Super Spotlight: Actress Allie Olsonby V. Solis0
Generic Girl spotlight on leading lady Alexandra Olson
Co-creator Victor Solis recently chatted up the series’ female lead–the ‘Generic Girl’ herself Alexandra Olson–about her personal intersection of music and film, how her character of Gillian somehow finds Pete (aka Captain Freelance) “endearing and sweet,” and what it’s like playing the ‘straight man’ in comedy.
VS: Once you were cast in the lead role, how did you prepare to be the “generic girl”?
AO: Whenever I’m in a comedy, I do an exercise where I figure out which of the ‘eight archetypal characters’ I am (as Scott Sedita writes in his book on those characters). Am I the dumb one? The materialistic one? The neurotic? Gillian is most definitely The Smart/Logical one in the show, the ‘straight man’, or girl, rather.
I went through each line to figure out why I say it from the perspective of someone who is trying to keep things together and ‘survive’ when everyone around her is going completely bananas. Rather than try and create the humor in scenes myself, the way I contribute is by providing a contrast to the craziness and having honest reactions to the other characters because they’re the ‘funny’ ones.
VS: There was some talk that particular actors in the show might be quite similar to the characters they portray. How similar are you to Gillian?
AO: We are both wholesome, well-adjusted, and often neurotic about needing things done a certain way. But Gillian is more ‘linear’ in her view of life. She is a philosophy major, studies all day, and plans to be a lawyer. Gillian has convinced herself that things like art and romance are secondary to working towards a ‘very respectable’ career. But deep down, I think she is dying for adventure.
VS: Does Gillian want to be a hero?
AO: She wants to break free of the rigid ‘pre-law’ life, but is afraid she won’t like herself anymore. My career path is much different than hers: I’m an actress. I’ve already gone through what Gillian is feeling about needing to follow the traditional path and be something like a doctor or a lawyer. Some personalities don’t fit that mold. Mine doesn’t! I don’t think Gillian’s does either, she just doesn’t know it yet.
VS: Two roommates… a guy and a gal… so what’s the real story between Gillian and Pete?
AO: Gillian is definitely attracted to Pete. It’s one of those attractions that makes no sense on paper because the people are so different– which is one of the reasons why she hasn’t acted on it yet. But despite the fact that Pete is messy, forgetful, and in a world all his own, Gillian can’t help but find him incredibly endearing and sweet. In the scenes where she’s talking to Pete, she also has a certain tolerance, like an understanding quality towards him.
VS: You’re a full-fledged musician and songwriter in your own right. How does your musical background inform your approach to acting?
AO: Being a musician has definitely helped my acting. In music, I learned how to write a structurally good song. You have to think about pacing, make sure you’re not giving too much away here or there. You have to build certain moments and create a contrast with smaller ones.
There is also the concept of a ‘mixing board’. You bring up the volume of certain instruments at different places and lower them at others. The same concepts apply to building a character and telling a story. I go through the script and find out which lines and actions highlight the pacing of the story, and which personality traits of the character should be most present in which scenes.
VS: What about listening to music?
AO: There’s a huge connection between music and film. I made a mix CD that I’d listen to while driving down during production. I’d try get in contact with the emotions I needed for Gillian that day on-set.
VS: Speaking of that connection, do you apply a certain rhythm or cadence to your movement and dialogue?
AO: For some characters I’ve played, I’ve definitely had a certain rhythm and physical demeanor, an accent or a sophisticated walk. For Gillian, though, I was able to use my own mannerisms as a base and added subtleties. Gillian is more physically ‘contained’. For example, it takes a lot for her to be exuberant or make big physical movements or speak loudly. But part of her charm is that she’s an extraordinary person hiding behind the cover of being ‘normal’ and ‘typical’– dare I say, ‘generic’. So I tried to have her physical demeanor reflect that internal quality.
VS: Now, the hardball question… How is life as a redhead?
AO: Well, I’m not sure… I get called a redhead half the time and a blonde the other half. So I’ve come up with my own name for my hair color: Caramel!
Tune in the week of Oct. 10 for episode 103, Allie Olson’s official bio, and more.
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