On May 18th Avocado Toast the series launched around the world. We sat down with multi-talented co-creator Heidi Lynch to chat about her creative and personal journey - "I think it will touch the audience’s heart and leave them changed."
How much were you able to relate your own experiences to create your character? And how much did you have to research or imagine?
Molly is based on me. She’s based on a time in my life. Just like Molly, I met someone that made me feel the perfect combination of alive and safe. It surprised me because the package that person came in was a woman and I had always seen myself as straight. I had never seen representation of bisexual people anywhere. I had honestly only heard straight stories or lesbian stories. The lesbian stories I had been exposed to were also slightly simplistic and almost a caricature and so I felt like if I didn’t fit into that box then I must just be straight and confused. I sabotaged a great thing. Then I was left with a hole in my life. A hole I couldn’t figure out. I tried to ignore it for as long as I could until I realized I was a bit depressed. That time in my life was very useful for playing Molly.
In the writing of the show, research came in and I realized that I wasn't alone. Statistics on mental health and the bisexual community show that we need to start telling these stories and carving out a bisexual culture for people to point to. I wanted Molly to be different than me so I made her quiet, I made her go-to coping mechanism being a couch potato, stuck, motionless, blobbing through life. I am very much not Molly. I am direct and communicative and I make big moves to deal with things, sometimes I am strong and wrong (completely wrong lol), but my coping mechanism is action.
How much of yourself goes into a character?
As much as needs to, to get the job done in an authentic way. There is no pain in my process. I don’t beat myself up to get to an emotional place and I don’t believe in that. All of my time, all of my imagination and whatever emotional intelligence and knowledge I possess at that time in my life get used to create a character as authentically as I can. I reach outside of myself to create a character. I have learned to trust over the last ten years of experience. I trust that as long as I have done my research, know the story inside and out, and have truly imagined that character- the rest will follow. I trust that I am an emotionally intelligent, sensitive being and that when I show up on set, the production design, my costume, the other actors (characters) on set, and the calm and reassuring presence of a director will do a lot of the work for me. But for that to occur I have to be willing to let go of myself and to really see the room I am in, hear my footsteps, breathe and listen to what my director is getting at and what the other actors (characters) in the scene are doing and saying to me.
What aspects of Avocado Toast the series are you excited for an audience to experience or discover?
Oh my gosh so much. The most exciting things for me as a viewer (I got to watch the show for the first time on May.18th just as a viewer) are the design, the way the show is shot, the colour grading etc. Kiki Divic, our production designer and Cam Roden our DOP with the help of Cheska Apave as gaffer, created such beautiful visuals and RedLab did an amazing job in post. These were all elements that I had almost nothing to do with, so they became a surprise. I was heavily involved with music selection, organization, and contracting of the musicians but the music still washed over me because I had never really just experienced it as a whole. Our playlist on Spotify is great and I keep putting it on while I work.
These elements all support a truly needed and beautifully acted story. There is no weak link in the cast. I am excited for the audience to experience a well crafted and nuanced dramedy. Sam Coyle, our director, really helped us use just enough comedy to add range and depth to the emotional journey of the story but I think it will touch the audience’s heart and leave them changed.
Are baby boomers and millennials often having the same conversations but just using different words?
Absolutely! It baffles my mind when divisive conversations happen between the two generations because “same shit different day”! Yes, the context that we live in at the same age is very different but we should be using empathy to override the inclination to judge and just make each other’s life experience a bit more bearable if we’re able to. Some of my best friends are baby boomers and I suppose I’ve always been a bit of an old soul but I also just think within our generations we are all individuals and find better baby boomers or better millennials if you’re having a hard time connecting.
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?
Because we need to normalize the normal. Everything depicted in Avocado Toast the series is based on someone’s real story and yet it feels like a show I haven’t seen before in the mainstream. Television has great power to influence and with that comes a responsibility to give everyone a seat at the table. I will only work on a story if I truly feel like it needs to be told because it brings something new to the conversation and it gives voice to a topic that has not been discussed on as large of a platform as it needs to be. That doesn't mean it can’t be super funny and artistically engaging but the root of it has to be causing change.
What was the hardest scene for you to do and why?
Oddly enough it was the Molly getting ready for her date sequence. Back story: I am on a personal Heidi mission to convince the whole of women kind to tap into their resources (money time) and move our societally obsessed focus from what we look like, to what change we are going to make it the world. I’m really a one-man band at this point hahaha. I am developing a documentary called NAKED FACED ARMY where we follow 3 women living makeup-free for 30 days. We examine how much time and money these women save from taking makeup out of their routine. I wanted to show through Molly the time and effort these weird rituals take that society has collectively all deemed essential for women.
It was very important to me to make Molly as makeup-free as humanly possible. I never see that on tv shows unless an actress is going for Oscar gold by “uglying” it up. The norm is to see a police officer with an immaculate blowout and perfect contouring on a heist a 2 am on American network tv shows. I was massively influenced by Girls when it came out. I was incredibly inspired by Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag. I want representation of women not needing to be or look perfect. I just look at the simple math and feel like women could take over the world overnight. Each country could have its own Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Michelle Obama, Jacinda Ardern if we refocused our hard-earned funds to political activism and away from shaming our bodies into being something unattainable.
The Harvard Business Review states that "Women now drive the world economy. Globally, they control about $20 trillion in annual consumer spending, and that figure could climb as high as $28 trillion in the next five years. Their $13 trillion in total yearly earnings could reach $18 trillion in the same period. In aggregate, women represent a growth market bigger than China and India combined—more than twice as big, in fact. Given those numbers, it would be foolish to ignore or underestimate the female consumer." What do we as women want to spend our money on? What changes do we want to collectively make, because we have the money to make those changes.
Who is a major influence for you and on your creativity?
Geena Davis and The Geena Davis Institute. I have been obsessed with Thelma And Louise since before I was old enough to comprehend what it was talking about. We do a little homage to Thelma And Louise in Avocado Toast the series, too. Not massively, but we’re in a vintage car and we’re two girls escaping our lives. The Geena Davis Institute is a huge inspiration and launchpad for my creativity right now. The work they’re doing is incredible. I saw the documentary This Changes Everything at Sky Cinema in London presented by Women In Television And Film London. It’s really hard to be the person, especially as an artist, who has to get super political and data-oriented and put your neck out there and say, “Hey guys, there’s a fucking problem” because it makes you a difficult woman. I’m sure it’s influenced her working life, putting herself out there. But the work that she’s doing is so important for the next generation of little girls. She’s affected Disney’s gender parity. She’s the reason the FX network changed its hiring policies and had their best Emmy year afterward. She’s amazing. She’s starting the conversations that will get all of our projects more funding and more eyes. So I am completely inspired by and grateful to her.
IMDB: Heidi Lynch
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Up next on Monday is a blog with the talented musician, MEMORECKS in our Music Monday interview series.