NEW YORK — On “Emily Owens, M.D.,” Mamie Gummer plays a med school graduate just starting out as an intern.
No longer will Emily be the nerdy schoolgirl plagued by nervous perspiration, exclusion from the cool crowd and awkwardness with boys! She has reached a long-awaited turning point: adulthood. At least, that's what she tells herself.
Except her new life as a doctor feels uncomfortably like her former life. Denver Memorial Hospital feels eerily like high school, with its cliques and gossip and a fellow intern who, gorgeous and popular, was Emily's nemesis back in high school.
“She's really smart,” says Gummer, “which rescues her when her heart and lack of confidence get her into jams. She's very easy to embrace. I really love her!”
With a little luck, the audience will love her, too, and make a hit out of “Emily Owens” (premiering 9 p.m. Tuesday on the CW network). And in the process, turn Mamie Gummer into a star.
Maybe then she'll be recognized for her own sizable talents rather than, primarily, as the actress-daughter of Meryl Streep.
The family resemblance is easy to see. But Gummer comes across as more ethereal, more vulnerable than her celebrated mom. The second of four children of Streep and sculptor Don Gummer, Mamie Gummer may not yet be a household name. But at 29, she has accumulated solid acting credits. She has done off-Broadway and Broadway roles. In the 2007 film drama “Evening,” she played the younger version of Streep's character. She appeared in the HBO miniseries “John Adams,” and has guest-starred on CBS' “The Good Wife.”
In 2011, she was a regular on “Off the Map,” a short-lived ABC drama where she played a doctor at a medical clinic in a South American jungle.
What led Mamie Gummer to step into a field where her mother plays such a commanding role?
“It didn't really occur to me that I shouldn't,” she replies. “I don't know if I was delusional.”
She studied theater at Northwestern University, “where I had the support of my friends and fellow actors as we were all coming up together. It wasn't until I graduated and entered the field professionally that I went, 'Oh, s---! I should have considered that!' But by then it was too late, and I'm a stubborn person.
“Besides, acting is really fun and deeply gratifying,” she said.