While Game of Thrones leads the Primetime Emmy Awards this year with 23 nominations, a number of shows have shined through this year including F.X.’s critically beloved drama series The Americans. Costars Keri Russell and Welsh actor Matthew Rhys portray two Soviet KGB officers living as a married American couple during the Cold War. Both actors have been nominated for their leading roles in the drama series which is currently in its fourth season. And in fact, Russell and Rhys have been involved an off-screen relationship since 2013, and just months ago welcomed the birth of their son, Sam.

With so much for this dynamic duo to celebrate, Keri’s often cited inspirational quote came to mind:

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can pretty much change your life forever.”

Wondering what small decisions she was referring to when she made this statement lead to the discovery that Keri herself actually did not the author the quote. Rather her famous title character Felicity Porter from the popular television series Felicity spoke those words of wisdom on the show’s pilot in 1998. The coming-of-age story follows a University of New York freshman student pursuing her heart rather than the long-established educational plans that her parents set for her. The role accelerated Russell’s career, and earned her a Golden Globe award to boot.

It would seem that Russell’s career path was changed forever with the seemingly small decision to take up dancing as a child. After all, it was her ability to dance that largely lead to her big break at the age of 15 when she was cast on the Disney Channel’s All-New Mickey Mouse Club. Unlike most of her fellow cast members, she did not have strong vocal abilities. After all, her castmates included young and promising talents such as Tony Lucca, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake.

After leaving the show, Keri made her first film appearance as a babysitter named Mandy in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid. And shortly after that, Russell made a number of mostly forgettable guest appearances on TV shows like Married…With Children. But she took whatever opportunities that presented themselves. Whether it was rooming with her then-boyfriend Tony Lucca in Los Angeles and together playing lead roles in the low-rated television teen drama Malibu Shores, or appearing in a Bon Jovi music video, then that’s what she did. And keeping herself in the game eventually lead to her being cast as Felicity.

Subsequently, Russell has starred in The Magic of Ordinary Days, Mission: Impossible III, and of course, for the past three years, The Americans.

After hearing about their recent Emmy nomination, Keri and Rhys celebrated at their summer home in Woodstock, New York. Rhys joked, “We went to the fridge and there were two Pacificos, and then we made a cheese quesadilla because we’re classy.” The couple likes to keep their private lives well intact, and so felt some concern about the attention the nomination would bring them. But that’s a good problem to have, isn’t it?

But what if Russell had never learned to dance? What if she had given up after a disappointing response to some of her projects like Malibu Shores? When it comes to acting, there are a whole lot of small decisions one makes along the way–and hopefully those small decisions will change your life for the better as well.

 

 

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