Angela Kinsey might be the coolest mom in the world? When WhoHaha reached her earlier this week she was home with a sick kid, but the whole family had spent the night before singing karaoke, dancing around the kitchen, and eating home-made soup with Tone Bell. Frankly, we’re jealous of her children.
We called Angela up to talk about Half Magic – the new movie she stars in with Heather Graham and Stephanie Beatriz. Half Magic is written and directed by Graham, and tells the story of a group of women who resolve to stop tolerating bullshit from the men in their lives and to have love and sex on their terms. But we also got a whole lot of advice about life, conquering adversity, and making great comedy.
So there’s a rumor going around that you set up The Office cast outings and reunions, which sounds super fun. If you were going to take the Half Magic ladies for a night out, where would you take them?
Oh my gosh, well first of all I should just say that my kind of outings are super mom friendly. I don’t know where to go out, but I will say this – I love to host. So I think a perfect night out – and this is what I do a lot – is I would invite them over, I would make them dinner, we’d have some fabulous wine, and then a dance party in my kitchen. Because that’s where it’s at, that’s where everything happens, in the kitchen. Listen, you know you’re going to get the best table, right? And you know you can be total dorks because no one’s going to be watching you other than my cats. Maybe one or two children might cruise through and be judgy, because kids are judgy.
Or we’re super into game nights too, I love a good game night, so maybe I would invite them over for game night.
What game would you play?
We’re really into Oregon Trail right now, so you know fingers crossed that no one gets dysentery.
Ooh, that’s a bad night.
Yeah, no dysentery, no snake bites. Honestly even with my Office cast, I just have everyone come over. I’m that person that just lures you to my home constantly with food.
We at WhoHaha love Half Magic because it’s all about female friendship and women supporting women. Are there any female friendships in your life you drew on for this movie?
100 percent. Well Jenna Fischer is my best friend, and she’s my life anchor, she really is. If anything happens to me, it’s like I can’t really experience it until I run it by Jenna. Good or bad, you know, she’s one of the first phone calls I make. And we kind of joke that we journal out loud to one another. She’s like my human journal! So I definitely thought a lot of that friendship.
I’m actually very close with my own sisters, and they’re so supportive. They’re who I call quite a bit. They don’t live in Los Angeles, they don’t live in California, they’re very removed from the industry I’m in. They’re so grounding and thoughtful and kind and they always have my back, and that’s how I feel about Jenna as well. That’s kind of my core group right there.
I thought a lot about the women in my life when we were making this movie, and about the people that are there for you when things aren’t pretty. They pick you up and dust you off and love you anyway. You gotta have your girl pals, you gotta have your gals!
Do you feel like you’re similar to your character Eva?
Well, you know, I started over in life at middle age, I was divorced and a single mom. The biggest difference between me and Eva is that she doesn’t have children, but I did. The thing I felt I felt very similar with her about is that moment of starting over and not feeling at all prepared, or equipped, or ready. And feeling lost. But then at the same time, finding yourself and realizing that you’re all you need. And believing in yourself and having confidence again. That’s so empowering when you have that moment of ‘I’m gonna be ok, I am ok’. It’s a really great feeling to journey through that dark time of being alone and being scared and starting over. And then you do it, and you get to the other side, and you just feel so empowered.
So I think that was the main thing that really resonated with me about her, is just having to start over and not feeling super confident in yourself, and finding your voice, and believing in yourself.
It seems like working in the industry you do, it’s even harder to start over because you feel like people are watching you.
You do, there’s that. There are times in your life when you’re very vulnerable and when your profession is public you share those vulnerable moments with everyone. And that’s not usually a time when you want to be a public person. But that’s the price of admission, that’s part of your life. It’s hard to navigate that.
But it doesn’t matter who you are, or what you do for a living, or where you live, or how much you make – there are times when you want curl up in a ball and say ‘ok, I need a time-out from the world’. And sometimes you don’t get that in a public profession.
You have to learn to not care what people think about you, and that’s a hard life lesson for everyone. When I go and speak on campuses and things like that, and even to my own children, if there’s one thing that I hope sticks with them it’s that you get to define who you are. Don’t let other people define who you are, you get to do that. And don’t buy in to what others might say, feel good about yourself, be authentic to yourself, that’s really what’s most important.
What advice would you give to female comedians who are just starting out?
I think real life is more interesting than anything you can fabricate. So don’t be afraid to share your life moments. Of course if you get up on stage and share, just know that once it’s out there it’s out there, so definitely make sure it’s subject matter you’re comfortable sharing. But your real life is gonna be more interesting and relatable – even moments that you think are small moments, people will find humor in them, and finding humor is also finding comfort. A lot of times the things we laugh at are things that also get us through life. I always feel that way about entertainment and making someone laugh, that I’m also bringing them comfort.
That would be part of my message, to write what you know and write honest. And that honesty is going to be very funny. Your life perspective is interesting!
And the other thing I’d say is it’s very easy in comedy to make the most obvious choice. And the most obvious choice, in my opinion, is usually the least interesting. It’s the weaker choice. In comedy I love it when people explore their life moments. I think that’s a message too, that you don’t have to play to the obvious choice. You don’t have to let other people define you and define what you think, what your comedy is or your story is. Your story can be whatever you want it to be as long as it’s honest and you’re passionate about it.
To get back to Half Magic, it seems like it was a super fun set, since the movie is full of awesome funny women. Do you have a favorite memory from filming?
Oh yeah. One of the days I laughed so hard was when we took the women’s seminar from Molly Shannon. That’s where we meet, the three of us. But what you don’t see is there’s so much footage of Molly riffing and improvising all of these women’s self-help mantras. It was so funny, she is hilarious. And as funny as she is, she’s that kind as well, she’s suh a kind and gracious performer.
I was such a huge fan, I had watched her growing up on SNL, and she took time to talk to everybody and to get to know everyone. And to me she was just the epitome of graceful and hilarious and professional. That was a hilarious day.
And what was so cool to me is that here we were doing this scene, and Molly is super high energy, and they have the camera on her so she does the scene full-out high-energy. And then they turn the camera around on us. Now she’s already spent a whole day being super high-energy in front of the camera, and not the camera’s not on her, it’s on us and our reactions. And sometimes when the camera’s not on you, you see actors who don’t give it the same energy. So the person receiving it, you feel it, you notice that you’re not getting the same energy. But Molly, the minute the camera was off of her and on us she was full throttle 100% doing it full out for us. And I thought that was so giving. So not only was she so funny, she was a giving person. That was one of my favorite days.
And what was amazing is that whatever she said, a whole room of women in pink feather boas yelled back at her. It was so funny!
Do you remember some of the more outrageous ones? Did those make it into the movie?
I think some of the most outrageous things did make it in, but it’s because they were also the most funny. To me it was the simplest ones that were the funniest ones too. Like she was yelling ‘I like my feet! I like my feet!’ All these random things, she was just yelling anything and everything postive about women and being a woman. It was really funny.
Ok rapid fire question round: Would you rather be Rihanna or Beyonce?
Oh this is really hard! This is a crazy hypothetical. I like Riri! I’m gonna go Rihanna. I just love the attitude.
What’s the last time you laughed really really hard?
Last night, honestly. I laughed so hard last night because we got my daughter a karaoke machine for Christmas, and we did karaoke last night. My husband and her do all these duets and they’re hilarious. Like they do You’re Welcome from Moana and she does the rap part. And I think it’s such a cool thing for her to have as a bond with her step-dad.
My answers are so long! This is supposed to be rapid fire and it’s not. I’m not equipped for rapid fire. I’m too chatty!
It makes for a better interview, keep chatting! Ok, who’s your favorite super hero?
We loved Wonder Woman so much. And also – well I guess I should just say Wonder Woman if I’m being rapid fire, but I also loved Danai Gurira in Black Panther. Oh man, when she threw her wig at him, she was fierce and hilarious. It was awesome.
Who’s your real life hero?
That’s so easy, it’s my mom. She’s just awesome, she had four daughters, and she always told us you can be anything you want to be. And she would say to us ‘why not? why not you?’ And so when something big would come up in my life I would hear
her words and think ‘why not me? why not?’ And she was and still is really empowering and such a fierce, loyal supporter of her daughters. Her and my dad both would be my heroes. My dad passed away a few years ago but they were such an amazing partnership. And some of the best advice my mom ever gave me, when I would go into a really big audition or interview and I’d be super nervous, she would tell me to be politely bored. And she would say it with a Southern accent, she’d say ‘now you just go in there and be politely bored’. Like, I don’t need you! I’m polite, but I don’t need you. So classic my mom. Why not you!
If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
The future. The future! We know the past. I’d want to see the future. It’d be scary, but I’d be curious. The future is such a mystery.
Who should be our next female president?
Oh this is a good question. There’s a lot of amazing amazing women out there. There’s so many people even in my life who I think would be amazing presidents. That have no desire to be in politics, but I admire them for their work ethic and their virtue and their honesty and integrity.
But as far as someone who is already in our political orbit that I think would be an amazing president – Michelle Obama.
I really respect her and I think she’s really smart, and I think she’s had years of public service so she understands that element of it. She knows the office. I find her inspiring. And she’s a person of such integrity. She’s a force, she commands the room. And she commands the room because she walks in it with grace and quiet power, because the people in the room respect her.
I admire her too as a mother! It’s different for me now, the way I look at someone, because I am a mom, I am a parent. It takes the emphasis off yourself, you no longer live life for yourself. Your first thought will always be your children, your family. It just changes how you perceive the world, how you regard other people, it changes your level of compassion. But also it changes your level for no bullshit! That might be just what we need.
Was there anything else that we should have asked you about that we missed?
You know I will say, I was also incredibly inspired by Heather Graham. It took her seven years to get this movie made, and she did not give up. People told her no, people told her ‘if you want to get a movie made in Hollywood you need a male character as the lead, you need to write for men not for women’. She was told all that. And she just did not give up. She had this idea about women coming together, and being a support system for one another, and she didn’t cave in. She just kept at it.
To get a movie made is so incredibly hard, let alone an independent movie with three female leads. The nature of all of that is changing, and things are changing, and women are having this great cultural awakening of support. A reckoning if you will, I guess. And I’m just really proud of Heather. Because before this moment was happening, she was in the trenches trying to get her movie made. I think it’s a great message for young filmmakers, young female filmmakers, perseverance and feeling passionate about your project and not letting other people tell you that you can’t do it. She had to fight every step of the way, and she didn’t give up. And I find that really inspiring.
Half Magic is in select theaters and on demand and digital HD now! Watch it, love it, tweet about it. #HalfMagic!