LOS ANGELES – Dixon native Rondi Reed lights up the small screen in her role as Peggy on the Monday night sitcom “Mike & Molly.”
The Tony-award winning Reed, 59, is a regular on the popular CBS show, and her role as Mike’s mother, Peggy, is bringing her widespread recognition.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Reed said of her role on the show. “I am seen – in one episode in ‘Mike & Molly’ – seen by more than 14 million people in one night. It’s very different than what I’m used to.”
“I get recognized in grocery stores. I had done theater for 35 years, did ‘Wicked’ for 5 years. Nobody would recognize me from that.”
Her character is someone that everyone can relate to, Reed said.
Peggy has a “curmudgeonly abrasive personality,” like that mother-in-law or aunt “everybody seems to have one of in their family,” she said.
“Her husband ran off with a stripper,” Reed said of Peggy. “It’s the story of a woman that had to raise a kid by herself and didn’t quite know how to deal with him.”
Reed said she is “very, very blessed” to have the kind of job she does.
“It’s a wonderful job with a great bunch of people,” she said. “It’s like living your dream. I’ve been very lucky.”
The series, which first aired in September 2010, stars Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy as Mike and Molly.
The role gives her plenty of time to do other things, too. “Mike & Molly” is in production for 9 months, then she is off for 3 months, either working on stage or traveling.
It’s a change from her time in theater, when she would do eight shows a week, she said.
“I’ve done that for 30 years,” Reed said. “This is a different kind of schedule. I have to perform in a different way, a different discipline. It’s amazing.”
It’s not her first TV role – her first job in Hollywood was an appearance on “Roseanne” and she also did an HBO film starring Al Pacino called “You Don’t Know Jack.” Reed played Judge Cooper.
She’s also an acclaimed stage actor, winning a Tony for best actress for her performance as Mattie Fae Aiken in “August: Osage County” and rave reviews for her Broadway role as Madam Morrible in “Wicked.”
Eventually though, Reed said, she’d like to land a more animated role – in an animated film.
She’s auditioned for such roles in the past, but not yet landed one, and animation is “such a big field right now,” Reed said.
Reed, who graduated from Dixon High School in 1970, went on to get a bachelor’s degree in theater from Illinois State University, then joined Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago in 1979.
Her sister, Pat Kresanek, still lives in Dixon, and although she hasn’t been home in years, she said it was a great place to grow up in.
People in L.A. recognize her hometown as former President Ronald Reagan’s, she said.
“I have very, very fond memories of being in Dixon.”
‘Mike & Molly’ airs at 8:30 p.m. Monday, on CBS, and Rondi Reed is featured in next week’s episode.
Go to cbs.com/shows/mike_and_molly/ to learn more about the show. Keep up with Rondi on Facebook.