They say if you want to know somebody better, ask them a lot of questions. But not just any old questions.

Even though it began at the end of the 19th century, when French writer Marcel Proust answered his first set of questions, this form of interview is still going strong. Proust was questioned by his friend Antoinette Faure, who took the idea from the English. The idea has been used by numerous interviewers since, including French TV host Bernard Pivot, who inspired James Lipton, host of Bravo TV’s “Inside the Actors Studio.” A similar questionnaire is regularly seen on the back page of Vanity Fair magazine and is answered by various celebrities.

We asked Lori Merrill-Fink to complete our version of the Proust questionnaire. Lori received an MFA in Acting/Directing and a BFA in Musical Theater from the University of Arizona. She is Director of the University Honors Program and an Associate Professor of Theater at SIU Carbondale. Lori has been honored with numerous awards for her outstanding teaching. As a professional singer/actress, director and choreographer, Lori has more than 100 productions to her credit. Among her most prized accomplishments was being one of 20 actors chosen by the Kennedy Center to study acting with the late Uta Hagen.

When and where are you happiest? Anywhere there is a beach. Sandy, rocky, grassy — makes no difference. I love being near water. It is very calming.

Who are your favorite historical figures? St. Hildegard of Bingen and her work in spirituality, healing and the arts. Anais Nin for her writings. William Wallace.

Who are your favorite fictional characters? Jean Valjean, Fantine, Jack the Builder. I am sucker for historical fiction.

What one thing do you dislike the most? Intolerance and hate. That is two, but unfortunately they all too often go together.

What is your most marked personal characteristic? People know they can count on me.

What is your principle fault? I can be a bit of a control freak at times. Just ask my family.

What quality do you most admire in a man? The ability to be present.

What quality do you most admire in a woman? The ability to feel good in her own skin.

What characteristic do you most value in your friends? Honesty.

Who are your heroes? Meryl Streep, Pina Bausch, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Anne Morrow Lindberg, Ayn Rand, Edith Piaf, SARK.

What natural gift would you most like to possess? To sing soul and R&B.

What is your present state of mind? Feels like a browser with 3,000 tabs open all at once.

If you could come back as a person or thing, what would it be? A bird. I’ve always wanted to be able to fly.

What is your biggest self-indulgence? I take a vacation day the first Monday of every month just for me.

What is your personal motto? Don’t believe everything you think.

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