Carson City native Erin O'Shaughnessy will appear in "ER" and "Judging Amy" over the next two weeks. Her father is a doctor at Carson Tahoe Hospital and her mother is a nurse with Carson Ambulatory Surgical Center, so O'Shaughnessy doesn't come from a family of entertainers.
"I'm sure it's hard for doctors who think their kid is going to be an actor," she said over the phone from Los Angeles last week. "When I told them I was going to be on 'ER,' my dad was excited maybe I'd play a med student or young doctor. I think he was a bit disappointed when I told him I'd be playing a psychiatric patient."
Still, the 1996 Carson high grad seems destined for celebrity. After all, she was born in the middle of the 1978 Oscars.
"We were watching it on television, and she came three weeks early," said her mom, Vickie. "I saw the beginning, and I saw the end."
Now 26, O'Shaughnessy will appear on two episodes of NBC's long-running hit drama "ER": 10 p.m. April 22 and on April 29. She will also be featured in an episode of "Judging Amy" set to air at 10 p.m. April 27 on CBS.
The actress is modest about the roles.
"In the acting world, they're not really a huge deal, they're not big parts," she said. "I haven't told some of my actor friends."
In "ER," she acts a in group-counseling session for depressed patients. Actress Maura Tierney plays Abby, a young med student who is working at the psychiatric ward. Tierney was casual at first, but once the cameras started rolling, she was transformed, O'Shaughnessy said.
"It was very easy to be good because she was so realistic that I just responded naturally."
The directors hired a stand-in for O'Shaughnessy to take her place while lights were set up and the sound perfected.
"They found somebody a little older than me. They put stand-ins in there in case a light falls or something."
She was anxious at first on the set.
"I have to say I was really nervous - 'ER' is my favorite show. I was just praying to God that I didn't mess up. For everybody else, this is their day job, and I'm just popping in for a couple days."
On "Judging Amy," she has a longer role and a few lines. She plays a waitress serving drinks to a series regular and a guest star, who is going through a sex change on the episode.
"I comment on her earrings, then she/he has a little fun with the series regular, and then I exit."
O'Shaughnessy didn't always plan to be an actress. While growing up in Carson, she was a serious swimmer. The summer after her junior year, she went to the Vassar College Powerhouse Theater program.
"That's when I knew what I was going to do."
At the beginning of her senior year, she quit swimming to focus on acting. She married actor Elias Gallegos in January.
"We met in the first class on my first day at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena, and then I couldn't shake him," she joked.
She took his last name, but still uses O'Shaughnessy for acting.
"That's the first thing they want to talk about when I walk in to a casting office, they say, 'O'Shaughnessy, what a great name. Are you Irish? You have to open a bar.' So I have to keep O'Shaughnessy."
She and her sisters - Kelly, 28, a teacher; and Katie, 22, who works for the Entertainment Channel - will watch the shows together. Meanwhile, her dad, William, mom and 92-year-old grandmother, Fern Bearce, will watch in her hometown.
Contact Karl Horeis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.