I’m on Instagram all the time. I think it’s a wonderful peak behind the curtains of people lives and such a fantastic opportunity to be visually creative with your images and your feed.
One of my favourite accounts that I follow would have to be Pamela Mitchell (A.K.A. @thesasscrotch). It’s got funny boomerangs, puppy pics, and costumes. Tons of fun.
I just knew that I wanted to speak with Pamela for the purposes of a feature in our film/tv section and she was happy to oblige. We had a great conversation.
SZ :: So, I understand that you are a full time actress, a musician, and a puppeteer. That’s incredible! Did you just always want to be a performer? Which skillset did you start first?
PM :: I am! It’s been a weird natural progression for all of them actually — I was always that kid that needed to be the center of attention (I know, lol), but I did always want to be GOOD at whatever I was forcing people to watch. I started singing first, I was like 6 in a church production, and my best friend’s mom looked over at me in the choir practice and told me I needed to be singing all the time. I sort of blame her haha. Then I was in school plays, and then band, where I started playing alto sax.
SZ :: What have you appeared in as an actress? What type of roles do you typically go for?
PM :: I’ve been really fortunate, especially the past few years — I’ve gotten to appear on Jane the Virgin, Shameless, S.W.A.T., Murder in the First, and others, and some really fun films. As far as roles, I’m kind of a funny ‘type’ — I joke that I play the dead flashback wide a lot, but then I also book the ‘hooker with a heart of gold’ type a lot haha. Sometimes you CAN turn the hooker into a housewife.
SZ :: What has been your favourite experience as an actress?
PM :: My favorite experience has actually been one that was also a hard one — I was cast as a really small but funny part of ‘The Happytime Murders’, starring Melissa McCarthy and directed by Brian Henson (Jim Henson’s son), and got to literally work with my childhood puppeteer heroes. I genuinely went home after that day on set and felt like no matter what, my dream had come true. Then, as it happens to so many, the final edit came and my part and scene were cut, which was a big dose of the reality of being an actor. You really so have to just love doing the work, not necessarily the outcome of the work, because you can’t plan for everything.
SZ :: Who are your inspirations when it comes to acting?
PM :: I love people chameleons and people that make stuff happen for themselves, be it writing, or standup, or producing their own work. My first loves were Madeline Khan, Steve Martin, Lucille Ball, and Gilda Radner, and now I gravitate toward people like Frankie Shaw, Rachel Bloom, and Shonda Rhimes that write and/or perform in shows that speak to their life experiences. I am also LOVING this trend of older women finding their spotlight — why should we peak at 25? We’re just finding our footing at that point, and should be MORE valued as we age, like men have been forever.
SZ :: So I noticed that you were on a recent episode of S.W.A.T.. What can you tell us about Shemar Moore?
PM :: That was such a fun day. Shemar Moore is genuinely so insanely charming and smells wonderful. I don’t get fan-girly often but I did with him a little haha. He is also one of those people that every person on the crew had wonderful things to say about. I love those people.
SZ :: I think that it is pretty much the coolest thing in the world that you have experience as a puppeteer. What does that entail? What type of puppets do you work with? What have you worked on? What has been your favourite gig as a puppeteer?
PM :: Puppets are baller AF. So I do what’s called ‘hand and rod’ puppeteering, similar to Sesame Street style puppets. I worked with the Brooklyn Puppetry Arts Theatre for years, and since then have built puppets for a few cool projects, like the Graves webseries, and a film I starred in and helped produce called ‘Drinksgiving’. My favorite gig so far has been ‘The Happytime Murders’, where I was a stripper literally sewn to a puppet customer that just couldn’t let me go. Best day ever.
SZ :: Who is your favourite puppet of all time?
PM :: Oh this is so hard!!! I guess Mr. Snuffleupagus (Sesame Street) or Hoggle (Labyrinth), though Red from Fraggle Rock will always have a special place in my heart. She’s bossy and smart with frizzy hair — basically my spirit animal.
SZ :: How did you get into puppeteering? Is that something that you go to school for?
PM :: I was OBSESSED with the Labyrinth as a child (and still as an adult, let’s be honest), and I think that’s what got me into puppets. I ended up randomly auditioning for a musical in Brooklyn, and that ended up being the Brooklyn Puppetry Arts Theatre, which taught me how to correctly puppeteer, and some building skills. There are wonderful workshops and classes you can go to (Eugene O’Neill has a great workshop, and there are many others across the country), and I can’t encourage people to keep up the art of puppetry enough.
SZ :: And You’re in a band!! What can you tell me about your music? How long have you been performing? What is your music like?
PM :: You know, we’ve all now moved to different parts of the country, so we don’t get to do much these days, though we keep joking it’s gonna happen again someday. My band is called Letterist, we’re an electro-rock band that started in Brooklyn back in 2007 or so… We initially were just another rock band, but we all really loved using synths in an organic way and it just sort of moved from there.
SZ :: What are some of your musical inspirations?
PM :: I have so many — my parents are classic country music people, so I loved storytelling music growing up. Now, I’d say artists that blend and change genres, like Bowie, St. Vincent, Leon Bridges, Childish Gambino. Right now in particular I’m loving Charlotte Day Wilson, Maggie Rogers, Little Dragon, Jorja Smith. My husband also jokes that I’ve never heard a slow cover song I didn’t like, which is probably true haha.
SZ :: If you could do any one of your passions for the rest of your life, which one would you pursue?
PM :: In an ideal world I’d somehow get to combine them all in some weird raunchy puppet musical show I’d be the show runner for, but if I had to pick just one, it would have to be acting. I love getting to connect with a part of myself I wouldn’t normally get to find. Finding the real human connection from a written character is so rewarding.
SZ :: Do you consider yourself a feminist?
PM :: You know, I do and I don’t. I know my friends and family see me as a somewhat hardcore feminist, but I see myself as someone who is just asking for true equality. If 50% of the population is female, then our workers, bosses, artists, and especially our politicians should reflect that. IF you want to own and run a Fortune 500 company, great!! If you want to raise a bunch of awesome kids and stay home with them, great!! Do the thing that makes you happy. Feminism to me mean that women aren’t pigeonholed into a small category, and have every opportunity available to them that men do, with equal pay and equal consideration.
SZ :: What is the entertainment world like in a post #MeToo environment? Have things improved? How so?
PM :: I’ve been incredibly lucky that I’ve never had an on-set issue, and that I’ve had really wonderful men on sets overall being respectful, even when I’m not wearing a lot. But I have so many friends with awful horror stories. It is getting better — people feel more empowered to say no to those taking advantage of them, and I honestly think producers are so scared of having a Weinstein type of experience that they are trying to stop the possibility of abuse, which is long overdue. Personally, I’ll think this movement was successful when women aren’t being treated respectfully out of fear of repercussion, but out of just genuine respect as a fellow human. And for that to happen we need more female storytellers, female producers/showrunners, female directors, of all colors/races/ages. Level the playing field, and we all get to share our experiences.
SZ :: Do you have any words to end on for other women and girls who may want to pursue a career in entertainment?
PM :: I wish that I had valued my ability and myself in general more, especially as I was starting out on my own. I wish I had known that everyone’s path is SO different, and you really do have to keep a clean mind and body to weather pitfalls, which are often. If you want to pursue a career in entertainment — sharpen your tools. Enroll in a class that furthers your skill. Seek out other viewpoints to expand your own. Create, even if it’s just for yourself (for now). Surround yourself with people that are not only supportive but that you admire. And when you get the chance to pay it forward someday, DO IT. We need you, and each other.
I think that’s good advice for any creative endeavour. If you get a chance, check out @thesasscrotch on Instagram for Pamela’s daily updates.