By Becca Bryan
The 101 Café in Hollywood, CA is an old Hollywood meeting place. This eclectic café’s diners are a colorful mix people from all walks of life and professions. Here, artists in their most casual dress mix in with tourists from around the world, business people and the residents in the neighborhood. It was here that I met with Susan Matus, (pronounced Mah-toose) to talk about her role as a different kind of Unit wife, in her old neighborhood. Read on to learn how she feels about balancing a very busy life and her thoughts on the show’s hard won renewal.
This elegantly thin and studious woman is contemplative, warm and open. She has a strong background in theatre. She studied acting at A.C. T at age 11 and in 1993, moved to New York and studied at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She earned the Charles Jehlinger award for Best Over All Female Performer and was a part of the 95-96 Academy Company. She has numerous credits in the theatre but has stepped back due to its heavy demands on time.
Her character, “Sgt. Sarah Irvine” is seen in the TOC, on The Unit. But before you think she got the role because she’s Michael Irby’s wife, think again. She had to audition just like the rest of the cast. And she well earned the part.
HQ: Who is Susan Matus?
SM: I’m an artist, a mom, a wife. I’m the only child to a Nicaraguan father and a Danish/Irish mother. I grew up in San Francisco. I studied theatre in New York and that’s where I met my husband. We moved to L.A nine years later and six months after that I was pregnant with my son.
HQ: What is the most challenging aspect of your life to balance?
SM: I would have to say the hardest aspect of my life to balance is, time. As all mothers know there just never seems to be enough of it. I am very committed to being a mom b ut I also feel it’s important to continue to fulfill your own personal goals and destiny as a woman, and in my case as an artist. I believe a balanced human being who is parenting helps to encourage and hopefully create a balanced child. However balance is not an easy thing to achieve, it is a constant motion of back and forth, this and that.
HQ: And how do you manage all that you do?
SM: I think to some degree I was born with the ability to multi-task really well without getting over whelmed. In fact, I tend to get more over whelmed when I’m not doing things, or when the things I’m doing have no deadlines. I love a challenge, I guess that’s part of my love of acting. But I also try to remind myself that everything will get done in it’s due time. That enables me to stay open to create solutions when obstacles do come up. Just remember to breath, sounds silly, but it’s so true.
HQ: What did you do during that long period of no work during the strike and the long wait for The Unit’s renewal?
SM: AH! I was sooo lucky to just be able to hang out with my gorgeous husband and beautiful son. Usually so many actors stress out about not working, and feel they need to stay busy, but Michael and I decided to really just take the time away from our busy hustle and bustle life to just reconnect and be together as a family. It was good for all of us, just to be simple. When the strike was over it was very bittersweet. Michael was very excited to get back to work, especially after his USO Tour in Iraq, but we had gotten very used to our time together.
HQ: What do you think of the renewal for 22 episodes this season? Pretty good news to us fans.
SM: I think it’s great! I hope the fans enjoy the new story lines and we can stay on for even longer.
HQ: Did you hear about the fan led activities to bring the show back?
SM: No, but I think in order to get better quality programming on the air, the fans have to speak up. So I think it’s wonderful that the fans made the effort to be heard. This show doesn’t get a lot of publicity so it’s really important that the fans get involved.
HQ: So what do you think kept the network from taking so long to make a decision to bring the show back? I mean, it’s been a long time since it was on the air. Why didn’t it come back after the strike?
SM: It was just too expensive to bring back for the tail end of the year, so they just shut down production. And I’m imagine it was the cost of the show that made them a little iffy about the renewal. Being in the dark about it for so long was hard, we were like, “Aw, come on! You’re killing us! Just let us come back!”
HQ: And we were stuck20with reality shows like Big Brother. Ugh! No more Big Brother!
SM: I know. I agree, there are too many “pseudo” reality shows on. Do you have any military connections?
HQ: Most of the people I know in the military I met through the show, in fan groups. The people in the military give the most positive feedback on the realism on the show.
SM: I know, they’re the fans that are the most important to us. Because they’re the ones who are risking their lives or having their loved ones lives risked on a daily basis. And as an actor you want to portray their truth as well as entertain, so there is something they can relate to, and at the same time maybe allow them to escape some of the hardship they’re all having to endure during these trying times.
The show started up again and the hectic life of Susan Matus is back on. But this determined and thoughtful woman will surely have no problem balancing her family’s needs and her own. She is after all, the kind of person you would expect to master it.