Interview with Tracy Birdsall of “I Think You Should Leave” and other movies/shows by Suzanne 7/21/21
I admit that I’d never heard of Tracy, or this weird little comedy show, before her publicist contacted me for an interview. Once I started viewing her other work, though, I could see that she’s been around a while and has done many movies and shows. We had a really nice chat.
Suzanne: So, are you calling from LA?
Tracey: I am.
Suzanne: Okay. Cool. You’ve lived there pretty much most your life, right?
Tracey: I have. Yeah, I mean, I’ve left; I followed projects, but I kind of always come back here. Yeah.
Suzanne: That’s nice. Yeah, I’m from San Diego originally.
Tracey: Oh, nice. I lived down there for a long time. I lived in Rancho Bernardo, it’s near Rancho Santa Fe.
Suzanne: Oh, that’s a really nice area.
Tracey: Yeah, it’s beautiful.
Suzanne: I don’t have to tell you that. We always go back. We haven’t lived there in a long time, but we always go back to visit family and friends and everything. So, yeah, it’s so beautiful.
Tracey: You kind of can’t beat that weather too. I mean, it’s it’s better than LA. You know, I mean, it’s spectacular.
Suzanne: Yeah, it’s kind of ruined me, even though I’ve lived many other places.
Tracey: Where are you at now?
Suzanne: I’m in Arkansas right now.
Tracey: Oh, wow, believe it or not, I have an uncle in Arkansas. I haven’t seen him since I was a teenager.
Suzanne: What part, do you know?
Tracey: I really don’t. I really don’t. Yeah, he moved there, and he hasn’t come back in a long time. It’s my mom’s baby brother, but I keep in touch with him on social media, I hate to say. You know, you do what you can.
Suzanne: Right. It’s funny how many people say “Oh, I used to live in Arkansas,” or “I know somebody there.” It’s funny.
Tracey: Yeah, he’s actually the only one I know, and it’s one of the few places I’ve never been.
Suzanne: Oh, well, it’s very pretty here. You know, like most of the South, there’s lots of trees, so we get lots of rain and humidity.
Tracey: And beautiful lakes. He’s sent us some beautiful pictures of some lakes and things like that. It’s a really spectacular place.
Suzanne: Yeah, it does have a lot of pretty lakes; you’re right. Yeah, it’s beautiful here, and we live kind in a town, but it’s a small town. So, it’s kind of woodsy. So, it’s very pretty right around where I live. You can’t beat it.
Tracey: Did you guys get a big influx of people when the pandemic hit?
Suzanne: No, and, actually, this was a good place to be during the pandemic, because we didn’t –
Tracey: That’s what I would think, yeah.
Suzanne: It’s not my favorite place to live, because I’m a city girl, but it’s been really nice during the pandemic, I have to say, even though cases are up here now, I mean, the relative number of cases, you know, it’s nothing like being in a big city.
Tracey: Yeah, I’m kind of in between. I’m just outside of LA. So, it’s like, I’m close enough where I can be in town in 15, 20 minutes, but little on the outskirts. I was in Malibu until the fires hit. I lived in the same house for 16 years, and I’m kind of a little off since then. It’s like I don’t really know what to settle into, you know?
Suzanne: Oh, did you lose your house?
Tracey: Oh, yeah. All the way down to like, literally – it was a two story, a big house. It was two stories, and you probably could have put a measuring stick into the ground, and the debris was less than, I don’t know, 12 to 15 inches, like, completely gone, everything. It was just nuts.
Suzanne: So many people lost their homes and stuff.
Tracey: Like 600 just in our area.
Suzanne: Well, I’m glad you got to move somewhere else, at least.
Tracey: Yeah, you know, I’ve been filming so much since the house burned down that it’s like I haven’t really – like I’ve moved into a house, but you don’t get that homey feeling. I went and hung a picture on the wall. I hung it, because I’m always leaving, and then the pandemic hits, and you’re like, “Okay, this is weird”
Suzanne: So, you started acting when you were pretty young, right?
Tracey: I was really young. Yeah. I mean, when I was a little girl, I started singing and dancing lessons, and I went right into theater and musical theater, you know, before I can even remember. So, it just it started at a young age, and then I just built it from there, and I just trained and worked really hard. That’s what you do.
Suzanne: So, how old were you when you booked your first gig?
Tracey: Professionally, I was 15 when I did my first gig. I mean, I’d done theater and things before that, but my first professional gig was actually a Sunkist soda commercial. They ran for 10 years. You know, they just kept reshooting them and redoing them and re-running them. That was kind of my beginning.
Suzanne: Yeah. I probably saw it. I don’t remember, since it was a long time ago. You’re you’re about the same age as I am. So, I was in high school.
Tracey: Well, you know, what’s funny about it is I did one at 15 and one at 16, and the one when I’m 15, I really look like a little kid in it when I looked at it. Then, when I’m 16, I changed so much. I’m like, “That’s amazing.” I would have never known that if I wasn’t looking back at these things, because I still felt like a little kid. But it’s just really funny how when you do TV, film commercials, all these things; there’re all these markers of how old you were when you did certain things, and it’s kind of interesting.
Suzanne: Yeah, I guess that would be the case. That would be cool. You could put together a little thing with like excerpts of different things you’ve done over the years, like your life in film.
Tracey: Yeah, maybe maybe when I stop working.
Suzanne: Yeah. When you have like an anniversary party or something like that you could put it together, or somebody should put it together for you, really.
Tracey: That’s the plan. That’s the plan. It’s funny.
Suzanne: So, if you had to do it all over again, would you still choose the same career?
Tracey: Well, I would, because I didn’t really choose it and go after it. I was drawn towards it, because I love entertaining people; I love the land of make believe. I love training in things. So, it was kind of a natural progression for me, where it was just taking all the things that I love to do and keeping studying them and working on them. Then, it just kept growing. I think that the real pinnacle was when I started getting into sci-fi, because I was a tomboy. So, all the sporting activities that I did, running and stuff like that, really paid off, because not everybody wants to go do that. I kind of thrive on it. So, it’s just, if I look back on my life, it just kind of looks like it was a training field for what it was going to become.
Suzanne: All right, well, let me come back to your running. I’ve got a question regarding that kind of thing later. But let me tell you, if I ask you a question that you think is too personal, or you don’t want to answer, just let me know; I’m fine with that. So, here’s one that I don’t know if you want to answer it. So, looking at the list of your shows and movies, on IMDB, there’s a gap between 2000 and 2010. What did you do during that time?
Tracey: It’s actually not a huge gap. See, what happened was it used to be that we [thought] we aged out of of our industry. We were pretty much told when we were younger that you can work as much as you can until you’re 30, and then you have to go find something else to do, and everybody kind of knows that that was the way that it worked. Now, I actually took time off. I love remodeling houses and working on things and traveling. And I looked over my shoulder, and I had friends that were still working. So, you start looking at it, and you contact people in the industry, and they’re like, “Oh, no, it’s changed.” I’ve literally found, I think it’s been at the end of the baby boomers, that every year that I get older, that marker gets pushed older. So, it was kind of hard to get my niche back in, because I had my realm and my people and stuff like that, and then I took time off. Then, I’m like, “Well, I can still keep keep working.” So, I came back, and I went heavily into training. I studied with Margie Haber, and she’s just a real dream as far as a coach. I just kind of gave it my all and got myself back into the industry, but it was kind of a shocking thing and an exciting thing, because we can work forever. We can as long as you’re willing to put out the effort, because everybody knows this isn’t an easy job. As long as you’re willing to put out the effort we can we can pretty much keep going forever now you’ve seen.
Suzanne: Well, you’ve been in quite a few movies the last eight years. Is there something particular that happened around 2013 or 2014 to get your career going so much better?
Tracey: I think a lot of it is we get out of something what we put into something. So, I always put some effort in, and I always tried to be in a project and always tried to have something going. And I was a single mom. I mean, I raised two kids, three kids on my own. Then, one day I kind of sat there, and I was like, “Well what do I have? How much harder do I have to go work in order to work consistently again?” And it was pretty much all the time. So, I used to always look at something, and, “Oh, this will take me five hours to prepare for,” and “this will take me eight hours to prepare for;” “this will take me a month to prepare for.” I stopped looking at life that way, and I just started pushing everything aside when I had a project or a really big audition, and [started] really putting everything that I had into it. That was when I really noticed a difference. So, looking back on it, it’s probably that way in every industry, but it was really my effort that I put out more so than that which anybody else [did]. I couldn’t blame it on anybody else. I can’t give anybody else that credit. It just has to do with sheer effort and hours.
Suzanne: Okay, well, going back a bit, I noticed that you were on Loving for three years playing Amy Sanders. Our site has a lot of soap opera fans. What what was that experience like?
Tracey: You know, I was really young, and it was wonderful, because I was actually living in New York City. I was with [unintelligible] out there and had a print agent out there and a commercial agent out there. So, they brought me in, and Amy was actually pregnant. I forget who the relative was, but it was one of his later family. So, then, they brought her back again, and she was still pregnant. Now, mind you, this was almost 14 or 15 months later, which I thought was really funny, but nobody picked up on it. And then the storyline continued later on, and the child was supposed to be missing and things like that, but I think that they were at that point into ratings and going with the other storylines, and so that kind of fizzled out.
But as far as an experience, it was amazing. I mean, I just loved it. Everybody was wonderful to me, and now it’s kind of where I got my eyes into the land of soap and how different it is than regular TV or film, which it’s completely different.
Suzanne: Yeah, and I’ve heard it’s a great training ground too.
Tracey: It’s a good training ground; it’s very consistent. So, you always know what to expect when you show up, [but], you know, there’s only so far you can take the character development unless you’re one of the main characters throughout the whole thing. So, it was something that I’ve had the opportunity to do.
So, since then, I’ve done a couple little stints, but it’s not the direction that I chose to go in, just because I like really getting into the depth of a character and just really exploring it. But boy, it’s a fantastic job if you just want consistent work within the industry.
Suzanne: Yeah. And you were briefly on The Young and the Restless. How did that come about?
Tracey: That was old-fashioned auditioning. So, that was really fun. I mean, that was with Tucker McCall, and that was just a really fun little stint, but it was just, you know, we do so many auditions for so many projects and many of them we forget we auditioned for the time that we book them, because there’s usually such a long time period in between the two. They talked to me about bringing that character back a little bit, and then that kind of fizzled. That was when they were looking at maybe replacing one of the characters, and then that didn’t happen. They renegotiated her contract instead. So, it’s just, I think, soap is such a fascinating world, because it’s so different than the rest of the industry.
Suzanne: Yeah. And Tucker was played by Stephen Nichols, who’s one of my favorite actors. How was it working with him?
Tracey: He’s a really nice guy, and I have to tell you, I mean, most of the experience that I’ve had working in any of the mediums, the people are really kind. You get to that level, no matter what the medium, and people are professionals. They’re polite. They’re kind. Everybody’s there to do their jobs. Yeah, Stephen was a really great guy.
Suzanne: Cool, he always seemed really nice. So, you said there was another soap you were on? I didn’t see that one on there.
Tracey: No, those are the two soaps that I did.
Suzanne: So, you recently did an episode of I Think You should Leave with Tim Robinson on Netflix. Can you tell us about landing that role and what you went through for it?
Tracey: Sure. I mean, again, that is another thing that was traditional auditioning [and] taped at home, because it was during the pandemic. We taped it at the beginning of the pandemic. Then, I think almost a year later, I got the call, and they wanted to make sure that I had all the protocols in place, and I still looked the same, and that was a fun project, especially because we’d all been locked up so much inside. I mean, I did some pickup shots for a couple other projects that I’m working on, but it was nice to have somebody go into production, and it was an interesting production, because of all the COVID protocols put in place. But what a cast. What a great group of guys and what a funny show. I just absolutely love that type of humor.
Suzanne: Yeah, and that episode, that part that you did with the alien bar or whatever, that was fun.
Tracey: It was really fun, and Tim was hilarious. Tim Robinson was there. Zach was there that day. So, it was just a really enjoyable shoot. I hope to work with them more next time, because I really enjoyed that type of humor. If you’ll notice in my past, I always try to make sure I keep comedy alive, because it’s something I was trained in a lot when I was younger. It isn’t where the majority of my work is coming from, but anytime I get the chance, I just absolutely love the genre.
Suzanne: Oh, yeah, I was watching your movie earlier. I haven’t finished it yet. Shoot, the name is escaping me.
Tracey: Who’s Jenna…?
Suzanne: Who’s Jenna…? Thank you so much. Yeah, that is cute. Like I said, I have to finish watching it later; I had to stop and do some other stuff, but that was fun.
Tracey: That was really fun, and [when] I actually shot Who’s Jenna…? – I was lead in both that and Rogue Warrior, and when we shot those, I only had a week off between the two. So, that was an interesting thing to go from a heavy sci-fi action and from a comedy like that, but it challenging. It was fun. One of them is grueling, and one of them is like a dance. I think comedy’s like a dance.
Suzanne: I was looking for Rogue Warrior, but I guess it’s not in my Roku for free…So, had you watched that show I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson before you were appearing on it?
Tracey: I’ll tell you the funny story about that is when I got the audition call, I hadn’t seen it. I usually will watch about 10 or 15 minutes of the show, just to get the tone of it before I tape an audition, and I literally sat down to watch 10 or 15 minutes, and I watched the entire season. I was laughing so hard. So, that was fun. I became an immediate fan of the show.
Suzanne: And now you have all these sci-fi movies coming out. Were you a fan of sci-fi before?
Tracey: Yeah, ever since I was a little kid. My dad was a sci-fi nut, and so it’s kind of I guess genetically bred into me. So, that’s been when my career got really, really fun. It was always a lot of hard work, and it was always fun, but when it got really fun is when I started to get to play in that genre.
Suzanne: Do you know what shows your dad liked?
Tracey: We watch Star Trek with a bowl of rocky road ice cream in our laps constantly. So, that was a big one. Logan’s Run. I mean, there’re just too many of them to even count. Pretty much everything that was sci-fi we watched.
Suzanne: Big Star Wars fan?
Tracey: Big Star Wars fan, big Doctor Who fan. I just love it all.
Suzanne: Cool. And do you have anything else besides these movies that are coming out that you’re working on now or preparing to work on?
Tracey: Well, The Time War‘s coming out, which is a time travel television series. It’s an eight hour series we’ve been working on for about five years now. So, it’s finally, luckily coming to fruition. Then, Rogue Warrior, there’s a TV series based upon it that’s some backstory and also the future of it, called Age of Darkness that will be out right behind The Time War. They’re both in the end stages of post-production. Then, I have a film called Hotel Underground that I shot in Melbourne, Australia right before the pandemic. Hopefully, that’ll be slated for release soon too.
Suzanne: Have you finished working on these, or you haven’t worked on them yet?
Tracey: We finished them all.
Suzanne: Okay. So, what I meant is do you have something that you’re working on now, or that you’re preparing to work on?
Tracey: No, actually, I Think You Should Leave is the the second to last thing that I filmed besides pick up shots for The Time War, and everything else is finished and coming out. It’s kind of when I get to take a little break, and then it’ll come back up again. It always does.
Suzanne: Okay, well, you said you work all the time, so it sounds like you need a vacation.
Tracey: You know, it will be nice to have just a couple of months off, and then I’m happy to jump back in.
Suzanne: And I have to say, you look really great for someone who’s close to my age. What is your secret?
Tracey: That’s really funny. Thank you. Mostly, I don’t know, lots of exercise. I’m a vegan. Even with skincare, like I don’t put products on my skin; I put ingredients on my skin. So, it’s kind of like vegan but for the skin. So, I guess just good healthy eating and staying active and taking care of yourself. Plus, I looked 12 when I was 25, so I kind of had some extra years there.
Suzanne: Sure. No, I completely understand that, because everybody tells me I look good for my age. I don’t put the work into it you do, so I don’t look as good as you do, but I look a lot younger than I am. So, I understand that completely. We’ve got good genes to make us look younger, right?
Tracey: I think a lot of it is genetics. I think there’s an attitude. So much is attitude too.
Suzanne: Yeah, definitely. I completely agree with that.
Tracey: I don’t plan on ever getting old. I don’t know about you.
Suzanne: No, definitely not. I’m one of those lucky people where my hair hasn’t started to go gray yet. So, I’m like, “don’t go” every time there’s a gray hair. I’m like, “no.”
Tracey: You’re like, “No, you must [not] go.”
Here is the audio version of it.
Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
Tracey Birdsall, who plays Janeane.
An award-winning actress well regarded for her versatility, Birdsall‘s many credits include TV’s THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS and ROGUE WARRIOR. She is currently filming the 8-hour sci-fi series THE TIME WAR, in which she has the lead role .
- Netflix recently premiered the second season of the critically-acclaimed sketch comedy series I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson.
- Quote from Tim Robinson and co-creator, Zach Kanin: “We are very excited to be working with The Lonely Island, Irony Point, and Netflix to make another season of “I Think You Should Leave.” We are so thankful we get to do it again!”
- The series pokes fun at life’s most bizarre and mundane situations. The first season saw Robinson and a few of his famous friends navigate awkward workplace drama, host an intervention in a Garfield themed house, talk their way out of a babysitter’s fake hit and run, and much more.
- The series was created by Tim Robinson and Zach Kanin, and is produced by The Lonely Island and Irony Point.
- The first season was nominated for a 2019 TCA award in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Sketch/Variety.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda
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