Interview With Actress Lindsay Musil, “UnREAL”

By Ruth on July 24, 2016 in interview, movie, television
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Thanks to Brennan Elliott (“Host Graham”), I have become an avid viewer of UnREAL. This season, I have found myself reaching far beyond his character to connect with and notice the other captivating cast members. Luckily, I not only noticed Lindsay Musil (who brilliantly plays Beth Ann), but she was able to set aside some time recently to chat with me, and indeed this woman is truly impressive. We talked about her work within the industry, with a heavy focus on UnREAL, as well as her future aspirations.

RH: I started watching UnREAL because of Brennan Elliott, but now it has gone beyond that. I mean I love his character, but I certainly love your character this season.

LM: Oh, thank you. She’s fun. She’s a little rambunctious.

And now she’s gone…

It went so quick, huh?

I know, but at least you got to be on there for awhile. So that was good.

Great experience.

So why did you decide to become an actress?

You know, lots of people have asked me that question lately, and I really don’t remember the exact moment when I decided I was gonna be an actor, but it was when I was pretty young. Probably seven or eight years old. It was just something that I said I always wanted to do. I always enjoyed being in the entertainment realm of things like doing competitive cheerleading where we would travel around the country competing. And then I did theater in high school. My family moved to California when I had just graduated from high school. I knew I was really going to do it once we moved to California.

Did you go to school to train for acting?

So I went to USC, but I did not take any theater classes there. The deal with my dad was “You will go for a normal education, and I will help you with everything outside of school training-wise.”  So I did a lot of training outside of school while I was getting my degree.

So what did you get your degree in then?

As a compromise, communication entertainment. So I basically learned marketing, advertising, production.

Well, that can certainly help you out in your career, too. Actors have to do a lot of marketing nowadays, so I think that was a good compromise for you.

Absolutely, I agree.

I was looking over your credits, and you’ve been in a lot of things I’m not familiar with. It looked like what you were on the most was The Parallax Theory.

Yes, that one was interesting. It was more of an online thing they were pushing for. A lot of companies are trying to grow in that direction with online content because it’s easier to access and cheaper for everyone all around. I think, in general, some of it is kind of going in that direction anyway. This was something that Ron Howard and others said they were going to back a couple of people to make their own theory. And the guy that made it is Sawyer Hartman, and he’s like a big YouTube sensation–not in the sense of an entertainer but more in his directing stuff. So that was a fun project. We did that one in Louisiana outside Baton Rouge.

So is it available online?

Yes, I think you can go to ParallaxTheory.com, and I think it’s accessible through there. {more info available here also}

I’m so glad I asked you about that. I may have to look that up myself. I used to be one who didn’t like sci-fi, but in the past couple years, I’ve given it a try, I guess I’d say.

It’s grown on you a little bit?

Yes, I have stepped out of my comfort zone, I guess I’d say.

That’s good, though. Nice to try new things.

That’s how it was for me with UnREAL. When I first started watching UnREAL, I didn’t think I was going to like it. And I found that once I started watching, I got really into the storyline.

I actually have a lot of friends myself like that. They’re like, “We’re watching it ’cause you’re on it, and now we love it.” It’s interesting how that can happen. People you wouldn’t expect, like a lot of my male friends. My female friends–I think a lot of them had been watching–but some of my male friends I wouldn’t have expected are now into it. So that’s pretty cool.

I think with a show like that you have so many different characters that you can find at least one you take a real interest in ’cause there’s so many different storylines going on. There’s a little something for everybody, and you never know where the plot’s gonna end up. Like last season when they threw in the suicide, I wasn’t looking for that at all.

Oh yeah, that was intense.

And then this last one that was just on was so intense.

Oh yes, episode seven. I read that one. I had read the script, and the script made me cry. It was so hard for me to imagine that they were going to put my friend B.J. {Britt} in that. I was like, “I don’t want him to be in that situation.”  So that was an intense episode for sure. I know they’re getting a lot of heat about it. But I don’t know. I think maybe it is something that does need to be discussed more.

It was intense, but I thought they did such a good job.

Yeah, I agree.

It was hard to watch. I was crying when I was watching it. And I don’t think they necessarily took sides. I think that’s something the show does really well. They don’t side with anybody. They show both sides, I think.

Absolutely! That’s huge with that show. And it’s important, right? ‘Cause there is two sides to every single story and every single thing that people see. Not everything is good and bad or black and white. There’s always that gray area that people kind of forget about in any circumstance.

Lindsay4So how did you get involved with UnREAL?

For me, I was in Atlanta at the time when the audition came through. And so being that I was out of town, I put it on tape. And sent it away and didn’t really think anything of it. And then found out later on that I had booked the role. And so I was still in Atlanta when I was flown to Vancouver. And that’s how it came to be–that I got to explore that character. It’s very rare that you book something off tape. It’s not really heard of, but for some reason in that circumstance it happened to me. I knew the casting director, but I didn’t go into the office. And that’s pretty rare for that kind of circumstance.

That is rare. I’ve interviewed a lot of actors, and that doesn’t usually happen.

Even Shiri Appleby likes to tell that story. (laughs)

So your character of Beth Ann is like this country girl from Alabama, is that right?

Yes, there was some confusion in the beginning as they talked about her being from Mississippi. But we ended up in Alabama.

I loved the fact that they were able to deal with racial tensions in the South with your character.

Absolutely.

image2When you were getting into character for Beth Ann, how did you get into character and view her character?

When I first did get the role, I was a little scared, especially reading the story line of the Confederate Flag. I know that’s obviously a difficult subject for a lot of people, including myself. I was like, “Oh—-Boy!” But the more I read the script… and I’m really open-minded to the idea that it doesn’t always have to be about evil. Just because somebody has a certain viewpoint doesn’t mean they’re bad people.  It’s a lot of ignorance or it’s lack of education or where you’re from or exposure. So for me, I never wanted her to appear like she was this mean, hateful, racist person. And I think the writers clearly didn’t want her to appear that way either. To show that there’s some complications behind these ideas. And her real opinion is that that flag, from what she understands, is Southern heritage. It doesn’t represent slavery for her. Whether or not she’s right about that is a whole other ballgame, but the general idea is that she’s not malicious. She wasn’t trying to hurt anybody. So that was cool for me ’cause I think there’s a lot of stuff going on on both sides of that story. Even throughout Ruby’s character. You could say that there was a little bit of prejudice from her side, too. And I think that’s great that the writers are good at showing both sides. For Beth Ann, a lot of it for her is exposure. If she was exposed to different things, being in different areas and learning more about different cultures, I think she would have changed over time. Like anyone.

And I think your viewpoint came across really well in the way you played her. I didn’t ever see her as malicious. Having lived in the Florida and Texas, I know there are still those that have grown up with that mindset. Not that they were necessarily prejudiced, just that they had preconceived ideas that this is how blacks are, and this is how whites are. I think the way it was handled was very well done, at least from my perspective. 

I really agree with you on that. I think they did a nice job with it. Showing that her family again was not hateful. It’s cyclical and passed on from one generation to the next. That’s how it happens. That’s how we learn everything we learn. It’s from family. It’s what we see and what we know.

image1Even with my grandparents, there was a certain way they would talk that they had been taught, and in certain circles, you wouldn’t want them to say it that way. It just takes a while to break out of that tradition.

Exactly. With my great-grandparents especially, they were the same way. It doesn’t change overnight. It changes through generations. The more we reeducate and the more we change things socially. I’ve spent a little time in the South, and I know there are some areas where it appears to be a little bit backwards–in Lousiana and in Georgia even. And Mississippi. But it’s changing. It’s just doesn’t appear to be moving as quickly as some other parts of the country.

What was your experience like filming on the set of UnREAL?

So much fun, so much fun! We got along just great. We had so much fun together. We spent time together on set and off set. We had long hours a lot of times, but we got through it together. In the beginning, it was really cold. In Vancouver, we were in our bathing suits, which was tough. I think one day it was like 25 degrees. And you can tell. We’re wearing coats, and you can see our breath at one point. So that was definitely a little bit of an adjustment. But overall, I can’t say I had any bad moments. Everybody was really inviting between the crew, behind the scenes, Shiri {Appleby}, Constance {Zimmer}. It was fun.

screenshot_2016-07-24-16-22-02-1.png

What has been the fan response to your character?

Surprisingly good. I wasn’t sure how people would be, but people ended up being like, “Oh man, you wanna hate her, but you just can’t.” For me, that was all I hoped for coming out of it–that she wasn’t an easy person to hate. And you always have to remind yourself as an actor that it’s a character, not you. You’re just portraying someone, but it can be difficult. You know, especially when it’s about sensitive subjects.

And sometimes people have a hard time separating the character from the actor.

I saw a friend recently who I hadn’t seen in awhile, and she came up behind me and said, “I’m sorry, all I see is Beth Ann now.” And I was like, “What?” ‘Cause she had been watching that and she hadn’t seen me in a long time. And I was like, “Oh, great. Thanks.” (laughs) I think the question I get a lot when I run into people or I’m doing an interview is, “You don’t have a Southern accent?” And I’m like, “No, I don’t.” But it’s usually surprising, but that’s interesting to me, too. So it came off all right, I guess. That’s a good thing.

image3I didn’t expect you to have an accent because I figured you were in LA, and you wouldn’t have an accent. But you did well putting the accent on. It came off well.

Thank you. You never know. You think you sound okay, but it’s hard to tell sometimes. This is my third project now where I’ve had a Southern accent. I have another one coming out in a month called Carter & June. It’s an independent film. She’s way crazier than Beth Ann. So we’ll see. I hope I don’t get too stuck in that Southern character-type person, but you take what you can get.

That’s good. I was going to ask you if you had any other works coming up that you could mention. 

Yeah, so Carter & June has Michael Raymond-James and Tim Omundson in it. It’s really fun. The whole thing is kind of out of control, from what I’ve seen of it. There’s going to be a screening soon.  It’s enjoyable. It’s fun to watch. I enjoyed doing it. It’s probably one of my favorite roles. So that one’s coming out shortly.

Then I have another film coming out–not sure, should be some time this year–and it’s called Brother’s Blood. And that was an interesting project that I did with Trey Songz. I don’t even know if you know Trey Songz, but he’s a big R & B singer.

So when I was looking through your credits, I noticed you had done some writing and producing, correct?

Oh, yeah, I have my own little series that originally we thought it was going to be a webseries, but it’s turning out better than we expected, and it looks like we can go farther than we expected. We’re actually going to try to sell it. It’s like a thirty-minute show. That’s been exciting, but it’s been two years, and we’re still trying to get it finished. It’s not that easy when you’re independently making something, but it’s a great learning experience for anyone that’s in the industry. I always say you should try to make your own content, and especially if you’re not working as much as you’d like to be. The technology’s so great now. It’s so accessible, so why not?

I fully salute people like you who do indie projects, and I try to support them as much as possible. I think the great thing about indie projects is that you are getting to do something that you may not get to do in a traditional studio, and you get to have more control over your content.

Absolutely. You totally lose that creative control when you go the traditional route for anything. Whether it’s a pilot or a film. Especially when the studio walks in.

And as for the two years, I have heard of indie projects that have taken a lot longer than that, so maybe that’s a good sign for you guys.

That’s true. And we’re getting close. Just networking and getting it out there and finishing it up. That’s the business.

Well, that will give us something to look for, and I’ll be watching and wishing you all the best on that.

Thank you. I appreciate that.

You’re welcome. So as a last question here, if you could be on any kind of reality show–even one that doesn’t exist yet–what kind of reality show would you like to be on?

If I was going to do anything, I would want it to be something that was geared towards helping others. So maybe something where you follow the younger generation who is exploring the world, helping different cultures or maybe third world countries. Watching them build houses. Just something that has a little more substance rather than just this constant Kardashian thing that we’re “forced” to watch. Something that would be in that direction. I don’t even know if something like that exists–I’m sure it does.

I think that’s an awesome answer. And if it doesn’t exist, I think it should. I’m right with you. The only kind of reality shows I really watch are the singing and dancing ones. In fact, I never watched the Bachelor or the Bachelorette before I started watching UnREAL, so that’s why I didn’t think I’d like it. When I hear people talking about wanting to be a contestant on the Bachelor, I’m thinking, “No, you don’t.”

No, you don’t.

I want to say, “Have you watched UnREAL?” Yeah, maybe some of that is extreme, but I think a lot of what you see on UnREAL does happen.

Yeah, there is a lot. Constance has had people come up to her and say, “Hey, I’m a producer on this reality show, and oh my gosh, it’s so similar.” So there’s got to be something to be said about that.

 

 

While Lindsay is still young in this business, there is no doubt in my mind that she has come in with “her head screwed on right.” I think that her father’s insistence that she study something besides acting at the university has actually given her a sort of an edge that I don’t always see in one so young and with her caliber of talent. She not only thinks through her characters in great detail, but she is able to give a performance that is authentic and heartfelt without ruffling too many feathers along the way. While UnREAL may be a bit of a “lucky break” for her, she is so committed to putting in the work required to be successful in this industry that there is no way she will simply rest on her laurels. She is pragmatic, direct, and cognizant of what she wants and how to get there. She is willing to pay her dues, but she has her eye on the prize, so to speak. And in addition to all of that, she sincerely cares about the bigger picture in this world. Her answer to my final question showed me the very cry of her heart–helping others less fortunate than she. While she is fighting hard for her dreams and passions, I believe that she will continue to be the compassionate, sensitive individual who only wants peace, joy, and love to rule throughout this world, and if she can provide assistance in that endeavor, she will be willing to do whatever it takes. It’s how she approaches her work, and it’s how she approaches this global society in which we live. Although her character Beth Ann has exited Everlasting (the soundstage where UnREAL takes place), be sure that you check out her work in that show this season in case you missed it, and be certain that you watch out for her many projects that will soon be gracing our screens. Furthermore, please follow this talented lady at all the links below because I somehow believe in a short while, this girl is going to take the entertainment world (and beyond) by storm!

FOLLOW LINDSAY

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

IMDB

 

 

About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

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