A friendship that seemed meant to be has been through serious ups and downs, but these ladies have a great sense of humor.
Two women, best friends, both actresses, and now bringing the arts to Knoxville in the form of a rabid raccoon. But for Jayne Morgan and Staci Swedeen, it all started with cigarettes.
"I was hired to be a Virginia Slims girl, handing out samples at Kennedy Airport and it was this two week Christmas gig and they were paying us really well," says Morgan.
"I met this gorgeous redhead and we had this immediate bonding experience over sharing bad boyfriend stories," says Staci Swedeen.
Their samples were stolen, but their friendship was long lasting. They ended up moving together to Los Angeles, but that didn't last long.
"I said, 'I hate LA and I'm going to move back to Knoxville because I hate LA.' And she kind of went, 'Oh good, cause I'm engaged'," says Morgan.
They each did projects on their own. "One of my favorite roles was Grandma Kurnitz in Lost in Yonkers at Clarence Brown Theatre because she is a battleaxe," says Morgan.
"I've gotten to do a few fun things with film that I've really enjoyed, one was a movie called A Good Baby," says Morgan.
"As The World Turns and some commercial work," says Morgan. "I started writing."
Staci wrote Off Broadway shows. Things were going well for her in New York when... "It was a beautiful day in May and I went to Bed Bath and Beyond to buy a new lawn chair. I came back home got out of my car and something attacked me from underneath the car," says Swedeen.
She was attacked by a rabid raccoon. "Time did this odd thing of slowing down and speeding up and kind of stretching like taffy," says Swedeen. "Part of my mind is horrified and another part of my mind is like this is hysterical."
The month-long recovery spent in the hospital was traumatic for Staci, but it brought her and Jayne even closer.
"I wasn't able to wash my hair because I was tethered to the bed with all this medical equipment," says Swedeen.
Jayne washed her hair. "Someone who will do that for you in a hospital room, you're just going to follow them to Knoxville, Tennessee," says Swedeen.
And this is where she now lives. Together, Jayne and Staci have started the Flying Anvil Theatre. Their first show is about the raccoon incident.
"I love plays that make you laugh and cry," says Swedeen.
And Jayne is behind the scenes. "I'm directing it, but she doesn't really need much direction so I am basically just sitting there and grinning and enjoying it," says Morgan.
Jayne Morgan and Staci Swedeen, a special friendship now growing stronger here in East Tennessee.
"Any time you get to spend with your dearest friend in the world, you know life's short, that makes it rich," says Swedeen.
One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.