With roles in Modern Family and This Is Us among others already under her belt, as well as her regular appearances on the webseries Successful People, Lisa Linke has earned herself praise from fans and critics alike in recent years, and earned every positive word that’s been spoken or written about her. While her career shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Lisa to chat first auditions, dream roles and her advice for aspiring actors.
TITL: When did you first realize that you wanted to make performing a career? Was there any particular show or film you watched that made you think: “That’s who I want to be…that’s what I want to do?”
Lisa Linke: I think I realized I wanted to make it a career after I was already living in Chicago, studying improvisation and seeing people perform on stages and actually make a living doing it. I don’t have any artist role models in my family – everyone is business or education (or both) and so the idea of being an artist was really scary and challenging. So, until I saw people doing it and doing work that I found fun and engaging, then I could allow myself to really entertain that as a possibility. I don’t think it was as much as a particular show or film, but more being surrounded with people that I knew and liked and saw them doing this awesome thing.
TITL: Whose careers are you most inspired and influenced by? How do their careers impact your own?
LL: I’m always inspired by people who create their own content. They really take ahold of their own path and just start making art that demonstrates their style and voice. I like doing that. I think whenever anyone makes a successful series that is specific and authentic, it gives permission for everyone else to try and do that, too. And when it’s successful, it shows studios and networks that people are craving that kind of content, so they go looking for it to buy.
TITL: Can you recall your first audition?
LL: Ever? Nope. I always did plays in school growing up. I can remember my audition to join the improv group in grad school, which made me fall in love with improv. I knew nothing about improv, but I’d seen a show in Atlanta before I moved back to Illinois to go to grad school, and I absolutely loved it and wanted to learn how to do it! We did this warm up game and I was so excited, I physically pushed the person next to me, and the woman leading the exercise jumped in and was like “don’t do that”. But in a nice way, because she hadn’t said we couldn’t, and I was legit so excited.
TITL: Which of your auditions are you most proud of and why?
LL: I’m most proud of auditions where I did what I wanted to do in the room. It’s really easy to get thrown off throughout the day, traffic sucks or you can’t find parking, people are rude or it’s hot or you didn’t get the material as early as you wanted or whatever happens – life happens – but your job is to get in the room and deliver. The job is booking the job, and when I do a good job, and get good feedback in the room, or get a pin or check avail or a booking then I feel really good about what I did. I can feel good about what I did in the room even if I get zero feedback, too. I know what I did in the room and what I wanted to do.
TITL: Prior to auditioning for a part, how much research/background do you do in terms of the broadcast company/the show itself/other members of the cast, and do you find that such research helps?
LL: Oh, it helps immensely! You have to know your stuff. You have to know what show you’re going in for – what network it is on, what tone the show has and what the writer has written before. All that stuff just makes your audition more accurate. I didn’t know any of this before I started studying out here in LA, but I am a real research geek now the minute I get an audition.
TITL: You’ve starred in hit shows including This Is Us, Modern Family and the Netflix series LOVE. Of all the roles and characters you’ve played so far, do you have any particular favourites and do you have any fun memories you can share from time on the sets?
LL: Well, Modern Family was really amazing because it was a special day on set. They were on location, and Chris Martin was on set that day. All the crew was kind of twitterpated with him and it was easy to see why – he is literally the nicest person on earth. He was so cool to talk to in the hair/makeup trailer, and then so kind and funny on set. He entertained everyone in between takes with his guitar. Everyone was having a great time! For me, being on This Is Us was amazing because they moved so fast and it was being directed by Ken Olin and I’ve always been a fan of his, from way back in thirtysomething days. So, to see him direct was just fantastic. LOVE was incredible because Nisha Ganatra, the director, loved to improvise and I got to improvise a ton on set. That was wonderful, and to work with Gillian Jacobs, Paul Rust, Ed Beagley, Jr. and Kathy Baker was a total dream! I love working, period. Everything else on top of that is gravy.
TITL: What’s your dream role and which TV show would you most like to star/guest star in? Are there any actors or actresses you really want to work with?
LL: I do comedy and love it, but I watch a ton of drama! I think I’d love to be on something super tense like The Americans or Homeland. I get so hooked watching it and the acting on those shows is amazing. I love working with everyone because I like learning from everyone – but to work with someone who has made their own content, like Melissa McCarthy, Issa Rae, or Amy Schumer would be amazing.
TITL: What made you want to be a part of the web series Successful People, and do you think there will be many other such series being made in the coming years, due to the boom in and power of technology and the internet?
LL: Yes! There are so many series being made right now, it’s so easy to create content on a small scale. I did the first season because Artie & Theresa – the creators & stars – asked me to, and then when they invited me back with a series regular role for the second season, I was thrilled! That character is seriously the most obnoxious in the world. I loved playing her!
TITL: You’ve won a number of awards including Lead Actress at LAWebfest and overall web series winner at the Chicago Comedy Film Festival. How much do accolades like that mean to you, and would you say you’re more of an individual who cares more strongly about what your fans/followers think and that you can and do take on projects you feel passionate about?
LL: Thank you! It’s always nice to take a piece of work you’ve created and have it be recognized. Festivals are a great part of online content life. I like making content I’m proud of and want to do. It’s a lot of work to do – so usually I have to be really interested in the project and want to make it and get it out there in the world, or be asked to work with people that I adore and have a blast working with.
TITL: The entertainment business is cut-throat and competitive. With that in mind, and given your impressive resume, what advice would you give to those just starting out? What three traits would you say people need in order to survive in this fickle industry?
LL: Ah! You’re very kind. I’ve been told that you need two of the following three: luck, talent and perseverance. You can’t work on luck, but you can work on the other two. I say get your butt in a class and stay there! And create your own content.
TITL: Finally then, are there any projects or plans in the pipeline you can tell me about? What’s next for you and what are your goals for the remainder of the year?
LL: Yes! I just released Dog Therapist with my friend Gwen, and it’s a super short web series – all episodes are under a minute! We had a blast and I hope we do some more like it. I have a guest star on a Disney show coming out sometime this spring/summer, so I can’t wait for that to be announced! And of course, I’m creating more content. Do you sense a theme!?
For more information on Lisa Linke, visit her website or you can follow her on Twitter. Header photo credit: Birdie Thompson.