Julie Dolan [Interview]


Hello Folks! We are kicking the week off with an amazing interview with the multi-faceted performer, Julie Dolan! For die hard Star Wars fans, you are going to absolutely love this one! Or if you are just a fan of genuinely talented human beings, you should definitely enjoy this one.

I initially reached out to Julie for a pretty specific purpose. Which would be the fact that she appeared in one of my favorite comedic films that is turning 20 years this year! That film would be BASEketball, in which Dolan portrayed the Beer Barrel Mascot. And as it usually happens, I learned a lot more about her incredible career, especially her work in the beloved Star Wars franchise.

And we are so damn excited that the great Julie Dolan has been kind enough to grace our digital pages! So please enjoy some wonderful words from this amazing performer! Check it out!

When did you first realize that you wanted to join the world of performance? What was it that initially drew you into this world?

I first realized I wanted to join the world of performance when I was 3 years old. I remember watching TV and I saw Shirley Temple and I pointed to the TV, looked at my mom and said “Mama that’s what I want to do.”  So at 3 years old I was in ballet, tap, jazz and acrobatic classes. When I was 9, the dance school offered an acting class and I jumped right in. Got my first agent and started going on auditions.


This year marks the 20th anniversary of the hilarious film BASEketball, in which you appeared in as the heroes team mascot! I am curious to know what it was like to work on such a zany and hilarious project such as this? Was it as fun to work on as it was for us to watch?

Wow has it been 20 years?  I had been doing a lot of costume character work at Universal Studios, in TV shows, Feature Films  (I was in Beverly Hills Cop III dancing with Eddie Murphy as “Prescott Pig”, Thank-you-Mom-and-dad-for-the-dance-lessons haha) There was an audition looking for somebody that had experience in a costume work to be the Beer Barrel Mascot for BASEketball.  I think they hired some guy and he felt a little claustrophobic in a Beer Barrel so I got the call last minute and ended up working on the whole film. It was a joy to go to work each morning. Trey Parker is a brilliantly funny and clever guy. He kept the cast and crew entertained 24/7 . He and Matt Stone are a great team and Dian Bachar (who played Squeek) and I are still good friends to this day. I had a blast working on that film and being directed by David Zucker was the icing on the cake!

Recently you have done some wonderful Voice Over work, especially within a few animated series for portraying the infamous Princess turned General Leia. What was it like to take on such a pivotal character in the Star Wars franchise? Were you a die hard fan of the series prior to taking on these gigs?

I, of course, saw the first Star Wars movie (A New Hope) back in 1977 when it first premiered, BUT.. I was not a die-hard fan. Not like I am now. In 2010, I got a call from my Voice Over agent who asked me “Can you sound like Carrie Fisher from A New Hope?” My answer was “Ummm I have NO clue”. I was asked to record the Obi Wan Kenobi⠝ speech. Had no idea what this was for. Disney/Lucasfilms sent me the original recording so I could try and voice match her. I  worked on it . . to match her pitch, her gait, her emotion, her rhythm. and then I sent in my recording. I was called into Disney Imagineering with 2 other girls (after they had auditioned about 400 girls and even brought Carrie Fisher in to see if she could reprise her voice but it just wasn’t the right fit.) I ended up booking the job and it is the role of the Princess Leia hologram that you see and hear in the ride “Star Tours: The Adventures Continue” at Disneyland.

A couple of years later, I got a call from Dave Filoni to come in and meet with him and do a small project in-house for Lucasfilms. Then I found out he wanted to use me for Star Wars Rebels so I felt I had a lot of work to do digging deep down to find out who Princess Leia was and what her goals were and what she was all about so I watched all six of the movies over and over (there were only 6 at that time). I read everything I could find about Princess Leia because when you’re playing a character you have to know who she is, what she wants, who her parents are, what her passions are etc. After watching all of the movies, I actually started getting into all the stories and the characters and I think I am officially now a Star Wars nerd. I’m also an honorary member of the 501st which I’m very proud of. It was such an amazing opportunity to be able to reprise the role of Princess Leia for so many different Disney/Lucasfilm projects and I will be forever grateful because it’s opened up a whole new world for me. I have a whole new fan family and when I go on the road to conventions, I get to meet them and they’re absolutely fabulous.


Scrolling through your IMDb credits, I noticed that you were tapped on multiple occasions to portray different variations of a “Lady of the Night” if you will, on various programs hosted by Conan O’Brien. This seems like an interesting and hilarious gig. I am curious to know how that all went down for you? How has your experience been working within the world of Team Coco?

Yes, ha ha for some reason I’ve made my living playing hookers and madams. (and now Princesses hah) I actually started on The Tonight Show when Conan was the host. Then when they moved to Late Night with Conan O’Brien, they brought me along with them. For years I was their Go-to-Gal every time they needed someone to play a hooker/prostitute. It was a blast and a joy every time I got the call. They’d call me the night before (because they are writing and re-writing skits every day and have no idea what’s coming up.) Some skits make it on, some don’t. It’s very last minute. They are even re-writing jokes as the audience is filing into the studio. You get the immediate feedback from a live audience and the crew and Conan are so open to having fun and playing.


What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

No I’m done. Ha Ha, just kidding! I just finished working on a movie called Chompy and the Girls. It’s a surrealist horror comedy with a great storyline about relationships. It should be released later this year. I start working on a movie called Tiger Within with Ed Asner in a couple of weeks directed by Rafal Zielinski & written by Gina Wendkos who wrote Coyote Ugly & The Princess Diaries among others.

I also play keyboards in a couple of working Tribute/Cover bands.

Tribute to Bryan Adams – Summer of 69: (www.summerof69tribute.com)

Tribute to INXS – INXSIVE (www.inxstributeband.com)

All Female Classic Rock Band – The Under Cover Girls (www.ucgband.com)

We play shows all over the United States and out of the country when we can.



What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile was this question!!  But before that… It was my 11 year old, 110 pound Pitbull named Bosco running through the house shaking his new toy knocking knick-knacks off shelves.

Sunday Matinee: Revenge [Film]

“Travelling under a false identity, Rebekka sets out on a mission to confront Morten Holand whom she shares a dark secret surrounding the death of her sister. As her plan falls apart, Rebekka is forced to face the devastating consequences of her actions and must decide how far she is willing to go to seek revenge.” – October Coast PR

Folks, I have to preface this by saying that if you are even remotely thinking about watching this film….strap in! Revenge is a brilliant thriller set against a beautiful Norwegian backdrop with some absolutely amazing performances. I usually get a bit nervous when starting a film that really sets up the premise and story very early. I know from film watching experience that it takes a certain kind of talented filmmaker and/or writer to keep the momentum going until the inevitable conclusion. Even if you don’t know what exactly will happen, you know a confrontation is imminent. And I have to say that Kjersti Steinsbø absolutely nailed it, and has created one of the finest films of recent years!

While it would behoove me to mention the incredible performances by folks like Frode Winther (who is so good at being hated!), Helene Bergsholm, Trond Espen Seim, and others…the performances that really stood out to be is not only from the film’s lead, the brilliant Siren Jørgensen who is so close to perfect it’s frightening, but also the amazing Anders Baasmo Christiansen. Now to be fair, Anders was handed a wonderfully written character to work with. I was honestly worried about what direction his character, Bimbo, was going to take. But, even with the perfectly written character, execution is everything. And I believe that Mr. Christiansen executed this role absolutely perfectly. And going back to Siren, just bloody brilliant! Another greatly written character, but with obvious motives, it was a character that was obviously a bit harder to execute. And again, she crushed it!

As most of you readers know, we don’t even cover films that we aren’t fans of here at Trainwreck’d Society. So technically, we would probably recommend every film we showcase here. But this one, Folks, you absolutely HAVE to see. I was so enamored by this brilliant put together film with a Norwegian backdrop that almost seemed unfair to other films that aren’t set in such a magnificent location! I’ve enjoyed Revenge so much that I have made a mental note to check out the work of not only the filmmaker, but everyone involved with this amazing project. And I am certain that you will to after only one viewing of this incredible film. Check it out Folks! I guarantee you will not be disappointed



Justin Hunt [Interview]

Photo by Ben Chrisman

Oh hot damn, do we have a wonderful interview for you fine folks today! We have some amazing words from the brilliant filmmaker Justin Hunt! In 2007 he released one of the most compelling documentary films of all time entitled American Meth that really drove home the issues of meth addiction and the terrible consequences of falling into this world.

And beyond American Meth, Justin has only continued to put out some very amazing work, both in the feature film and documentary world. Justin’s list of credits are so delightfully varied, covering several different topics from drug addiction, to pornography, and beyond.

I am so honored that Justin was able to share a few words with us here today. He has had an amazing career that actually did not start in the world of film. He has an amazing story to tell, and we are so excited to share it with you all today! So check it out!

I understand you started your career at a very young age in the world of television broadcasting. So, what led you to the world of documentary filmmaking from your previous field? Was it a seamless transition overall?

After learning just how much I disliked the corporate structure of broadcast journalism, I started my own video production company while still anchoring for an NBC affiliate in New Mexico.  After a year or so of doing those things concurrently, I left TV and focused on my company.  In 2005, I challenged myself to take on a bigger project, a feature length documentary, which eventually became American Meth.  When we screened that film for the first time in 2007, I was hoping to get 100 people or so to come out and watch the film.  Over 2,000 people showed up and that’s when I think I realized that I was capable of a lot more than I gave myself credit for.  That’s really where the fire started burning for the documentary films.  And, in all honesty, it really was a seamless transition because what are documentary films other than just longer news stories.  Plus, with the one-man banding I was doing at NBC, making a film on my own was no different.  I shot them, wrote them, produced, financed, edited, everything.  With Absent and The Speed of Orange, I even narrated them.  It was no different than being a news man, simply on a larger scale and with a lot more eyes on them.

American Meth is without a doubt an absolute modern classic in the world of documentary filmmaking. I am curious to know what it was like to dive into such a truly disturbing world? And what are your thoughts on the impact that your film has had on the country as a whole?

First of all, thank you for that compliment. I’m not a person who reflects a lot on past accomplishments or completed projects, so I’m often surprised when someone says something like that about a film I’ve done.  Calling it a modern classic is a humbling statement, so thank you.  Whether with American Meth, or any of the other films, walking into those worlds as a filmmaker leaves a lasting impression on you, things stick to you, like the smell of smoke on curtains.  Especially spending time in the home of James and Holly in AM, you go into this subconscious reporter mode, where everything is two-dimensional because you’re seeing it all through a viewfinder.  It’s only after the fact, when you’re going through footage and editing, that you see things more realistically and you realize you were just dealing with some crazy shit.  I’ll give you a perfect example:  there is a scene in American Meth where James and Holly are arguing with each other, screaming, the kids are bouncing around the room, it’s chaos.  While they’re yelling at each other, one of the little boys, who was 6 or 7 years old at the time, walks right in between them and pretends to hold gun up to his dad’s head and shoot him. I never noticed that until two or three years after the film came out.  It’s then that you realize what a unstable, ugly situation you were actually in.

As far as the impact it’s had, I’d like to think that it’s helped people.  I can attest to hundreds if not thousands of emails and letters that I’ve received over the past decade from people whose lives have been improved by learning more about that issue through the film.  It’s still extremely popular as far as distribution is concerned, still watched a lot, so I’m hopeful that it’s still serving a positive purpose.

How did Val Kilmer become involved with the project? Were you simply old friends, or did he have some sort of vested interested in the subject matter?

I’ve always loved this question because the answer tends to throw people off.  I simply called and asked and he said yes.  That’s it.  I used some old reporter skills to track down the number to his ranch in New Mexico, called and left a message and the next day they called back and said he’d do it.  In my opinion, I think that there were a few variables that piqued his interest.  I was a fellow New Mexican, I was a young filmmaker that he wanted to help and I think he appreciated that I had the balls to call and ask.  Also, not long before that, he’d done The Salton Sea, where he portrays a meth addict, so I’m sure he’d gained an appreciation for the devastating nature of the drug and wanted to help get the word out.

In 2015 you took the subject of meth addiction to the scripted world with the film Far Too Far. When comparing a narrative film with a documentary, which would you say was the more difficult format in which to express the true terror of the world of meth addiction?

First, I have to say that the process of making Far Too Far was a dream come true for me, to a degree.  Despite the success with the documentaries, my love has always been with narratives and I have been striving my entire career to get into that marketplace.  Writing, directing, or both, would be the dream job for me.  I want to be a part of that history of film.  I’m extremely proud of the story I told with Far Too Far, I simply didn’t have the finances or the seasoned talent to tell it properly.  I challenged myself to make it and I did, but I’d love to eventually see it made right.  Having said that, I would definitely say the more difficult format to express the nature of meth addiction is the documentary.  Sure, we could go into a meth house and show people shooting up and capture all that salacious bullshit, but I think that’s irresponsible filmmaking that exploits people.  I’m not into that at all.  Case in point, look at what we did with Addicted to Porn: Chasing the Cardboard Butterfly.  There’s not a single provocative image in that film because what good does that do?  It just hurts those dealing with the issue.  In the narrative arena, you have creative control over what is said and shown.  You can tell the story in a more effective manner setting up situations and conversations in a controlled environment. Also, in a doc, you can’t control everything that people say and do, nor can you show everything that you see and hear.  If so, most documentaries would be five or six hours long.  Most people don’t know this (because most people don’t know about Far Too Far), but Far Too Far is actually a purging of what was left over in my mind from the making of American Meth.  I took some of the horrible things I was exposed to while making the documentary and turned it into a narrative script.  For example, the primary story line about the mother and daughter is a true story.  What the woman does to her ear at the party…true story.  That’s why I believe the narrative landscape actually gives you more space to create the truth of a story.

In your illustrious career thus far, you have covered a lot of different situations and events. I am curious to know how you decide what you want to showcase next? How do you choose what you want to show the world?

That’s a great question and the answer isn’t a very clear one, for you or for me.  Situations in life seem to present themselves to me and then the light comes one.  American Meth was the result of a Christian men’s retreat I was on.  Absent was spawned from a couple of different books that I’d read and the fact that I was a single father raising two kids on my own.  The Speed of Orange was brought about by my mother being diagnosed with cancer.  Addicted to Porn: Chasing the Cardboard Butterfly started with a conversation with an old friend I went to high school with.  The seeds get planted and start germinating in my brain, then I start really thinking through what kind of impact they might have, and, finally, I have to consider what it would take to make them and if they’d be marketable.  I’d love to be able to say I’m independently wealthy and I’m just making these films to take on issues that others don’t have the courage to, but I do have to consider the business side of things, as well.  As far as what’s next, I’m really not sure.  ATP took me over four years to make and was extremely taxing on me financially, physically, emotionally and spiritually.   In essence, it knocked the wind out of my documentary-making sails.  But, you never know what might come along and garner my attention.  I think I’m good at making documentaries, but I also know that, to me, each one needs to be better than the last.  If an idea comes along that I feel can do that, I might make another doc.  Otherwise, I’ll just keep doing what I do to make a living and keep looking for opportunities to write and/or direct narratives.

In your work as a documentarian and storyteller, you have covered some very dark subject matter whilst profiling real people who are living in these sad and sometimes dangerous worlds. So with that, do you ever manage to keep in touch with any of the folks you profile? Have you noticed any sort of individual impact after somebody has been featured in one of your films?

There have been a handful of people who I’ve stayed in contact with, but not a ton.  It’s just like anything else, there are some people you connect with and some you don’t.  I’ve stayed fairly close with James Hetfield, Johnny Tapia’s family, some of the folks from American Meth, a few people from ATP.  I have definitely seen some positive impact from the films on those I’ve featured, but I’ve also seen it have a negative outcome for others.  People in the public forum can be quite brutal in their comments about documentaries and the interviewees therein.  That’s why I always try to be very upfront with someone I’m going to interview about the magnitude of exposure they’re going to be getting.

Photo by Ben Chrisman

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

The future looks pretty bright for us at the moment.  I basically decided to reinvent myself and my company about six months ago.  After 16 years of being Time & Tide Productions, we changed the name of the company to White Whale Pictures, Inc., got a new logo, a new office and started focusing on new kinds of work.  Although my main focus is writing/directing feature narratives, we have just signed with an agency for an episodic television show I created, I’m working on a feature script I’ve been commissioned to write (and hopefully direct), and we’re keeping things fresh by working on a myriad of different creative projects in the corporate/commercial marketplace.  Naturally, I’d love for folks to continue watching my films when and where they can and I’m sure this interview will help.  We’re really trying to grow a bigger presence on social media with the new company, so I’d like to personally invite people reading this to come follow us on Instagram at @whitewhalepictures.  Other than that, just keep an eye out for whatever we throw out there next!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My wife and four year old have been in South Africa for the past seven weeks, so my 17 year old son and I have been bachelors for the past two months.  I’d have to say the last thing that made me smile is watching all of the little indicators that he’s becoming a man, and a good one at that.  And, naturally, the young buck has to test the alpha male, so the wrestling matches, arm punches and giving each other shit has been a ton of fun.  There’s nothing like the feeling of being a dad, which is a very noble role, and realizing you’ve done a good job.

Check out the trailer for American Meth right here:

Sarah Minnich [Interview]

Today’s guest here at Trainwreck’d Society is one of the finest young talented performers of these modern times. Sarah Minnich has had an incredible first decade of performances thus far, and her future only gets more and more bright with each passing year. Since appearing in the delightfully campy horror film, Spring Break Massacre, Sarah has gone on to have a re-occuring role on the hit series Better Call Saul, and has appeared on other amazing shows such as From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, Breaking Bad, Preacher, Godless, and so many more.

As you will read below, Sarah also has some pretty amazing films and TV appearances coming soon, including a lead role in a very intriguing Lifetime film. She has so much to tell us about, so let’s just get right into it! Please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Sarah Minnich!

When did you first realize that you wanted to work in the world of acting? Was it a deep-rooted passion you have always had, or did you just find yourself in this life out of nowhere?

Interestingly enough, I both did know and didn’t know… let me explain. From an early age, I knew I wanted to be in front of the camera. My father is a photographer, and literally from the moment I was born, I was in front of the camera. For the longest time, I had it in my mind that I wanted to be a model. From the age of maybe 12 to roughly 17 I doggedly pursued modeling and was told time and time again that I was too short. Finally, at 17, I signed with an agency just outside of LA that represented both models and actors called Peak Models and Talent. Soon after, they sent me on a low budget feature film audition (or I had self submitted and got an email requesting that I audition… I don’t actually remember the details of how it happened), and somehow I booked one of the leads. After working on that film (Spring Break Massacre), I was hooked. Although 2005 was when my career technically started, it wasn’t until five years later that I actually got serious about pursuing acting.

We are huge fans of the world of horror here at TWS. And one of your earliest roles was in Michael Hoffman Jr.’s brilliant indie horror known as Spring Break Massacre. Being that the world of horror isn’t your primary focus, I am always curious to know how folks enjoy working in the world of horror occasionally? What is it about working in the world of horror that sets itself apart from other genres?

As I mentioned earlier, working on Spring Break Massacre was one of the most fun experiences in acting that I’ve ever had. I was young, gosh I was so naive, we filmed out of state in Illinois, all the cast were literally in this camp/hotel type thing (so it was actually like a big slumber party) … it was ridiculous. I think when you are young and totally not aware of what you are or aren’t supposed to be doing on set, it’s so much more fun; as we age, our experiences are clouded by ego, competition, conformity and 1,000 other terrible adult things. To answer the question though (based on my little experience working on horror), I would say that working on a horror set is like an adventure into the uncharted … it’s like playing with fire without the risk of catching aflame yourself.

You had a small role in the hit series Breaking Bad, which turned into a re-occurring role on the show’s equally amazing prequel series Better Call Saul. I am curious as to what it was like to work within the world created by the mind of someone like Vince Gilligan?

I love those people; the Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul shows respectively have been my Acting 101 and Intro to Film classes. Both Vince and Peter are like kids in a candy store when they’re in their element; it’s wonderful to work with and to watch people that love what they do. I have learned a lot watching Rhea Seehorn work, and the two or three times I’ve had the chance to work with Bob Odenkirk have really tested my professionalism. Bob’s the kind of actor that is so on top of his game, that if you don’t rise to the occasion, you die of mortification. Episode 1 for me was like being thrown into a pool having only learned to swim by reading about it … I had to swim.

Scrolling through your credits, I have noticed that you have work in the world of production on a few occasions. I am curious to know if you have had any thoughts on getting behind the camera and into the director’s chair at all? If so, what sort of projects would you like to create?

It’s interesting you ask; last week I was daydreaming about what steps I would need to take to direct something. Obviously, I would start with something small that I had written myself. My mind keeps jumping back to stories I have written about childhood experiences. There’s this one story I wrote years ago called “The Replacement Pig” about an incident that happened with a man my mother was dating after she and my father divorced… but I’m still trying to wrap my brain around how to turn this into a screenplay. I’m actually looking at taking a screenwriting class this coming semester. Maybe I’ll have something to show for these aspirations sooner than later.

If you were handed the role of any historical figure from world history, who would you want it to be?

Oh man! Great question. I’d love to play a German immigrant from the 1770’s (which is roughly when my great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents immigrated here (prolly like 5 more greats needed there). Also, I’d be interested in playing Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896). She was a major anti-slavery campaigner whose writing contributed to the American Civil War. Also, in about 20 years, when movies are being made about her, I’d be interested in playing Hilary Clinton actually; what a role that would be.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Yes! I just did my first TV lead in a feature film called Dying for a Baby directed by Lauro Chartrand, to premiere on Lifetime sometime in the next few months… no spoilers, but I play the bad guy (evil scientist laugh). Also, coming soon, I just played Nicolas Cage’s wife in a feature called Running with the Devil directed by Jason Cabell. The last one I’ll mention here (although there are like 10 things coming out, lol) is a movie called The Wave directed by Gille Klabin, where I play the livid wife of Justin Long’s character.

I don’t have release dates on these yet, but if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, I post updates when I have them:

Instagram @sarah.minnich

Twitter @sarahaminnich

-What was the last thing that made you smile?

My dog, Max … he makes me smile every 5 minutes! Photos on Insta.

Thanks for taking the time to interview me Trainwreck’d Society!

Cheers to filmmaking!

New Music Tuesday: The Midnight Vein – The Midnight Vein [Album] (by Phil The Tremolo King)

Photo by Mark Duggar Photography

Psychedelica is an often maligned genre that holds a lot of unexpected charms and hidden gems for the open-minded.  At first listen “Midnight Vein” sounds like a long forgotten psychedelic recording from 1968. A solo project by Buffalo musician John Toohill,  this release has all the enthusiasm and pure creative joy of any bedroom musician filling up 4 track cassettes with creative outpourings ( although more likely, the medium was garageband or one of those other new-fangled computer thingamajigs kids love so much these days) .

With chiming acoustic guitars, buzzy multi-layered vocals, twangy electric guitars, and especially, lots of tambourine, the first comparison that comes to mind is of course Syd Barrett. Barret is the genius madcap and original member of Pink Floyd who’s influenced countless musicians, and a good thing it is too. With simple and effective instrumentation, some creative recording tricks, and strong songwriting, this cassette is a charmer and a fun listen. Break out the lava lamp and incense!

Opener ‘When Palm Readers Lie to Fools” does not only have a great title, it also boldly declares its stubborn quirkiness in starting off a record with droning vocal harmonies and not much else.

“Thieves of Youth and Love” is a neo-psychedelic gem, all acoustic guitars and shakers and a ridiculously catchy melody that just won’t quit.

“The Likes of We” is a favorite, built around a simple strutting guitar figure.

“Bless your Souls” is a welcome ballad, based on acoustic guitar like most of the tracks and featuring more warbly vocals and hissy percussion.

“A Wave of Ghosts” ventures into indie pop territory as layered guitars jangle their way through a robust chord progression, topped off by an excellent guitar solo. The latter is not surprising from a guy who is a very active player in the Buffalo music scene.

Midnight Vein” is a decidedly lo fi affair but it works quite well in this context. Maybe “lo fi acoustic psychedelica” would be a good description for this release, but I’ll leave it up to the listener to come up with his own. One thing this release is not, is boring. It’s more like the inspired ramblings of a slightly unhinged madcap sort-of-genius. Kind of like, well, you know who.

Maria Blasucci [Interview]

We have an absolutely incredible interview to share with you fine folks today here at Trainwreck’d Society! Today we have some wonderful words from the hilarious and crazy talented woman by the name of Maria Blasucci! She was so kind to share a few words with us here today.

I first learned about Maria’s brilliance by watching one of the greatest history based TV shows of all time known as Drunk History. I quickly learned that I had been admiring her other work this whole time, and didn’t even know it! Maria also happens to be a member of the amazing recreational basketball team, The Pistol Shrimps, that was featured in a documentary of the same name on STARZ. It is available now, and so damn great. Also, our dear friend Stephanie Allyne is on the team! How cool is that! Also, every other member of the team happens to be truly hilarious people who we haven’t had the honor of interviewing on the site (yet?) but still find amazing, including Aubrey Plaza, Angel Trimbur, Molly Hawkey, and more!

Other credits of Maria’s that I found awesome was her role in Christopher Guest’s Netflix Original Movie, Mascots, which also featured our old friend Jim Piddock. As well as an appearance this year on one of my favorite TV series out now, Another Period!

She’s so wonderful, and we are so honored that she is here on the site today! So let’s get into it!

When did you first realize that you are a hilarious human being, and that you should join the world of comedy? Was it something you always dreamed of doing, or did you just find yourself in this world one day?

First of all, thank you, that’s very nice of you to say. I always enjoyed making people laugh. I’ve always felt very comfortable onstage whether it’s doing improv for theater. I’ve wanted to be an actor since as far back as I can remember which is a gross thing to say but I’m not going to lie to you so there it is. I just kind of started on this trajectory of wanting to be a performer at a very young age and never stopped. 

I absolutely love the series Drunk History, which you have been appearing in various roles for the last 5 years. The format of the show is very specific and very different. I am very curious to know how what it is like to work on such an incredibly innovative show like this? Is it as fun to work on as it is for us to watch?

Drunk History is such a blast to work on. Every day on set is a new era, a new character, a new story, a new location. It really does feel like that stereotypical version of a Hollywood set where you’re on a backlot and a camel walks by next to an astronaut. It’s just a fun show all around and the people that work on it are some of my favorite people in the world. Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner have created such a unique environment where people are allowed to just be creative. From costumes, to make up to hair to props to set design, I think everyone feels like they are doing the most awesome school project with a bunch of their best friends. As a performer you obviously have to stick to the line you are lip synching to, but it’s fun to use the narrator’s inflection and attitude to inform your character. There is something really satisfying about being forced to color inside the lines, but with the ability to pick any color and medium you want.

 What has been your favorite historical story that you have worked on during your tenure at Drunk History?

Hmmm. This is a tough one. It usually has to do with how fun the guest star is.  I have the best time when Jack McBrayer comes by to do a story. I’d have to say anything that takes place around the 1950’s is fun because of the clothes and hairstyles. But the Rasputin story with Jerry O’Connell from this season was one of my favorites because I had a pretty great monologue to play around with.

Can you tell us a bit about your podcast The Big Ones? What inspired you to create this incredible original bit of ear pleasure?

The Big Ones is a podcast I do with Amanda Lund where we invite a guest on to talk about life’s big questions! Like, would you kill your baby to save a village? Or, what would you do if you woke up as Beyonce on the morning of her Superbowl performance? The podcast is really just an excuse for Amanda and me to talk for an hour like we know everything without really saying anything. I guess we were inspired by the fact that Amanda has a podcast studio in her house so we thought… let’s use it for something! And that’s how we became two of the world’s most recognizable names in morality and ethics.

I absolutely love what you have done with recreational basketball on the world wide phenomenon of a team known as The Pistol Shrimps, which also includes our past guest and brilliant soul, Stephanie Allynne. For those who may be unaware of the Pistol Shrimps can you tell them a bit about the team? And how can new fans support the cause?

Thank you! The Pistol Shrimps is the founding team of the LA City Municipal Women’s Basketball League. A few years back I got the sudden urge to play team sports again. I’d only ever played basketball so I looked around online and found that there was an all women’s league.  put out a facebook post and got a team together but when I went to sign up, the LA City Parks department told me that the league had been defunct for years because women didn’t sign up to play. So we spread the word and now the league has 26 teams! You can learn all about it in the documentary that is now available on STARZ called The Pistol Shrimps.

New fans can support the cause by following us on Instagram and twitter! We post our seasonal schedule on our social media so if you are in the LA area you should come check out a game!

“Pistol Shrimps” at the 2016 TriBeca Film Festival

And for the question that I hate that I ever have to ask, but I feel like if we don’t keep talking about it, nothing will change: As a woman working in the world of comedy, both on screen and behind, has the climate of the industry seen any actual changes over the last couple of years? Has there been any progress of note? 

See below!

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Amanda and I are launching an all female podcast network called Earios with our good friend Priyanka Mattoo. Check it out on Kickstarter! 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My dog, Ms. Piggles. She walks around our apartment like it isn’t a big deal that she’s a tiny monster. She’s an angel.