Interview With Amanda Payton | Unleash Your Power
When we have the clarity to decide how do we want to feel, regardless of any external circumstances, we unleash our true power and freedom within ourselves. Why do we have to wait for something physical to manifest in order to feel joy and happiness?! What if it’s all works the opposite we always thought and unconditional happiness is a choice?! At least, when we seek for the best feeling, the journey to what we desire fills with bliss and appreciation, and only for that, it’s worth to try.
Actress Amanda Payton, who currently can be seen as Nina Rudolph on Season 2 of NBC’S series “Trial & Error” says, “Essentially, I was waiting to live my life until I achieved my goals. Things really shifted when I decided to allow my external achievements to add joy to my already joyful life.”
- Please introduce yourself briefly. Who, in your own words, is Amanda Payton?
Well, I was born and raised in Los Angeles. My mom is white and Jewish, and my dad was African American, so I grew up with a foot in each culture.
I was very shy as a kid (I still am sometimes), but I always loved performing. Some of my other passions included singing, dancing, playing basketball and painting. I briefly planned to use painting as my backup plan in case the whole acting thing didn’t work out. I don’t really think I understood the concept of a backup plan. After graduating from Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, I moved to Pittsburgh to attend Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama where I started with a major in Musical Theatre and ultimately graduated with a BFA in Theatre. Now I’m back in Los Angeles with a few more passions including running, backpacking and animals. I have been blessed with some amazing mentors along my path, so it’s also a passion of mine to pay it forward to those I am in a position to help.
- What was your path of consciously becoming in love with acting?
I fell in love with acting when I was about three years old. My mom took me to see a Chekhov play that my dad was acting in. She thought that I would probably sleep through it, but apparently, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. When it was over, I couldn’t wait to see my dad. In the play, he had grey hair and wore spectacles. I was intrigued because I knew it was him, but I couldn’t believe the transformation. After the show, I crawled back and forth inspecting the entire stage. I think that was pretty much what started it for me.
Following that moment, every TV show, play, and movie I saw inspired me. I went through a four year period where I watched Mary Martin’s “Peter Pan” every day until I could perform every movement and word of every character perfectly. Then I moved on to re-enacting the Patty Duke/Ann Bancroft version of “The Miracle Worker” with any friend who would indulge me.
- How does the entertainment industry contribute to shaping the authentic You, and how does this affect your personal growth?
I think having a strong sense of self is paramount to being in the entertainment industry. With success comes an external reflection of how the world sees you in a specific moment. If you don’t have a strong sense of self, you can start believing that you are the version of you being reflected by people who don’t know you. It’s because of this that I have prioritized personal growth and make sure to leave myself room for my own reflection, even when things are very busy. I see it as a part of the job.
- As humans, our ideas and thoughts become the perception of our own reality. Do you think that there is a shift in the mindset that is breaking certain stereotypes in the entertainment industry? If so, please elaborate.
I do! I think as a society we are starting to accept the idea that we can create our own realities. Because of this, more and more people are becoming empowered to step into the light and tell the stories that are in their hearts. I think that’s one of the many reasons we are in such a golden age of television right now, and why we are seeing more interesting, dynamic and strong female characters of all different backgrounds shapes and circumstances.
- You can be seen as Nina Rudolph on Season 2 of NBC’S series “Trial & Error” which premiered on July 19. What did you feel when you first read the script and how was the audition process?
I was very excited as soon as I received the script because I was already a fan of Season 1. The writing is brilliant. When I saw that Nina was a podcast host making a Serial-type podcast, I fell in love. I have been obsessed with murder documentaries and podcasts for a very long time. To say I connected with the material would be an understatement.
The audition process was wonderful. I initially crossed paths with the casting office (Valko/Miller) several years ago. The first time I read for them, they cast me in a small role in The Big Bang Theory. That role ended up getting cut at the table read, and Ken sent me a personal email to make sure I understood that the elimination had nothing to do with me. After that, they kept calling me in for bigger and bigger roles. They really took care of me as an actress (and yes, they did get me back on The Big Bang Theory a few months later). Ken Miller, Nikki Valko, Peter Pappas, and Tara Treacy have always made their audition room a comfortable, respectful, and collaborative environment. It’s only fitting that my first series regular role would come from that office. I feel that they groomed me for my series regular debut. It’s something I am immensely grateful for and will remember forever.
- What are the similarities and difference between your character Nina, and you?
Like me, Nina is a hard worker, and she is very driven. She also tells it like it is. I love that she doesn’t hold anything back.
I would like to think that the biggest difference between Nina and I is that at this point in my life I fall for more appropriate men in less complicated situations!
- What is the intention of the story behind Nina’s character and how does she connect with the audience?
Nina is an ambitious New York podcast host who comes to East Peck to follow the murder trial of Lavinia Peck-Foster (Kristin Chenoweth), for her murder podcast “M-Towne – Where Murder Happens.” While in East Peck, Nina develops a little crush on Lavinia’s lawyer, Josh (Nicholas D’Agosto). She ends up tangled in a bit of a complicated triangle between him and his opposing counsel, Carol Anne Keane (Jayma Mays), who may be carrying his baby.
Nina is, in a sense, the eyes and ears of the audience. She asks the questions and makes the comments the audience is wondering and thinking; she’s the straight guy, the “normal” one.
- In the series, Nina Rudolph has her own podcast and blog M-Towne, which serves as a platform to showcase all the different personalities of East Peck during the latest murder trial. How important do you think is the role of the media to positively contribute to its audience?
In theory, the media’s role is purely to present facts in a straightforward, unbiased fashion. In Trial & Error, we poke fun at the reality that media often tells us how to feel rather than laying out the facts. It’s a comical spin on a serious political discussion.
- There are only six regulars in the series with occasional guest stars. Working alongside with such genius comedians as Kristin Chenoweth, Nicholas D’Agosto, Jayma Mays, Sherri Shepherd, and Steven Boyer must be very inspiring. How do you think being part of a cast where the co-creative process is flawless reflects the outcome of the project?
The leads of a show play a huge part in setting the tone of the entire set experience for everybody. Nicholas and Kristin led our ship making it safe for everyone, including our guest actors, to take risks and bring their best work. Each and every member of the cast brings a unique quality to the show. The life that Kristin, Nicholas, Jayma, Sherri, and Steven bring to the scripts is sidesplitting. It was a challenge not to break character and laugh while the cameras were rolling. There were no divas, and there were no inflated egos, which made for an enjoyable, fun, and in-sync experience. I learned that along with being a talented actor, a big part of the job of leading a successful show is having the skill set to bring out the best in everyone. Such a priceless lesson that I will never forget. I think the attitude on set is absolutely felt by the audience.
- Some of your past appearances on TV include roles in TNT’s “Animal Kingdom” and “NCIS.” Do you envision yourself in transitioning to different genres and artistic disciplines in the future?
Yes! I want to do everything! I want to do Shakespeare in the Park, I want to do Broadway, I want to do gritty indie movies, I want to do big feature films, I want to do more comedies like Trial & Error, I want to do drama. I truly want to experience everything. I see myself working for the rest of my life on projects that peak my interest and challenge my understanding of human nature, both on stage and on screen.
- Being an actor gives you the opportunity to portray different characters who represent stories which we can identify with one or another way. Does it make you more open to understand and accept diversity? If so, how?
Yes, acting is a never-ending lesson in compassion and open-mindedness. As an actor, I have the blessing of stepping outside of my own point of view every day and exploring other mindsets and opinions. This has helped me to discover where I’m wrong about things or where I am being closed minded.
- Are you involved in any charity organization or humanitarian cause you would like to mention?
I have done some work with NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association). Eating disorders are rampant for women (and even men) beginning at a young age. I am seeing a rise in “body positivity” movements. However, we have a long way to go, and NEDA provides resources and information necessary to start to combat this problem.
- • How do you embrace the intimate experience with Existence which we call life?
I make a daily effort to live life on life’s terms. This is difficult. Sometimes I forget and think that I have control over things that I do not have control over. It is a daily practice of relinquishing control and allowing myself to feel all the feelings. Life is not meant to be only happy. We have trying moments. Those moments can be just as beautiful as the triumphs if you are not resisting feelings.
- The spirit of The Hedonist Magazine is “The Essence of a Joyful Living.” How does Joy during the creative process affect your own experience and in consequence the final manifestation of your actions?
I think Joy unlocks creativity. For a while, I was putting all of the pressure on outside circumstances to make me joyful. I thought that without achieving my goals, I wouldn’t be able to live a joyful life. Essentially, I was waiting to live my life until I achieved my goals. Things really shifted when I decided to allow my external achievements to add joy to my already joyful life.
I vividly remember having the thought before going into one of my Trial & Error callbacks that while I wanted this role, and wanted this experience with all my heart, I wanted joy and happiness more. At that moment I was able to let go of control, or trying to force an outcome, and approach the experience with excitement and joy.
- When you hear: “You can be, do and have anything you want,” words by Abraham Hicks. What is your take on such a statement?