Spacek's daughter plays Birchmere
Schuyler Fisk, 'Coal Miner's Daughter's' Daughter, to play show at Birchmere Monday night
Date published: 4/21/2006
Schuyler Fisk, the daughter of actress Sissy Spacek, is pursuing a career in music and acting.
By MICHAEL ZITZ
As a little girl, Schuyler Fisk first decided she wanted to be an archaeologist when she grew up.
Then she changed her mind and wanted to be a hairdresser and makeup artist.
Later she decided she wanted to be an actress and a singer-songwriter, in no particular order.
Maybe that inspiration came because her mother is Sissy Spacek, who
played country music legend Loretta Lynn in the film "Coal Miner's
Maybe that makes her the Coal Miner's Daughter's Daughter and a music and acting career was therefore preordained.
Or maybe it was simply because Spacek, who gave guitar lessons to
earn extra money in high school in Texas, taught daughter Schuyler to
play at age 15, and sings with her both at home and onstage at some
shows. Perhaps Mom will join her onstage when she opens for Colin Hay
Monday night at the Birchmere.
But rest assured that Fisk's decision to go into both acting and singing had nothing to do with Hollywood influences.
Her family moved from Los Angeles to Charlottesville when she was very young.
"Man, I love Charlottesville so much," the 23-year-old Fisk said
this week in an interview with The Free Lance-Star. "It's the best
place in the world to grow up--just being away from that whole
"I didn't understand when I was younger. But I realize now what they
were trying to do, sheltering me from it," she said. "I don't think
raising kids in L.A. is impossible, you just make it a lot harder for
yourself. People grow up a lot faster out there and it's just a
Growing up in Charlottesville, she was able to realize for herself
that her passion was in the arts, "being able to create, write music,
and play music, play in front of people, because I really love it," and
not feeling any pressure one way or another, she said.
"Acting is definitely a different way of expressing myself," Fisk
said. "It's not as personal as music for me. But it's such a great
escape. You can be this other person for little while and it's kind of
Her movie credits include "The Locrian Mode" (2005), "American Gun"
(2005), "Orange County" (2002), "Skeletons in the Closet" (2001), "Snow
Day" (2000), "My Friend Joe" (1996) and "The Baby-Sitters Club" (1995).
Her latest film, the small-budget, artsy "I'm Reed Fish," opens at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York April 29.
"I played a musician and got to write two songs and play them in the film, which was great," Fisk said.
She also wrote songs for "American Gun," "Skeletons in the Closet" and "Snow Day."
"It's kind of fun to kind of be able to switch it up [between] acting and music," she said.
This week Fisk, who says she's "obsessed" with the ABC series
"Lost," went online to iTunes to download some episodes of that
program. She realized a January episode of NBC's "Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit," on which she guest-starred, was there.
After starting out as a nerve-racking experience, "Law & Order" was "really fun," she said.
Fisk said she was initially worried because the cast has been
together so long. " I thought, 'Gosh, what if I'm not good enough?'"
She also made a guest appearance on The WB Network's "One Tree Hill" that originally aired in May 2005.
Her musical influences include Bonnie Raitt and Billie Holiday.
"I grew up listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young--all those
cool harmonies," she said. "And Patsy Cline and all those people."
She wrote her first song, "There Was a Little Girl Named Schuyler,"
when she was 4 years old and playing the ukulele. Her mother has it on
When she was 8, she made her first "music video" to Madonna's "Like a Prayer," and that, too, has been saved for posterity.
Fisk always loved to sing and did a lot of musical theater in high school.
"We always had guitars around the house and my mom used to play,"
she recalled. "One day she picked up the guitar and taught me a few
chords. I didn't know how to play anyone else's songs, so I started
writing my own."
People would catch a song here or there and tell her, "You gotta play that for my friend."
She started playing open mike nights and did a high school talent show.
At 16, she was introduced to Virginia musician-producer John
Jennings, who works with Mary Chapin Carpenter. He produced a nine-song
demo of Fisk's original music.
Her first real concert appearance was opening for Dan Fogelberg at Wolf Trap in Vienna two years ago before a crowd of 8,000.
"It's indescribable--a rush, a great feeling," she said, and she
has some nervousness, but her butterflies always go away within seconds
of starting to play.
She started touring on her own in January.
Fisk describes her material as "very acoustic, very
singer-songwriter, I write everything. It's hard to describe, I have so
many influences, but it's kind of folk meets alternative in the vein of
Even if she becomes a big film or television star, singing and writing songs is something she's unlikely to ever give up.
"The whole songwriting thing has become so important to me, I
wouldn't trade that for anything," Fisk said. "I've always written on
my own and always will, but I've also done a lot of co-writing and it's
been a real learning experience for me. It's wonderful because it takes
you out of your safety net."