Gita McCarthy is a successful business executive working in human resources in Arlington, Va., and she is also a part-time actor in local and regional film and TV productions. In a few years, when she retires from her day job, she will start working for the first time as a full-time actress. It’s something she’s wanted to do ever since she was a child.
In the late 1960s, Gita was just another bespectacled, sharp-witted kid growing up in Chicago Heights, Illinois until the day in third grade when she stepped out on stage in her first role as a French maid and said, ” Bonjour, Madame. Puis-je vous faire du thé (translation: “Hello, Madam. May I make you some tea?”)
On the heels of her stage debut, Gita discovered she also loved to write stories and then act them out. At the tender age of 9, she wrote a play called “Lazy Susan” about a young girl who was so lazy she would not even pick up her clothes or papers, which were were strewn all over the floor. The second character, played by Gita, had to pick them up, but not without first saying, “Why do I have to pick up all your stuff?”
Gita’s future as a comedic and dramatic actress began to take form with these early efforts.
The daughter of a chemist and a radio talk show personality and entrepreneur, and the youngest sister in a family of five kids, Gita had a ready made audience and inspiration for her early acting efforts.
In addition, Gita’s bold, beautiful, and enterprising mother, Shantha, was a celebrity talk show hostess on a local radio station. She interviewed many television and film actors and actresses, and she told her young daughter all about their lives and careers.
“It was through our conversations about these film stars that my dream of becoming an actress was energized,” she said. “Consequently, my mother was the single greatest influence in inspiring me to become an actress.”
Her sister, Lata Lovell recalls Gita as a positive, imaginative, highly energetic, fun-loving, kind-hearted sister who also had a huge sense of humor and an infectious laugh and an impressive drive to succeed. Even then, it looked like there was no stopping Gita.
“Once she decided that she wanted to do something, Gita was a force of nature in reaching those goals no matter how unattainable they might seem at the outset,” said Lata.
At 13, Gita and her family moved to northern Virginia where she finished middle school and high school. Later, after her business career was underway, she went on to Northern Virginia Community College and then to George Mason University where she graduated with a degree in Management Information Systems (MIS) and later she obtained a graduate certificate in public affairs. She was only a few credits short of completing her Master’s, but due to family and work demands, she postponed completion of the degree until now. She plans to fulfill the requirements for all the coursework and complete her Executive Master’s of Public Affairs (MPA) from Indiana University by next year.
Despite working full-time in her HR career for over 20 years in Arlington, Va. and Washington, Gita never let go of her dream to act professionally. She took acting lessons and was hired for speaking parts in local independent films and as an extra in some big-budget motion pictures in New York and Washington, including National Treasure, Book of Secrets, Better Living Through Chemistry and It’s Complicated.
Despite her rigorous work schedule, Gita has been able to take some time off to travel to New York to appear as an extra on the NBC TV shows, The Good Wife (Death of a Salesman segment), and an upcoming segment of Madam Secretary.
Local director and producer, Connie Lamothe cast Gita in a couple of feature films, The Last Six Inches in which she played a maid once again, and as a friend of the main character in Charity.
Gita had her first substantial speaking roles in Director June Daguiso’s comedy, I Am an American in which she was cast as the friend of the main character and as a greedy, but hilarious housewife in Koming from Afrika. For her work in these films, she was nominated as Best Actress in a Feature film and Best Supporting Actress in a feature film at the World Music Independent Film Festival in Washington for two years in a row.
“These were my two biggest roles to date, and I was very challenged in providing great performances, but I succeeded in doing that because I had excellent coaching from directors, June Daguiso and Bob Christie,” Gita said.
Director Bob Christie who cast her as a ghost in his award-winning film, “Thick as the Water” said she was “perfect” in her role as an old woman who was a ghost and her skills were “excellent.”
Gita doesn’t mind putting herself into extreme schedules just to have a few hours of acting in New York. She’s been known to take a bus at 1:00 AM from Union Station in Washington to travel to New York where she works on set all day, goes back to the bus station late that night and arrives back home at 2:00 AM.
“I rest for a few hours, and then I’m back working my human resources job later that morning,” said Gita.
With all the travelling she does from location to location, there are adventures along the way like the time she went to New York with a new dress in hand to wear on set.
“I was rushing to get to set and my dress somehow got caught in an escalator. I tried drastically to pull it out. I called out for help and a man came running to assist me. We both tried hard to pull it out, but in the end we had to let it go after which we just looked at each other and laughed.”
Gita admits that acting is a very challenging industry, but she loves the opportunity to be creative and play a wide range of different characters.
“There’s something about stretching my emotions that is very compelling,” she said. “I can’t wait to show the world what I can do as an actor because I think I’ve only scratched the surface so far,” she said.