By MATT CRANE
For Starkville Daily News
Mississippi State University hosted the 2012 Delta Gamma Dorothy Garrett Martin Lectureship in Values and Ethics Monday which featured two-time Emmy award-winning actress Patricia Heaton as its honored guest.
The event, which was free and open to the public, highlighted Heaton’s career as a Hollywood actress and a devoted mother and wife.
Heaton is widely recognized as her character, Debra Barone, from the television sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond.” The show produced 210 episodes over nine seasons. Heaton’s current series, “The Middle,” features the actress as the mother of a dysfunctional family living in Indiana. The show is currently in its third season.
Heaton, a Delta Gamma herself, graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in theatre.
She regaled the crowd Monday with stories from her career and her personal life. Billed as a “refreshing voice from Hollywood,” Heaton highlighted her talk with the three foundations of the Delta Gamma sorority: finding a deeper love and consideration for mankind; understanding the purpose of life; and the basic wisdom upon which to build.
Commenting throughout the night on her Irish Catholic upbringing, Heaton acknowledged the profound influence her parents and faith had on her not only as a struggling actress, but also as a woman trying to find her place in the world.
The evening was filled with stories involving her husband, British actor David Hunt, her four teenage sons and even an honest assessment of the plastic surgery procedures she has gone through.
A few of the actress’s stories shed light on the struggles she has faced within the Hollywood community for being a woman of faith with conservative values and beliefs. Heaton said during the filming of one particular show, “Women of the House” starring Delta Burke, she made it clear if the series’ storylines were to feature a discussion on the topic of abortion, she would like to have her pro-life stance be featured and the conversation balanced or she would not continue with the program.
Heaton delved into the world of marriage and children extensively throughout the evening, speaking candidly on the struggles of being a mother and wife while maintaining a career as a working television actress.
The lecture ended with an opportunity for the audience to ask questions directly to the actress. Many thanked her for being a positive, Christian influence within the Hollywood community.
One particular question from a graduating theatre major at MSU garnered sound, specific advice from Heaton on how to work one’s way up the ladder and become successful not only in the business, but also at the craft of acting.
While signing autographs for fans as she exited the building, Heaton said she had a very positive experience while in Starkville.
“Anytime you come to the South — and this is my second time in Mississippi — it’s just fantastic,” she said. “I’ve gotten a lot done since I’ve been here. It’s just quiet and relaxed, and I’ve had some great food here too.”
Before her trip to Starkville, Heaton asked her followers on Twitter, whom she affectionately calls “Tweatons,” to give her advice on what to do while in the city. The actress continued to tweet after she arrived, allowing her almost 76,000 followers to enjoy the adventure she said she was on.