Interview: Andrea Barber

You’ve said that as a child actor, the audition process was “torturous.” What about it was so gruelling for you, and how has your perception changed at all now?

I don’t think there is a single actor out there who enjoys the audition process! HA! But as a child, it was never fun to hop in the car immediately after school to go sit on the freeway for an hour just to read two pages of dialogue from a script, and then sit for another hour on the freeway back home. Nine times out of ten, I wouldn’t get the job anyway, so it all felt like a big waste of time as a kid, especially when most of my other friends were outside playing after school or doing clubs/sports. Auditioning is just a tedious process no matter what your age.  I’m not auditioning now, but I’m sure I would hate it just as much as I did as a kid. Hollywood is very much a “drop everything and be ready to audition in two hours” type of business. That doesn’t jive well with my personality. I’m a planner! I thrive on schedules and structure. Unpredictability is not my friend! 🙂 

In one word, how did it feel to be back with the Full House cast?

Home. 

Has returning to acting ignited any desire to perform in other productions? 

I would love to do theatre! The live shows would both terrify and thrill me simultaneously, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I did many plays as a kid (I played Helen Keller twice in A Miracle Worker) and it’s so different from television work. You have so much more time to prepare, rehearse, and create a character. Theatre feels so much more alive; each night is different and can’t be replicated. There’s a bond between the actors and audience that’s unique to the acting world. I have so much respect for stage actors; I think they are the most talented breed of performer.

Can you share with us one of your fondest Full/Fuller House memories?

My fondest Full House memory is the cast dinners before every taping. The cast would go off the lot to have dinner and it was a special time for us to simply be together and laugh and shake off stress before the live taping. My fondest Fuller House memory was our first taping of our first show back after almost 30 years. The audience went crazy; I’ve never heard cheering so loud. People were crying, people were laughing. It was all the emotions mixed into a single night. People even cried and cheered when the living room and kitchen sets were revealed.

What is the most resonating thing one of your fellow cast mates has ever said to you? Who said it, and why do you think it struck such a chord with you?

Several castmates have told me I am the Lucille Ball of our generation, which is a massive compliment that I don’t deserve. But even being mentioned in the same sentence as her means so much to me. She is the ultimate study on how to convey every emotion without uttering a single word, using simply her facial expressions and body language. I feel this is a very intuitive way for me to act too – I have a hard time dialing it down sometimes! So the Lucille Ball comparison resonates with me and reminds me that you just gotta go for it, let it all out and don’t be afraid to look like a fool. The payoff can be huge. 

What did you miss most about acting as you pursued education and other avenues?

I actually never missed acting after Full House ended and I left Hollywood. I missed the people I worked with, for sure, but I didn’t miss the grind. It wasn’t until I came back for Fuller House 20 years later that I realized how much I enjoy and need artistic expression in my life. It’s wonderful to get to be someone else, especially someone as outlandish as Kimmy Gibbler, for several hours every week. 

If your kids expressed an interest in acting, would you encourage them?

If either of my kids ever express an interest in acting (so far they haven’t and I don’t think they will), I would highly encourage them to do local plays and theatre. I would support them in making it their after-school hobby. I wouldn’t encourage them to go the Hollywood route – that is a complete lifestyle change that affects the entire family. But doing local theatre would give them experience and keep the focus on acting, not fame. 

What advice might you give them going into their own auditions?

Be yourself, and don’t be afraid to put your own spin on a character.

What is your preferred way to spend a free afternoon when the kids are otherwise occupied?

There is nothing more satisfying than a long run in the sun! It cleanses the soul. 

What have you learned about love that you’ll teach your children?

Trust your instincts; they are rarely wrong. Value yourself and look for someone who values you even more. 

If you were to audition for a show currently airing, which one peaks your interest the most?

I love the Big Bang Theory. It’s a show about geeks who don’t take themselves too seriously – I love that! I can relate to that. Nobody is trying to be perfect; they each have their flaws but they are all one big, accepting tribe.

On that note, what type of role would you be interested in experimenting with?

I don’t know that I’d want to experiment! I like comedy! I would love to do a Hallmark show or movie someday, like my co-stars. Hallmark is light-hearted, feel-good TV. I would jive well with that. 

Who are some actors that you love to watch these days?

Freddie Highmore (who plays an autistic doctor) on the Good Doctor is so satisfying to watch. I think the best acting is in the smallest details, often in simply reacting, and Freddie nails it. I also love watching Claire Foy in The Crown. She is so controlled and subtle, yet brilliant. I love actors who take big risks. 

What’s one country or city on your bucket list? 

Iceland! Everyone I know who has been raves about it; it isn’t a typical travel destination. Unfortunately, I think word about Iceland has gotten out and now it’s filling with more tourists. But I still want to go! 

How has your previous work for the United Nations shaped your views of the world? 

My work with the UN solidified my opinion that travel and learning about other cultures is critical to widening one’s own views and opinions about life. Everyone doesn’t always have to agree with one another, but we must learn to empathize and understand each other. It also made me realize how limited our education is here in America.  Our high school graduates know a lot about American history, politics, culture, education, etc, but very little about the rest of the world.  When you are suddenly able to see our world through the eyes of a different culture, you realize A.) how utterly privileged we are as a country, and B.) that the American way of doing things isn’t necessarily the “best” way.  I don’t mean any disrespect to my wonderful country! I’ve simply learned that in order to really “see” America, you need to leave America. I’ve grown as a human and as a citizen as a result of it. 

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