June 24, 2014
By Pete Barell
Arts and Entertainment Editor
Greer Grammer just graduated from the University of California School of Dramatic Arts this spring. Yes, she’s a star from MTV’s “Awkward” (now shooting its fourth season) and the daughter of Kelsey Grammer (“Frasier”), but when the Pioneer interviewed her, via telephone, the 22-year-old was as humble as any college-aged student facing the daunting task of declaring independence.
The actress had a featured role in “Life Partners,” a film that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and recently completed the feature film“Christmas in Balsam Falls”. Grammer discussed her college experience, her acting career, and trying to juggle work and play.
The Pioneer (TP): How do you feel since graduating USC? Is it a weight off your chest?
Greer Grammer (GG): Yeah, a little bit. It’s bittersweet; leaving school is weird. Not having any classes is nice. It’s all scarier because I don’t have a cushion. Being in college, it’s [was] like ‘yeah, I have my job, but I’m still in school so if I don’t it’s fine’; but now it’s like ‘oh, I need to do something’.
TP: Do you have any advice for someone entering or in theater school?
GG: Just to be involved. To be totally honest, I wasn’t [as] involved with my theater school as I would have liked to because I was working. And all of my friends that I have in the theater school who were involved had the best time. I was always kind of jealous of it, because they were doing plays and scenes together, all of these fun things. I’m very grateful for my job, working on [Awkward], but I definitely feel like I missed out a little bit of the actual theater college experience.
TP: “Awkward” focuses a lot on teenage identity, especially in high school, but that theme is still relevant to college students. Did you find it easier to define yourself in college?
GG: Yeah, absolutely. College is the first time you’re away from your family, living on your own and learning how to be independent. With that comes a different learning experience in dealing with the world. But I think there’s definitely a lot of self-discovery and learning [about] who you are. [That] can change so much in a different environment, depending on which college you go to and what you get involved in. I think you learn more about yourself in college than you do in high school.
TP: Tell us about your character Mia in “Life Partners”. Who is she and how can you relate to her?
GG: Mia is afun-loving, ready-to-take-on-the-world, 20-year-old lesbian who kind of falls for Leighton [Meester]‘s character Sasha, who is a couple of years older. The way that I relate to Mia is that she isn’t worried about what she is going to do with the rest of her life; she’s really worried about the now. A lot of 20-year-olds are invested in what is happening now, so it’s a fun contrastbecause Leighton’s character is like ‘no, I need to actually figure out what I’m going to do with my life, I can’t sit back on my music degree forever’: [mean]while, Mia says ‘no, let’s go on vacation and see this band play and do all of these cool things because we can’.
TP: Do you have any memorable moments from when you were working on that film?
GG: The whole thing was memorable. I got to work with people who I’ve grown up watching: Leighton [and] Adam Brody, [also] Abby Elliot and Kate McKinnon who’ve been on Saturday Night Live. It was a really cool experience to work and film with these people.
TP: Do you have any rituals or traditions you have, getting into a role, before a performance?
GG: I really dive into my script a couple days before. I go over the lines, usually working with an acting coach as well. I try to get into it as best [as] I can. I get myself prepared, and then the day-of on set, I kind of let everything go so that it’s more natural. That’s what I do.
TP: Any particular acting methods that work for you?
GG: I learned a lot of different things in college, different lessons in acting. The ones that I’ve always liked are sort of improv. One of my teachers had this improv [exercise] where we had to state our intentions and scream them at each other and have a whole conversation, and when she said ‘action’ we’d start the scene. I really like doing that, building it up, figuring out your intention, and then playing the scene from there. It was really cool.
TP: What inspires you? Do you have any role models?
GG: I have people I look up to as far as my career goes. I love Reese Witherspoon. As far as older actresses go, I love Grace Kelly. They’re my role models. I look up to my older [actor] sister Spencer as a role model.
TP: Do you have any upcoming projects?
GG: I have a movie I shot last year [coming out] called “Christmas in Balsam Falls,” and that was a really cool film for me to do. I think that should be coming out around November, because it’s a Christmas film. I know it just got picked up for distribution from someone. So I’m very excited about that movie.