Margaret Champagne [Interview]

Today we have a pretty damn great interview for you fine folks. To start with, Margaret Champagne is a damn fine actress in so many different ways it’s almost impossible to list them all out here in any sort of order. She’s absolutely brilliant. But, as it seems to always be, she touches us here at Trainwreck’d Society on two different fronts that specifically made me want to share some words from her.

If there are two genres of film and television that we tend to put the most emphasis on, it would have to be comedy and horror (FYI….we’re coming up on our Month of Horror!) And guess what? Margaret Champagne is a champion in BOTH! Some of you may recognize her from her regular appearances on the modern classic sketch comedy series Inside Amy Schumer. Another section of our fan base may be more inclined to recognize Margaret from her work with Troma Pictures, another staple that comes up more than frequently here at TWS.

So how damn cool is that? I’m not sure we’ve ever had just such a fitting person featured on the site! So how about we just get into it! Ladies and gentlemen, the brilliant Margaret Champagne!

When did you realize you wanted to join the world of acting? And what triggered the jump to move to NYC and work in the world of off-Broadway acting and what would eventually become your brilliant career to date?

It goes back pretty far into my childhood. I remember always trying to cut everyone up. I loved performing and singing and dancing in my house for my parents and brothers.  The moment that solidified my life as an actor was when I was in the sixth grade. I auditioned to play Santa Claus and I got cast, beating out all of the guys. I remember standing on stage creating the most insane “HO HO HO” sound I could push out of my belly. It was silly and LOUD and very exaggerated.  It made people laugh and that was joyous. It was my little play time where I got to be loved.

 I have been chasing that high ever since! Growing up in the small town of Sanford, North Carolina, I was lucky to have access to the local repertory company, The Temple Theater. There were some funny moments looking back. I auditioned for the role of Wendy in Peter Pan. The production called for actors to fly on cable wires with local stage hands lifting them. Sadly, I didn’t get the part. Later, hanging around in the wings I overheard the director saying he loved me but my weight would break the fly line. BAM!!! I was shocked because I honestly thought I was just a little chubby. (My introduction to weight standards in show business). A lot of NY actors came through that theater. My favorite was Miss Cleo King (a character actress you have def seen), she was in the summer show “Ain’t Misbehavin” by the amazing Fats Waller. I was just helping with costumes and was in charge of Miss Cleos changes. She was a strong woman, funny and confident. I wanted to be her! She would run off stage and I would help switch her into her new wardrobe, ripping velcro and pins and slapping on top hat and gloves. She was so nice to me. At the end of the run she gave me 30 dollars to thank me and invited me to hang with her and the cast at the hotel pool. She wore an all-white fishnet bodysuit and I was inspired by her badassery!  New York seemed like the place to go to be an actor but wanted to go for personal reasons. As quaint as my small town was, it was also backwards and bigoted, so  I had to get the fuck out of there. When I was 13 my dad came out of the closet and that opened up my mind exponentially. I started thinking for myself and less of what was expected. My fathers first partner got sick during the AIDS Crisis. He died months after the three of us watched “Angels in America” on Broadway. That was a very provocative play at the time and I was so lucky to have seen it with people I loved. I am grateful for that day of theater helping my family feel human when so much of our experience was ridiculed! Eventually,  I got a scholarship to PACE  UNIVERSITY and never left. I met Lisa Hickman, my best friend and creative partner for “Lipstick Garage”
Then right out of college I was  involved in avant garde experimental for a long time. I worked all over the city. Then something changed in me and I wanted a real story. “Shock and Awe” weren’t working anymore. I wanted relatable stories that I could understand. As I matured and began taking my art more seriously I moved on to a professional company, THE COLLECTIVE, where I reside as an ensemble member today. Some of the best work I have done there which is to say the most honest. This is where the clown took off her makeup and I haven’t looked back. Come to the shows!
When did The Brothel come about? And what can you tell some of our possibly uninformed readers about the group? What have you enjoyed the most about being a part of The Brothel?

The Brothel was a great run! Partners Shelly Shenoy, Marissa Miller Wolfson and I formed after meeting one another around the way! I met Shelly in a theater company called Love Creek. She is a big VO actress now. Marisa went on to make the documentary “Vegucated”. We ran a weekly show in the East Village for years demanding new material every week for ourselves. We were wild and uninhibited! Great time there!

You have had several appearances on the truly unique and original sketch comedy show Inside Amy Schumer since its inception. What is it like to work on a program like this? Is it as much fun to work on as it is for the viewer to watch?

This was such an exciting show to work on!

I really respect Amy and her work. She has always been ahead of her time. I met Amy doing stand-up and eventually we worked together in the company The Collective where she is a founding member. She and producer Kevin Kane (also a founding member) booked a lot of the company on the show. I loved the roles. “80’s Ladies” was a dream! The amazing Jessie Klein wrote that and we had a lot of fun. I mean come on, Rachael Feinstein, Nikki Glaser and Amy…what a powerhouse of women!!! Working on that show has been a highlight of my career. Amy Schumer is an amazing comedian and actress and I appreciate her dedication and care to many causes. Dan Powell was the amazing show runner of Inside Amy Schumer and he called me in to work on the Series  “Thanksgiving” where I got to work with my idol, Amy Sederis. That was super-exciting!

You have also worked in the incredibly fascinating world of Troma Pictures, which has made several appearances in interviews here at TWS, as we are HUGE fans of that world. So, how has your experience been entering the house that Lloyd built, especially in the Bikini Car Wash franchise. What do you enjoy about working in the Troma world? 
Troma is by far my most favorite place to work and here’s why, THEY DONT GIVE A FUCK. There’s no pressure to win an Oscar or change the world. They make the stuff they love and you can suck it if you don’t like it. Sure, no one is getting paid lots of dough but it is the most UNPRETENTIOUS time. I was introduced through Blood Bath Pictures with Thomas Seymore and John Gorman. Those guys are the finest to work with. They are smart, creative and they got a lot done on $10. Every film we shot for a week in Connecticut, there was donated beer (Hooker Beer) and a hot tub. Two things I would go to work for! I loved working with Lloyd and Debbie Rochan, the ultimate scream queen!

This is from “Merminators from OuterSpace” 2016 Troma:

Given the incredible variance in the work that you have put out, from sketch comedy  to horror to dramatic theatre and film, what would you say is your favorite genre to work in?
I love them all. My favorite recent role was in the picture Diane (to be released in September) where I got to play the hard-nosed Detective Phillips. I really enjoyed it because it was so different from the comedy work I do. I would love to be on a series as a detective. I sometimes dream if I wasn’t an actress I would have been one! I am also very busy doing stand-up which can be extremely rewarding when it’s working! It is also so honest, breaking the “fourth” wall is so refreshing and challenging for an actor! I run two shows a month called Coyote Champagne in Williamsburg and on the LES..
When you’re not hitting the stage or screen, what would we find you doing with say, a free Saturday or Sunday afternoon? What do you do for a bit of “me time”?

Well, I just had a baby, a sweet little girl! So Saturday’s I like to put her in the stroller and head out to the park with my man. Then I try to find a quiet outdoor Cafe where I can sit and have a pint! A reminder of the old days! Ha!

What does the future hold for you? What should our readers be looking forward to from you in the near future?
I am busy writing two screenplays. One is a horror movie that takes place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and the other is a coming of age story about a young girl from the South. (wonder who?) I am producing the 5th annual 10 minute play festival for the Collective and hope to record my comedy album this September. I have a lot of new material being a mom now!
What was the last thing that made you smile?
Watching my partner Neil sing “Figero Figero Figero” to our daughter Bridie…

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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