Interview by Carol Wright Photos by Benjo Arwas
Since you were a kid did you have a feeling you would be a performer?
I did, yeah. I’d perform in front of the mirror, make homemade music videos with friends, did all the school plays--- the whole deal. I think growing up in Los Angeles also contributed to my desire to be an actress. Being surrounded by the industry throughout my childhood made it feel a bit more accessible so starting a career felt like a familiar territory and a natural transition.
You are also a writer. Did any books or scripts in particular spark your love for writing?
Mostly TV shows that I grew up on influenced me: SNL, Sex and the City, 30Rock. They all have smart writing. Building a story can be easy but to create one that is providing commentary on something that is in the zeitgeist paired with perfected timed punchlines? That’s where genius trickles in. I think great writing shines in that little sliver between honesty and great rhythm.
You graduated from UCLA, how did their theatre program help shape you as an actress? What was your favorite piece that you worked on during that time?
The program actually did the opposite of what I think it intended! UCLA is a wonderful school and has an incredible theater program but the connection between school and real life job opportunities was limited so it forced me to take matters into my own hands and seek out representation while in school. I did a series of plays there but the biggest takeaway I had was the community I was a part of. I still work with and collaborate with a lot of my college friends which, to me, is invaluable because it makes this industry feel a whole lot smaller and safer.
You had the opportunity to work at E! News. What was that experience like? Did it help you with becoming comfortable in front of the camera?
I really enjoyed my time hosting. It taught me everything I know about professionalism, how press works, but most of all, how much it was actually not right for me! I’ll still host from time to time if the project feels right. In 2015, I hosted a spoof news show called “The Desk” that felt more like Weekend Update on SNL than a real entertainment news show. A show like that brings me so much artistic joy but the rest of the hosting world is really no longer in line with my end goal. I think that’s the beauty of evolving and growing into your own skin. You realize what sticks and what doesn’t. At companies like E!, I realized that hosting was no longer serving my purpose and so I just focused on acting from that point on.
I read that you are a big ‘Saturday Night Live’ fan (same here!). Who are some of your favorite writers from the show? Do you ever pull inspiration from SNL sketches when you are working on your own projects?
I love this question!! Two of my favorite writers from SNL were Tina Fey and John Mulaney (for obvious reasons). Watching SNL changed my life. It inspired me to start doing impersonations at a young age and it honestly gave me the confidence to pursue acting and writing. It also got me my first job at CBS. I was 21 at the time and still in college, and I auditioned a whole stand-up act with a string of characters. They were looking for fresh, young minds who could write well for an animated show so they needed great voices and punch lines. I got the job and ended up writing for them for a bit then they asked if I could host… And I said yes! (lies) and stumbled my way through a year and a half there hosting multiple shows and writing for CBS interactive. It was incredible!!
How did the opportunity to work on the show “9-1-1” come about? What is it like working with the cast?
I got the audition through my reps and had the most fun working on it. I love everything Ryan Murphy does. I had the opportunity to recur on one of his other shows, NBC’s “The New Normal”, and the one thing I notice that all of his shows have in common is there is always, no matter how dramatic the show is, some kind of metaphorical wink buried in each episode. Cheekiness and drama on television to me is the best combination. And the cast of 9-1-1? Dreamboat gentlemen. My scenes were with Peter Krause and Oliver Stark who are equally kind, intelligent, respectful and insanely talented men.
means going against the grain. Not to dive too deep into our country’s political state, but in a time of such severe party division, I think coming together as a country with an open and accepting mind is so necessary. The way in which my character Emma was written also struck a chord with me when I read the script. She’s a feisty, strong willed and sarcastic journalist who rises up in a very male centric news studio. I admired her tenacity and persistence in the storyline and it felt like another necessary story to tell in this dawn of female empowerment.
Can you tell us a bit about your band, Winslow, and what we can expect from your upcoming album release?
Yes! Kate Miner (of the band Miner) and I have been collaborating and writing together for the past year and are releasing our EP this month (June). The songs are a set of stories about love and heartbreak centering in and around Los Angeles. The sound is a mix of synth heavy soundscapes, modern indie beats and has echoes of Kate’s folk roots.
Our theme for this issue is ‘Art is Life’. How has art changed your life?
With art, I can work towards fulfilling my purpose, fully express myself and tell the stories that I think need telling. It started out as just an outlet for me at a young age but now, has become a part of my daily life and a huge part of my adult identity. Art hasn’t so much changed my life as it simply just is my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What advice do you have for aspiring actors and writers?
Practice, practice, practice and when you think you’re done, practice more!
What about the film ‘One Nation Under God’ stuck out to you? Do you think it is a needed conversation to be having considering today’s political climate?
Absolutely. What drew me in initially when I read the script was the message it represented: stand up for what you believe in even if it