Dec 2, 2013
01:23 PM

"Murder One" Actress Honored for Hartford Scholarships That Empower Young Women

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On the phone, Rodriguez stresses how the nonprofit has been able to help children, especially the most vulnerable, “to get to a productive life in general,” work that involves intervening at times of real crisis for children and families, including situations involving abuse, neglect and environments that are not safe.

Within that realm, he says, young girls in particular get influenced by so many things in a negative way. “We strongly believe that if they get the message about different choices, they will be empowered” and succeed in life, Rodriguez says. “When they come over here, they have to talk about issues” and the future: What kind of family do they want, what kind of career?

“We see their lives getting transformed. They begin driving their destiny,” says Rodriguez, and now that transformation has the added financial impact, and positive role model, that comes from Carlson’s involvement.

The former actress, who also has written four plays, had essays published in The New York Times and More magazine and is working on a memoir, says she was “absolutely floored” when she found out she was being honored by The Village. “It really belongs to other people, who really do the boots-on-the-ground work.”

Carlson grew up in the Midwest, in a suburb of Minneapolis, and came to New York City to attend the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, which put her in the city in the 1960’s.

“Coming to New York to me was like Nirvana. I so loved it. There was so much going on,” she says, recalling living in the East Village in that storied decade, right down the street from venues like The Fillmore East.

Her first job was ushering at The Public Theater, and her first show was the original production of the legendary musical “Hair” in 1967.

Carlson says she would “sit in the lobby [of the theater while working there] and do homework and there were these paintings of soup cans.”

That’s right—those were original Warhol paintings that provided the homework ambiance.

In late 1970s, Carlson got the lead in a series in Los Angeles and headed west, where she worked in TV and movies long and fruitfully.

But Carlson says she missed snow, the seasons and New York City.

“I liked Los Angeles,” she says. “I had a wonderful career there. I did quite well and made nice money—and then I was done.”

Along the way, however, she made sure to give back, inspired by a family that had made education a priority. “I realized that many young women do not have the same kind of family support and I wanted to do something about it,” Carlson says in the Village release about her honor.

On the phone, she recalls having become familiar while in Manhattan with the 52nd Street Project, the theater program that works with at-risk children. A friend of hers did something similar on the West Coast and she got involved with that, creating scholarships and eventually moving her philanthropic efforts to other entities.

“She established the Abbott-Carlson Scholarship and initially provided scholarships for high school graduates on the West Coast,” the Village says. “When she moved to Connecticut, she wanted to partner with a nonprofit closer to her new home.”

Carlson learned of The Village and connected. “I immediately knew that the girls served by The Village were the girls I wanted to support because they had overcome many challenges and had the discipline to succeed,” Carlson says in The Village release. “And I wanted to help girls who might not be the typical candidates for academic scholarships—girls who might slip through the cracks.”

The cracks are as dangerous as always, but now, thanks to Carlson and her work with The Village, there’s incrementally less slipping each year.

To learn more, see the website of The Village. To register to attend the luncheon, go online to


"Murder One" Actress Honored for Hartford Scholarships That Empower Young Women

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