Vella Lovell is very excited about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s upcoming nuptials. “I am so here for the wedding,” she says over the phone. She’s in Los Angeles, prepping to fly to London — for the first time ever — and she’s hoping she’ll get an in. “[Meghan] probably will see right through me trying to make friends with her. It’s just like, Princess Meghan!” If there was ever a verbal equivalent of a “squee,” Lovell is making it now. “Someone pointed out to me she’s actually going to be a duchess and I don’t care. I am still going to call her Princess Meghan.”
The 32-year-old actress — most famous for her role as the sardonic and slyly hilarious Heather in “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” — has a rosy, infectious and delightfully upbeat disposition. But she’s more than just the comic relief: she appeared on the big screen in this year’s hit “The Big Sick” as Khadijah, and fine-tunes her comedy chops with the all-female sketch group Razor Burn from time to time. Not bad for a Julliard alum with no formal comedic training.
Still, she has her moments of self-doubt, too. Just like the rest of us. “I’ve been like, I don’t know if I’m funny enough to do this,” she says. “But who knows how it’s going to turn out? Men are doing it all the time. So we can do it too.”
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Ahead of the “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” mid-season finale — airing Friday on the CW at 8 p.m. — we chatted with the lovely Lovell about the confidence gap, the stigma around mental illness and — oh yeah! — hashtag growth.
I really am loving this season and the way that mental health is being portrayed. All of the characters — from her boss slash crush to her best friends — have been so supportive.
It shows so many different ways that, as a friend, you can help, and different ways of coping. And that none of them are wrong: There really is no roadmap to the perfect way of being there for your friend. It’s just like, just be there, just love them and know that it is their own journey.
Sometimes it's hard for people to figure out how to support their close friends with mental illness.
You kind of have a collective group of people who really care about Rebecca, but nobody knows the exact right thing to do. And you don’t have to. If there’s any lesson, it’s just that you need to do your best and be there for them. Your friends can help you but they can only go so far.
Just working on the show, we’ve all learned a lot about mental illness and the stigma around it. People don't like to talk about it, but most people have some experience with it. So it’s good that we’re talking about it and, you know, shining a light. It’s good!
Heather is seen in a lot of ways as the comic relief. Now, I know you’re part of a sketch group, Razor Burn, but were you always part of the comedy scene in New York?
I never did. There’s so many people that [came from] UCB or iO, just a lot of people who have studied comedy and I have not at all. So sometimes I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing.
There’s this climate right now, with [“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend creator and star] Rachel Bloom included and [“Insecure creator and star] Issa Rae — all these people are making their own material and that’s what's actually catapulting them into making their own shows. It's kind of necessary to create your own work, or at least not be afraid of it. And people respond to it! You can see that all these successful women creators are kind of carving out their own space and it’s wanted.
It can be really intimidating!
There’s this article that was in The Atlantic called The Confidence Gap. One of the quotes is like, women will only apply to jobs if they feel like they’re 100% qualified, whereas men will apply for jobs if they feel like they’re 60% qualified. Women are so overqualified to do most things, we just don’t think that we are. So that was a huge thing [for me]. Even if you feel like you don’t have anything to say, you do. And men are doing it all the time, so we can do it too.
Barring any major spoilers, where can we see Heather go for the second half of the season? She’s grown so much already.
This season is a huge growth spurt for her. She’s definitely required to grow and expand which is exciting as an actor. They are throwing some crazy curve balls at her and it’s an exciting, very true way of growing. You take two steps forward one step back — you don’t just grow perfectly. Everyone has those growing pains. Where she ends up at the end of the season — I mean, this is definitely her season of expansion and growth in a really good way.