by Ryan Meehan
Megan was born in northern California, but her time there was brief. Her family ventured to several states during her youth, including: Nevada, Maryland, Arizona, and Colorado. The youngest of three kids, her flare for drama surfaced by age three when she told her parents she wanted to be an actress and refused to appear in public without her pink tutu. Growing up she was fascinated and inspired by classic films and their actors, especially MGM musicals. She was probably the only twelve year old who scouted the TV Guide every Sunday to see which movies from AMC she wanted to record and delight in throughout the week. She even asked for TCM for Christmas because she felt that they had a better choice of Judy Garland, Betty Grable, and Doris Day films. These movies motivated her to get serious about tap dancing and singing, and most of her after school hours were dedicated to lessons and practicing. Developing her talents turned her into a bonafide “Theatre Geek,” and she graced her high school stage with pride and excitement! After high-school she left her family in Colorado and moved to Southern California to pursue her life-long love of acting. She attended University of CA, Irvine where she studied acting and musical theatre. Within 3 years she graduated and headed up to LA to start a TV/Film career. Once in LA, she began to perform at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (UCB), mainly in there musical shows, specifically Matt Besser’s show “The Freak Dance.” “Freak Dance” has since become an indie feature film. She also wrote/produced her own web series “Hollywood Taffy.” Once she became more seasoned she began appearing on TV in several Guest Starring roles. She is still performing at UCB and grateful to be living her dreams in the city of Angels, and she’s also my guest today in 10 questions.
RM: You started out with the desire to get into the entertainment industry, but did not discover your comedic talents until later on within your journey…What changed all of that for you; and when did you truly know that it was time to make comedy one of your top priorities moving forward?
MH: Strangely enough not until recently. I have always considered myself an actress, but never put a “comedic” or “dramatic” in front of that term because I enjoy all genres. People have always told me what a funny performer I am, but I always just assumed that everyone was. Sometimes casting directors stop my audition just to tell me that I’m funny. And I’m always so surprised, like “Isn’t everybody?” But now I am realizing that it isn’t as common a gift as I thought, so I am just grateful for it and constantly working to improve.. Nothing changed; I just own it now.
RM: What was the first role you played in theater where you felt as if you really had control of every aspect of that character’s nuances? Why do you think you were able to zero in on the details of that persona so easily?
MH: Nothing in High School that’s for sure! I did a musicalized version of Strindberg’s “Miss Julie,” for the Academy of New Musical Theatre in North Hollywood. I played a modern Julie. She swore, drank, drugged, sexed; she was a hot mess! But I loved her, I think I was able to get a handle on her for a couple reasons. One being the size of the role, I was basically onstage the whole show and had many songs, so there was so much to explore in the writing alone. Even when I wasn’t in a scene, I would be onstage watching the scenes progress, so I was constantly thinking and reacting as Julie and seeing things from her perspective. Secondly, I love playing characters that don’t remind me of myself. It makes me work all the harder at understanding their behavior and who they are.
RM: When you got to Los Angeles, you began to perform at the Upright Citizens Brigade and ended up being an integral part of Matt Besser’s show “The Freak Dance”…Why do you think you seemed to work so well with Matt; and what is the most important thing that he ended up teaching you about performance art?
MH: I was shocked I even got that part! Besser intimidated me at first. I always wanted to be witty in his presence (so of course, I came off lame 90% of the time). But once I relaxed, I was able to focus on doing my best and caring just as much as he did about the project, which I think he appreciated. He taught me about collaboration. If a joke wasn’t working he would want everyone to brainstorm on how to make it funny. He’s completely open to everyone’s ideas and insight, and doesn’t shoot down ideas.
RM: You appeared on the FOX sitcom Mulaney where you played a girl who was dating John…What was the best part of that whole experience for you; and is he as personable to work with as his stage presence would suggest?
MH: The best part was watching Martin Short work. I watched him deliver the same lines everyday as we rehearsed and he made me laugh every time. He also knew everyone’s name on set and was such a professional. John is extremely personable and a joy to work with. He has zero ego, and makes you feel very at ease. He’s one of those people you can’t say enough good things about.
RM: When you get finished with an audition for a part in a TV show, how would you most accurately summarize the way you feel over the next few days? Do you tend to be the type of person who second guesses herself and constantly thinks about what you could have done differently during the audition, or are you generally pretty confident about the fact that you’ve given it your best effort?
MH: It depends. I try to leave each audition in a blaze of glory no matter how it goes. I think it’s important to exit confidently. It lets me take my power with me. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t get in my car and kick myself for missed opportunities. My goal is to forget auditions after I recap to my manager and write it in my audition journal. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, and sometimes I miserably fail and start crying.
RM: How would you best describe the shoot for Scott Aukerman’s “Comedy Bang Bang” special; and who were some of the other comics you got to work with? What kind of relationship do you have with that particular holiday, and what was the best Halloween costume you ever wore to celebrate October 31st?
MH: Shooting for that show was just fun! I got to work with one of their writer/performers Dave Ferguson who is so hilarious and great. And also Michael Cassady and Kathryn Burns, who were in “Freak Dance” with me. There was no need to be nervous because there were familiar faces everywhere. Unfortunately, my Halloween costumes were not creative when I was growing up. We would normally dress up in our sport uniforms and say we were a soccer player. Therefore I was always more excited about candy than dressing up. One year, my friend lent me her poodle skirt, it seemed so legit, I’d say that was my best. I peeked at 8.
RM: You’re currently living with an autoimmune disease…Could you tell us a little bit about what that affliction is and how you came to find out about the fact that you had it? To what degree would you say that malady affects your overall ability to perform?
MH: I have Ulcerative Colitis. It is a colon disease. I was diagnosed 2 ½ years ago and am for the first time reaching remission. I couldn’t work for most of 2014 and had to turn down jobs because I was too ill. I have done shows at UCB while being very sick and scared on stage. But now that I’m learning how it is best treated for my body, I’m hoping these things are in my past. If I work when I’m not well, I just get sicker, so it has taught me a lot about my limits and when it is and isn’t worth it to push them. For that alone, I try to think of it as a blessing.
RM: What advice would you give to someone who is looking to get into comedic acting of any kind? Was there anyone in particular who enlightened you with that piece of counseling when you were first starting out?
MH: I would say the best way to start is to take classes. Obviously, I think UCB has the most amazing training and a wonderful community. Also, The Groundlings is a great place to start. I would also say to start creating your own content to get your name out there. I cannot think of anyone in particular who guided me to do this, but most people will recommend class and I agree.
RM: What instrument have you always wanted to master but simply haven’t had enough time to learn how to play? Do you think that ten years from now you’ll be able to say that you’ve been able to spend some time making that dream a reality?
MH: Piano. No, I don’t think I will ever learn it because I know it isn’t really in my wheelhouse.
RM: If you were a superhero and you had the power to change one thing about the industry of comedy, what would it be and why? For the most part, are you generally satisfied with the way comedy is sold to the entertainment consumer?
MH: It would be to have funnier roles for women. So often it is the girl’s job to be pretty and set up the jokes for the men. Which is so boring as a viewer and as a performer. I’d be more satisfied if there were more women roles available and if they were given just as many jokes as the men.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
MH: The sky is the limit! That is the great part about this industry, you could wake up one morning and your whole life can change with one phone call! Currently I am writing, making comedy videos for my youtube channel, trying to expand my social media presence, and auditioning. All of which will hopefully lead to a call from HBO! Or Apatow! Or, why not, Spielberg! Again, the sky is the limit.
Official Website: http://www.meganheyn.com/
Megan on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/officialmeganheyn
Megan on Twitter: https://twitter.com/megheyn
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