After years of experience, comedian Amy Anderson knows what skills are necessary to make it in her business. With her daughter Aubrey just starting as the new baby Lily on ABC’s Modern Family, she is definitely taking on a new role within the entertainment industry. Read on to find out how Amy handles being a woman of comedy and a mother of talent.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a comedian, actress, writer and “momager”…. I manage my daughter’s acting career! I was born in Seoul and adopted at age 5.5 months to my family in Minnesota which is where I spent my entire childhood. A great place to grow up, but too cold and too many mosquitoes!
We heard that you’re a skilled classical musician and graduated with a Bachelor’s in music education. What made you turn towards comedy?
I knew by the end of my junior year in college (which was a classical music conservatory), I didn’t want to pursue music as a profession. I always loved comedy and was a total class clown as a kid, so really it was a natural transition for me. I started taking a comedy improv class in 1997 and have been making people laugh ever since.
It seems that very few women comedians manage to achieve the same acclaim and fame as their male counterparts. What’s it like being a woman, more specifically, a Korean American woman in the comedy scene?
I hate to cry “unfair”, but it is difficult being a woman in comedy. We are definitely a minority, and women often are judged more harshly and for things that have nothing to do with what we say – mainly our looks. However, things are shifting – with women like Tina Fey, Kristin Wiig, Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman and SO many more, people are starting to respect women in comedy which is refreshing. And veteran stand ups like Wendy Liebman, Kathleen Madigan, Tammy Pescatelli have been fighting the good first for years – as have I! I’ve been doing stand up for almost 15 years! As an Asian American woman, it’s weird sometimes. People often expect me to do “Asian” jokes but then they find out I grew up in an all-white family and it surprises them. I don’t do stereotypical Asian jokes – nail salons, happy endings, etc. Hahaha! It’s just not my thing and it’s so hack and been done.
Your four-year-old daughter Aubrey just started as the new baby Lily on the third season of ABC’s Modern Family. How has Aubrey adjusted to her new job? And what’s it like being on the set of an Emmy Award-winning show?
Aubrey is loving her job as Lily on Modern Family. She truly is a natural and she wasn’t a child actor before she landed the role. It was kind of a fluke how we heard about the re-casting and everything happened very quickly. But she loves it. She literally begs to go to the set to be with her “TV friends” on days she doesn’t work. She does attend regular preschool on days she’s not shooting, and we’re trying to keep her life as normal as possible. The vibe on the Modern Family set is so great – it really is like a family and everyone there is so nice and clever. We are having a blast and feel very fortunate to be a part of such an amazing show. I recently wrote a blog post about our experience with Modern Family which talks about some of these things.
Who knows? I could see something in the future, and I’d love for us to work together. I could imagine an animated project where we do voices! That would be so fun, and she loves cartoons since she’s only four. She’s also very musical so I could imagine something there too. Lots of potential.
Anything you want to say to those who want to slap the dreaded “stage mom” label on you?
I’m aware that “stage mom” is mostly regarded as a negative term especially with shows like Toddlers And Tiaras out there, but I was an actress before Aubrey booked Modern Family. I know the ups and downs of this business, and I know how to conduct myself on a set. I also wasn’t actively pursuing a show business career for Aubrey. I wanted her to have a normal childhood and to not suffer an artist’s life like I have – it is not an easy one. But it really did sort of fall into our laps and while I’m not a spiritual person at all, it did seem like a divine order of events that were just meant to be. We rolled with it, and I don’t doubt for a second we made the right choices. My main concern is for her safety, happiness, health and proper behavior. I am her mom first, then her manager. I still want her to be a good, happy girl much more than I want her to be famous or rich.
Finally, any words of advice for struggling comedians and actors?
Don’t be lazy! Making it in this business is brutal and very competitive. You need to put in the work so you are ready when a great opportunity arises. If it’s your passion and you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else, you know it. Stay true to yourself, work hard and trust that if you are doing what you were meant to be doing, then things will fall into place for you. Maybe not in the way that you imagine, but hard work is often rewarded in surprising ways.
[Photos: Courtesy of Amy Anderson]