Bringing her light and love of adventure to the television screen in the new Epix dramedy series GET SHORTY, Megan Stevenson truly shines. GET SHORTY may be a tale of a small time Mob enforcer who dreams of breaking into Hollywood, but the show smartly showcases all of its characters so that each enhances and enriches its zany world. Megan’s portrayal as April Quinn is a strong and fun standout in a testosterone-infused tale of the Mob meets Hollywood. In an exclusive interview, Megan shares what appealed about this project and her life and career lessons that she has learned during her own Hollywood experience.
What appealed to you about portraying April Quinn and working on EPIX’s GET SHORTY?
MEGAN: April is such a strong, dynamic character with such fun quirks to her, I was really dying to play her as soon as I got my hands on the material. I love how she’s in a man’s world and totally holds her own and I was excited to throw myself into her shoes. I’ve also been a fan of Davey Holmes for years and jumped at the chance to work with him. His writing is so specific and has such an ease to it. He completely channeled the world of Elmore Leonard in this show. And having Allen Coulter and Adam Arkin as directors was a definite perk. Overall, the caliber of people involved in this show was so high, I did everything I could to be a part of it.
How would you describe who April is and her place on the show?
MEGAN: April is Rick’s (Romano) former assistant who is now a big studio executive at Gravity Pictures. She meets Miles O’Dowd in episode 1 and is quite charmed by him, but in episode 3 their relationship quickly takes a turn for the worse when she’s forced to partner up with him on the film he’s producing, which could have very bad consequences for her at the studio. In short, she had a very bad day in episode 3 and will have to navigate her way through this storm over the next 7 episodes.
What do you most admire most about April?
MEGAN: Her strong work ethic, confidence, and fierce nature. I admire her for being such a strong role model for woman in the workplace. She’s not afraid to use her power and be assertive. She doesn’t go down without a fight…a very admirable quality, I think. Also, she has amazing taste in clothing and always looks very put together — extremely unlike me in my day to day life!
What was it like working alongside such a talented ensemble such as Ray Romano and Chris O’Dowd?
MEGAN: I wish I had an answer to this that wasn’t as disgustingly complimentary as this, but I don’t. Those men are true gems. Chris is charming and lights up a room when he walks into it. He’s hysterical, honest and an extremely giving actor. He would stay on set after working 10 straight hours — just to read his lines off camera with me for my coverage on a phone call scene. You can’t help but be better when you’re acting in scenes with him. And Ray is the most humble, authentic, genuine man with a very good soul. He has great kids and the most lovely wife. Acting in scenes with him was a gift. He has no idea how brilliant he is. I loved hearing him tell stories from his life while we were on set. All in all, I don’t know how you could get better co-stars than those two.
Any favorite scenes that you can share from working on GET SHORTY?
MEGAN: We filmed a scene where our “set” in the movie goes up in flames and that was a crazy experience. It was 1:00 a.m. in New Mexico and freezing outside. The whole Fire Department was there in charge of everything fire-related. When we did the first take and the set explode, it was like nothing I’ve seen before. Equally exciting as it was scary. Props to the director, our crew and New Mexico Fire Department for handling that so well! I also loved the scene from Episode 3 where April storms into Rick’s office and goes off on him. It’s incredibly freeing to unleash such rage and the fact that Ray’s character had absolutely NO idea what I was screaming about makes it so wonderfully complex. That was the first scene I shot for episode 3 and it couldn’t have been a better way to start filming that episode for me.
What has been your favorite part about working on GET SHORTY as a whole?
MEGAN: I could write so many answers to this question but I’ll spare you and just go with one: the people. Every single person involved in this production from the executives at MGM and Epix to the caterers and drivers on set were the most lovely, genuine, engaging people with really great hearts. Everyone had such positive attitudes, even during some of the really long days, and that made every second an enjoyable experience. It truly was going to work with your friends. And since we filmed most of it in Albuquerque, on the weekends we all went hiking together and did weekend trips to explore New Mexico. Most of the cast stayed at the same hotel, so every night we would go in the hot tub and tell stories. It felt like 6th grade camp all over again… and clearly I loved my 6th grade camp!
Then as an actor, what has been the one thing you haven taken away from the experience of working on GET SHORTY?
MEGAN: Every show has such a different vibe and energy based on the people involved and the tone of the project. GET SHORTY has taught me to slow down and take in every moment, every scene, every table read, all the moments you have with other actors on and off screen and to enjoy the journey of it… because it flies by!
What has surprised you most about your career so far?
MEGAN: This may sound strange, but I’ve been most surprised by how everything has led to something that I didn’t see coming, even though at the time I was convinced it wasn’t going the way it was supposed to go. For instance, I’ve had auditions that have gone really well, but didn’t get the part and am sad for weeks. Then months (or sometimes years) later that same casting director who became a fan of mine from that audition calls me in for another part, which I end up getting. And that part leads to something else. There are certain producers that I have met and gone in for so many times that didn’t lead anywhere, but they end up talking about me to someone else and that leads somewhere. I’ve gotten upset so many times for losing out on stuff and one way or another it all works out the way it’s supposed to. So much of it has to do with timing. I feel like I’ve learned that there’s a reason for everything that I’ve gone through in my career thus far and to trust in the bigger picture of it all.
At this stage of your career, what do you think you have learned from the roles and projects you have worked on?
MEGAN: Each of them have taught me so much, but overall the most valuable lessons have been to trust my instincts, be fearless, and just free fall into each role/project.
Then what are the perks of where you are in your career right now?
MEGAN: Being on a show that I am so extremely proud of and getting the opportunity to play a character that is so fun for me while being surrounded by such talented cast members. That is definitely the biggest perk of my career right now.
If there were one previous role you would like to revisit, which would it be and why?
MEGAN: Hmmm…I’ll have to go AJ Gibbs. She’s a character from a Comedy Central show I was in with Andy Daly called REVIEW. It had three seasons, but I think it would be fun to do a movie.
Do any of your characters and the situations they find themselves in ever leave a lasting impression on you?
MEGAN: YES! The situations April Quinn has been in have left a lasting impression on me. The lunch date blackmail scene is still with me. Things like that happening are so unexpected and rare that I think, if that were to happen in real life, you wouldn’t ever really get past it. I feel like you would just live with a feeling of unease for a while. AJ Gibbs had some lasting impressions on me as well. She was someone who was much deeper than people thought and had this quite manipulative way about her. That’s an interesting character study for me so she definitely left an imprint on me.
Do you find any of your character’s habits manifesting in your own life? Like what?
MEGAN: Ha, well currently Ms. Quinn is manifesting herself in my life in all the right situations. I’ve become much more powerful while negotiating my cable bill price down with DirecTV representatives. I got a refund on a flight I had to cancel because of some savvy maneuvers I pulled compliments of April and her business skills. Things like that are definitely the power executive part of me coming through and helping in my own life. In the past, I’ve played some females who know how to put a great smile on even when they’re feeling uncomfortable, so those character habits have helped me during photo shoots or situations where I feel very self-conscious. I just channel those ladies and I’m good to go!
Has there been any great advice you have gotten about working as an actor?
MEGAN: To remember that it’s a business and to treat it that way. Work your way up, put in the time, stay persistent, keep learning and growing so you have more to offer. And not to take it too personally when things don’t go the way you wanted. There will always be another opportunity.
What advice would you offer to other upcoming and aspiring actors?
MEGAN: Have a very strong support system of family and/or friends, have an animal so you have something to take care of who provides a lot of love in your life and forces you to go outside and walk, which helps when you’re feeling low, and never give up. Don’t let anyone or anything that happens to you along the way take you off your course. YOU are the only person that can make this career happen for yourself. Endure the pain and enjoy the good times. And with all that, work really hard. Be creative every day, take a ton of classes, try doing improv, force yourself to do things you’re scared to do. Do whatever it takes to keep you growing as an artist.
Are you actively involved with any charities? Which do you work with most? And which would like to see your fans become more involved with and support?
MEGAN: YES! I could go on FOREVER, but I’ll only give my top 5 so it’s less brutal to read. I’m giving tons of detail for each and even using bold print.
(1) I’m very passionate about raising awareness for shelter pets. Adopting pets from a shelter or rescue and not buying or breeding. Each year, 7.6 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide and 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized. Awareness and exposure for shelter pets is the difference between life and death for them.
(2) I’m a HUGE fan of Marc Ching and his rescue called Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation. He is fighting to end the Asian Dog Meat Trade. What he does is exceptional. It’s too long to explain, but you can go to animalhopeandwellness.org to learn more about him and the dog meat trade. It’s not pretty so prepare yourself. Their Instagram is: @animalhopeandwellness
(3) The Beagle Freedom Project nonprofit. They rescue laboratory animals and are working to end animal testing. If everyone switched to buying cruelty-free products, which in most cases are also better for the environment, we could end the torturing that the beagles and other small animals endure during the testing. IG: @beaglefreedom
(4) Marleys Mutts Dog Rescue. They do this intensive rehabilitation program called the Pawsitive Change program. It matches death row dogs with inmates inside California State Prisons. Their goal is to reduce inmate recidivism by providing them a viable skill, while at the same time saving the dogs lives. Both the man and the mutt use the skills they gain over the 14 weeks to better their lives and stay out of prisons and/or shelters, respectively. It’s incredible to see how the dogs help the humans and vice versa. It’ll make you cry happy tears! IG: @marleysmutts
(5) National Mill Dog Rescue. They rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home retired commercial breeding dogs from puppy mills, giving them a chance to find happiness in a loving home. California just passed a bill that will put an end to inhumane puppy and kitten mills and hopefully soon every state will do the same. I also am a fan of The Puppy Mill Project and their efforts to end them. IG: @nationalmilldogrescue and @puppymillproject
At a time when women’s voices are rising to be heard and respected around the country and world, what do you recommend your fans do to lend support in that endeavor?
MEGAN: Using the famous words of Sheryl Sandberg, “lean in!” Her book is about self-confidence and equality. Define who you are for yourself not what the world has told you based on stereotypes, and define for yourself what kind of career you want. I catch myself easily taking the back seat at times and I have to push myself to get behind the wheel and take control. The Women’s March last spring was such a powerful experience to be a part of. More women, more voice, more equality!
Do you have any other upcoming projects that you can share that fans should keep an eye out for?
MEGAN: I did a fun part in Martin Starr’s (Silicon Valley) new indie movie, “Silver Lake” so keep an eye out for that.
To see more of Megan’s outstanding work in GET SHORTY, be sure to tune in for all new episodes on Sunday nights at 10:00 p.m. on Epix. (Epix just renewed GET SHORTY for Season 2 so be on the lookout for that to air in 2018.) To find out more about Megan’s future endeavors and passion projects, you can also follow her on Twitter @meganbstevenson