Michaela McManus is coming back to her hometown of New York, specifically Brooklyn, where her new show “The Village” takes place. As a kid, growing up in Rhode Island, her past times included “Broadway plays, museum visits and just wandering around, taking it all in.” McManus was nine when she got caught up in her mother’s theatre performance, deciding right then and there that she wanted that path for herself. “That was the first time I realized how transcendent and powerful theatre was. I wanted to be on the other side of that equation,” she recalls. “The Village” is a heartwarming story of a Brooklyn-apartment building community and the stories they build together: Sarah’s (played by McManus) a nurse and single mom raising a creative teen; Gabe’s a young law student who’s got a much older and unexpected roommate; Ava must secure the future of her young, U.S.-born son when ICE comes knocking; Nick’s a veteran who’s returned from war; and the heart and soul of the building, Ron and Patricia, have captivating tales all their own. We chatted with actress Michaela McManus about all things acting and New York. “The Village” premieres March 19th, 2019 on NBC.
What’s your earliest memory of wanting to be an actress?
I remember watching my mom perform at a theatre in Rhode Island where I grew up. I was nine. She was Jessie in “‘Night, Mother” and I was so caught up in her performance. I think that was the first time I realized how transcendent and powerful theatre was. I wanted to be on the other side of that equation.
Your breakthrough role was on the series “One Tree Hill.” Is there anything you learned from that production that stands out now?
“One Tree Hill” was the perfect place for me to get my footing. The series was a well-oiled machine by the time I joined, the cast was so welcoming, and I fell in love with Wilmington, North Carolina, where we shot the show. Coming out of theatre school, it was a great place for me to learn the ropes of being on camera.
Tell me about your new role on “The Village”, which premieres this month on NBC.
I play Sarah Campbell on “The Village.” Sarah’s tough, independent and resilient with an open heart. She got pregnant at 18 and was thrust into the world of adulthood as a single parent. She didn’t have a support system until she moved into the Brooklyn apartment building where she found several residents who became her surrogate family. Sarah’s someone who has to work really hard to support her family, but she’s determined to provide the best life possible for her teenage daughter.
What are your expectations for “The Village?” Can you tell us more about what to expect from the new show?
I’ve been working in television for over a decade now and I’ve learned you can never anticipate how an audience will respond to your show. I just try to do work that I’m proud of and can stand behind. That said, I think if people tune in, there’s a high probability they’ll laugh, and then cry. This is definitely a show that’s going to make you feel something and I really believe that’s important in today’s day and age.
Did you have to do any special preparations to fulfill your character, Sarah? How did you get into character as a single mom and nurse?
As a mother myself, it was pretty easy to slip into the role of a harried caretaker who is spread too thin. I know how demanding and challenging it can be to raise kids while also trying to pursue another career. I don’t have a teenager, but I have toddlers, and from what I understand there are definitely some similarities! Once the series got going, the writers really worked to tailor the characters to the actors playing them which meant all of us got even closer to our roles.
You’ve been on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” tell us about your experiences on the show?
I remember when I was studying theatre in college in Manhattan, reading in some article, that you “weren’t a real New York actor until you booked a role on Law & Order.” It’s just such an iconic show that is so tied to New York City. Getting to be part of that legacy was really special for me.
You’ve been back and forth between LA and NYC. With your new show “The Village” being filmed and taking place in Brooklyn, can you tell us which city is your favorite to work in and why?
New York will always be number one for me. My parents started taking me into the city for day trips when I was nine. We’d see a Broadway play, visit museums, just wander around and take it all in. It was a magical place to me then and it still is today. There’s no city quite like it, so getting to come back and shoot there, it feels a bit like coming home.
Your brothers are also directors, have you worked with them on other projects aside from “the Block Island Sound”? How did you like working with siblings?
My brothers and I started making movies together when we were kids. They were especially obsessed. They’ve always been super driven and zealous. I could really go on and on about how talented I think they are, so getting to work with them again this past spring was a dream. I’ve done cameos in their other films, but “The Block Island Sound” was a real passion project for all of us.
If you won an award for one of your roles, what designers would be on your hit list to wear to the ceremony?
I always love Tom Ford and I’m currently obsessed with Anine Bing. I love her slip dresses and separates so to have something custom for a red carpet would be amazing.
Interview by The Untitled Magazine
Photography and makeup by Tina Turnbow
Hair by Johnny Lavoy