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By Claire Stern
Apr 25, 2019 @ 9:00 am
Sabrina Santiago/The New York Times/Redux

These days, Aidy Bryant is all about celebrating — and with good reason. When she’s not delivering spot-on impressions of Adele or Sarah Huckabee Sanders on SNL, the actress and comedian is one of the few cast members who helms another hit show outside the hallowed halls of Studio 8H. Shrill, based on Lindy West’s 2016 book of the same name, follows Bryant’s character Annie, a journalist who’s simultaneously trying to navigate her career, bad boyfriends, and the terrain of emotions that comes with being a plus-size girl in a judgmental world. Since it premiered last month, the series has received near-universal critical acclaim for its body-positive message and candid portrayal of twenty-something female woes. So really, who could blame her for wanting to pop a bottle or two?

“By the time I get home, I definitely want a little Grey Goose moment,” she says. “And a very fancy bathrobe.”

Bryant’s penchant for toasting life’s big (and small) achievements is fitting considering she teamed up with the vodka brand for its new campaign, Live Victoriously, dedicated to making every day a special occasion. “I feel like I work so much now that I have to find little tiny ways to treat myself,” she says. Another reason to raise a glass: Hulu has already greenlit Shrill for a second season, with two more episodes, slated to drop next year.

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Is 2019 the year of Aidy Bryant? Some might say we’re in the golden age of women in comedy, especially when you take into account the entertainment industry’s lack of diversity. “Whenever I watch old episodes [of SNL], there was, like, two girls in the cast,” Bryant says. “Now there’s seven or eight of us. It’s really special for me to be a part of group where we’re not the girl, we’re the girls.”

Here, Bryant gets candid about her role models, becoming comfortable with negotiation, and how being a woman on SNL gave her a newfound sense of confidence.

On her first job… “I did a lot of babysitting. I also worked at a barber shop for a while, sweeping up hair and answering phones. I don’t know how I ended up there.”

On her first big paycheck… “Baby Wants Candy [the musical improv group] was definitely one of my first paid comedy jobs, which was thrilling to me. I was getting paid for the thing that I love to do. I feel like I tricked someone or something. It wasn’t glamorous at all — I was in a van driving around Indiana and Ohio doing bad musical improv.”

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On role models… “When I was in high school, my mom got breast cancer and was like, ‘I’m gonna do my own thing.’ She opened a boutique, Frances, that’s hugely popular now in Phoenix — it’s been named ‘best boutique’ [by the Phoenix New Times] for, like, 12 years in a row. She was in her forties and fully changed her whole life in a cool way. It was badass.”

On the gender pay gap… “I’m sure I have [encountered it], but maybe I don’t know it. The nice thing about a lot of the jobs that I’ve worked is there’s an ensemble where everyone is an equal in some way. Especially when you start at SNL — you get the standard deal that everyone gets everywhere. It’s kind of cool.”

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On negotiating… “I feel like only recently have I gotten more comfortable with the idea of being valuable. Before I was just happy to be there. Lately, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I have a lot to offer as a writer, and it deserves to be compensated.”

On how working at SNL changed her outlook… “It is what you make it — if you can figure out the system and you can become a producer and you can write your own pieces and you can make your own magic. Some people have figured it out and some people haven’t. It’s not always a fit for everyone, but seeing that I could succeed in that system helped me believe in myself and ask for more.”

On investing in herself… “I learned really quickly that, if I was going to have a career in comedy, I had to take it super seriously — to think about it as a job, not as this fun thing that I do on the side. I put that kind of focus on it.”

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On what’s next…  “We just started the writers room for season 2 of Shrill this week, so it’s on. It’s happening. That’s as much as I know, but it’s exciting!”

 

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