From the interview archives.
Chelsey Crisp made her TV debut in 2004 and it wasn’t long before she started appearing on hit shows like The Office, CSI: Miami and New Girl. More recently, you can see her as Honey Ellis in the critically acclaimed Fresh Off The Boat on ABC. VULKAN caught up with Chelsey to talk about how Honey has grown since we first met her and her goals and upcoming projects for the new year.
When was the first time you recall developing an interest in comedy? What comedian opened that world up for you?
My way into comedy was through musical theatre and Carol Burnett was a huge influence. I remember staying up way past my bedtime listening to the original cast recording of “Once Upon a Mattress.” As Winifred, Carol Burnett does hysterical vocal gymnastics and I’d cover my mouth to stifle laughter because I was scared my mom would catch me and make me go to sleep. Even as a kid, I thought that must be the best job in the world – to make people laugh for a living.
What has been the most rewarding part about playing Honey on Fresh Off The Boat?
On a micro level, going to work everyday with the same group of people is especially rewarding. We’re in season four now and our team is a family. On a macro scale, I’m very proud of the show we’re making. When I get approached by FOTB fans, it’s not just to say it makes them laugh – it’s often to say that it reflects their own experience of growing up in America with parents from another country. I get to hear great stories about their families and how one episode or another mirrors their childhood. That makes me feel like we’re doing something good; something that matters to people.
In what ways would you say Honey has evolved since we first met her?
I like that we’ve seen the relationship between her and Jessica evolve. They’ve gone from meeting for the first time to becoming each others rock. This year, when Jessica lost faith in herself as a writer, Honey pushed her to get her book out into the world. When Honey announces she’s pregnant, it’s Jessica who makes her feel like she can become a good mom. Those moments are my favorite, because they show how uniquely powerful female friendships can be.
Do you think Honey deserved to be appointed executor by Evan? Do you agree with his desire to change that to somebody else?
I think she would have done right by Evan! After she got the ugly crying under control, of course.
What is one thing you can say about Luna Blaise since you began working with her and acting as her TV-step mom?
I’ve seen her grow as an actor on the show and behind the scenes, I’ve watched her evolve as a musician. Luna is very multi-talented; she’s a singer and she’s been writing songs lately. There’s a catchy one called “Over You” that was stuck in my head all summer!
What kind of situations would you like to see Honey address in the future?
I’m excited to see where the storyline goes as Honey becomes a mom. I’m hoping she and Jessica address Eastern and Western ideas of parenting.
I know there are likely many but, who is one actor/actress that you think is doing some great work lately and should be recognized for it?
Deborah Baker Jr. from Stan Against Evil and The Great Indoors. She’s one of the funniest people in the world to me! On top of being hilarious, she’s a great actress and I’m always excited to see what she’s doing next.
What is one of your favorite roles that you have played to date and what about it was so memorable?
I played a character named Jesse in a romantic comedy called “In-Lawfully Yours” that’s on Netflix. I loved her to death and still miss playing her! She was smart, feisty, sarcastic and gutsy. I learned a lot from her fearlessness; I can’t ask for much more out of a role.
Given that New Years is just around the corner, do you have any aspirations or goals for 2018 that you’re working towards?
I’m most excited about directing this coming year. My next hiatus starts in late spring and I’m going to direct a short film. It’s a romantic comedy written by some friends of mine and I’m in love with the characters. I can’t wait to get started on it.
What is one thing you hope people remember this holiday season?
I can tell you what I try to remind myself – put the damn phone down! The holidays give us a real break from work and that opportunity to be fully present with family and friends is priceless. I hope we all put the phone down as much as we can and laugh with the people who are right there in the room.
If you can only visit one city in 2018 that you haven’t yet explored, which one do you want to visit?
I’ve lived in California for years, but I’ve never been to Napa. I’ve always wanted to go and after the extremely difficult year they had with the fires, I think it’s especially important to support their economy now. I’ve been encouraged by the stories of their community banding together to see one another through the tragedy. I’d love to visit and learn more about the people there.
Do you have any other projects developing that we should keep an eye out for?
I recently wrapped a movie called Surviving Theatre 9 that will be premiering in a film festival next year. It was written and directed by Tim McGrath, a survivor of the Aurora Theater shooting. He’s putting his story out there with the hope that it helps mass shooting survivors learn how to navigate the new world they face. I’m honoured to be part of helping Tim tell his story and I share his hope that it brings relief to people who are experiencing the unimaginable.