It's hard to believe her when actress Jane Lynch confesses she's "a little nervous" that audiences will laugh at her, not with her, as they read her memoir, Happy Accidents (Hyperion Voice, Sept.). After all, Lynch's fictional alter ego, Sue Sylvester, the deliciously wicked cheerleading coach on the hit television musical series, Glee, is famous for hurling outrageous insults at anyone who crosses her. "I'm being very honest in this book, so there is the possibility of ridicule," Lynch admits, describing how, during the creative process, she often felt such trepidation while dredging up certain memories, that she had to stop and pace about to reassure herself before she could write about them. "I worried so much about whether to say this, or to say that," she recalls, not going into specifics. She does disclose, though, that she delves into her alcohol addiction, her decision 19 years ago to stay sober, and how she learned to embrace her sexuality as a lesbian. "You know, you'll read it, you'll think, no big deal," she says.
Encouraged by her wife of one year, Dr. Lara Embry, Lynch decided to write down the stories she's been telling Embry since they met in 2009. Happy Accidents focuses on her professional career, because she says, at age 50, she has "finally reached a happy place" in her life. She's got the beautiful family, a life in sunny California, and now, after decades of supporting roles and guest spots, a career that's finally taken off. "
"It's a typical hero's story," Lynch jokes, beginning with a childhood spent in a quiet Chicago suburb. Even though Lynch always wanted to be a dramatic actress, she also lacked self-confidence and thought she was doomed to mediocrity even if she did realize her dream of appearing onstage. In what she calls "a fluke," when Lynch started doing improv comedy with Chicago's Second City troupe in 1987, she realized that her strengths lay in ensemble comedy. "It took me a long time to get that, but I finally [did]," she says. After moving to Los Angeles in 1993, her career unfolded in a similar fashion. On several occasions, just when she was about to give up, something would happen to propel her forward. "I kept waiting for someone to step in and show me how to do it," she says. "In a series of what seemed to me to be accidents, I'd end up where I was supposed to be."
If there's one thing Lynch wants readers to take from Happy Accidents, it's the hard-won knowledge that she wishes she could share with her 18-year-old self. "Live in the moment, deal with what's in front of you, and do your best. Do what you're best at; that's what's important."
Lynch will appear at the Insight Stage at 10 a.m. and will sign books at 10:30 a.m.