By: Jacquelyn Smiley
Melanie Chartoff ’70 is the author of the new book “Odd Woman Out: Exposure in Essays and Stories.” Now that she feels like she “finally has an ending” to the story of her life, she wrote a memoir that is full of humor, yet realistic at the same time. Chartoff’s book details her life experiences in a sincere, yet amusing tone as she talks about her performances on Broadway and being the voice actor for Didi Pickles in the popular “Rugrats” series cartoon.
She also tackles the biases on gender and age and has managed to spin a story where no matter your age, you’re able to connect with what she has to say. From her childhood to her first marriage at the age of 65, Chartoff shines a new light on what it means to be a woman. She covers her teenage years when she questioned topics like sex and how her image of being the perfect Jewish girl was affected while living in West Haven, Conneticut as she tried to build a career, to becoming a theater arts and television directing major at Adelphi.
Reflecting on her time at Adelphi, Chartoff told The Delphian, “I loved Adelphi’s proximity to New York City via the Long Island Railroad, so I could begin getting work in New York, starting my career while in college,” she said. “I was able to do walk-ons in soap operas, audition for summer stock, get a grown-up perspective on what it would be like to be a working actor.”
As the arts critic for The Delphian, she said, she used her press pass “to see ballet and theater of high caliber.”
In an email, Chartoff offered advice for today’s Adelphi students. "The #MeToo movement and BLM have eased females' passage in both school and life, which may make it tougher for males than they are prepared to confront. The challenge for us all may be advancing our careers via virtual platforms in lieu of in-person interviews if the pandemic persists."
She also gave advice to empower all women, while also building up their own personal spirits. "It's important that young women melt any glass ceilings inside themselves before they enter any classroom or workplace. Any inner surrender to patriarchal influences should be jettisoned as they prepare to step foot as equals into a new world."
Redefining the word “appropriate” because it is what “makes men comfortable” is just one of the ideas that Chartoff hopes to teach women. She told The Delphian, “It is not our job to make them [men] comfortable. It is our job to pursue our own agenda in a confident, audacious way.”
With a coaching business, Charismatzing.com, Chartoff is now able to help people realize their potential in new ways. On her website she has coaching sessions and classes where she assists people in realizing their true potentials.
Her book “Odd Woman Out” (Books Fluent, $12.99), released in February, is available at all major retailers.