The always funny Aubrey Plaza started out in show business not much different than her character, April Ludgate- as an intern. Getting her start with the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, Plaza appeared in many comedy bits online. The NYU grad is known for bringing her dry, sarcastic humor to the characters she creates.
It hasn’t been an easy road for Plaza, while at NYU she suffered a stroke that left her temporarily paralyzed. This experience is what shaped her outlook on life. She is one of the rising actresses who are changing the way female characters are being played.
When did you know acting was the path you wanted to take?
This is always hard for me to answer – I wanted to act for as long as I can remember…I always knew I wanted to perform but I think it wasn’t until I started Saturday Night Live that I decided I wanted to really go for it. I was so inspired by all of performers in those casts. That show and so many movies — Christopher Guest, John Waters, Adam Sandler, Sandra Bullock, Bette Midler – all of these people and so many more made me want to be an actor and comedian from a pretty early age. I’m going to say middle school is when I really knew.
Is it hard being a funny women in Hollywood?
It’s hard being a funny woman anywhere! I try to make jokes all the time and people just stare at me confused. Especially in airports. No one has a sense of a humor in airports anymore.
Your character on Parks and Rec started as an intern, did you pull from your own intern experiences for her?
I totally did. There was a time after I graduated college, when I was living in New York City, that I interned all over the place. I also had several disastrous temp jobs that kept me alive. Mostly I was a receptionist answering the phone for companies I didn’t even know the name of, but I always tried to make the most of it. Remember every weird character or interaction along the way and use it for comedy. As far as April Ludgate goes — I just really liked the idea that she started the internship only for college credit and had zero emotional attachments to it or anyone that worked there. I thought that could be a funny start for a character — I remember doodling at my desk for hours a lot at my many terrible internships and April did this every day.
You had a serious medical scare after college, a stroke that left you partially paralyzed. How did you work through that hurdle?
There was not much for me to do after the stroke. I went home to Delaware to “recover” for the summer. But this just meant sitting around and having my parents watch me like hawks. The thing about strokes is that usually after you’ve had one – the damage is done and there is nothing you can do to the brain to heal it faster. I just had to be healthy and rest my body and overcome the emotional and psychological effects of it all. I was just so grateful that I wasn’t more paralyzed or hurt afterwards. I was very lucky and I always try to remember that…
How do you stay true to being your offbeat self?
Hmm, I don’t know. I guess I just try to stay connected to my family and friends and the people that know me best. I try not to get wrapped up in Hollywood silliness and do things that make me happy and feel like myself. It’s hard sometimes. But I try to stay connected to my 12 year old goofy self and not care what people think.
To read Aubrey’s full story get your copy of Inspirer”s fall issue here!