Broadway star Alfie Fuller’s outstanding recurring role performance in Season 4 of the Emmy award-winning series set in the early 1960s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel earned her a slot as a series regular for the final season of one of Prime Video’s most popular series. Fuller plays Dinah Rutledge, number one for Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein, Family Guy). BGN spoke with Fuller in late March about joining this incredible show, which is filmed entirely in New York City.
How did attending the New School set you up for success?
I moved to New York when I got accepted into the New School. It was an introduction to a lot of new things: the city, obviously, and true New York actor work ethic, which was something that I was unfamiliar with coming from the South. You’ll hear people talk really not so favorably about grad school experiences, and while, of course, it’s a mixed bag, for me personally, it was the smartest decision that I ever made.
I tapped into a lot of things that, had I not gone to the New School, I might not have done so quickly, like the wonderful teachers who advised me on how to reach success in the city as a New York actor. I’m a little bit of a hard-headed kind of girl. So they always say when you’re in acting grad school, you’re not supposed to do any outside productions; you don’t have time. I was like, “Oh, I think I can make it work.” And I did.
I was in a production in my second year of grad school, the hardest year. I did a full outside production of Antony and Cleopatra Shakespeare playing Cleopatra. And it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I did it, and it worked. But that also set me up for when I got out of school. I already had a professional job under my belt — and a leading role, no less. So I hit the ground running. I didn’t have the mentality of, “Oh, I just got out of grad school, so they’ll come to me because now I have this master’s degree.” No, I was like, “Okay, let’s go like let’s get in front of everyone as much as we can.”
Your theater credits are impressive. So far, what has been your most satisfying role on stage?
I will say playing Anaia in Is God Is. It was my first step into the professional theater world because the production I did in grad school was, you know, off-off-off [Broadway]. So this was my first real New York Times reviewed production. It’s how I got my agent. It’s how everyone was introduced to me as an artist. I did a reading of Is God Is last summer, and I was sure that I had lost it because you know, life is so good, and I didn’t know if I could tap back into all of that drama and trauma. Baby, I got up on that stage, looked down at the script, and it was still so fresh, but that’s the mark of truly incredible writing. After that experience, I enveloped myself in that character. She will always be a part of me and I will always be a part of her.
The pacing and rhythm of the writing on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel are lightning speed. What was your technique for creating your character’s vocal quality?
I saw The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel pilot, and I was like, “This was made specifically for me. This is going to be my Star Wars.” Never did I think that I would be on the show as a series regular, no less. But I was already very familiar with the cadence and the tone, the quickness, the speed of the show.
When I got the call back, the casting director actually worked with me on Zoom for about 30, 45 minutes. She kept saying, “Faster.” And I do it again, and she says, “It’s faster.” And I do it again. And she said, “Okay, now it’s faster and word perfect.” And I thought I understood why she was saying that, but it wasn’t till I got on set that I was like, “Oh, faster and word perfect.” It’s like Shakespeare. Not the speed so much, but in terms of you can’t drop words, you can’t paraphrase.
So anyway, the night before my producer session, I stayed up and I did my scenes 200 times in a row as fast and as word perfect as I could. If I messed up, I’d go back to one and start over. It was worth it. When it came time to do it, I was unshakable. I was ready. I was talking at a speed that I never thought that I could, but I was ready.
Is there special care you have to take when you’re dealing with vintage costumes?
They’re so well made. I could play a whole football game in one of those suits, and it would still be intact. They’re thick. They’re so well made — other than putting all the undergarments on. Back then the women wore just layers and layers of undergarments — the bullet girdle with the stocking with the pencil waist-high waist skirt. It forces you to present yourself in a different way.
What would you say brings Dinah Rutledge the most joy?
Dinah enjoys being in control and likes to problem solve. Because for her, the faster she gets it done, the more joy she gets. She’s like, “Give me a very complex problem, I will solve it in a second flat.” I really love that about her. I’ve kind of taken a little bit of her with me with that. She’s very competent and does not shrink in the face of any kind of challenge. The messier that her boss is, she’s like, “Great I will clean that mess up.” She’s incredible.
I was able to screen the entire final season of the series, and it’s one of the best final seasons I’ve ever experienced.
The fifth and final season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel premieres three episodes on April 14, 2023, on Prime Video, with new episodes airing Fridays until the series finale on May 26.
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Jeanine is a Writer, Actor, member SAG/AFTRA, AEA, Podcast host, Producer, CEO VisAbleBlackWoman Productions, Certified Health Coach and Conscious Dance facilitator. Jeanine's mission, centering Black women's stories to preserve our legacies.