Making its premiere this week is YouTube Premium’s new comedy series LIZA ON DEMAND, which follows the crazy working adventures of Liza (hilariously portrayed by Liza Koshy) as she pursues the career of an “elite tasker”. Watching on the sidelines, yet cheering her on are her friends Harlow (Kimiko Glenn) and Oliver (Travis Coles). In an exclusive interview, Kimiko and Travis talk about what it is like working on LIZA ON DEMAND and jumping into the energized world of YouTube originals and their passionate fans.
How did you both of you get cast in LIZA ON DEMAND?
KIMIKO: I auditioned via tape with my own dog, actually. I think that probably got me the job. [Laughs] No, I don’t know. I went in. I Skyped with Liza and it lasted two seconds. We got no impression of each other, whatsoever, so we had to do another, another call, a FaceTime, to make sure that we had chemistry, because I think that was super important. We talked like 50 minutes and she’s amazing and I think that’s when I got the job.
TRAVIS: Actually, I was found by the show writers and creators from a YouTube video that I made. That’s how I got called in for the audition. I went in, did the audition and I would have Liza was my best friend. I got called back into the room and it was straight to test. So, it was a straight chemistry read with Liza. That was the first time I met her was literally, that day. I had no idea what was going on. I met her and we went into the room and it was so much fun. We just hung out and then they were finally like you need to, you need to do the audition. So we did the test and they were, we just did it and when I was leaving, everyone was just like, that was incredible. I left and ended up getting an actual FaceTime call from Liza. I actually don’t ever answer FaceTime numbers, or numbers that I don’t know, but I answered it and it was Liza. I was like, oh, hi. First of all, I was like how did you get my number? Second of all, she was like, how would you like to play my best friend on LIZA ON DEMAND. I was like, “That is so sweet of her to call.”
KIMIKO: [Laughs] She didn’t do that for me.
TRAVIS: She didn’t do that for you?
KIMIKO: That is so weird. Yeah. We’re both much closer. Much closer. [Laughs] I kid.
TRAVIS: It was incredible.
How would you describe your characters of Oliver and Harlow?
KIMIKO: Harlow is kind of, I’d say, your quintessential millennial. She lives off of her dog’s Instagram fame and she does it well. She’s one of Liza’s roommates and I think Liza looks up to both Oliver and Harlow, just because they have their stuff figured out, a little bit more.
TRAVIS: Oliver, he’s a realtor. He has his career together and he is basically her no nonsense, kind of snarky friend that is there to kind of pick her up when she needs it and also, shine a light, be like listen, we need to help you figure out what your goals in life are and how are we going to do that. That’s what the first episode is actually about, is her trying to figure out what she’s good at. Since Harlow and Oliver already have their thing, she’s just like what’s my thing in this world? And that, I kind of relate to. Before this, I was just like I don’t know what I actually want. Especially in your twenties, you’re just like what are we doing and you’re constantly changing, but you surround yourself with those people that are always moving forward to see what’s going to be good for them and try to just be better people, in general and that’s what this whole show’s about.
The show’s about Elite Taskers, people who desire to achieve “tasker greatness.” What in the world is a tasker?
KIMIKO: Basically, she gets hired to do anything. She is hired in the first episode to finish a puzzle for a rich woman’s son’s school project, and also to kill a cat. It kind of runs the gamut with what you can do with that app.
TRAVIS: So TaskIt is almost like if you imagine PostMates, TaskRabbit, like all of these other apps, all in one, that is what TaskIt is. She wants to be an elite tasker because that means she’ll be able to get the better jobs and benefits.
TRAVIS: Yeah, she gets all that stuff. And also, what’s good about it is that she realizes that that’s what her thing is, which is helping other people. I mean things aren’t actually so great for Liza, her character, and Liza as the person.
KIMIKO: It’s like real.
TRAVIS: Yeah, because that’s what Liza’s good at. She’s really good at helping other people and that’s why she’s amazing.
Would you guys actually want to do anything like what she ends up doing as a tasker in life?
TRAVIS: I have. [Laughs] You don’t know how many Ikea furniture pieces I’ve put together for money. Honey, we do stuff for money and you know what, I’m really good at it now. I can tell you, like I can look at an Ikea furniture and be like, “Oh, yeah, that’ll take me 30 minutes to put together.”
KIMIKO: I, actually, would love to do some of the things just for the stories. I love having ridiculous stories to tell, so I think it’d be funny.
It sounds kind of scary. You don’t know what these people are going to ask you to do, really.
TRAVIS: Well, there’s just so many odd jobs, like I remember a time where Craigslist, before these apps were happening, I looked through, I remember I did background laughter for a comedy pilot. So I was there to just be a professional laugher because I was told that I had a good laugh.
KIMIKO: I think you have a great laugh.
TRAVIS: See! Well, you get paid for the things that you’re good at or maybe not. There were some people in the audience, I’ve got to say, they were not as good a laugher as I was, but I just remember being like oh, wow. I have to pay my bills, so I have to make it work, and I was just like anything that’s legal, I’ll do it.
For the first season, what would you say is one of the crazier tasker activities you guys get kind of sucked into?
KIMIKO: We don’t really get sucked into tasks.
TRAVIS: Our characters don’t because Harlow and Oliver have their own jobs that are pretty standard in the job world, but I think for Liza’s character, Liza, one of the more interesting ones, I think would be, at least for me, a professional mourner. That’s actually a real thing, where people are paid. Yeah. The creators of the show Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, they sound out all of the weirdest kinds of jobs — odd jobs that people get paid to do — and they incorporated them into the show. So most of the stuff is real. At one point, she gets like, they kind of make … you know, like at one point Liza becomes a paid political person … all of these things are real jobs, and it’s fun because they just heighten it to the extreme level. I mean, if this is true then what else could be true for this job?
So what is kind of the dynamic between your characters and Liza?
KIMIKO: Harlow’s probably a little more fun and lighthearted and doesn’t have as much emotional stake in what’s going on with Liza. I mean she loves her as a friend, obviously, but I think Oliver is the voice of reason in a lot of ways.
TRAVIS: I definitely am the voice of reason. Harlow is kind of there also because, while she does have her life together, she’s like this Millennial that’s also a little bit delusional and like, everything just goes her way. She doesn’t know why … and it’s like, yeah, it’s really not going your way. So we kind of represent I think a combination of yin and yang. Harlow has more like the free, spoiling kind of attitude where I’m, my character, Oliver, is very strict. There are rules. We follow them and Liza’s character is kind of in between. So, we all just mesh together in this world, in this apartment and our strengths and our weaknesses, we help each other and we build. It’s really incredible.
What is it working with Liza Koshy?
TRAVIS: Honestly, I couldn’t say this enough, Liza’s probably one of the best people out there in the entertainment industry, in general, and the fact that she has an influence over millions of people, especially the youth, is I think, incredible because when you have a platform, you have a responsibility and what she is spreading is joy, love, and humor. I think that’s incredible and that’s why I was so happy when I got the job. And Kimiko’s also amazing as well.
KIMIKO: [Laughs] Yeah, yeah, I’m really cool.
TRAVIS: You are!
KIMIKO: [Laughs] Not as cool as Liza. She has just like the sweetest heart. We didn’t get to see her with her fans or anybody until way after the fact, when we were doing a scavenger hunt promotion for the release date of LIZA ON DEMAND, and to see her interacting with the people coming up to her, she really takes the time and she’s so sweet with people. She is genuinely so nice. She’s like that 24/7. I honestly can’t say enough good things about her. I could really go on. And on. She is who she presents herself to be.
Are you guys both new to the YouTube world as performers?
KIMIKO: I have some YouTube videos up, but I’ve never done YouTube blogging or sketches or any of that sort of thing. I never did anything consistent, I just like have stuff on my YouTube channel.
TRAVIS: Yeah and a lot of my friends started off in that fine world. and I remember when they were doing it and I was just like, “This is not going to go anywhere you guys.” And now, of course, they are millionaires. So I kind of did not get into putting up or uploading videos until I finally started believing in the reality that is, if you want to create something, you can do it today. So I’m new in that sense and very grateful that I got a very big break in this job, to be immediately platformed into one of the biggest YouTube shows that will be out there. Mark my words.
The interesting thing about the YouTube world is when you do a show on there, you’re supposed to be more accessible. Your fans find you more intimately, I guess. Are you ready to be that close to that fanbase that’s going to be like right there?
KIMIKO: Oh, that’s a tough question. See, I think was kind of primed a little through ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, my experience with ORANGE. I’ve never experienced anything like what Liza experiences on a day to day basis, but I feel like I have a little more of a handle and especially, just watching her and watching people. Yeah, I think I’m a little bit more prepared than I was three-four years ago.
TRAVIS: Immediately when you said that, I was thinking, “Well, luckily I have one of the best role models in this, which is Liza Koshy.” The fact that she is not able only to communicate with her, not her fans, her friends is what she calls them, because she says it’s a community. And also be true to what her morals and values are. I think that I absolutely am ready to do that, as well.
To see how Kimiko and Travis’s characters delightfully add too Liza’s zany, adventure-filled life, be sure to tune in for the premiere of LIZA ON DEMAND on Wednesday, June 27th when the first three episodes are released — two of which will be available watch on YouTube Premium for free, and then the third episode can be viewed if you are a YouTube Premium subscriber. Additional episodes will be available every Wednesday after that. Also, for those looking to follow Kimiko in all her other projects, you can follow her on Twitter @KimikoGlenn.
LIZA ON DEMAND Season 1 trailer: