Editor’s Note: Five years ago we had an idea. Being a woman-owned publication, it made sense to celebrate women who were making a difference in the industries we cover. So, we started a feature for Women’s History Month called “Reel Women.” Over the last four years, we have gotten to know leaders, mentors and visionaries from a variety of creative industries. This is our 5th Annual REEL WOMEN. For the month of March, let us introduce you to some very special women like director, actor, script supervisor, Patricia Frontain.
Patricia Frontain has been a script supervising in Chicago for 20+ years, which includes working on NBC’s Chicago P.D. for all ten seasons. She then moved into directing. Patricia is making her network directorial debut on March 24, 2023 Lifetime Network with a movie titled Twisted Sister starring Mena Suvari. Before directing television, she directed many short films. Most notable are Light starring Marina Squerciati and Amy Morton. The Follower starring Jon Seda and Kara Killmer. UNKNOWING, starring David Eigenberg, Phil Tyler and Ajani. And RIP starring Sylvie Sadarnac and Guy Van Swearingen. Her series of anti-gun violence Public Service Announcements titled Shattered features actors from Chicago P.D., Chicago Fire, and Chicago Med and have aired nationally. All her works premiere at her annual Film Showcase hosted by Resolution Digital Studios. Over the course of 6 years the showcase has become a highly-attended Chicago Film Industry networking event as well as a fundraiser for her NFP titled Patrick Lives On.
Let’s meet Patrica.
What’s your origin story?
I was born and raised the 5th of 6 children in College Point, NY. In Junior High School we moved to Spring, Texas — which seemed like another planet at the time. I received a B.F.A. in Acting from the University of Texas at Austin.
How did you get into the film industry?
I was an actress in Regional theatre for many years. I took a break from acting and I pursued my love of horses for ten years while I owned/operated a horse and carriage business in Long Grove, llinois. When I decided to go back into acting, I realized I wanted a bit more control of my destiny, so I went behind scenes — coordinating commercials and then becoming a Script Supervisor.
In 2015, my 14 year old son was caught in gang gunfire in Rosemont, Il and passed away. A piece of me died with him, but I decided to make positive things come from the tragedy. I started a viable non profit called Patrick Lives On with the actors from Chicago PD, Fire and Med. I barreled through my grief and dove into helping other families not feel the pain I felt and helping kids go to after school activities of their choice so they are not lured into gangs and guns and violence. The deep agony helped me realize something very profound. The pain from my loss was so overwhelming, that I realized nothing else could hurt me as badly as what I already had lived through and so I lost my fear. There is nothing anyone can say or do to hurt me. Not having fear gave me great strength and control of my journey. I had stories in my heart that I needed to tell and a warrior storytelling Director was born! My films are distributed pro bono to counseling/ detention/juvie centers. They can be rented/purchased at patrickliveson.org. Recently I began directing professionally. I directed my first feature film for Lifetime Network. There are many more stories in the horizon!
Who were your mentors?
In my early years, my mentor was Ron Atkins, my high school drama teacher. My current director mentors are the phenomenal directors Brenna Malloy and Carl Seaton.
While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
PROFESSIONALLY – Directing my first Lifetime Feature which will air March 24, 2023 starring Mena Suvari and also surviving 10 seasons of Chicago P.D. which entails working outside throughout polar vortexes, long hours, and lots of traveling all over Chicagoland!
PERSONALLY – My son Patrick and my daughter Zoe.
What drives you to create?
I am extremely empathetic and creative. I possess a need to communicate and share the inner thoughts of a character’s mind. I loved exploring characters as an actress and now I adore helping actors access their truths.
Award you crave, but haven’t won?
No, there are no awards that I have ever craved….yet. lol.
What shows/movies/songs are doing the best job of portraying strong women on TV?
Helen Mirren in 1923.
Beth in Yellowstone.
Burgess & Upton on Chicago P.D.
Benson on SVU
Viola Davis in anything
Elizabeth Moss in Handmaid’s Tale
Is there still a boys club in your industry?
Yes, but I am reinventing myself in the final chapters of my life and each year I get more confident and secure in my own power. The boys had better look out!
Coffee, Lunch or Happy Hour. Name a famous woman (living or dead) you would like to attend each function with.
Coffee: Agnes Varda
Lunch: Lucille Ball
Happy Hour: Lady Gaga
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled against Roe v Wade. If you oppose the decision, what can women in your industry do to defend a woman’s rights?
I greatly oppose this decision. It is hard to believe how far the the pendulum has swung — backwards. We can not be complacent, we need to vote for politicians who are right to choose and we need to teach the next generation about the importance of gender equality and the right to control your own life and those of your children — and encourage them to become proactive.
What keeps you up at night?
It takes vigilance on my part to accept the sudden, violent death of my son. It is a constant naw at my heart. BUT, what keeps me up at night is the affect the loss and the violent turn our society has on my 18 year old daughter. I am pained to know that she has been striving for a way to cope since she was 9 years old and the fact that her childhood was robbed from her as a direct result of unnecessary gang/gun violence.
What’s up with Beyoncé being nominated for 4 Best Albums of the year but never winning?
No clue. I am not in tune with the Music Industry awards.
Twisted Sister is premiering on Lifetime on March 24, 2023
ALSO READ: MORE REEL WOMEN
ALSO READ: REEL 360 — REEL WOMEN
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