BuddyTV interviews Joanna Garcia, the lead actress on Privileged.
Privileged is the best new show on TV this season that you might not be watching. Let me tap into my inner Joe Biden and repeat that for you once more: Privileged is the BEST new show on TV this season that you might not be watching.
Now, you might dismiss Privileged as just another show about rich, white kids and turn the channel, but then you would be doing a disservice, not only to this genuinely enjoyable, whip-smart show, but to yourself as well. You would be missing out on the wonderfully quirky characters, the complicated relationships and the great storytelling.
In my mind, the best part of the show is the lead actress, JoAnna Garcia. I’ve been a fan of JoAnna’s since her days as Vicki Appleby on Freaks and Geeks and again on Reba. She brings an entirely believable warmth and intelligence to her Privileged character, Megan Smith, a recent Yale grad who becomes the tutor to two spoiled, billionaire twins. Megan, a plucky, red-headed heroine, is sort of like a modern-day Anne Shirley, who is so genuinely likeable that you forgive her for the scrapes she gets into.
I was fortunate enough to catch JoAnna on her day off from filming. She seems just as genuinely cheerful and bubbly as the character she plays. She spoke about her background in comedy, her many love interests on Privileged and her relationship with her co-stars.
This is Debbie at BuddyTV, and today I’m today I’m talking to JoAnna Garcia, the star of the CW’s Privileged. I just want to start out by saying that I find your character, Megan Smith, to be so funny and endearing, and I just think she’s great.
Oh, thank you. I’m pretty proud of her. She’s definitely one of the most favorite characters that I’ve ever been able to play. I like her a lot too.
You’ve had a lot of practice at doing comedy because you had your role on Reba. Is comedy something that you enjoy doing? Does it come naturally to you?
I enjoy the challenge of comedy. What I really am enjoying, being on a single-camera show now, is playing with the subtleties of humor and all of that. It’s a different world from doing a multi-camera show. It’s a different type of performance. I really enjoy it. Obviously, I am a happy person; I like to laugh. I like to engage in that part of the world. It’s a lot of fun.
I just have to mention that I loved your role on Freaks and Geeks as well, and I was so sad that that show didn’t make it.
Thank you. I was so sad when that show went away too. What a great show it was. I’m just honestly so proud to have had any type of part in that show. I’m very proud of it. It definitely opened up a lot of doors comedically for me, and I learned so much from those guys. The Apatow world is a brilliant world of comedy.
Are there going to be any Reba or Freaks and Geeks reunions on Privileged?
I would love to have that happen, and I wouldn’t be surprised. I mean, we’re always looking for fun, new guest stars, so I wouldn’t be surprised to have those names in a hat and prayed and begged and pulled all my favors to get them to come to it. They’re all pretty busy, the Freaks and Geeks folk.
Yeah, they’re really busy these days. They’re everywhere. You know, people are comparing Privileged to Gilmore Girls, and people are calling you the next Rory. Would you agree with that?
I think that we definitely have a very similar tone. What a compliment to be in the likes of a Gilmore Girls type of show. I think we have the same sort of beat and pacing to it and all of that kind of stuff. I would be really proud and honored if people put us in that category. I was a fan of the show, and Rina [Mimoun] was a huge part of the show, our showrunner, and so, to be associated with and compared to in that way, I am definitely in love with the idea.
There are all these shows, like Privileged and 90210 and Gossip Girl, there are all these new shows about fabulously wealthy teenagers. Do you think it’s just a coincidence that they’re all on the air at the same time?
Our show is not even close to the same type of show. Our show, the wealth of the twins is very much a backdrop to our show. It’s about a coming of age story, it’s about making mistakes and dealing with bigger issues. It’s got a lot of heart and we do it with a lot of levity. And we don’t shy away from things, but we do it in a way that I’m really proud, the approach, that I’m really proud of. I think there’s no secret: youth and wealth and beauty and all of those things are fun things to escape to, and when you’re watching television, you want to be entertained. I think there’s an element of entertainment to those type of things. I don’t think there’s a mystery to why those shows are a success, but what I am excited about is when people get a chance to check out our show. I think that we do stand apart, and not in a better or worse way. I just think we’re different in that, yeah, we have a youthful show, but we deal with and approach things in a different way.
OK, let’s talk about your many love interests on the show. So, we’ve got Will, and Jacob the headmaster and, of course, Charlie, all after you. Can you give us a hint about how Megan will be managing all of those relationships, and which will come to the forefront as the series progresses?
I think that Jacob Cassidy sort of came on to the scene. There’s a surprising twist to how that love relationship may change. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Will and Megan were next on the list. Those two characters seem to have a lot of chemistry together, and I enjoy working with Brian [Hallisay] a lot. I think Charlie is, you know, Megan’s best friend. He’s probably the most sane family member that show, because they’ve known each other for so long and all that. I think we might hold off on that one, but I think that Megan will be surprised to find out that she may have some romantic feelings for him down the line. But I think Will and Charlie will always be like Pacey and Dawson, and I’ll be the Joey. There’ll be a lot of emotions and real feelings. There will be a lot of meat to those storylines and those relationships.
Yeah, the first minute of the show’s existence, you knew that Charlie really liked her. It’s kind of heartbreaking.
Totally. I joke with Michael Cassidy because he had to say at the end of one of these scenes with Megan, and I walk away and he says, “You look really pretty tonight.” So I kind of joke with him and say that I think he should end every scene like that. In our gag reel, almost every scene with Megan and Charlie, even if we’re fighting, ends with, “You look really pretty tonight.”
I’m really impressed with the quality of acting of the rest of the cast as well, especially Ashley Newbrough who plays Sage.
Yeah, she’s fantastic, isn’t she?
Yeah, she’s really great and she really owns her role.
Oh, it’s the most wonderful thing to work with those two girls because they’re both so fantastic. Ashley can prop better than anyone I’ve ever known. I mean, her sunglass work and everything about her just embodies Sage, and Sage is such a fun character. I just marvel at the things that come out of her mouth, but the wonderful thing about Ashley is that she’s able to do that; she gives so much heart to her character and you’re able to see such a wounded soldier in there. And it’s not even about the things that are coming out of her mouth. You can almost laugh at those things rather than be appalled by it. I mean, there are some appalling things that she says, but she does it in a really unique way that I am in awe of.
Megan and Sage are in the middle of this power struggle, and can you just tell us how that relationship is going to develop this year?
I think that Megan really understands Sage in a way that Sage doesn’t really want her to understand her. I think that she sees all of the depth and sadness and the pain and all of that kind of stuff. I think the power struggle will be: how does Megan keep a straight face when Sage repeatedly tries to humiliate her, and I think there will be those brief moments of real connection between the two. They’ll be able to achieve a lot of depth because I think Megan understands what Sage is going through in a very deep level, unlike anyone probably that’s ever come into her life.
How about Megan’s relationship with her sister Lily?
It’s a volatile one. Lily, definitely, also does some terrible things, but the way that her character’s been written and the one thing that I think Rina does such a great job is that the characters are so full of life and they’re so round. They’re not just one stereotypical thing, and that’s what makes the character so interesting. She fought for actors to play these roles who had the ability to dive deep into that thing. Kristina [Apgar] brings a really special quality. There is an inherent confident-slash-mix of Lily’s deep insecurities. She definitely didn’t choose the same path that Megan did and I think that causes a lot of strife between them. Megan isn’t the best at dealing with her either, and that’s what I love about the Lily character too. For Megan, she really is a mirror into her soul. Megan isn’t so squeaky-clean always, and she does handle things inappropriately. I think a lot of the ways she does that have to do with Lily.
Something that I’ve thought about this Megan and Lily relationship is, the backstory of the two characters and how they got to be in this bad place. We don’t know the full story yet, do we? Is there going to be more developments in that?
Definitely. I think that you’re going to meet my mom, you’re going to meet my dad. You’re going to see where things went wrong. Very shortly, you’re going to see Lily lash out in a very self-destructive way. At first, she manipulates the whole world against Megan and then you see quickly: no, that’s not it at all. She really is kind of a wounded girl. But yeah. There’s a lot to Lily and a lot to Megan’s family that we don’t know about yet, and we’re still exploring in our creative world.
In other shows, I think that the lead characters are often not as interesting as the supporting cast because they have to be portrayed so angelically, but I just love your portrayal, and I think that you really do carry the show. I think it’s great.
Thank you. That means so much to me. I mean, I definitely am really proud of this show, and I feel like Megan is a real girl, and I love that Rina fights every power that be to give Megan a real… She is a flawed character just like everyone else. It makes it so exciting as an actor to be able to come and explore all these different ranges of emotions and making mistakes and pulling it together. At the end of the day, she’s just a really strong girl, and I’m proud to know Megan and be Megan. It’s exciting.
I’m just curious. Backstage with Lucy [Hale] and Ashley, do you fall into the guardian role with them?
Definitely. Yes, I definitely do. I love them so much. I enjoy being around them in and out of work. I truly think the world of them. I think they’re so talented and so gorgeous, but they have hearts of gold. I enjoy them as people. You know, I’ve been in this town for a long time and they’re just sort of coming on into this whole world. I am not shy to share my experiences and the mistakes that I made and I feel protective over them because they are so sweet and they have so much to offer. But they don’t really need a lot of guidance. They’ve got amazing heads on their shoulders.
-Interview conducted by Debbie Chang
(Image courtesy of the CW)