Five Questions with Kathryn Aagesen

Kathryn Aagesen
Kathryn Aagesen

Lorne Michaels, if you’re listening, your new blood is right here. Kathryn Aagesen is an actress, comedian, and producer, known for Midnight Movie (2008), The Custom Mary (2011) and My Brother Called King (2009). Not just your typical manic pixie dream girl, Kathryn is a beautiful, lanky brunette, with good timing, a sweet, deadpan delivery, and a Drew Barrymore appeal, if DB was a supermodel.

" I don't think anything in my childhood prepared me for how hard this would be. I picked the hardest thing in the world, and I have to sacrifice a lot, and I miss out on a lot." - Kathryn Aagesen
” I don’t think anything in my childhood prepared me for how hard this would be. I picked the hardest thing in the world, and I have to sacrifice a lot, and I miss out on a lot.”
– Kathryn Aagesen

A hipper Cecily Strong type, her performances are lovable, sexy, edgy, and perfectly charming. When you see her stand-up, you feel that her audience seems reluctant to let her go. She is frank, but not smirking or smutty.  As a fan of comedy, it’s always exciting to find a new, three-dimensional woman, and Kathryn seems to hail from the the Tina Fey / Amy Poehler / Chelsea Peretti / Amy Schumer school, not as sardonic or virulent as Sarah Silverman, not as neurotic as Lena Dunham.

"I'm lucky I don't have to work out a ton to keep fit, I'm naturally tall and thin--but if I could afford it I'd do Bar Method every day. Nothing has ever changed my shape faster. " - Kathryn Aagesen
“I’m lucky I don’t have to work out a ton to keep fit, I’m naturally tall and thin–but if I could afford it I’d do Bar Method every day. Nothing has ever changed my shape faster. “
– Kathryn Aagesen

Kathryn Aagesen is from Omaha, NE. She studied theater in NYC for 5 years, graduating from The New Actor’s Workshop and The American Academy of the Dramatic Arts. Kathryn currently lives in Los Angeles, where her main focus is stand-up comedy. She recently performed at the LA Feline Film Festival, to an exciting crowd of over 2,000 cat lovers! She performs frequently at The Comedy Store, Flappers, and various venues in LA. Kathryn hosts a monthly comedy show, The Kat House, at El Cid, in Silverlake.

Here’s a taste of her work:

http://www.kathrynaagesen.com/video#e-0

So, file this under artists deserving wider recognition, more work and top material. Kathryn answered FIVE QUESTIONS via email.

1) What has been the best advice you’ve ever received regarding your decision to be an actor? What is your perfect headspace to be in when memorizing lines? How do you approach and prepare for a role? How do you prepare for auditions? Do you feel that your training actually did prepare you for your real world experiences?

KA –  Edie Falco told our class once that so long as she had a play in her bag, she was happy. So as long as I am working on something, I’m happy. If I don’t have anything I’m currently creating, I’m downright suicidal. Not joking, depression runs in my family, practically gallops;-) I memorize lines best by taking one line and spending an eternity on it, it takes forever, but I won’t even READ past to the next line until the first one is engraved in my heart. I prepare by diving right in and failing and being horrible. Preparing for auditions for me is about nerves–it’s the ultimate popularity contest, it sucks. Often times you’re given very few lines, and the sides give you no info to work from, so all I can do is try to appear sexy, fun–like someone you’d want to see every day at work. My training prepared me for what to do when you have a REAL role in a real project, like a play or a film, a full character. It didn’t prepare me for commercial auditions or how to work a room full of ego ego ego (CDs, producers, writers/directors etc)–I’ve had to figure that out just by trial and error and I’m STILL figuring it out. 

2) TV, film or stage? Can you speak to the differences for you, and which medium you prefer to work in and why? Living in LA, what are some of the stereotypes that you are up against and how do you combat them?

KA – Film or TV because it has potential to reach the maximum audience. I love working in plays, because of the fast bonding that happens in all three mediums, but plays have also made me feel stifled. The theater is sacred and it has a personal, almost religious profundity for me, but inevitably I want to shoot my arrows as far as they can go–which is why new media is such a special entity, you never know who your short film or sketch or indie film will reach, but in the theater, you know you’re reaching whoever has huddled up in the blackbox:-) Living in LA there is nothing but stereotypes and a lot of garbage projects. It makes me downright miserable sometimes. I can look at it in a prism of ways: not attractive/talented/young/rich/connected enough…OR I can look at it like, fuck that shit, I’m on this planet to create what I want, to find my own tribe, not to conform and contort but to expand and flourish, and it took me long enough, but I am finally carving out a unique space for myself, I started doing stand- up as a direct result of being unfulfilled as an actor in LA. 

3) This question is about your personal life. How do you relax and keep in physical condition? What are you reading right now? Favorite music you’re into now? What is the design aesthetic you prefer to live in? (Clean lines/modern? Ornate/rich fabrics etc..) What foods are your weakness? Do current affairs, and negative news stories have an effect on your art? How do you deal with those emotions?

KA – I relax by sleeping! I hike sometimes. I ride my bike and listen to music while I pedal around town. I’m lucky I don’t have to work out a ton to keep fit, I’m naturally tall and thin–but if I could afford it I’d do Bar Method every day. Nothing has ever changed my shape faster. I’m currently reading The Twenty Seventh City because I fantasize about marrying Jonathan Franzen. I’m currently listening to a group called Alaska in Winter, it’s a little dance-y, emotional, like pop music for smart people;-) My studio is absolutely monastic. I don’t like things on places. I’m not neat but I hate having stuff and clutter around, I detest knick knacks and bric-a-brac and other useless shit for your home. I’m not a natural nester. My curtains and bed spread and walls are white. No trinkets allowed. I NEED a good burger about once a month, or greasy pizza, and around my “Lady Holiday” I have to have chocolate around. Current affairs don’t affect me that much, they’re all so horrible I have to protect myself with a zen-like detachment. Then something like Sandy Hook will happen and I’ll cry my eyes out at a time and place when I least expect it, so as much as I try to take this scary velocitous world in stride, I can implode sometimes. Thus far, nothing current has affected my art, meaning, I don’t have any current events or relevant weekly topics in my material. I’m not quick enough yet to keep up, and then you have to retire it so fast. Right now every comic is talking about Bill Cosby, and they will continue to until everyone feels like he has been properly crucified, but then everyone will forget about the victims and the horrible crimes, and move on to something else.

4) Do you think there was anything in your childhood that specifically prepared you for the challenges of living life as an actor? Do you feel that it is different for women and men as far as career choices and longevity? How are you approaching these differences?

KA –  I don’t think anything in my childhood prepared me for how hard this would be. I picked the hardest thing in the world, and I have to sacrifice a lot, and I miss out on a lot. My childhood was loving and supportive, for the most part–if anything, my childhood tricked me into thinking that I would be a beloved, raging success in any field I chose. It is 100% different for men and women, and in so many ways. There are a million things I could talk about: attractiveness–how many heavy schlubby average men have been famous? Countless. How many overweight women? 5. Maybe. Age–society perceives women as getting worse looking with age, and men are perceived as better looking. Somehow the collective thought is that when men have gray hair and wrinkles they are symbols of wealth and wisdom, and with women they are symbols of….no longer having anything fun to offer. Also in film and TV, so often you see an average or schlubby dude get a total babe, and you NEVER see the opposite. You never see a heavier, lesser attractive dude paired with a way better looking man. Jonah Hill gets Emma Stone in Superbad, but you’re not going to see Rebel Wilson pair up with Bradley Cooper, it’s not every going to happen. I’m not a man so I can’t talk about how they feel– there might be a certain disadvantages in this industry for men I’m not aware of because I don’t experience it, but I can say that CDs, photographers, and agents have commented on wrinkles on my face and how I can play older than my actual age since I was 25. Yikes! Again, I try to keep focus on what does actually matter, which is who I am on the inside, how I love, what I contribute to this world through all I create, and the more I think about that, the more insignificant it becomes, the idea that there is a limit to what I can do, the roles I’ll be cast for, just because I can’t freeze time;-)

5) What does the future hold for you, short-term and long-term? What projects are you most looking forward to? How can your fans best access your work and you, in general?

KA – I’d like the future to hold more comedy! I’d like to tour the country, and other countries. I really want to tour. I would like my own hour special, if I’m not offered one, I will record my own. I’m really looking forward to an hour-length comedy album. I have almost an hour of material. My fans can best access me by coming to my shows. Or twitter @katfoodbreath where I tweet my heart out about any mundane bullshit that pops into my head. Or instagram or facebook or my website at kathrynaagesen.com. But preferably, come see my shows and heckle me.

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1/5/15

xo

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