ABC sitcom BLACK*ish star TRACEE ELLIS ROSS and CW sitcom JANE The VIRGIN star GINA RODRIGUEZ cover the new issue of THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER!!!
TRACEE and GINA are joined by AMY SCHUMER (INSIDE AMY SCHUMER on HBO), ELLIE KEMPER (UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT on NETFLIX), KATE McKINNON (SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE on NBC), and LENA DUNHAM (GIRLS on HBO) for THR: HOLLYWOOD A-LIST TV COMEDY ACTRESS ROUNDTABLE.
Here are some interview highlights:
What was your most mortifying moment performing comedy?
KATE MCKINNON I did stand-up at the Aspen Comedy Festival once, a tight two and a half minutes. I asked the booker afterward, "What did you think?" She said, "There wasn't enough for me to judge, but what I saw, I didn't like." I went to a Starbucks and cried.
LENA DUNHAM But look at you now!
AMY SCHUMER I was opening for [comedian] Dave Attell at an Improv in Washington, D.C., and was walking past the White House. This woman came up to me; she had kind eyes. I'm like, "She's a fan!" I was like, "I'm a comedian," and she goes, "These people are on a hunger strike; would you perform for them?" I then noticed there were 40 people there with signs showing how long it'd been since they'd eaten. I called some friends, and I was like, "I shouldn't do this, right? [Comedian] Jim Norton was like, "You gotta take the gig." (Laughs.) So I tried to write hunger-strike jokes. These people looked like everyone in The Exodus.
TRACEE ELLIS ROSS You have such a good soul.
SCHUMER So I performed, and no one laughed.
GINA RODRIGUEZ They were hungry!
SCHUMER I made jokes like, "Hey, at least no waitresses will be distracting you here!" But I bombed. They put a video of it online, and I found out later they were a known terrorist organization. Making people laugh is what I can do to give back.
Is there something that you would never do for a laugh?
SCHUMER I would never suck a dick for a laugh.
DUNHAM I would never f— someone.
RODRIGUEZ I'm a brown girl, so I have to cross all the lines. I did just recently give birth onscreen [in Jane the Virgin].
MCKINNON Me, too!
RODRIGUEZ The actress playing my OB-GYN, Julie, was in right between my legs. I have Spanx on, this big [fake] belly, legs spread wide open. I probably should've showered that morning.
DUNHAM I stopped wearing the nude patch after the first season of Girls. There's not one guy who works on that show who hasn't seen the inside of my vagina.
SCHUMER They could draw your ovaries.
DUNHAM I used to wear the patch but …
ROSS What's the patch?
DUNHAM This patch — you glue it over your vagina. It gets sweaty and always falls off. My male co-stars, at the end of the day, don't care.
ROSS Are they covered up?
DUNHAM They wear a bag.
ROSS A sack?
DUNHAM Like a penis bag.
ELLIE KEMPER I've never done a sex scene. I am so prudish that when I've had to kiss someone in a scene, I think for the next hour that we're in love! It's a middle-school frame of mind.
DUNHAM I never understand when people say, "Sex scenes are so mechanical; it doesn't feel like anything." It feels like someone f—ing you! It's confusing.
ROSS On network shows, there are a lot of instructions: "Close the mouth. You can move, make the sounds, but no tongue." I had some incidences on Girlfriends. This guy's tongue jammed in like a lizard out of nowhere.
SCHUMER When I was filming [Trainwreck] last summer, I had a bunch of sex scenes. Full penetration. We went for it. (Laughter.) This guy we were going to have make out with me was like, "Um, do you want our first kiss to be on camera?" I was like, "No, no, come to my trailer and we'll make out beforehand." It was so grotesque. I'm like, "Did you think I cast you because I want to make out with you?" Then there was a lot of unnecessary touching. I was like "Get that guy out of there."
Tracee, Chris Rock wrote an essay for The Hollywood Reporter in which he talked about how you can go to the movies once a week for months and never see a black woman in a substantial role.
RODRIGUEZ I think that also goes for Latinos as well.
DUNHAM [To Rodriguez] That's why I sobbed during your Golden Globes speech!
MCKINNON That was the best.
ROSS There aren't many [roles in film]. That's why I say no to all the offers! (Laughs.) Working on a film is one job where you look at a casting breakdown and I'll think, "That's me!" But she's not supposed to be black.
RODRIGUEZ One hundred percent.
ROSS But I go for them anyway. Gina, what's been your experience?
RODRIGUEZ I remove myself instantly if something's perpetuating a stereotype. But the only way to stop stereotypes is to say, "I'm going to wait for a journey that suits me."
DUNHAM I got into Jane the Virgin after reading your early interviews. You were obviously grateful, but rather than going, "I'm so lucky to have this part!" you took back the power and said, "I waited for something that spoke to me as a Latina and didn't feel like I was compromising."
RODRIGUEZ When you compromise, you don't do your best work.
ROSS I can't sleep at night.
RODRIGUEZ You're only left with your integrity. You can't take those Jimmy Choos with you!
SCHUMER [To Ross and Rodriguez] I never thought how bad it could be for you guys until I had a TV show and we had to do auditions. Many black women who auditioned thought that we wanted them to be "sassy."
RODRIGUEZ "Get me someone more urban!"
SCHUMER We're like, "No, just be yourself." I thought: That sucks. It meant they'd been in a lot of rooms where they were like, "Uh, can you be more like (snaps her finger)."
ROSS Hey, I don't sound like that.
SCHUMER I visited the Girls and 30 Rock sets before my show. Seeing how Lena and Tina [Fey] ruled … it was unapologetic and strong. Every crewmember would die for these women