Jodi Stevens and Scott Bryce are living a totally charmed life. The actors, who have appeared on both stage and screen, shared what makes their marriage work, parenting during a pandemic, and the beautiful humanity that performance arts creates.
How long have you been together?
Jodi: 21 years. We actually met three separate times, but the third time was the charm. It was in late 90s, and I was auditioning for Central Park West. I went to the audition and Scott was in the waiting room, also auditioning. We were the only two in the waiting room and I recognized Scott. I had a crush on him when I was 15. So, I feel like that was the first time I met him, because I met him; I knew that one day he would meet me! As I was going in, he said, “You go get that job.” And I did.
Scott: But we were both involved in other relationships at that time. Three years later, I’m walking across the street in Los Angeles, and I was picking up coffees, and up on the balcony next door to my home, she’s sitting there. She had arrived the night before and was staying at her friend’s house. We recognized each other.
Jodi: You walked away with your two cups of coffee and I was watching him walk, and I had just gotten out of relationship. My girlfriend said, “Oh no! You just got out of a relationship. What are you doing?” I said, “I’m going to date that guy.”
Scott: We dated casually for a year, and at the end of the year, she said, “I know you want your freedom, but I can’t do this anymore.” I said, “Okay, let’s do this,” and it’s been this journey ever since. We were married in ’03 and our son was born in ’06.
As actors, how have you had to make concessions in terms of work to accommodate family needs?
Scott: I think it’s been most profoundly different for Jodi. I have a television and film career, and Jodi’s career has mostly been in theater. As a mother, early on, she did Sweeney Todd on Long Island. Jackson and I would go out on Mondays, and we would take the ferry out of Bridgeport and go to Port Jefferson. Jodi would go on the other side and meet us, and we would spend a few hours together and have a meal together. It was brutal.
So, the first time we left, we were on the ferry and Jackson is waving to her. She’s on the dock, waving goodbye, and he keeps asking me, “Can she still see me? Can she still see me?”
Jodi: And he’s this little towhead, saluting me and waving, and I was crying.
Scott: So finally, I said, “No, she can’t see you anymore,” and he broke down sobbing. Then he held me and said, “I miss Mommy so much.” So that Christmas, she asked what he wanted for Christmas and he said, “That you don’t go away again.” Jodi said okay and shifted her national touring and concerts and Broadway stuff, and made a decision to be a local mom. She changed her career to the local venues and has worked in like every one of them since.
Jodi: As Scott is saying this story, it seemed to come together for me. When you story tell it, it was quite profound. I have friends who would leave their kids at home, and being in pursuit of a Broadway show, you’re traveling all over the country trying it out. It is a grueling schedule, and we miss out on a lot. It clearly was the right thing to have happen. I got certified as a Music Together specialist and from there, I started teaching a few adults voice lessons. It grew from there and started to be asked to do more teaching.
But the theaters in Connecticut are so amazing. I cut my teeth on doing regional theater out here when I was living in NYC, and now I was living here and working in some of the same theaters again. It was a no-brainer and it worked. I was working in theaters where I could go home for lunch and come back, go get Jackson off the bus, and return for rehearsals.
Scott: And get another Best Actress nomination. And then get another one. And another one.
Jodi: That’s because I had the best coach ever. The work has blossomed, and then I would direct the musicals at the schools in our town. Students would reach out, wanting to study, and my home business really grew. And then when Covid hit, it was really hard to do my teaching of babies online. I started to feel like I was being pulled in a lot of different directions, and I was thinking how I can be the best at what I do and grow it. I had to make some choices; I left some jobs and started building this home studio.
I feel like it’s been a gift, not just for us, but for these kids, too. It’s a great time to learn and do something new, and it’s a great way to get your juices going and be physical and work your emotional life and be creative. Through that, it just flowed. I’ll get back to my theater; Jackson is older now.
Scott: I serve on the Board of Directors at the New Paradigm Theatre in Connecticut. We do one big show, and we had a board meeting and we’re going to try to this in August. I’m starting to get calls now from my agents. My agent called me and said, “Hi, you probably don’t remember me!” [laughs] I feel like things are starting to come back, and we have a couple of projects in development as well. We’ve used the time productively. I think it makes us better performers. You’re connecting dots again, and your passion gets reconnected again.
We just want to work more together. We’re working on a feature script, and we’ve worked together in the theater. One thing we get asked to do is Love Letters, because people love it, but we never get to look at each other.
Jodi: We read the script straight ahead, so we never actually get to connect. But when we do…!
It’s very obvious that the chemistry is palpable.
Scott: We have a son who is an elite athlete, a remarkable basketball player. One time, we picked him up from camp at Syracuse University, and his coach came running up to me and asked, “Mr. Bryce, did you teach him that jump shot?” And I said, “Actually, I was tap dancing.” For Christmas, Jackson got me Basketball for Dummies. So, we have this sport athlete guy, and that’s opened up a whole new world to us that we didn’t know about.
Jodi: But being an actor is being an athlete.
Scott: He’s incredibly talented. He plays the piano and the violin. It’s all there, but right now he’s rejecting the business, which is fine because I did, too. I’m four generations in the business, and I didn’t want to be in it at all. I was going to Staples High School, so they gave a tour. I’m in this group and we walked into the theater, and I started to look around and the group left. I was totally unaware that they were gone. I think I’m alone in this vast theater and a voice, from way in the back of the theater, and it was Al Pia, who I couldn’t see, who was the director of the Staples Players, was there. A voice booms out, “Feel like you’re home?” And I turned out to this voice and said, “Yes.” He said, “Good, you’re the lead in the next play. I’ll send the script to your family’s house.” And I got Tommy in The Brick and the Rose, and I won Best Actor for that. Then I thought, this business that I thought I hated, I’m in.
Jodi: Well, Scott’s parents, Dorothy and Ed Bryce are Westport institutions. There have been so amazing moments that we’ve had as actors. I remember sitting offstage — you were doing On Golden Pond. Jodi played my mother’s daughter. And my mother is on stage and I’m watching James Noble and my mom, and Jodi is in the scene, and they’re just magnificent. I just watched it and thought, “This is just beautiful.”
Jodi: Working on On Golden Pond was so incredibly special. To be able to work with your mother on stage — she was an extraordinary woman. She loved me in a way that I had no idea I could be loved in that way, as a mother-in-law, as a friend. She was extraordinary.
Scott: It’s been an amazing journey for both of us. The magic of theater is that a group of people who don’t know each other, all enter a room and take seats. They’re completely oblivious to each other. And if the play starts, if it’s good enough, there’s a moment in which all of those people become one thing. And there’s a shared experience of humanity that we are all experiencing. It’s congregation as temple, and theater as church. Because here are all these people, who don’t know each other, laughing together, crying together, in the dark. There’s a great hope in that, because it truly is the best of humanity.