Break a leg – and lose it too! Alumna Marion Kerr lands her biggest role in hit show ‘Criminal Minds’

Recorded in a book every year were her age, number of teeth lost and what she wanted to be when she grew up. At 10 years old, Marion Kerr wanted to be an actress.

Kerr, ’97, grew up in Sacramento watching Broadway shows at the Sacramento Community Center Theater and performances at the Music Circus.

Her exposure to theater and films introduced her to Katharine Hepburn. At 11, Kerr watched her first Hepburn movie, “Philadelphia Story,” and has considered Hepburn her idol ever since.

“I have read and own two dozen biographies on her and have seen all of her movies,” Kerr said.

“She seemed so brave and unafraid of the world.”

Kerr kicked off her own acting career in 2009, filming a romantic comedy pilot for the ABC network. In the episode, “Bless This Mess,” Kerr played an evangelical Christian.

The pilot did not get picked up by ABC.

Because the pilot was filmed in front of a live studio audience, Kerr was very nervous. But for her that’s normal.

Back in college, her hands would always shake when she auditioned or performed.

“I would be scared if I wasn’t nervous!” Kerr said.

Kerr has appeared in commercials for Hartford Insurance, Heineken, Nissan and DeVry University. She also had a minor role in an episode of “How I Met Your Mother.”

In August Kerr spent a week preparing for her biggest role so far: a guest star in “The God Complex,” an episode of “Criminal Minds” that aired on Oct. 24.

“Usually I have one- or two-day jobs and then I am done,” Kerr said. “(This time) I got to see what it was really like to work in television.”

The episode was about a mad doctor who amputated people’s legs and attached them to other people. Kerr was a woman kidnapped by the killer for one of his experiments.

She worked on the set for a week, anywhere from 5-14 hours a day, depending on the scene.

The biggest challenge for her was to get into character, she said.

“People are goofing off, telling jokes or it’s rush, rush, rush, we have to get this shot in the next five minutes,” Kerr said.

Kerr went to a friend’s house for a little party after the show aired. They all talked about it and laughed about how dramatic it was.

The plays she acted in at SCDS were both dramatic and comical.

In her days as a student, Kerr’s parents divorced, causing her to stop going to class, fail her subjects and not care about school.

“I thought ‘I’m not going to go to college,” she said.

But at 16, she transferred from Rio Americano High School to SCDS in hopes that she could pull herself together and then return to Rio to graduate with her friends.

She never went back.

The drama class was one of the reasons. As a new student, Kerr wasn’t sure how she was going to fit in, but Paul Bawek, drama teacher from 1994-98, helped her.

“Marion was always dedicated to the process and had a great attitude,” Bawek, now a  professor at Florida Southern College, said.

Kerr looked forward to drama class and the one-act plays. And she had her first onstage kiss at SCDS—with Curtis Graham, ’97.

One of her first one acts was “The Insanity of Mary Girard.”

“This one act was a very difficult show for younger actors to pull off,” Bawek said.

In “Girard” Kerr played the figment of an insane woman’s imagination, the mistress of the woman’s husband.

“I basically showed up and said horrible things to her to torment her,” Kerr said.

Kerr then attended UC Irvine, where she received a bachelor’s degree in theater arts.

Everyone in Kerr’s class at UC Irvine was planning on going to either Los Angeles or New York; Kerr chose Los Angeles.

Her choice exposed her to a whole new world of stardom.

“I’ve seen Steven Spielberg, Katy Perry and Matt Damon,” Kerr said. “I could see Taylor Swift walk by my car right now and it wouldn’t be weird.”

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