By Cassie ClarkStaff Writer
Actress Elizabeth Mitchell credits her Park Cities upbringing with aiding her success. One of the stars of the television series Lost, she was in town last weekend for an event at Booker T. Washington School for the Performing and Visual Arts.Elizabeth Mitchell, a star on the popular television show Lost, has made it big, and she credits her Park Cities upbringing for her success.
The actress landed the part of Juliet Burke in 2006 and continues to play a important role in the ensemble drama. But before she was battling island monsters and kissing TV hunk Matthew Fox, she was learning her ABCs at University Park Elementary.
“I loved growing up in Highland Park,” Mitchell said. “I loved the trees especially.”
Mitchell was in town last weekend to serve as mistress of ceremonies for an event at her alma mater, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas.
The 38-year-old blonde grew up in the Park Cities under the wing of her parents, Southern Methodist University law school graduates Joe and Josephine Mitchell.
Her parents now work as tax and corporate attorneys in Dallas and still live in the home Mitchell grew up in on Princeton Avenue.
“I’m grateful to the community also and to my parents,” Mitchell said. “They gave me a tremendous work ethic.”
Mitchell attended Highland Park district schools up until her sophomore year of high school.
Following a passion for acting, Mitchell transferred to Booker T. Washington High School, which is also the alma mater of several other celebrity artists, including Grammy winners Norah Jones and Erykah Badu.
“It made all the difference in the world,” said Mitchell’s mother, Josephine. “She just was just so excited to be in a school where there were actors and artists.”
Karon Cogdill, one of Mitchell’s theater teachers at Booker T. Washington, said she isn’t surprised that Mitchell ended up in a high-profile role.
“She was such a tenacious student,” Cogdill said. “Her career has been so varied. It’s really exciting because she’s played so many different kinds of things, and that was true of her in high school too.”
Elizabeth showed an interest in acting even as a young child, her mother said.
“She had been putting on shows at home, she and her friends,” Josephine Mitchell said. “She thought it was so much fun.”
After graduating high school, Mitchell attended Stevens College in Colombia, Mo., intending to continue her dramatic pursuits.
“I kind of made a deal with my parents that I would pursue whatever I wanted to, as long I pursued an education,” Mitchell said.
After college, she headed to New York City, where she landed a few roles in TV commercials.
After minor roles on several TV shows, including JAG and ER, she was cast opposite Tim Allen in the 2002 movie The Santa Clause 2.
But nothing compared to the excitement she felt when a few years later she was offered the role of Juliet on Lost, which was heading into its third season.
After working on several failed TV shows, she hadn’t expected such a prominent role.
“You don’t expect to take that big of a leap,” she said. “The show was as huge as it ever had been, and that’s why I thought it would never happen.”
The show’s producers auditioned 12 women for the role, but the writers, who had worked with Mitchell before, had written the part with her in mind. As soon as she accepted the job, she said she immediately called her mom with the good news.
“It was very exciting,” Josephine Mitchell said, but admitted at the time she hadn’t seen the show. “I got the first two seasons and had a Lost marathon.”
Mitchell said she enjoys playing Juliet, a character whose motives are constantly in question.
“She’s designed to be mistrusted,” she said. “I like playing her because she has a reason for what she does. She has a lot of things that I do admire in a person; she has a tremendous amount of empathy.”
Mitchell said the show’s cast members get along surprisingly well.
“Everyone sits together by the fire on the beach [on the set],” she said. “Because [the show] changes every week there’s always something new to talk about.”
Which Lost character is her favorite?
“I actually really like [Matthew Fox’s character] Jack,” she said. “I find him to a be a tortured and interesting character.”
While now she splits her time between the Lost set in Hawaii and her husband and 2-year-old son near Seattle, she makes the trip to Dallas a few times a year. At Christmas, she and her family attend services at Highland Park United Methodist Church.
Mitchell’s two sisters, Kate and Kristina, also attended Highland Park schools and graduated from Highland Park High School.