Actor Athena Reich plays Mrs. Peterson in Avocado Toast the series. Read the hilarious interview below as she speaks to why we need all forms of media to reflect that new reality and celebrate the new variations.
Why is the series titled Avocado Toast? (if you don’t know, take a guess!)
The series is called Avocado Toast because millennials think they can change the world by eating healthy fats. And who knows, maybe they can. We have to let each generation give it a shot. For the boomers it was “Give Peace a Chance” and for millennials it’s “Give fats a chance”. Peace didn’t work out so well so why not try nutrition? No one knows anything, really. Let’s just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. At least they are trying.
Tell us about your story in Avocado Toast. What were the main challenges and fears you had in your role?
My main fear is the same fear I have with every performance… that I suck and have no talent and will look like a fool. Luckily, I have enough training to realize every performer feels this way, on a regular basis.
Otherwise, I love playing villains (well this character is a micro-villain) because, I mean, just look at my face. I have this huge smile but when I don’t smile, I look very sad and traumatized. There’s no middle ground. So, it’s pretty easy for me to look really intense.
And, as a mom to young kids, I know ‘those moms’ (heck sometimes even I am one of those moms) who are totally stressed and panicked about all the wrong things. Parenting today is insane, so I have empathy for Mrs. Peterson.
Also, as an out queer woman, it’s fun to play a homophobe. Opposites are cool.
How much of yourself goes into a character?
It’s always a mix of me and memories of other people who are like the character. It’s very organic and it’s best when I don’t over think it, but just tap into that energy and channel someone I know who embodies the character. I’m not telling who I channeled for this, as she’s a friend of mine! But hey, if you aren’t stressed out as a parent, you are probably stoned.
What aspects of Avocado Toast the series are you excited for an audience to experience or discover?
I love how it conveys multiple generations and hope that this attracts a wide audience. But mainly I’m just happy if we can make people laugh. For me, personally, as a single mom of two young kids I can hardly tolerate watching anything that doesn’t provide comedic relief so I’m thrilled to help others release tension from their day in a way that doesn’t require Xanax. However, if you do use Xanax while watching this show, keep in mind you cannot drive for 24 hours afterwards so be sure to have a friend pick you up.
Are baby boomers and millennials often having the same conversations but just using different words?
Boomers said “We” but meant “I” and millennials say “I” but mean “We”. Boy doesn’t that sound clever? Let’s ferment on that a bit.
What makes baby boomers so awesome?
They are so confident and anti-establishment! They never doubt themselves! They just let their babies cry in the cribs and babysit themselves after school while they drank scotch and went to the opera. They enjoyed life much more than my generation (the X’ers) ever did. Hey… why is Generation X not even mentioned in this show? Man, we are the lost generation.
What makes millennials so wonderful?
Millennials have the confidence to take as many personal days as they want from work even when they are not sick. They have the idealism to fly across the country for love. My generation (X’ers) were so afraid of recessions we always burrowed our noses in the sand and worked like dogs. On the other hand, we are awesome that way and can move mountains.
Do you find it hurtful or funny when baby boomers refer to millennials as ‘snowflakes’ or when millennials dismiss baby boomer advice with a ‘Okay, boomer.’
I think boomers need to be put in their place. They are way too confident that everything they did was ‘right on’. I think millennials are way to ‘snowflakey’ and think they can change the world by feeling hurt all the time. While it’s good to express your feelings, sometimes it’s also important to try to understand what the other person is saying and intending, even if they aren’t up to speed with the latest politico-speak. I think my generation has it perfect. We embodied feminism by having hairy armpits and worked hard to build billion dollar start-ups. Ya’ll suck and my people rock.
Sex, sexuality, gender and different kinds of relationships are depicted in Avocado Toast the series. Why is it important to continue sharing these types of stories today?
Colonial North America was founded by mainly puritans who wanted to escape the ‘looseness’ of Europe. So, we need to be reminded that sex is a good thing, even if it’s messy and imperfect. And, we are going through an incredible gender revolution at the moment. We need all forms of media to reflect that new reality and celebrate the new variations.
Who is a major influence for you and on your creativity?
My major influence is all the overwhelming emotions and thoughts in my head that need to get out.
Is there a type of role you dream of playing but haven’t had the opportunity yet?
I want to be the host of a TV show about alternative families that celebrates family building in all its forms, from LGBT to IVF to fostering to sperm donors.
What's next for you as a creator/actor/performer?
I also perform as a Lady Gaga Impersonator. I do corporate events and have a show I created where Gaga is pregnant and wants to do a live onstage birth as performance art, as a gift to her fans. The show, “Lady Gaga: #artbirth” will be touring internationally in 2020.
Do you have interesting hobbies or a creative pursuit outside of acting? Tell us about it!
Trying to practice ‘peaceful parenting’ (vomit) when my 4 year old tests me. Seriously though… a lot of energy does go into trying to be a good parent… Also, I am enjoying my 5 month old, and all the love/zen vibes that come along with a newborn. I’m also pathetically trying to figure out how OK Cupid works and trying to find love in the laziest way imaginable.
Instagram: @athenareich Twitter: @athenareich Facebook: /athenareich
IMDB: Athena Reich
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Up next is a blog with Photographer Justine McCloskey in our Women Behind The Camera Weekend interview series.