gemified | July 5th, 2011 - 12:00 am

The New Kid on the Block

By Gemma Jacob

Most people have experienced the trepidation of the first day at a new school. The multitude of classrooms in buildings that all look the same with names that don’t make any sense. Waves of new faces who all seem to know exactly where they should be. And there you are, stood in a hallway, clutching your bag, taking in a deep breath and hoping for the best. These feelings are only heightened when you are the only new person. The cliques have already been formed and you are looked on suspiciously by all of them. All of a sudden you’re only two feet tall and that deep breath feels more like you’re hyperventilating.

I can’t ever imagine Anyone But Me’s Carey ever feeling like this on her first day at school, and neither can I imagine the actress behind the character, Marissa Skell, feeling this way her first day on the Season 3 set of ABM. Not simply because Carey, and indeed Marissa, seem far too confident to ever feel that amount of anxiety, but because the set of ABM may be one of the happiest places on earth and its cast and crew equally lovely.

I was never going to be the easiest person for Marissa to win over. I was more than unhappy at the end of S2 and the events of S3 did nothing to lighten my mood, least of all Aster’s geographical and emotional distance from Vivian. Whoever’s arms Vivian or Aster sought solace in would always be a potential hate figure for any Vivster fan. However, having put my biases aside, as the season went on I found myself appreciating (liking may be too strong a word) the positive influence Carey was having on Aster. Unable to deny Marissa certainly had the acting talent necessary after speaking to her I can understand why she was chosen to be a part of my favourite cast.

ABMFans: I did a little bit of research on your past work and I actually remember the episode of Criminal Minds that you were in. Very awesome that you were on that show. For those that don’t know, what else might people have seen you in?

Marissa: Aww, so cool that you remembered that episode. Criminal Minds was a great experience that I owe to Scott David, the show’s casting director. He remembered seeing me at a showcase and brought me into audition without having to jump through hoops or anything. I also really lucked out with getting to work with Daniel J. Travanti (who’s a total TV veteran from Hill Street Blues and much much more). Just a month or so after Criminal Minds, actually, I shot two episodes of General Hospital that are still up on my Vimeo. And my episode of “The Mentalist” is also up there. Ironically, before ABM, I’ve been mostly cast in cop dramas and horror flicks. I have a kill-able face, I guess? So I saw the opportunity to audition for Anyone But Me on a casting site and jumped at it.

ABMFans: Did you know of Anyone But Me before you had been cast, or did you just start to watch when you were going up for the audition, or when you got the part?

Marissa: I watched one episode before I auditioned to get an idea of what it was, and then really wanted to be on the show after I’d seen it. It’s done so well and you can’t help but fall in love with the characters. So, if anything, the challenge was not to think about how much I wanted book the part in the audition! That’s the worst thing you can do because then you stop being yourself and start trying to just make other people like you. So, I kind of had to wipe it from my memory and go into the audition like my normal, goofy self.

ABMFans: What was it about ABM that made you want to audition? Was it just to get away from being killed?

Marissa: The fact that I survive was a big plus, but no, definitely not the only reason. It was more so that I had the chance to play an intelligent, charming, confident and passionate person. And so many of the roles for young, pretty girls in LA are written to be so, y’know…stereotypically dull.

ABMFans: What was the casting process like? Did you just go to an audition?

Marissa: I guess there had been a lot of girls who auditioned and I know I wasn’t really what they were looking for (they didn’t want a blonde since Nicole’s all blondie too, now). But I felt like I really clicked with the whole Carey/Aster relationship. Nicole told me later that the thing that really worked for her in my audition was that I was the only one who made her nervous. And I was like, “What? In a ‘Get away from me, creeper!’ way?”  And she laughed and was like, “No! Like in the butterflies in your stomach way.” So I thought that was pretty cool.

ABMFans: ABM is two seasons in, what was it like being the new kid?

Marissa: It was really awesome, actually. Everyone was really welcoming and made me feel like a part of the team from Day One. I even had one of those days where literally every tiny thing went wrong. I’d lost my wallet a couple days before we did the shoot and I was waiting for my new cards to come in the mail, so I was going without any cash for the weekend and I figured it would be all right since I started with a half a tank of gas in the car and groceries in my apartment. So, what else would I need, right? Anyway, it gets to our last day of shooting and I accidentally drive to the wrong location and my car’s blinking at me since it’s close to empty and I can’t find my cell phone since it accidentally ended up in my roommate’s car and she took it to work that day, you get the idea. So I show up to set an hour late and I’m sobbing to Zelda Hallman (one of the producers) that I’m so sorry and she’s looking at me like, “Relax, woman! You’re fine. We aren’t even starting yet.”  And not only were they super cool about me being late, but Susan Miller even gave me gas money to get home! I was like, “I love you? Adopt me? Please?”

ABMFans: I think Susan, and Tina too, treat the cast like a family so it doesn’t surprise me that Susan would give you gas money. They look after the cast and make sure you guys stay happy, and that normally involved being fed.

Marissa: So true! Nicole and I killed a whole can of chocolate covered raisins and trail mix!

ABMFans: Two other cast members are out on the West Coast at the moment, Jessy Hodges (Sophie) and Johnny Yoder (Breck), have you met any of the rest of the cast?

Marissa: I went to Starbucks for a hot second with Jessy Hodges? That was it so far. I was hoping to run into them at Zelda’s screening party, but I think they were back on the East Coast or busy.

ABMFans: Word of warning, if you ever make it to the East Coast and you’re on set with Rachael, DO NOT eat all of the string cheese. She will kill you where you stand. Other than that she’s really nice! But yes, even if it’s not for work on the show if you get a chance to hang out with any ABM peeps then I strongly urge you to do so. I have heard that Jessy Hodges is completely awesome, and I know for a fact that their Production Assistant, Meredith King is damn cool. In fact, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the cast so you are in fine company.

Marissa: Agreed. And thank you for the insider scoop on string cheese. I can’t even count the number of mortalities that could have been avoided if someone hadn’t eaten the last Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

ABMFans: I’m a bit of a fan of coconut m&ms myself, but that’s mostly because I’m going through a coconut phase. However, I shall pass on the Reese’s knowledge; it’s always good to ensure there’s no bloodshed on set.

Marissa: Seriously. I spend enough time getting killed on screen. It’s nice when I can avoid getting killed off screen, too!

ABMFans: We have had the ABM S3 finale, in which (as far as Carey is concerned) things are still on with Aster; however she looked very much back together with Vivian by the time the credits rolled. However, as much as I love Vivster, I hope we haven’t seen the last of Carey.

Marissa: Thank you. Coming from a staunch Vivster supporter, I appreciate that! Yeah, I’m really sad to have the last episode up. But just being a part of the series at all has been so awesome.

ABMFans: Would you like for Carey to have a scene in NY/Westchester? How do you think that would turn out with Vivian there?

Marissa: I don’t know, I kind of day dreamed once about what would happen if Carey made an Origami bird out of a plane ticket and mailed it to Aster, or something, just to get her back in LA. But I don’t think showing up and causing a bunch of drama for Aster and Vivian is really her style. I think we’ve barely scratched the surface of Carey’s back story, though, so who knows where she could be cropping up? Although, I will add, from a selfish point of view, that I grew up in Long Island, NY so I would LOVE a trip to NY to see my mom and all my friends, lol!

ABMFans: I am a big fan of Origami birds; it’s the one thing I know how to make. And now that you have suggested that I am a big fan of you, this is a big thing considering I am not Carey’s biggest fan. Nothing personal against your character, just you know…Team Vivster. I appreciate that you wouldn’t want Carey showing up in Westchester and causing them undue drama.

Marissa: LOL! Thank you! I have to admit I was nervous when episode two aired that every single person would hate me since I’m technically the “homewrecker.”  But I knew Tina and Susan wanted to bring in some controversy, so I think we got it by the handful.

ABMFans: Having said that though it seems Tina and Susan love drama, so you never know. There is certainly a lot to find out about Carey, so hopefully we’ll get the chance. Plus, a trip to NY should never be passed up. This isn’t your first webseries, you were in a show called Sofia and Sam, how do you find the webseries format? Do you prefer it to film and TV or theatre?

Marissa: I have to say there isn’t much of a difference to me…the process is technically the same; I guess it’s just that the number of shoot dates are much, much fewer. We shot all my scenes with Aster over one weekend, and Sofia and Sam shot all six episodes in two days. Since you’re on a tighter budget and the episodes are so quick, you kinda just power straight through all of them. So, I like it just the same as TV and film, I just wish it lasted longer!

ABMFans: What was the appeal of the West Coast, all that sunshine? Or was it for work too?

Marissa: The whole LA over NYC decision was a pretty crazy last minute thing for me. In fact, I lost a $500 deposit on an apartment up around 148th St because I was all set to go to NYC when I graduated from college and then changed my mind at the last minute. The plan had always been to go into theatre growing up, but the more I was looking at plays in NYC it seemed like the only people getting paid a living wage to do theatre were TV and film stars. So, I went with my gut instinct and made the move to LA with the long-term goal of being able to produce my own theatre one day, and I have to say, it’s been an adventure ever since.

ABMFans: So you’re a theatre actor. I am a big fan of musical theatre, but I am getting more into “straight” theatre because a friend of mine here is doing the whole audition thing and so I’m taking to her a lot of productions just so she has more experience of theatre. Can you sing? Because you know a lot of the ABM cast are multi-talented like that.

Marissa: I grew up on Long Island where’s there’s a huge regional theatre scene, so I actually got my first credit in musical theatre playing Cynthia Benson in the play “BIG” at my local theatre. I used to be into both singing and acting about 50/50 and then when I chose to go to a school that was an acting conservatory (instead of a musical theatre programme) I kind of lost touch with the singing half. But I still get caught by other drivers all the time when I’m singing at the top of my lungs in the car.

ABMFans: Is producing theatre still the dream?

Marissa: Totally. Every time I walk out of a really good play, or nowadays, a really good movie, too, I’m thinking, “I wanna produce something like that.” And now that I’ve been paying attention to IMDb and the credits in everything I keep noticing that the star actors in a movie or play are often one of the producers, too.  So it seems to be a really common way of getting good material made.

ABMFans: What has the reaction of the fans been? Have you got a million FB requests and Twitter follows now?

Marissa: Well, I was really relieved not to get any hate mail, lol! I mean, I read through the comments sometimes just to see what people are saying about the episodes and most of the time people are commenting on how much they love the show. So, it feels really good to be a part of a project that has such a positive impact on people.  I secretly love the arguing back and forth, too, seeing who all wants Vivian and Aster to get back together and who thinks the plotlines are getting better now that it’s more complicated. I’ve always loved debate, so I kind of dig being a controversial figure in the whole thing. And yes!  I wouldn’t say it’s millions, but I love my new, adequately-sized Facebook and Twitter buddies. So far the ABM fans who go to my sites and comment are really sweet and don’t leave rude messages on my public walls or anything. So, major props to the ABM fans for keeping it classy!

ABMFans: I will say this about ABM fans, we are passionate (sometimes very), but we are not hateful. I’m probably one of the biggest Vivster fans, and yes I have asked Jessy Hodges whether she got any, “Homewrecker!” messages after the S2 finale, and yet I am sitting here conducting a perfectly civil interview with you. So don’t worry. From what I’ve seen the reaction to you has been very positive so far. I think they like you. However, should Vivian and Aster get back together and Carey gets in the way of their happiness I can’t be held responsible for what they do. Consider yourself warned, like I said – they’re a passionate bunch.

Marissa: Thank you for the advance warning. I say we should all hope for a happy ending for everyone involved…maybe Carey will end up with Sarah Croce, lol!

ABMFans: Which shows or actors are you a big fan of?

Marissa: DANIEL DAY-LEWIS!!! Yeah…it’s kind of an obsession.

ABMFans: You have very good taste in actor obsessions, the fact that your chosen obsession is a Brit – a very talented one at that, makes you awesome. Apart from the horror films, because you appear to be in a lot of things where your life is in peril, what’s would be your ideal role?

Marissa: I’d definitely love to be a full time TV actress on some incredible show like United States of Tara, House, Modern Family, Dexter, Weeds, etc… the list just goes on and on.  It’s gotten to the point where I think many TV shows have better material than film these days.  So I would LOVE to wake up every day and go to work on a really well written show regardless of its genre.  Plus, you’d also get hiatus breaks to go shoot your own projects or work on a play.

ABMFans: I understand what you mean about TV being better than film these days. Ask me to name a film that I have raved about weeks after I’ve seen it and I would struggle to find one, but ask me to name a TV show and I can do that easily. I love Weeds, but I am ridiculously behind. Anything Mary Louise Parker I pretty much love. Actually, anything from anyone who had anything to do with The West Wing I love. Also Six Feet Under. There is some truly outstanding TV. So what’s up next for you with your acting?

Marissa: I’ve been shooting a couple horror flicks called “Low Places” and “Sorority Party Massacre” over the last year, so I’m hoping they get all edited, prettied up, and distributed by 2013 (films can sometimes take foreeeeever). Beyond that, people can still watch my old TV footage on my Vimeo. And anyone who “Like”s my Facebook fan page (I still think it’s so weird that they changed it to “Like”.. anyone else feel that way?) you’ll get updates when I book new shows or have updated air dates and new photos and footage, etc…

ABMFans: And lastly, anything you’d like to say to the ABM fans who have fallen in love with Carey, or who are maybe sitting on the fence a bit for how they feel about the new girl?

Marissa: “It’s hard out here for a pimp.” Lol…but seriously, I’ve been so honoured to just be a part of Season 3 that, love me or hate me, I really couldn’t ask for anything more.

ABMFans: Lol I shall pass on your message to the fans.

Marissa: And thank you for putting together a fun interview with me. You Vivster people are all right, after all.

ABMFans: And I thank you very very much for your time. And us Vivster folk are more than a little alright, we are truly awesome, well…now we know how Season 3 ends we are!

4 Responses to “”

  1. Susan Miller says:

    Love that Marissa!

    • gemified says:

      She is kinda awesome. Bring her back in S4, but try not to cause too much drama to Vivster – they’re happy, keep them that way, please and thank you :).

  2. willow says:

    I may be a vister fan, but I dont hate carey. I think being with carey has, to a certain extent changed aster to relook at herself and be more serious with what she wants with her life. I do like marissa tho. hee.

    • gemified says:

      I don’t hate Carey either, I think she is what Aster needed whilst she was away. Now she’s back…Vivster all the way! I think Aster did a lot of growing up whilst she was away, and that’s a good thing for all of them.

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