Leslie Winston went from starring in summer theater productions and school plays while growing up in Mason City to being a cast member of “The Waltons.”
Today Winston still works in the TV industry but in a more behind-the-scenes capacity.
She primarily does “looping” — which consists mostly of voice-over work that “sweetens” the sound of a scene in post-production. This can include anything from singing to clapping.
She did looping for the TV shows “Ally McBeal” and “Boston Legal.”
Winston, the daughter of Mason City residents Hal and Carol Winston, got involved in a summer theater program when she was between fifth and sixth grades. She also was in plays in junior high and high school.
During a phone interview with the Globe Gazette, she said David Giese, the drama director at Mason City High School, was a great mentor to her.
“I can’t say enough good things about him,” Winston said.
After graduating from MCHS in 1974, Winston went to the University of Iowa and majored in drama. After two years she transferred to UCLA.
She left college with just one quarter to go because she landed a role in a movie.
After she finished filming the movie, she was on a short-lived, late-night TV series that was a remake of “Peyton Place.” She was still on that show when she was cast as Cindy, Ben’s wife, on “The Waltons.”
She first appeared on “The Waltons” in March 1979 and remained on the show until it ended in 1981.
Winston said being on “The Waltons” was “an absolutely sensational experience for me.”
Not only was it a hit TV show but she loved the producers and the rest of the cast.
Winston remembers she and the other young actors on the show would goof around a lot on the set.
She said the family dinner scenes “were nightmares for the directors” because they had to deal with 12 actors in a single scene.
Winston still remains close to the actors who played the Walton children. They attend each other’s weddings and children’s baptisms and Bar Mitvahs.
After “The Waltons” ended, Winston appeared in some movies and was a guest actor on several TV series.
Then she fell and shattered her elbow, which put her out of work for a year.
She had trouble finding roles after being away from the business. Then, she and her husband, Bob Yannetti, an assistant director for various TV series, had their children. They have two daughters, Allie, 14, and Joey, 11.
Her daughters are one reason she got into looping work.
Looping doesn’t involve auditions, which can take hours out of a day and more often than not don’t result in getting a role, she said.
It also allows her to be in the TV business and do things like being a leader for her daughters’ Brownie troop.
“I have been very, very fortunate,” Winston said.