A Working Mom’s Story

Shiri Appleby sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “At Home With The Creative Coalition,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Appleby talks about how she related to her character on “Life Unexpected,” her much-talked-about scene with Adam Driver in “Girls,” being a female director, and more. Highlights below.

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Highlights from “At Home With The Creative Coalition” featuring Shiri Appleby —

On how she related to her character on “Life Unexpected:” 
“There’s always a reason you connect to each role, and that role I got when I was turning 29, and the character’s journey was that this young daughter that she gave up for adoption when she was 16 was showing up on her doorstep. And it’s, like, forcing her to grow up and be mature, and she’s always been this radio talk show host and everything works out for her, but it was a moment of, like, realizing ‘you’re an adult, you need to grow up.’ And that’s how I was feeling at the time. I was feeling like, I’m 30 years old, if there’s things in my life that I don’t like, these are my responsibility, it’s my time to fix it, I can’t blame people. I was really going through that myself, so that’s how I connected to the character.”

On her much-talked-about scene in “Girls” with Adam Driver
“I think people were more questioning, like, ‘Is this rape? Or is this just an unfortunate sexual experience that happens sometimes.’ And so it definitely kicked open a big door of asking, like, ‘What is consensual? What is rape? Is this rape?’ The rape thing, it never crossed my mind…. I’d never done any nudity. I’ve never done it since. That was the one time. And, I knew that if I was just going to do it, I had to be incredibly comfortable with myself, that I had to make it really good and not be inhibited. So, I definitely went there. I thought that the conversation was amazing. Great. The more conversation about something you’re doing, the better.”

On her first time acting and directing simultaneously: 
“We had a new producer that season, and so the studio was like, ‘Look, the network and the studio have both signed off on it, but, like, she’s not sure if you can act and direct at the same time.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, so is she going to sit down with me, how would you like to move forward?’ So she sat down with me, and I brought a list with me of 50 actors that have acted and directed at the same time… My very first episode of TV was the second season of ‘UnREAL.’ I was just like, I wanted the opportunity. I was just like, the show is working, I’m giving it everything I have, publicizing like crazy, it was like, ‘Please, give me an opportunity to prove that I can do this, to you and to myself.’ I know the show well, I’ve come up, I’ve worked with everybody in this whole crew to make the show, I know how the sausage is made. And they wrote me a really heavy episode myself acting-wise. Like, the character broke down, but by the end of the seven days, I was just, like, so invested as a director. I was so invested as an actress. I’m so proud of the way that episode turned out. And so, after that, they gave me four more and I did the season finale of the show.”

On her directing process: 
“When I started directing on ‘UnREAL,’ I had been working with my acting coach, Warner Loughlin, and I prepped every single episode of ‘UnREAL’ with her because as an actress you come to set and you need to be prepared because you are moving so fast, especially if you want to do something really interesting with the character. So now, as the director, when I first get the script, I still get together with my acting coach and we go through the whole thing, we map out what are the arcs, what’s happening in each scene, where can we build funny, where can we build whatever we need to build, and then, through that, I start to build my shot list, and that’s how I can also make decisions on ‘What do I need for sets? What do I need for props?’ Because I’ve really gone through the episode already and sort of mock-arced everything out. And so I like to have a completed shot list for the whole episode before I start shooting. I send it to the executive producers, the producers, the AD, the first AD, the editor. Everybody has it. And then, if anything changes during the day — if an actor is not comfortable, or the producer doesn’t feel like that’s what they were imagining — it’s no problem. I can sort of adjust on the fly and come up with a new shot list for the scene. But at least we’re prepared. Because the thing is, you have 12 hours. And like, nobody wants the director to go over, the director doesn’t want to go over… every minute after 12 is very expensive, so I am über, über prepared so I can definitely get it done in 12 hours. I usually make my days, thankfully, and then I really invest in the editing process. For comedy, you get two days, an hour drama you get four days, so I really spend those days working with the editor so that I turn in a cut to the producers that is in very good shape.”

On the biggest challenge of being an actor-director
“I’ve had a few challenging moments where I face, like, being the actress coming and starting to direct, and bumping up on people’s resistance to that. That has been, I think, one of the bigger challenges. In terms of, like, ‘How am I going to make my days,’ or anything like this, you always figure out a way to get a shot in time. But I think just the challenge of proving to people, kind of consistently, that I know what I’m doing. Don’t either pre-judge or make things more challenging for me because you’re seeing that they’re going well, or just the constant, like, having to prove that I’m more than what you think an actress is. Whatever that means.”


More about “At Home With The Creative Coalition”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “At Home With The Creative Coalition” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.

Upcoming guests include Mädchen Amick (“Riverdale”), Justin Bartha (“The Hangover,” “National Treasure”), Kerry Ehrin (“The Morning Show”), Evan Handler (“And Just Like That…,” “Californication”), Michael Imperioli (“The Many Saints of Newark,” “The Sopranos”), New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions”), Aasif Mandvi (“Evil”), Rachel Mason (“Circus of Books”), International Bestselling Author Patrick McGinnis (“The 10% Entrepreneur,” “Fear of Missing Out”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”), Steve Schirripa (“Blue Bloods,” “The Sopranos”), Reid Scott (“Echo”), Alena Smith (“Dickinson”), and Matt Walsh (“Veep”).

Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Alan Cumming (“Briarpatch”), Ethan Cutkosky (“Shameless”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”), Michael Fishman (“Roseanne,” “The Conners”), Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”), Willie Garson (“Just Like That”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word”), Nicholas Gonzalez (“The Good Doctor”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Tony Hale (“Veep,” “Arrested Development”), Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Middle”), Jon Huertas (“This Is Us,” “Castle”), Jason Isaacs (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA,” “The West Wing”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Let’s Get Physical”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), Marta Milans (“Shazam!”), Rob Morrow (“Billions”), Kathy Najimy (“Duncanville”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl”), Anthony Rapp (“Rent”), Mona Scott-Young (“Love & Hip Hop”), Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), Krista Vernoff (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), Constance Zimmer (“Good Trouble”), and David Zucker (“Airplane!,” “Scary Movie”). 

More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating, mobilizing, and activating its members on issues of public importance. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.