Q: What interested you the most about joining Dietland? Were you familiar with Sarai Walker’s book before signing on?
A: I hadn’t read the book before. I actually just walked into the casting office and handed them my headshot when I saw the breakdown. [Laughs] It’s not every day that you see a listing for a 250-pound woman who’s smart, funny, beautiful and listed as such in the breakdown. Normally, you’re looking for a best friend or somebody who doesn’t realize how awful they are. I go out for a lot of those sorts of things. When I saw the breakdown, I thought, “Yes, I’ll definitely submit for that.” I walked into the casting office and gave them my headshots, and then I went to read the book. The casting associate there said I should check it out, so I went to the library and got the book, and my mind was blown. I’d never read a character like this before who is complex, makes mistakes, who isn’t just a sidekick or the butt of the joke. I was super excited.
Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Plum and Kitty? What was it like working with Julianna Margulies to build this relationship?
A: It’s kind of like a crazy boss and dutiful employee. [Laughs] I think Plum feels like Kitty lives on another planet, but she does what she needs to do to get a paycheck and keep her happy. [Julianna] is the opposite of Kitty in real life. She’s so funny and generous and a giving person. It was such a dream. I’m actually spending more time with her now than I did on set, now that we’re doing press, so I’m getting to know her better.
Q: What is it like for Plum to meet someone like Julia in the beauty closet?
A: I think she’s really stunned to meet somebody who knows her and is interested in her. I don’t think that happens very often. She shows up at this place, and this person knows her name and what she does. I think that’s really groundbreaking for her and it’s a little scary to realize that someone is observing you when you thought you were doing the observing.
Q: And what was it like filming in that beauty closet?
A: It was really cool. When I first walked into it, I was like, “What is this world? Oh my God. Are these real products?” And they are!
Q: At the end of the episode, Plum decides to fight back and send the contact list of Kitty’s letter-writers so they can be deprogrammed. What did Julia awaken in her?
A: I think Julia and Leeta have planted a seed. That last walk down the street when people are harassing her, she’s like, “You know what? There is something I can do.” It’s much different from the beginning of the episode when she just hunkers down and keeps walking.
Q: What was your biggest takeaway, personally, after working on this project?
A: I was just so grateful. I’ve been working at this for a really, really long time and nobody cared at all until a year and a half ago. Every day was a gift to be working with these world-class actors in this unbelievable studio and with the crew. It was a total dream come true, and I can’t believe how lucky I am.
Q: How do you hope this show affects the public? Are there any narratives you think it could change?
A: It’s really exciting to be a part of a project like this. Harassment isn’t new to anybody. I think anybody who’s been alive has had their experiences with it. People have always just been like, “Well, that’s the way it is.” Actually, it’s the way it was, and we can do what we can to change that.
Dietland airs Mondays at 9/8c. Click here to add a reminder to your calendar.
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