The British actress chats with Joey Moser about her reaction to Shrill’s script and where finds her confidence.
If you weren’t familiar with Lolly Adefope before this spring, she made quite the impression with two very different comedies. In TBS’ gem of a limited series, Miracle Workers, Adefope plays Rosie, God’s restless assistant who dreams of finding a better job that suits her talents. Adefope’s performance as Fran in Hulu’s Shrill, however, is the one that has everyone talking.
Adefope’s Fran lives with Aidy Bryant’s character, Annie, and the bond between them is so strong and so natural that you feel like they have been friends forever. While Shrill does revolve around Annie finding her own confidence, she wouldn’t be able to stay on that path without Fran’s help.
Make no mistake, Fran isn’t just a throwaway friend character. Adefope has created one of the most confident characters on television this season. In Shrill‘s landmark episode, “Pool,” Fran walks into a party and sees an attractive woman (who happens to have organized the event), and Fran says, “I have to know her.” She goes for things without hesitation and she exudes an infectious confidence that makes you want to try new things yourself.
Shouldn’t we all be more like Fran?
Being from the UK, do you think too much of American media and movies and and television focuses on our obsession with self-image?
I definitely think it’s present in both the UK and the US. Maybe slightly more in LA just because it’s the center of show business. In other countries, it’s spread out across the region so celebrity isn’t as big. It’s in all industries too.
What was your reaction to the Shrill script when you first read it?
I loved it. They were able to take inspiration from Aidy and take it in a new direction. It’s a very cool and realistic portrayal of what we don’t see in television enough.
I was reading a review from when the show first came out from a critic who felt like Shrill allowed her to be seen on television. Did you immediate realize how important this show was going to be for a lot of people?
Yeah, I think I could sense it from the script that the book had an impact on a lot of people. Taking it to the screen can only magnify it to even more people.
Fran is one of the most confident characters that I’ve seen in a very long time on television.
She’s so self-aware. Where does that come from?
I think with most women, they’re reached that point—or even past that point—where something triggers it. In many women’s cases, they realize there’s no point in being miserable all the time and trying to fit someone else’s standards of what they should be like. A lot of women aren’t born with that kind of confidence. I can imagine that Fran hears how she could say to herself, ‘Nah, I’m not going to do it your way—I’m going to do it my way.’ She carried it on from there.
Early on, Fran says one of the best lines from the show. I think it’s in the pilot where Fran says, ‘I don’t apologize to white people.’
I’ve noticed it popping up everywhere on my Twitter feed.
And I think even a t-shirt somewhere? I may have imagined that. Did you know that was going to be an iconic right away?
During the read through, I could tell it was the start of something. Just from the reaction it got straightaway.
I kind of love how Fran disapproves of Annie’s relationship with Ryan. Fran refers to him as ‘an expired bag of meat.’
Yes, I do.
Is there any way that Fran could ever come around to him fully.
I think there was a point in the beginning where she probably could have, but there’s too many repetitions of him showing the same behavior. I don’t want to waste my energy trying to forgive someone who doesn’t seem apologetic. Fran has her own life to live.
Yeah, I saw someone refer to him as “not cruel, but clueless.”
That might be worse actually.
Yeah, he’s not manipulative. I think if you called him out on it, he would admit that he’s not doing it on purpose. He just never looked at his own actions.
That makes me think about the chemistry between Fran and Annie. You and Aidy have a chemistry that feels really realized and lived in. Fran is starting to witness Annie’s transformation. Do you think Fran gets frustrated with Annie at any point?
One one hand Fran is very happy that Annie isn’t focusing on what other people want from her. She likes that she’s starting to take charge and focus more on herself. By the end, Fran truly feels that Annie is only thinking about Annie and no one else.
Sometimes throughout the season, some characters make throwaway comments about Fran’s relationships. Annie’s mom even says, ‘Oh, the girls love you, Fran.’ Is Fran playing the field the way she wants to, or is there a more rotted reason why she doesn’t have a consistent girlfriend?
There is always something going on under the surface. We all have those friends that are quite charming. We all have those friends that make it look quite effortless and things always land on their plate, but I don’t think that Fran is always overwhelmed by the relationship that she’s in.
Do you think Fran was bothered by her brother, Lamar, sleeping with Annie.
Hmmm (laughs)…I don’t think so. She just doesn’t want to hear about it!
Well, I was curious if there was something deeper there because Lamar admits to Annie that he told Fran that he liked her when they were younger because he thought Fran would tell Annie. And Annie was completely unaware.
I’m probably reading way too much into it!
I think it’s probably more like that Fran was more concerned with something else to be honest (laughs).