Catching up with Shari Dyon Perry from 'Any Day Now'

By: Start TV Staff     Posted: April 7, 2021, 5:12PM

Highly acclaimed for its powerful subject material, Any Day Now approached topics that many shows struggle to speak on to this very day. Generational racism, homophobia, and sexism are just a few of the subjects that the series wasn't afraid to confront.

The series tells the story of two women, Mary Elizabeth and Rene Jackson, who reunite for the first time in decades. Having grown up together in the 60's during the height of the segregationist movement in Birmingham, Alabama, the two recall stories of their early childhood. Showing the perspective of both their past and present in each episode, the two friends reflect on the many changes in their lives.

We recently had the privilege to speak with Any Day Now actress, teaching artist, and singer, Shari Dyon Perry who played young Rene Jackson. Happy to see the series airing on Start TV, we asked Shari to talk to us more about the show and what she's been up to.

What initially got you into acting?

20 plus years ago, I was actually doing regional theater. I was working on a production when I learned that they were casting for Any Day Now. I heard that they wanted to cast actors from the Southeast so I went in for an audition.

It was actually one of the actors working with me on the regional show at the time, who was a professional actor, that encouraged me to audition. I went in with no reel, a headshot that my mother and I picked up from a local CVS and three auditions and a screen test in L.A later., I booked it. We shot the pilot shortly after in Louisiana and the pilot was picked up. Next was the move to L.A.

How was the transition going from Georgia and the Southeast to L.A.?

It all moved pretty quickly, but it was exciting for me. I really enjoyed the experience, just the opportunity to meet new people. The group from the Southeast, we bonded really well and we really became family.

When you say group from the Southeast who did that include amongst the other actors?

Olivia from Louisiana, Mae from Statesboro, Georgia and Dan Byrd from Marietta, Georgia. I was actually the only cast member from Alabama where the show was set in Birmingham. I am just three hours south of where the show was set.

Did already having that background being from Alabama help you out with the role of Rene Jackson?

I often say that, you know, we tackled some tough topics and shot some scenes that were tough to watch. But even though I am originally from Phenix City, Alabama, I hadn't experienced that. To the extent that it was displayed on the show, I always say it was a learning experience for me at age 12.

We shot a lot of reenactments, the marches, the scenes where I was hosed. Those are things that stick out for me for sure, but not because I experienced them. On a lighter note, I had an opportunity to sing and dance on the show, which are also passions of mine. If you listen to the soundtrack, I am actually doing some of the singing.

I see you went back to Georgia to continue your acting career. Georgia is such a huge entertainment industry with so many TV shows and movies being made there nowadays. But at the time what made you choose going back to Georgia over L.A.?

I stayed shortly after my work on the show ended, before I returned home. I missed home, I really missed my family. My mom had relocated with me and my dad visited monthly. We went home on the holidays and it was hard. When I returned home, it was never with the intention that I would get out of the business. I knew that acting was something that I wanted to continue to do.

There is a lot of work in Atlanta. And although there is a lot of work, I find that they are still hiring talent from L.A. and bringing them to Georgia to shoot.

I've been involved in several projects; film and tv projects, and commercial work. Nothing as meaningful as Any Day Now and that's something that I really hope to be able to do again, soon. I often hear ‘why did you give up acting?’ but I didn't give up! I'm still here. I'm still acting. It's still something that I'm pursuing.

Have you kept up with anyone from the cast?

Olivia is actually the one who reached out to me about the airing of the show on Start TV. I hear it often, 'when is there going to be a reboot or where can I find the show?' So, I'm really excited that Start TV has decided to air it. Olivia and I stay in contact through social media and we’re in touch with some other cast members, too.

I’ve talked with my father from the show, John Lafayette. He was actually traveling a few years back and said, 'Hey, I'm coming through Georgia and making a stop in Alabama.” We got to get together and we definitely try to keep in touch.

Are there any thoughts about a reboot?

I remember a producer saying before we left, ‘We're going to bring you guys back.” When I think about it, it doesn't really seem like it's been 20 plus years.

But yes, the material is still relevant, it's something that audiences can embrace again. It was very well received. So, absolutely I'd be up for it.

So what have you been up to recently?

I am back home on the East Coast. I am still an actor. I am still auditioning. The pandemic really slowed things down but I think things are really gearing up again in Georgia. Since moving back home, I've also worked with the University System of Georgia as a teaching artist, teaching theater and dance at various sites in the community. I'm currently teaching dance at a performing arts academy in Georgia.


Watch Any Day Now on Start TV

EVERY MORNING AT 10 AM EASTERN/PACIFIC

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Fran 1 month ago
I was so thrilled to see this show on Start tv. I searched google regularly to see were I could watch the show or even buy the dvd. Then one day I was flipping channels and there it was. This is one of the most important tv shows of all time. I hope there can be more like this.
Connie 1 month ago
She was also in Joyful Noise. She is great in that movie.
Annette 5 months ago
Any Day Now is a show that can help heal America. Several of the episodes I can relate to being a child of the 60's. It brings back memories. I didn't see it when it originally ran but glad now that I'm in my 60's to see a program with the truths of the past. My family moved to south FL in 1969. My first year in school here was 7th grade. They were busing white kids to school in the ghetto and colored children to white schools. I was in fear not of the black children but the men who were Nat'l guard with guns escorting us to school and in the hallways. They did the same for black kids bussed into white neighborhoods.i had moved from Green Bay, WI l couldn't understand all the fuss. I have to admit before then I had little experience with black people. In Green Bay my school had whites, Indians and Spanish kids. I never could understand why black kids had their own schools. My references to black people were positive influences. Some of the GR Packers, A friend of my mom. Who's husband was a lawyer. I knew about Martin Luther King. Mom's friend had his picture in their living room. Some 5 years ago I went to Birmingham to the Civil Rights museum where I relived a lot of it, I sat on a bench in the museum crying for the hurt and pain I had witnessed. It reminded me of prejudices I experienced when I married an Indian our tires were slashed, my husband was beat up several times. That was in 1073. I'd love to see the show come on again sad thing is so many wounds are reopened young adults today We need to all heal and unite together under God's protection.
Fran Annette 1 month ago
Your heart is in the right place. However, if you could refrain from using the word “coloreds” and having it appear that all black kids live in the ghetto while white kids live in white neighborhoods. This assumption shows you still have a ways to go in understanding. You are on the track though and that is so helpful.
Barbara 5 months ago
I absolutely love this show—then and now! I can’t believe but it’s only occurring to me now how much another one of my favorite shows This is Us, is indebted to the Groundbreaking work in the show. I think they should do a reboot. After Turk and Renee got married they had a child and that child grows up with Kelly’s children and become best friends. They can learn how to navigate the racial unrest of today.
annettecephus 5 months ago
So Love if they did reboot of this show glad StartTv is showing it couldn’t find it anywhere to watch it at
baseballfsn46 6 months ago
One of my favorite shows and I dont miiss an episode. I have seen them ALL Wish it would come back I thought Shari and Olivia were excellent I enjoy ME on young Sheldon and I have seen Renee on several other shows that are also on Start TV. This show is alot better than some of the other shows on.
Good Luck to Shari!!
Cami 6 months ago
Hi Shari, like Catherine below, I too never heard of Any Day Now until finding it late last year on StartTV. I love the premise of the show and would love to see a reboot of it with a continuation of you and Mae as young women, and Lorraine and Annie in the present. I think all of us fans would love to see the show brought back to life with new content with everyone reprising their characters on the show.

The episode where Jasmine Guy guest starred as Rene's aunt remains a favorite of mine. The one episode that really made my heart race was the one where the police officer put his gun to young Rene's head and made her beautiful and strong mother call herself the N word!! As a young child of the 60's and a 50-something Black woman today, I have to admit that that scene really drew me in! I hope the actor who played the officer was extremely apologetic to you and Donzaleigh, both before and after the scene. But all three of you played the heck out of that scene and your performances were most definitely Emmy worthy!

I'm glad to know you are continuing your acting career and hope to see you in other forthcoming projects soon. As a matter of fact, I would love to see you on The Equilizer, especially since Lorraine is on that show and it would be a treat for all of us Any Day fans to see the two of you share a scene together.

God bless you Shari. :)
Catherine 6 months ago
Shari I never knew this show existed 20 years ago but I am so pleased that I have happened across it now. As a child of the 60's relate to the interaction of you and ME. My neices and I had an abandoned chicken coop as our playhouse. What fun we had with our dolls and making mudpies. We would have been in heaven with a caboose. I live in Pennsylvania so I was aware of the strife in the South but only through the news which was minimal back then. I don't recall any conversations at home or school on the topics you portray. It breaks my heart that our culture is still living with so many of the issues you and the cast presented
so beautifully.
I'm so pleased you have done well in your endeavors and thank you for being part of a show with such historical perspective.
byrdlps 6 months ago
How dumb not to show a current pic of her since the show was produced many years ago.
Catherine byrdlps 6 months ago
Yes it would be nice to see who she has become.
Cami byrdlps 6 months ago
You can find a more recent photo of Shari at imdb.com by looking up Any Day Now. She is a very beautiful young lady.
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