A few people have asked (and others have ordered;) me to post a second Silk fan-fic. Well, I think I have another possible angle that I’d like to explore, but I figured that in the meantime I would just post a paper I wrote in April ’98 that features Mitzi, Rita, and Joanne Jensen. It required quotes from 5-10 sources, and while I thought it dealt with the pride/satisfaction that Mitzi and her characters have in their work, my professor felt that this paper was simply a rundown of Mitzi’s career. I had to fight him for a decent grade…you be the judge…
Entertainers possess the power to captivate the imaginations of their audiences, open the doors to an infinite number of alternate realities, and work the magic of turning a television character into a real person. This is the key to their profession, the center of their job description. Audiences benefit most, and are most appreciative, when the performers radiate satisfaction and pride in their work, and this philosophy beats strong in the heart of the exceptional actress, Mitzi Kapture. In a Television Today interview she states, “there are people who don’t have pride in what they do. That’s something I think is missing from our society. In every walk of life it seems that people are unhappy with what they do, as opposed to taking pride in their work. I say ‘If you don’t like it, try something you do like.’” Not only do Kapture and the characters she plays like what they do for a living, but I believe that they also take great pride in their work.
A 33-year-old alumna of Atlanta’s esteemed Alliance Theatre, Mitzi Kapture is best known for her strong female professional roles such as Detective Sergeant Rita Lee Lance in the late night crime drama Silk Stalkings, and as senior Naval Investigative Services Agent Joanne Jensen in the USA Network’s 1997 TV-movie Perfect Crime. During an interview for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Kapture reflects on Silk fan mail she received from young women 12-17 years old, and remembers one girl who was a runaway. From Kapture’s character, the girl gained hope in realizing “that a woman really can turn her life around, [and] that she can achieve what she wants to achieve.” I really wish I could have seen Mitzi’s expression, and whatever emotion flashed in her eyes as she told the interviewer, “that really means so much (to me), when you’re in a 14 hour workday and you’re going, ‘What am I doing? I am so exhausted.’ Then you read a letter like that and realize you’re having an impact, even in a show that you don’t think is likely to have that effect.” To me, though, the flashy clothes and the Palm Beach ambiance of Silk Stalkings are superficial to the excellent cast of strong characters who are proud to be cops. These characters are just as skillfully capable of influencing those of us who reside in the “real” world, as they are those in the “reel” world. Therefore, it is not difficult to see how Kapture’s Silk Stalkings character could have such a profound effect on young women, and on audiences in general.
It is Mitzi Kapture who provides this effect, and brings the fictional Sgt. Rita Lee Lance to life by giving her a depth, intrigue, and sense of pride in her job that surpasses the work of the writers. From a very early age Rita Lee Lance dreamed of being a cop, and despite numerous hardships she achieved her goal. Her intelligence, and strong and resilient personality, kept her first in her class at the academy, and her confidence and cleverness on the job made her the youngest woman in the history of the Palm Beach Police Department to receive her gold shield. Never doubting her instincts, Sgt. Lance and her partner/best friend/soul mate Sgt. Christopher Lorenzo have a perfect arrest record in the Homicide Division’s Silk Stalkings (high society crimes of passion) detail.
Sgt. Lance takes great pride in her oath to serve and protect, and her dedication to her work is most evident when the victim is a young person. Whether it is devoting her extra time to a runaway shelter or taking a fifteen-year-old murder witness into her home, Rita goes above and beyond the call of duty to keep the youth safe from the “animals in the jungle.” And animals beware if you try and hunt her friends or her partner. The fire of Sgt. Lance’s spirit, normally balanced with compassion, humor, and a regal wit, blazes when harm or the threat of harm is evoked on her loved ones. She can transform into the living definition of toughness and all-out attitude, and this quality she possesses is one of my absolute favorites to watch. Of all the characters in all the shows I have ever seen, it is Rita who fascinates me the most. She is a classic example of a woman transcending many of the invisible barriers our society still attempts to place on women. Never conforming to the submissive, meek and mild role, Sgt. Lance prefers “standing to clinging,” and is confident in expressing and upholding the codes by which she lives her life. On a professional level, she exhibits pride, ingenuity, and mastery in a career usually associated with men. Due to this ability, and for years before she was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant (Chief of Detectives), Sgt. Lance was able to rightfully earn and receive the respect of her male colleagues. Overall, Sgt. Rita Lee Lance strives to uncover the truth, and her perceptiveness, caring nature, and ability to take care of herself help her excel in the job she loves.
Rita receives satisfaction in being a cop, and Mitzi Kapture derives joy and pride in being Rita: “I love my character. I really do. I think I am really lucky to be playing her.” According to Kapture, “in some ways having an acting career is similar to being a cop. They’re very much into their jobs. Devoted. Very much of your personal life gets put on hold.” Before taking on the role of Rita, the actress wanted to start a family with her songwriter/composer husband Bradley Kapture, but didn’t feel that 12-15 hour days would be beneficial on a pregnancy. After five seasons on Silk though, a pregnancy did have to be worked into Rita’s storyline. Kapture left the show to have her baby, and took a year off from acting to begin her new role and job as mom to Madison Kapture. By 18 months old, Madison had developed a “strong, independent streak” that no doubt mirrors her mother’s. Picking up on the cue, Madison’s mom returned to the limelight, once as (and portraying) a professional who takes pride in her work, and delivered an incredible performance as the leading lady in the USA Network’s Perfect Crime.
Based on the real life case (The Computer Disk Murder) that lasted from 1989-1991, Perfect Crime tells the story of the first federal murder conviction in United States history to be made without a body, a murder weapon, or a confession. In discussing the film, Kapture states, “a lot of things intrigued me about it, especially that my character was a strong, passionate human being who really believed in the difference between right and wrong.” Kapture plays senior NIS Agent Joanne Jensen, and “she’s just much more driven than anyone I’ve ever played before.”
Agent Jensen was called out to the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia in 1989 to investigate the disappearance of Captain Shirley Gibbs Russell (called Darnell in the movie). Jensen became suspicious of Darnell’s estranged husband, ex-Marine Robert Russell, during his initial questioning - especially after his comment “I just never met a female NIS agent before, but I guess you ladies are everywhere now.” Later interrogations led Jensen to believe that Bob had murdered his wife for serving him with divorce papers, and for being “the better Marine, despite the fact that she was black and also female.”
Agent Jensen made this her personal case for two years and refused to close it, even after the FBI pulled out and no body or weapon was recovered. When told not to let her instinct cloud her judgement she was quick to respond that it “wasn’t just instinct, but years of experience.” “There is no such thing as a perfect crime, gentlemen,” Jensen told her fellow agents, and through her persistence and remarkable dedication, the case evolved and a disk labeled “26 Steps To Murder Your Wife” was discovered.
With this crucial piece of circumstantial evidence, Jensen and her team took their case to a United States District Court because federal law does not require physical evidence in a murder trial. Two years after the disappearance of Capt. Darnell Russell, a landmark “guilty” verdict was reached. Bob appealed this verdict all the way to the US Supreme Court, and was denied. Darnell Russell’s body has never been found, but due to the drive and devotion to duty of Agent Joanne Jensen, justice was served. And as for Mitzi Kapture’s opinion, “that’s amazing to me.”
It is amazing to me as well, how one woman’s extraordinary focus and pursuit of the truth unraveled a seemingly “perfect crime.” As an agent in the top of her profession, Jensen never wavered in her dedication to achieving “justice for Darnell.” Agent Jensen, Mitzi Kapture’s other alter ego Sgt. Lance, and the actress herself, all personify professionals who demonstrate pride in their jobs, and possess strong and self-reliant personalities. With society’s changing views on women and their roles/places, they serve as excellent role models for today’s youth (male and female alike) by being perfect examples that women can balance a variety of life roles such as career women, wives, and mothers with a sense of pride.
David Walstad, who interviewed Mitzi Kapture for Television Today, noticed immediately that she was very down to earth, positive and cheerful, as well as very animated, friendly, and self-assured. Putting her phenomenal acting talent aside, I believe it is this lack of superstar mentality, along with her pride in her chosen profession, that sets Kapture above and beyond most stars, and heightens her fan/viewer appeal. The writers can only provide so much insight as to a character’s personality and aura. Ultimately, it is the actor or actress who brings the character to life, and reels the audience into that character’s reality. When creating this special brand of magic, as per their job description, entertainers such as Mitzi Kapture add a piece of themselves. One such glimpse of Kapture can be witnessed in the dedication, pride, and satisfaction Silk Stalkings’ Sgt. Rita Lee Lance, and Perfect Crime’s Agent Joanne Jensen derive from their jobs. So when this special quality must be conveyed to “capture” the imaginations of Hollywood’s audiences, the perfect woman for the job will always be Mitzi Kapture.
To save space on Lisa and Linda’s page, I edited out the internal citations and the Works Cited page. Feel free to email me for a copy of the original version, so I can acknowledge my sources. Also, any feedback (disputes or agreements with my professor;) are greatly appreciated: