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Q&A – Alexa Alemanni (Allison)

Alexa Alemanni has been with the show since Season 1. (Her character has worked her way up from receptionist to Don Draper’s secretary.) Alemanni spoke with about this season’s Christmas party, the trials of a glass conference room and, of course, sleeping with Don Draper.

Q: Allison slept with Don Draper! What did you think when you found out about this turn of events?

A: It was pretty shocking. I didn’t get the script until the night before the table read, so some other people had gotten it a couple hours before me and I started getting texts like, “Oh my god, have you read Episode 2?” I think it’s so incredibly well-written and it makes sense how it happens. Those scenes are always strange and awkward and you wonder how it’s gonna go, but I’ve been on the show since the beginning so it was really relaxed and comfortable. And I’ve known Jon [Hamm] since Season 1 and I knew all the crew, so I wasn’t too nervous about it.

Q: At the end of Season 3, did you know you’d be staying around for Season 4?

A: I had no idea. Season 3 ended with me crying at my desk saying he didn’t even leave a note, so I certainly didn’t have expectations about coming back. I got the call for Season 4 and was so excited. And I mean, she’s a really good secretary so when you think about it, why wouldn’t he bring her along?

Q: Your character gets a lot more dialogue this season. Is it intimidating to have more lines? Liberating?

A: It’s probably both. There’s a long line of pretty fabulous women that have slept with Don Draper, so you certainly feel that pressure.

Q: How do you like being in the new office? Is there a different vibe on set when you have all these hallways, versus the big bullpen?

A: It was interesting to be there at the beginning because everybody was learning it. The crew was learning how to work in it and we were learning how to work in it. The floors are really noisy; the conference room has an entire glass wall, which I think was a struggle for a lot of people.

Q: What was the issue with the glass conference room?

A: You have a lot of light reflection problems and all of a sudden you realize you can see everything through it, so my desk is actually right there. I ended up being there a lot because [you can see me] through the glass.

Q: How long did it take to shoot the Christmas party scene?

A: The whole party scene was a long couple of days. I think they had eighteen cast members on set those couple of days… A large part of it is cattle herding to an extent, and you have to be pretty good at remembering what you were doing and where you were because there’s so much going on. But it was a lot of fun. Any time we have dancing in an episode it always turns into a great night. I remember in “Nixon vs. Kennedy” we all had to learn the polka; it just ends up being really fun days. They’re long and they’re tiring but I’m really good friends with a lot of the people.

Q: How did you first get on the show?

A: I started Season 1 as the receptionist at Sterling Cooper and I had one line. It was in “Marriage of Figaro,” it was a great line: “The grand lot of us are going to Lansky’s, can you believe it?” It was quite a mouthful. But yeah, I started as the receptionist and I had a couple scenes during the season and then I would kind of keep popping up all over the office. They just kept binging me back, which was so exciting. I started before anybody really knew about the show, so it was cool to be there from the beginning and watch the show take off and have all of a sudden people be like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe you’re on that show.”

Q: Has your wardrobe changed much this season?

A: I used to always wear my hair down and be in all these pastels. [Allison]’s gotten a lot more professional and you see that reflected in the wardrobe. I’m in a lot of plaid, which is interesting because Peggy’s in plaid a lot. I thought that was an interesting parallel, but it also at the same time has a schoolgirl image, which I think is relevant… There’s kind of an innocence to her.

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