Matilda Szydagis, AB’95

(Illustration by Annick Poirier)

Matilda Szydagis, AB’95

Questions for the writer, director, and Marvelous Mrs. Maisel actress.

What surprising job have you had in the past?

I cater-waitered at Martha Stewart’s house in Connecticut, where she turned to me during cocktail hour as I was refilling her wine glass and asked, “Are you trying to get me drunk?” Then added, “Just kidding, thank you” when I’m sure she saw the terror on my face.

What would you want to be doing if not your current profession?

When not acting, I love to direct.

What do you hate that everyone else loves?


What do you love that everyone else hates?


What was the last book you finished?

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell.

What was the last book you recommended to a friend?

Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham.

What was the last book you put down before you finished it?

The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator by Timothy C. Winegard.

What UChicago course book left the biggest impression on you?

The Wedding of the Dead: Ritual, Poetics, and Popular Culture in Transylvania. I’ve never forgotten the detail of how you were supposed to carry the dead out of the house feet first. If you carried them out head first, their spirit would stay in the house and haunt it forever.

What book changed your life?

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.

What person, alive or dead, would you want to write your life story?

Stephen King or Shirley Jackson.

What’s your least useful talent?

Binge-watching TV.

Tell us the best piece of advice you’ve received—or the worst.

I tear up every time I read this quote from Cheryl Strayed: “I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”

What did you learn at UChicago that still benefits you today?

Theoretical thinking.

What advice would you give to a brand-new Maroon?

Allow yourself to have some fun. I like to say that my roommate, Savannah “Annah” Gregory, AB’95, and I single-handedly raised the U of C from 300 on the Top 300 Party Schools to 298.