Interview: Joy Osmanski Talks ‘Duncanville’, ‘Stargirl’February 20, 2020
Recently we had the chance to talk with Joy Osmanski about the winding road that led her to a career in acting and her two new TV series coming up, FOX’s Duncanville and CW’s Stargirl.
So was acting something you always wanted to do or did you discover it later on, like a happy accident?
Joy: Well it was an accident born out of boredom, I wasn’t someone who knew they wanted to be an actor, I wasn’t one of those children precociously dancing on tables looking for an agent. I had a whole other life before acting, I was a graphic designer, I had my own business, I was doing all this other stuff and just got really bored, it was creative but sedentary. I realized I missed collaborating with other creative people on a single goal that was performance-based. I danced most of my life and that was my main reference for performance, so I sought out some local community theaters and went into the best way possible which was like I don’t care, it doesn’t matter to me and of course that’s when you get cast, and that’s what happened and it’s all been uphill from there. It was such a nice time because you don’t know anything, it’s just the joy of doing it
, and I really tried to hang onto that. I think in many ways I’m glad I came to it later in my life because I really valued my experience in it.
You mentioned that you were a dancer for quite a while. Learning that discipline and commitment, do you think that helped you as far as acting is concerned?
Joy: Absolutely. I think my dance training has been the biggest influence in my life as a whole and yeah, the discipline, the rigor, the physical demands, the artistry. I was always drawn to the opportunities in dance where there was acting involved, if there was something to convey, a visual concept then I was really excited about that but yeah you’re right, all the things in that world led to acting, for sure.
You’ve done a lot of work in the world of television. Is that your preferred medium to work in or has it been simply a case of where the work took you?
Joy: Yes. (Laughs) What I like about most TV is you get to see the gratification of seeing the end product fairly quickly. Some of the films that I’ve done it’s been like well, that was fun and it’s never going to see the light of day or sometimes it takes years for something to get the final point. Films are fun because you just have a singular focus and I’d love to do more films but TV has been a wonderful playground for me, I feel really lucky to have done as much TV as I’ve done.
When you were starting out in your acting career did you have one of those moments, or roles, that convinced you that yes, you could make a career out of this profession?
Joy: Honestly, I was very lucky. When I’ve coached actors or given business classes about acting people have asked me about my experience and I’ve told them, this is not typical, and I’ve come to understand that rather profoundly. My first TV role, as a series regular, was on that show The Loop which was on FOX back in the day, and that was a collection of all the right things, I was in the right place at the right time, I was what they needed, everything just came together, seriously, it was like being handed a platter with every single one of your favorite foods on it and you think, this is how it is? Of course, we all know that this is NOT how it is, it is very rare, so it launched my career quickly and set a really high bar.
You’ve been acting for about fifteen years now. Do you think women are finally getting the recognition they deserve, bigger and better roles, or do we still have a ways to go?
Joy: I think there’s still room for evolution but I have to say, some of my favorite work recently has been by women in roles I’m so inspired to see them doing at that point in their careers. What I’m gratified to see is I think the nature of roles for women is getting better. There still needs to be more quantity in terms of roles but the actual roles we are getting to see women in these days are so much more interesting and I think some of the limitations have come down so let those floodgates open! (Laughs)
Speaking of opening up the floodgates, television is enjoying a new golden age these days with all the streaming services and content. Has that opened up more opportunities for actors in general, and for you as well?
Joy: I think yes and no. On the one hand, there’s this vast amount of content now but you know, there’s always been a vast amount of actors, maybe the ratio of success is just a little more even for more people. However, what I am excited by is yes, of course, there are just so many more stories being told now so as an actor you want to be part of so many more things and I’ve been blessed to have been able to take advantage of that. It’s still the race though, it never stops being the hustle and the race.
You have two new TV series coming out, Duncanville and Stargirl. Can you tell me a bit about those shows and your roles in them?
Joy: So Duncanville, that’s one of those dream jobs that literally the whole way through you just keep asking, is this real and when do I get fired. (Laughs) Anytime I’ve been lucky enough to have the chance to do animation, I did one other animation series which was also great, but it’s like, this is my job? It’s so incredible and when it’s people of this caliber involved, with this level of creativity…I mean, when you’re in a table read with Mike and Julie Scully, Amy Poehler, Ty Burrell, these are people who have nothing to prove, so the energy is not this low-level panic like in a lot of table reads, everyone is just laughing and generous and enjoying the process and that has been very eye-opening for me. Amy Poehler, she’s one of my idols, and I get to sit next to her in the table read because she plays my mother and my brother and my cheeks hurt after those table reads because I spend the whole time grinning, I’m so happy to be there, everyone is so talented and funny. It’s a wonderful show about a super average teenager and the family and they’re wacky adventures and the joy of animation is you can do anything. What sets this show apart from other animated shows, including ones I’ve been a part of, is it’s just funny, like joke after joke after joke and not necessarily at anyone’s expense, it’s just fricking funny and I find that very refreshing.
As for Stargirl…for me, these two projects were working concurrently so I would be in Atlanta, literally dressed to the nines, supervillain super suit, guns blazing, full-on stunts, everything, and then I would fly back to L.A. and do voice work, so that was a very strange time but the best of both possible worlds. For me, Stargirl opened a door creatively that I had never been able to walk through, it’s not really my wheelhouse, super villains is not really what I do. (Laughs) I’m the quirky assistant or the weird next-door neighbor, roles that I love, but this was a completely different world, besides it being part of an existing fan base that I’m coming to understand is passionate and knowledgeable. I have great respect for it and I’m hoping to learn from fans because they have a lot to teach me about this world.
Geoff Johns has created a world that is intensely personal, and I came to understand that I was working on the project and again, here’s a show creator with a vision of something that is wholesome, something kids and their families can watch together and I don’t think the parents have to worry too much and that’s got to be such a relief, you know? The storytelling is fantastic, I love good versus evil, I love the idea of the next generation underdog, riding up and finding their power and that’s what happens in the show and my character just gets to be so mean, so funny and they wrote her so well and all the stunt work, I’ve never experienced anything like that. My stunt double, Lauren Mary Kim is phenomenal and so patient with me and I really learned a ton of things from her.
What kind of preparation did you have to do prior to taking on the role of Tigress?
Joy: Oh boy, when I saw what I was going to be wearing I was like excuse me, I’m just going to start lifting weights while we’re talking. (Laughs) I had just given birth to my daughter the year before, I was not out of shape per say but I wasn’t strong and I saw this character and went wow, this woman will push you down to the ground with her thumb, she is mighty. Also, I wanted to do as many stunts as I possibly could, I had no idea what that entailed but I had an idea that it might involve some stamina and so I started working out quite seriously for the first time in my life, preceding the pilot, I probably worked out hard for about three months. I had a trainer, got some help and once we were on set and I saw what was going to be required, that was actually when my dance training came into play because Walter Garcia, who is the stunt coordinator, a true genius, he was so comforting because he was like oh, I’ve found dancers are some of our best people to work with, and it turned out to be really helpful and also, I really didn’t want to embarrass the stunt team, there were some really hard moves and I didn’t want to look like an ass. (Laughs) Lauren, her specialty is wirework and martial arts and man, the stunt team for this show, it was next level, like a big-budget movie.
I think that’s one of the biggest changes in television these days, where the budgets have gotten so big it’s almost like a movie playing every week instead of your regular TV episode.
Joy: Yes, I think you’re absolutely right. I started to get a hint of that on Santa Clarita Diet, because the production values on that were so high and you’re right since then, the projects that I’ve worked on have been just like that. I just shot an episode of this horror anthology on Hulu called Monsterland and it’s exactly like what you just said, every episode is like a film and it’s so much fun as an actor, it’s incredible, really cool.
What kind of advice would you give to someone who was looking at acting in terms of a career?
Joy: What I have found to be the key in terms of maintaining your mental and emotional health in this business, which is no easy task, is to surround yourself with good people, specifically people who are not in the industry. If that means letting go of people who are not letting you stay positive and focused in a good way then fine. So surround yourself with good people, also, find things beyond the business that bring you joy, hobbies, interests, anything that is unrelated to acting that gives you a bit of happiness. I would also say be kind and patient with yourself, don’t beat yourself up, don’t be critical with yourself, that’s everyone else’s job, you know what I mean? There are ways to be rigorous with yourself but I think that should come from a place of love and honoring who you are already, and not trying to fit into some general expectations of who you think you should be. Of course, this has all come after all these years because I certainly didn’t know these things when I started my career. (Laughs)
Now besides Stargirl and Duncanville, what other projects do you have coming up?
Joy: Well, that Monsterland episode is something I am over the moon about, I cannot believe I got to be a part of it. There are eight episodes I believe and each focuses on the idea of there being a fine line between man and monster. Some of the effects in these episodes, and some of the prosthetic effects that were done on my character, they are unbelievable, so I’m excited about that.
I want to thank Joy for taking the time to talk with us.