Marsha Lynn Mickens grins when she calls herself "a black Norma Rae," but the tag fits. As president of Local 326 of southern Michigan's Bakery, Confectionary and Tobacco Workers' Union for the last 2½ years, Mickens has held the line on companies' demands for worker wage concessions and has won modest raises for the local's 1,100 members. At 32, Mickens is the union's youngest as well as its first female and first black president.
"I get paid to fight for a living and I like it," says Mickens, who grew up in Highland Park, Mich. She was a good student but quit school at 16 after she became pregnant. Unwed Marsha, reluctant to burden her parents, took a $3-an-hour job packing potato chips after her son was born. Radicalized by factory conditions ("It was potato chip hell," she says), she became active in the union. At 22, pregnant again after a brief marriage, she became shop steward. Six years later she beat out the incumbent to land the $33,000-a-year post as president.
Past local presidents have been granted unpaid leaves by their employers, but Mickens and her employer parted company permanently after her election. Her three-year term comes to an end in December, at which time she plans to run for re-election. Until then, she will do her best to live up to the motto pinned to the wall of her cluttered office: "No concessions, no retreat, no surrender."
At one point during his madcap, malaprop-filled performance as a Hindu scientist in Short Circuit, Fisher Stevens worries that he may have lost his job. "I'll have to smack the sidewalk," he frets. "Smacking the sidewalk" is not something Stevens has to worry about, considering the inspired lunacy of his performance in Short Circuit and the knack for comedy he showed in small roles in movies like The Flamingo Kid and The Brother From Another Planet.
Actually, Stevens' origins are not Hollywood but Broadway, where he did more than 500 performances as the adopted son in Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song Trilogy. Working in the theater, the 22-year-old Stevens says, has "saved me from being a shallow-brained actor." Fisher was born in Chicago, where his father, a businessman, still lives. He was 13 when his parents split, and moved with his mother, a visual artist, to New York. Stevens began acting lessons and at 16 made his film debut in The Burning. He dropped out of New York University in his freshman year to take over for Matthew Broderick in Torch Song and, subsequently, in Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs. He never returned to school.
Although Stevens maintains an apartment in Manhattan, he must spend more time in L.A. To that end he has learned to drive. A cautious Stevens reports, "I go 20." Fortunately, his career is going like 60.
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