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Student Talks of Acting Career

Most Notable Role Was in 'Little House on the Prairie'

By Robin Kolodny

When many undergraduates were in grammar school, they would come home and watch "Little House on the Prairie." One Harvard first-year, however, was more than just a fan of the show-she was a member of the cast.

Missy Francis '95 has appeared in numerous guest and representative roles on TV and in films, including the shows "Alf," "Mork and Mindy" and "St. Elsewhere."

Her most noteworthy part was that of Cassandra Ingalls on "Little House on the Prairie."

"I was on the show for the last three seasons and I played the part of the adopted youngest daughter," Francis says.

Francis says she grew up fast because of her television career, but that she did not regret it.

"Whenever I was on the set, I usually was not with many other kids," she says.

Acting taught her to be very responsible at a young age, she says.

"Actors and directors treated me like an adult," Francis adds. "They expected me to know my lines and be serious about my work."

Francis says her favorite job was participating in "Something About Amelia," a TV show which featured Glenn Close and Tony Danza and which won an Emmy in 1986.

The premiere of the show addressed the issues of incest and a hotline was displayed on the screen to help people affected by it.

"This experience taught me that TV is not just a medium for advertising or sensationalism," Francis says.

"I thought TV was just entertainment, but working on this show I learned that it could help people and make a difference," she says.

Although acting has been a heavy time commitment for Francis, she has still maintained her academics as a priority.

On the Set

While she was on the set, she was taught by a tutor, and would spend three hours a day on homework.

"My parents pushed me to keep up in school. They wanted me to have the option of not choosing acting as a career," Francis says.

Francis says she will probably become involved in drama at Harvard, but not immediately.

"I want to try out other things and experience things I haven't done before," Francis adds.

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