American Housewife Star Meg Donnelly on Sitcoms, Singing, and (a Lack of) Siblings
In its first season, American Housewife kept viewers laughing with the far-from-perfect Otto family’s attempts at being, well, perfect. While the neighbors in their Westport, Connecticut, town live seemingly flawless suburban lives, Katy Otto (played by Katie Mixon) faces a constant struggle when it comes to keeping her husband and three kids in line. The sitcom quickly earned an audience with moms (and dads) looking for a 30-minute break each Tuesday night, and it’s already been picked up for a second season.
We recently sat down with one of the show’s younger stars, Meg Donnelly, to chat about playing the Otto family’s oldest child, Taylor. And while the 15-year-old actress might not be the target demographic for the parent-approved comedy, she fully gets the appeal. “Our show is really meant to be relatable to women who struggle with the stereotypes that can come along with being a mom,” Donnelly told InStyle. “But most importantly, you’re just supposed to laugh at it.” Scroll down for our chat with Donnelly, and tune in for the season finale of American Housewife tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.
You’re pretty close in age with your character, Taylor. In what ways do you relate to her?
Taylor’s whole life is sports, which is so unlike me. So that was challenging to figure out how to be sporty. And unlike her, I’m an only child. Still, I think Taylor and I are a lot alike in other ways. I definitely relate to being a teenage girl and trying to figure out who I am. I draw on my own personal life experiences to get in her mindset during filming. She makes a lot of jokes, and I definitely use sarcasm with my family in real life. We’re both playful and don’t take things too seriously.
How would you describe the bond between yourself and your onscreen siblings?
We get along—we’re in different grades, so we’re up to different things in terms of school and tutoring. But at the end of the day, we really are like a family. Actually, the two kids who play my siblings are only children too, so it’s been cool for all of us to have siblings.
When you’re filming a scene together, do you ever go off-script?
There’s a lot of improv stuff that makes it in—that happens all the time. We also have funny alt[ernative] lines that the writers give us sometimes, and they’ll say, “How about you try this one instead of that one?” And most of the time the alt line actually makes it in.
VIDEO: The Most Expensive TV Shows of All Time
Do you have a favorite memory from filming season one?
Katy Mixon and I both did musical theater, so we’re always singing off-screen. Our first week of filming, we had to do a car scene. We were in the car, the three kids and Katy, and we were singing so many songs together. The whole crew was laughing at us. I had been so nervous up until that point to be professional and prepared, but after that moment I realized that I’d be good. I actually really love singing—down the road, I’d love to involve music in my career. But for now, I’m good with acting.
Who are some of the stars you look up to in the singing and acting realm?
Selena Gomez is an idol of mine, and she seems nice. Tori Kelly is also awesome. I was blown away by her performance in Sing.
Other than American Housewife, who are some of your other favorite sitcom families?
The family on Black-ish is really cool. And Full House, of course.