The star of the Black-ish spin-off series Mixed-ish, talks about her life experiences, her career path and gives us some interesting advice on why to work hard for your professional goals. She also shares with us her background as a comedy writer and performer in the world’s premiere comedy club, The Second City, and as a finalist on TBS & Refinery29 RIOT Comedy Writers Lab.

First off, we would love to know about your path through acting and comedy. What got you to where you are today?

Patience, grit and a very old, used Mitsubishi my parents gave me. Seriously. A starring role on network television was always a goal but it took way more time than I expected. I’m so grateful my circle encouraged me to stay on the path. I truly have wanted to give up at times.

We’ve heard you are a proud Second City alum. Could you share with us what got you there, what kind of work did you do there and why you decided to leave after so many years?  

After college, I started in the black box theatre scene in Chicago. I got a lot of my training through classes and workshops in the Chicago acting community. Eventually, I found my way to a one-night workshop The Second City was hosting, teaching actors how to improvise characters. They liked me and I liked improv so I kept taking classes and eventually ended up touring nationally and becoming a resident stage member.

Many people from The Second City go on to SNL then Los Angeles, but SNL wasn’t calling me. What do you do?

I left The Second City and Chicago because I didn’t know what else I could do in sketch and improv beyond 8 live comedy shows a week 52 weeks a year. I came to LA on a gut feeling that I could still do comedy without a stop in NYC first. It worked out eventually!

Congratulations on being a finalist on TBS & Refinery29 RIOT Comedy Writers Lab! How was it to be part of this great inaugural comedy lab?

The RIOT Comedy Writers Lab was an awesome experience. I still have great relationships and connections from the Lab. I had imposter syndrome before that program but my training in writing sketch comedy really had prepared me for the intense process and meeting with like-minded writers really was such a boost emotionally.

In an interview for Refinery29, you mentioned that for your own comedy, you trade in nostalgia. We find very interesting what you said: “nostalgia is great way to have a fantasy life but really root it in reality.” Can you tell us a bit more about this?

In my work, I use nostalgia as a time machine. It’s the opportunity for me to relive a certain era or event with the freedom to play another role or make a new choice in a world we all remember. That’s what fun about performing on Mixed-ish. We know it ends, because Black-ish exists, but Mixed-ish is the completely made up, funny journey that gets us there.

We admire all the work you have done throughout your career. We know you have several passions, one of them is writing comedy, another one is acting. In other interviews you’ve mentioned that right before you were cast for Mixed-ish, you were about to give up acting. What happened? How did you manage to get to the audition and what changed after the audition?

I had been on dozens and dozens of auditions and nothing was sticking. I was often very close but after 8 years in LA, I decided I was wrong about coming here, so I let my family and team know I was leaving. My reps got me the audition and they convinced me to try one more time. My boyfriend at the time (now husband) helped prep. I went in 2 days later found out I booked it and started 90 minutes later. My whole life changed in no time. I really have tocredit my circle for believing when I did not.

Some people are skeptical of pursuing dreams later on in life or give up after trying for a period of time. You have proven them wrong! What are your thoughts about this?

Get rid of YOUR timeline. Your destiny has been waiting for you before you were your mother’s womb. All you have to do is walk it out and let it unfold. Do not stress over the timeline!

We read an interesting analogy you made between the fundamentals of a basketball player and the fundamentals of a performer. Taking into account all of the preparation and years of experience you previously shared with us, what would you say are the 3 main fundamentals for a performer?

1) Always be studying, practicing, and preparing. You don’t know when your opportunity will come!

 2) Get really goodat playing YOUR position. So many times, I used to worry about other elements that just weren’t my concern. Free yourself to just perform.

3) Trust the process. I appreciate the time I had to wait for my breakthrough. It gives me so much more gratitude for the wins.

Team Credits:

Hair: Kalin Spooner

Makeup: Grace Phillips

Wardrobe: Wayman + Micah

Photographer: Diana Ragland

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