News Column

Pittsburgh native Margot B.'s star grows even brighter

October 30, 2013


Oct. 30--Pittsburgh's Margot Bingham does not see her acting on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" as a challenge to her musical career.

"But I never want to have to pick one or the other," she said.

Bingham, who plays Daughter Maitland on the show dealing with Atlantic City's crooked side in the '20s, was in her hometown of Pittsburgh on Oct. 29 to promote the show in two events.

She was at a meet-and-greet for the media at -- where else? -- the Speakeasy at the Omni William Penn, Downtown. And she performed in the evening at a screening of an episode at the Senator John Heinz History Center in the Strip District.

Bingham, 25, said her work on the show has grown steadily -- and, surprisingly -- since her first appearance in two episodes.

"I just kept getting calls after that," she said, adding she will be in several episodes this season.

Bingham said the role as the "very troubled" chanteuse on the show actually is serving to help her musical career, which is built around funk and soul, far removed from the music of the '20s.

But, she added, her TV fans are coming to see her musical shows, which have been influenced by the style and work of singers of "Boardwalk Empire's" era.

"When I heard about the possibility of getting the part in the show, I just lived with the music of Ethel Waters and Bessie Smith," she said.

It only makes sense, she added, that some of their style would show up in her shows, which she manages to do about twice a month. The band from the TV show, which films in Brooklyn, performs Mondays and Tuesdays in the New York City area, and she sometimes sits in with that group.

Bingham, known as Margot B., is the daughter of ex-Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Craig Bingham, and is a graduate of Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts school.

Bingham appeared in an off-Broadway revival of "Rent" and has shared billings with Jason Mraz, the Black Eyed Peas, Kelly Clarkson, Nelly Furtado and Lupe Fiasco. She has done commercials for Geico, Nikon and Reebok.

Bingham has two albums under her name, but has decided to concentrate on releasing singles at this point.

"Nobody wants to sit down and listen to an album." she said.

The multitalented star said she was glad to return to Pittsburgh for the promotional tour of Season 4 of "Boardwalk Empire," because "home is home." The stars of the city always need to remember to "bring it back home," she said.

Among those many stars from Pittsburgh -- from Gertrude Stein to George Benson -- Bingham said her favorite probably is soul singer Phyllis Hyman (1949-95).

"If ever there is a Phyllis Hyman story done, you can be sure I will try to get the part," she said.


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