10 Things with Rachel Ramras
How and when did you get your start in the entertainment business?
I always loved comedy, even as a young girl. Being able to make someone laugh was the ultimate achievement. But, at the same time, some part of me thought admitting that I wanted to go into “show business” was a frivolous endeavor. So I told myself (and my family), that I wanted to be a lawyer… until I realized that I only wanted to pretend to be a lawyer… on a television show. Like Susan Dey on “L.A. Law.” I was lucky enough to intern on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” his first season, and Andy Richter was the one who told me about the Groundlings. I moved out to Los Angeles, and within that first week, I auditioned and started taking classes. It was there that I learned to write sketch comedy, and got my first job as a writer on “Cedric The Entertainer Presents.”
Which actors and writers body of work have had the most positive impact on your own career thus far?
Growing up, I just adored Jan Hooks and Nora Dunn, on “Saturday Night Live.” It was so inspiring to see these women be funny and bold and not take themselves seriously. I wanted to be like them. I love Diane Keaton… I had a real “Baby Boom” obsession as a child!! Shelley Long as “Diane” on “Cheers” was one of the funniest characters I’d ever seen. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a goddess. I also worshipped David Letterman. I thought he was the most compelling interviewer. Nothing felt contrived. He would listen and react and he would create magic between himself and his guest. It was electric. In my own career, whether it’s as a writer or a performer, I strive for that same level of rawness and realness because I think that’s where real connection comes from.
Besides acting, you’re also a writer. Has this given you some advantages when you’re in front of the camera?
I think my improv background, even more than the fact that I’m a writer, is what helps me the most. Suddenly starring on a television show was nerve-wracking, but trusting that there was no “mistake” that couldn’t be fixed by simply connecting with my scene partner, was liberating. And, I think that acting, at least for me, requires that I take a leap of faith and really let go. Writing, on the other hand, has always been a very controlled outlet for me. I always have to be the one typing. I want the dialogue to be perfect. I agonize over dialogue. But, acting allows me to tap into a part of myself that needs to be sloppy and silly and uninhibited. I’m grateful for both.
Tell us more about your experience being part of The Groundlings and how that has helped with your career.
The best part about the Groundlings is the relationships. These are my closest friends for over twenty years. We all come from different backgrounds, but there’s a common link between all of us, and it’s usually some sort of pain. Ha! That sounds so tragic, but it’s true. I think pain and humor are so interlinked and we all found this place where we feel safe to tap into our feelings and find comedy in them. To laugh and cry with a group of soul mates is so wonderful. And, it’s a very supportive bunch. We all root for each other. When it came time to cast “Nobodies” we didn’t need to look much further than the Groundlings, past and present.
You’re on TV Land’s Nobodies. What was the inspiration behind the making of the series?
I think it started with the 2012 Oscars. Melissa McCarthy was nominated for best supporting actress, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo were nominated for best original screenplay, Jim Rash and Nat Faxon were nominated for best adapted screenplay, Octavia Spencer and Tate Taylor, (also two friends of ours through the Groundlings) were nominated for “The Help,” and it was like… here we are, at home in our pajamas eating pizza, and all our friends are in gowns and tuxes at the Oscars?!! It was surreal and hilarious. Weren’t we all just in the greenroom of the Groundlings eating El Pollo Loco, commiserating over a scene that just bombed?!!
What do you enjoy about your character on this show?
I love that she’s a heightened version of myself. It’s very therapeutic! I, myself, can be jealous and petty and naive and insecure and fearful, so we milk it for all it’s worth. I trust that Hugh and Larry love me, so when those aspects of my personality are written, we write them with endearment instead of judgement. We get to put all of our vulnerabilities and neuroses and flaws up on the screen and hope that people will laugh, because hopefully it’s relatable. That’s what I love about reality TV! You get to see flawed people being exposed. I don’t want to see perfection.
What can viewers expect to see from this first season?
You’ll watch Larry, Hugh and I struggle to get our movie made, often at the risk of losing friendships and self-respect. I hope people will enjoy getting to know our characters and how we relate to each other. In real life, I’ve worked exclusively with Hugh and Larry for eight years, and we genuinely get a kick out of each other and we genuinely irritate the hell out of one another. Of course, there’s also lots of fun guest stars! Kristen Wiig, Kristen Bell, Allison Janney, Bob Odenkirk… of course Melissa McCarthy!
If you weren’t building your career as an actor/ writer, what kind of career would you have now?
Oh lord, I’m not qualified for anything else! I loved being a stay at home mom when my kids were young, but now they’re twelve and they have no interest in me, so they would hate if I went back to that! I love organizing, so maybe I’d be a professional organizer? Like, if you have cluttered closets and drawers or a cluttered garage, I will have a field day getting you organized! Nothing makes me happier than a tidy medicine cabinet. Oh, and my kids happiness and well-being. But also a tidy medicine cabinet.
When it comes to fashion, who are some of your favorite designers and what style of clothes appeal to you the most?
I adore fashion. I actually went to the Fashion Institute of Technology for a semester and interned at Elle Magazine. I love mixing high and low… my favorite outfit these days is my Zara blazer, Kendall and Kylie silk camisole, velvet cropped high waisted pants from a little boutique in downtown L.A. called Virgo, with my Saint Laurent red velvet ankle boots. I love menswear, with some sex appeal thrown in. I love prints and color… Elizabeth and James, DVF, I think what Victoria Beckham is doing is to die for. Our costume designer on “Nobodies,” Allyson Fanger, summed up my style perfectly, and I love it: “Parisian lesbian.” How great is that???
We look forward to seeing more of your work. What other projects do you have coming up?
I’m still writing on and voicing a character on “Mike Tyson Mysteries” for Adult Swim. Hugh and Larry and I write all of those episodes as well, and it’s the most fun in the world. Jim Rash, Norm McDonald and Mike Tyson round out the cast and as crazy as that sounds, we are so proud of it. You can also see me at my local Gelson’s buying groceries, picking my kids up from school, and at home watching “Fixer Upper” and “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”!
Photos: Courtesy of TV Land