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Though GG's engaging subject matter and superlative creativity quickly won me over, it was the effervescent charisma of lead actress Alexandra Olson that enticed me to watch its first episode. Olson is a sought after music producer, songwriter and musician in addition to being the actor who won the part of Gillian after not one, but three rounds of competitive auditions and callbacks. With Generic Girl's first season finale airing this evening (Wed. 10/24), Alexandra kindly agreed to answer my questions about her role in the spirited web series and a few about her musical background for OH! Entertainment.
Nightfly: In addition to being a talented singer, songwriter and producer I understand you're a gifted musician from a musically inclined family. Alexandra Olson: I definitely come from a musical family and have a music background. I am a songwriter, so I play guitar and keyboards. I'm no whiz at either, but play enough to be able to write and record well.
NF: Generic Girl's score, composed by Daniel James Chan, is remarkably impressive. You contributed vocals on one of the soundtrack's songs, would you please tell us a little bit about that? AO: I'm grateful to have gotten the opportunity to be involved in one of the songs on the GG soundtrack. Haru Ikeda, a really talented music writer/producer, had created a bossa nova track meant for a couple scenes with the 'Deus Ex Machina', and he wanted a female vocalist to do some light vocals over the instrumental. Steven [Wasserman] had mentioned to Haru that I was a singer, so he graciously invited me to cover the spot. The track came out great, and made it into the series. Haru and I have actually been recording together ever since. *Note: Generic Girl's co-creator Steve Itano Wasserman directed a music video earlier this year for Haru 'Mobilio' Ikeda (titled "Take Me Home") featuring intoxicating vocals by Olson; Hear it here. Wasserman's scheduled to direct a new music video featuring Alexandra this Saturday titled, "Name Brands."
NF: Would you mind sharing which brands of musical gear you favor? AO: My favorite brand of guitar is Taylor. It's the sound that I love about them, but I can't describe it exactly. They're magic. It think they sound like champagne. I use Martin Marquis Light strings (steel), cause that's always been my Dad's brand, and Fender Medium picks- I'm Goldilocks with picks, I freak out if I am holding a heavy or a light one, it has to be the medium!
NF: Does the notion of a Generic Girl musical episode or music video sound like something you'd like to do? AO: I'd love to! I think doing a musical episode of GG would be hilarious. But it would probably be best a little later down the line. After people really get to know the characters well enough to appreciate the full impact of seeing them burst into charmingly cheesy song and dance. My favorite time a series did a musical episode like that was the classic Disney Channel show, Even Stevens. I'm still walking around singing 'We Went To The Moon In 1969.'
NF: Who are some of your all-time favorite musical influences? AO: I'm a big fan of The Beach Boys because of their sound. I love the flying back vocals that define their melodies, mixed with the simple nature of their instrumentation. It's all just so lighthearted and fun. I also have to put "Island In The Sun" by Weezer on almost every mix CD I burn for my car. It's my favorite song. But FUN. is giving that one a run for its money with "Some Nights". I think that is such a brilliant song both in its writing and its production. The rest of that album is pretty great too.
NF: What most drew you to the role of Gillian Romero (a.k.a. Generic Girl)? AO: I was excited at the chance to work with Victor and Steven, because I saw they were uniquely creative and just genuinely fun. And if you throw the term 'Superhero Comedy' into any project description, I'm going to be way interested. That was the bait, for sure. But Victor and Steven and their sense of humor were the hook.
NF: Can you talk a bit about what your audition process was like? AO: The audition process was the most enjoyable one I've ever been a part of. Reading funny scripts and doing tons of improv. Of course the highlight was that instead of a size sheet we got handed survey questions. The survey included one that asked you to create your own superhero identity and name it. My hero name was "Sparkles Supernova."
NF: Victor Solis has hinted that in Season Two your character may see more action than she has thus far. Does the idea of learning some stage fighting choreography intrigue you? AO: I would totally jump at the opportunity to do combat choreography! I went to an audition once where they gave us a 20-minute crash course, and by the end I was looking decent. The combat moves were so much fun. Like an angry dance. Plus, acting is as close as I'll ever get to being an action hero of any kind, considering I probably couldn't take on someone even half my size in real life.
NF: I know a Season One DVD is in the works. If it features a cast commentary would that be something you'd be eager to do? Have you ever recorded a DVD commentary before? AO: It would definitely be cool! I have never gotten to do that before. We should do it scene by scene and have all the people in each scene sit down together and comment. We'd have so many funny stories. We should have a crew version too! I'd really enjoy hearing more about the behind-the-scenes secrets of the set and of the special effects that were added in post.
NF: It's fairly common for actors, and particularly actresses, to wear clothes from their own wardrobe when shooting web series. Did any elements of your costume(s) come from your closet? AO: The only items of Gillian's that came from my closet were my shoes. I wore brown flip flops with the first outfit, and bright blue converse for the second one - no socks. One day I actually forgot to bring my converse, and Steven had to keep the frame above my feet. I also wore my really small green dragonfly earrings for the whole series. Never forgot those.
NF: Did you or the other cast members have much input in selecting your garments? Or did GG's costumers primarily make those decisions? AO: I really like that most of the wardrobe was put together by the GG team. They had a very well thought out vision of the essence of each character and believed that costumes would be an important part in defining them. Stephanie Unguez and Laura N. Wasserman did most of the wardrobe and they were wonderful, we all loved our outfits and the whole feel of the bright comic-book colors.
NF: In Generic Girl's first season the relationship between Gillian and Pete Kirby appears mainly platonic. Would you like to see them eventually get together, romantically? Or do you hope the 'will they, won't they' tension gets prolonged? AO: I definitely prefer the ongoing tension in this case. GG is an episodic comedy series (with many sitcom-esque qualities), and I personally feel like, in that genre, it's smart to hold off bringing the main love interests truly together til the very end of the series. It's one of the big character arc rewards that you can build up to. If it happens too early the characters lose their romantic freedom and the writers lose the opportunity to create comedy with other romantic relationships... unless you're going to break them up.... but that's the stuff of dramas.
NF: Do you adhere to a particular beauty regimen? Such as a specialized diet, specific cosmetics or strict workout routine? AO: I think beauty and style can be so much fun. I'm obsessed with hairstyles and hair trends in general. I spend WAY too much time just doing my hair for fun or watching tutorials online. I have two basic makeup routines, one for day and one for night, and the only thing that really changes from day to day are the colors of my eye shadow. I try to eat healthy when I am hungry, but my favorite food is burgers, so I make sure to exercise a lot. I work out 6 times per week for a half hour each day, alternating any 2 out of 3 focuses: arms, legs, and core. And some weeks I just eat cookie dough.
NF: Perusing your personal website, I noticed the 2009 commercial you co-starred in with David Hasselhoff for Ready 2 Rumble Revolution on the Wii. Would you consider yourself a Gamer in real life? If so, what are your favorite games from the past up through today? AO: I would definitely say I have some Gamer cred - especially old school Nintendo cred. I really love the NES games, and my faves are Super Mario World and Yoshi's Island. Also a big fan of Super Mario Brothers 3, Donkey Kong 1 and 2, Kirby, Mario Galaxy 1 on the Wii, and don't tell anyone, but I like Black Ops (though Playstation and Xbox are where I start to lose my cred). I have a younger brother and sister who are true gamers, so they keep me semi-current on the new games and consoles. They're also the reason I can use 'console' correctly in a sentence.
Nightfly: I like to end most interviews by asking if there's a charity or non-profit organization close to your heart you'd like to mention? Alexandra Olson: The Global Poverty Project is a great non-profit organization that is seeking to end extreme poverty worldwide by encouraging people around the world to be 'Global Citizens' and really care about each other and do what we can to help. They just held a major benefit festival in Times Square and raised 1.3 billion dollars. I'm so glad to see the great support this organization is already getting, and I hope it continues to grow.
If you haven't heard about Generic Girl before now's the time to get onboard and catch up before today's fantastic season finale. GG endearingly lives up to the "live action comic book" descriptor and just happens to be one of my favorite web series ever. Its refreshingly heady mix of silly, sexy, campy humor combined with one of the best musical scores of any web series going will likely win you over just as it did me. I'm also happy to report that supplemental bonus videos will be hitting the web (post-finale) every week up through January 2013.