Maggie Siff

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Maggie Siff

First, Maggie Siff was born Margaret June Siff on June 21, 1974, in the Bronx, New York City, New York. She is an American actress. Her television roles have included department store heiress Rachel Menken Katz on the AMC drama Mad Men, Tara Knowles on the FX drama Sons of Anarchy for which she was twice nominated for the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, and psychiatrist Wendy Rhoades on the Showtime series Billions.

Siff has had roles in the films Push (2009) as Teresa Stowe and Leaves of Grass (2010) as Rabbi Renannah Zimmerman. She starred in indie film A Woman, a Part (2016) as well as having a minor role in drama film One Percent More Humid (2017). Siff is currently the television spokesperson for the robo-advisor service, Betterment.

She is the cousin of Andrew Siff, a reporter on New York City’s NBC show News 4 New York (1980).

Early life

Siff was born in The Bronx, New York City. Her father David Siff (aka David H. Falkner) is Jewish (from a family from Russia), and her mother Jenny Dowling-Siff is of Irish and Swedish descent. She has said that she feels “culturally Jewish.”  It appears that Maggie has one brother, Ivan and one sister, Ellen.

Education

In addition, Siff is an alumna of The Bronx High School of Science.  She was raised in the Bronx by former hippies who had both been actors at different points in their lives. Siff always knew she wanted to act, but at her parents’ urging, she prioritized her education, attending the Bronx High School of Science. She was performing a monologue for the speech-and-debate team when a drama teacher noticed her and suggested she participate in plays at his all-boys Catholic school — her first foray, you could say, into male-dominated spaces.

“Really, my mother made me go there. I actually got into both Science and Performing Arts,” Siff recalls. “But my mother pushed me in the direction of Science High. She said, ‘Get the best education you can get.’ I felt like there would be time to do acting and theater after high school. As a kid, I cared most about being smart and doing well.  “Some part of me knew that from the time I was a kid. So, in high school, I participated in speech and debate. I did dramatic interpretation and rode the bus to the tournaments with all the policy nerds who were debating. But I was also acting; Regis High School was this all-boys school in Manhattan and I got recruited to take the subway into Manhattan to play women in their plays.

“I probably should have started this whole process of an acting career when I was a lot younger. But I wasn’t thinking ahead about how that was going to happen, or what I wanted my career to look like. When I would think about the future, all I could see was a big gray wall. I thought, well, shouldn’t I be able to see something more? I cared about my education and I liked school. So I prioritized that.”

Next came college at Bryn Mawr, where she majored in English and graduated in 1996.

Early Theater Work

Initially, she worked several years in theater before returning for an MFA in acting at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Acting Program.

“I was working a lot, but I had this constant feeling of self-criticism. I was really hard on myself,” she says. “I wasn’t growing in the way I wanted. I was doing a lot of avant-garde, site-specific work and, if that’s what you want to do, Philadelphia was a great place.”

Siff

“But I felt called to explore characters and felt like I needed formal training. So I applied to NYU for graduate school and got in. And by the time I got out, I was 30. You could say I came to Hollywood late, but those three years at NYU gave me a chance to regain the sense of what makes me want to act. It restored my faith and conviction in the craft. It grew me in a way that was incredibly helpful, in terms of sustaining a career over time. It was a way of learning to trust your own instincts and get out of your own way.”

Interim Jobs

Siff had a slew of odd jobs along the way, including one that would prove to be useful way down the line, even if it didn’t feel that way at the time. She worked as a temp at a hedge fund, an experience she drew on for her role in Billions. “I don’t remember a single woman at that company,” Siff recalls. “It was just like a sea of bros.”

Siff didn’t make it to Hollywood until her 30s, giving her ample time to build up “wisdom and wherewithal and grit.”   She worked extensively in regional theater before acting in television. She won a Barrymore Award for Excellence in Theater in 1998 for her work in Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts at Lantern Theater Company.

Off to Chicago and Hollywood

After grad school, Siff did plays in Chicago, then took aim at Hollywood and, after two years of TV guest spots (including a couple of three-episode arcs on “Nip/Tuck”

and “Life on Mars”),

she got a call from a casting agent to read for the pilot of a new series: “Mad Men.”

Siff

“I thought it was brilliant when I read it,” she recalls. “I’d been auditioning all winter for pilot season. The year before, I’d tested for a bunch of pilots and didn’t even get a nibble. It was the last script I read for the pilot season. And I stuck my claws out for this one.

Career

Siff started appearing in television series in 2004.  Her first role on TV was in the crime drama series, Third Watch.

Siff appeared as an Alcoholics Anonymous speaker during an episode of Rescue Me in Season 2.

She also had roles on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Grey’s Anatomy, and Law & Order.

Siff played Rachel Menken Katz on the series Mad Men from 2007 to 2008, which earned her a nomination, along with the rest of the cast, for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. She also appeared in Nip/Tuck during that time, before being cast as Dr. Tara Knowles on Sons of Anarchy in 2008.

Notably, that same year the actress appeared in the movie Then She Found Me.  Then, the following year she played the role of Rachel in the film Funny People, followed by Leaves of Grass in the role of Rabbi Renannah Zimmerman in 2010.

Maggie Siff has appeared on a number of magazine covers, including the October 18, 2013, cover of Entertainment Weekly, along with her Sons of Anarchy (2008) costars, Katey Sagal and Charlie Hunnam.

She also appeared on the cover of the magazine Off Camera with Sam Jones in issue No. 94.

And was on the cover and featured in the magazine Cigar Aficionado in July/August of 2017.

She has appeared in such films as Then She Found Me (2007) as Lily, Push as a psychic surgeon (called a Stitch) named Teresa Stowe, sent to help Nick (played by Chris Evans), and Concussion (2013) as Sam Bennet.

Siff appears in the 2016 Showtime series Billions. In fact, she starred in an independent indie film called A Woman, A Part (2016) as well as One Percent More Humid (2017).

Starting in 2018, she has been serving as the television spokesperson for Betterment, an online investment service.

Personal life

She married Paul Ratliff in 2012.

In October 2013, Siff announced that she was expecting her first child. At age 39, Siff gave birth to a baby girl in April 2014, who she named Lucy.

Siff and her family reside in the Los Angeles suburb of Silver Lake, CA.

Filmography

Film

Year    Title                            Role

2007    Michael Clayton         Attorney #1

2007    Then She Found Me   Lily

2009    Push    Teresa Stowe

2009    Funny People  Rachel

2010    Leaves of Grass          Rabbi Renannah Zimmerman

2013    Concussion     Sam Bennet

2016    The 5th Wave Lisa Sullivan

A Woman, a Part        Anna Baskin

Related image

The Sweet Life           Ava

2017    One Percent More Humid      Lisette

Television

Year    Title    Role    Notes

2004    Third Watch   Cindy

2005    Rescue Me      Young Woman at AA

2006    Law & Order: Special Victims Unit   Emily McCooper

2006    3 lbs.   Lisa Kutchem

2007    Grey’s Anatomy          Ruthie Sales

 

2007–2015      Mad Men        Rachel Menken

2007–2008      Nip/Tuck         Rachel Ben Natan

2008    Law & Order  Attorney Mahaffey

2008–2013      Sons of Anarchy         Tara Knowles

Image result for Jax & Tara

2009    Life on Mars   Maria Belanger

2011    A Gifted Man     Lily

2016–present  Billions           Wendy Rhoades

Awards and nominations

Nominated for a 1997 Barrymore (Philadelphia’s top theater awards) for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Play for the Walnut Street Theatre Studio 3’s production of Oleanna by David Mamet.

Siff won a 1998 Barrymore for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play for the Lantern Theater Company’s production of “Ghosts” by H. Ibsen. The same year, she was also nominated for Outstanding Leading Actress (for InterAct Theatre Company’s production of “Aunt Dan & Lemon” by Wallace Shawn) and for Best Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist.

She was nominated for a 2005 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actress in a Principal Role in a Play for “Dollhouse” at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.

In 2008, Siff was Nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series for the series Mad Men.

Of course, in 2012, Siff was Nominated for a Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her work on Sons of Anarchy.

Most recently, in 2014, Siff was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal of Dr. Tara Knowles-Teller on Sons of Anarchy.

Personal Quote:

[on the strong fan backlash regarding “Tara” on Sons of Anarchy (2008)] “I think it’s a really interesting conversation. I think these shows are always set up so we follow a protagonist and the story is very intricately built around caring for them in some way. And so anybody who runs counter to that is going to run into the problem of people turning on them.”

“But I also think there are pretty deep gender cultural issues that have to do with a certain kind of fantasy of male and female roles, and a certain kind of fantasy around this anti-hero -the man who does terrible, terrible things but who we root for anyway because it’s an enactment of an adolescent male fantasy that people take great pleasure in seeing played out. And people who run counter encounter a lot of hostility.”

“I think it’s the hostility that’s the most disturbing thing -the amount of vehemence or anger or righteousness that people can feel when they say, “She should be shot. She should be killed.’ That’s the thing that’s most startling and disturbing, when you really sit down and think about it.”

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