date women who are 25 to 35.  It’s ridiculous.  Just because you’re not 26 doesn’t mean you have nothing to offer. We’re sexy in other ways; sexy isn’t just about physical appearance.

“It’s valuable and important to watch women as they age. Some women are empty nesters who are looking at what they’re going to do with their lives. While that’s not my situation, just look at the huge following for Frankie and Grace, (Netflix, starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin). Young people who watch it can identify with their parents. The show presents a glimpse of what old age will look like, in a way. Grace and Frankie are vibrant and questioning life, not sitting in rocking chairs. They’re much further down the road than Pepper, but it shows a trend in expanding audience interest in real stories for people of all ages.”

Tell us about Pepper and her story.

“Pepper is an ex-CIA agent, so she’s had an action-packed life behind her, and now she’s involved in covert actions to solve the greater mystery of her own life. She’s an edgy, sexy, mess. A badass with a conscience. The story unwinds important memories of Pepper’s past–or lack of them–and how they affect her present reality and choices. She takes a long journey, with many flips and turns along the way.


“Pepper is single, she’s flawed, and she’s struggling. More women can relate to a woman who has struggled than to a woman who has not.  This is a show that features real-world women we all can relate to and want to see.

The success of The Fall, with Gillian Anderson, also shows the increasing  interest in seeing mature actresses. I’m happy to see shows like this emerging, and succeeding, because they pave the way for more opportunities for stories that represent a large part of our culture.”

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