Chrissy Metz, the Emmy-nominated star of NBC’s mega-hit family drama, This is Us, spoke to Awards Daily’s Shadan Larki about her deep, and very personal, connection to the show and her beloved character.
When I spoke to Chrissy Metz over the phone in April, her happiness and excitement were palpable. Her first single Talking to God had just been released, and with it, a life-long dream had been realized.
“I feel grateful, very grateful,” Metz said.
Metz’s role on This is Us is a big part of Metz’s musical journey. Kate Pearson gave Metz a new level of notoriety — and newfound confidence.
“If I hadn’t had this particular role, or this opportunity to really grow as an artist and creative person, I don’t know that I would be pursuing music currently,” Metz said.
Metz and I spoke at length about the ways in which her own personal journey is tried to Kate’s evolution over the course of the past four seasons—an evolution that has been a joy to watch.
Read my complete interview with Chrissy Metz below:
Awards Daily: Talk me through the evolution of Kate’s character from season one to where we see her at the end of season fourth. What’s your perspective on that?
Chrissy Metz: Obviously we saw her as a very troubled and broken girl. And I think she’s really come into her own. She’s grown as far as the shame and the guilt that she had around her father’s passing, becoming a married woman, and now a mother — those are huge milestones in someone’s life. She’s really started to test herself more and started to have a confidence that she never really had before. I think a lot of that has to do with, not only immersing herself in therapy at the weight loss support group and the weight loss campus she ended up going to, but also, every single time that something presents itself, it’s an opportunity for her to really decide, “Okay, am I going to move forward with this or go backward?” Sometimes it can be both because we’re human and we still have things that are plaguing us to some degree.
There are a couple of things that we’re going to find out within the next season that she’s still holding onto that are very, very traumatic things. There’s still room for growth and hopefully always will be room for that. She just really evolving as much as she can within her circumstances and doing the hard work, which is not easy. I think that’s why people relate to her so much — because she does it imperfectly.
AD: Your storyline in season 4 revolves around Kate becoming a mother, learning that baby Jack is visually-impaired, and coming to terms with that. It’s a unique and beautifully told storyline. What was your approach to Kate and your performance this season?
CM: Oh, I think it’s so important for everybody’s story to be seen and told, especially on a network show because their reach is very far, not everybody can afford cable.
You know, parents, friends, and different people in my life are so grateful that we’re talking about, not only a child that has challenges or special needs, but particularly, blindness. We don’t normally see that and at such a young age and how it progresses. I think it’s just absolutely important. Everybody has their own journey, and with little Jack, his happens to be that he was born with this condition.
It’s a challenge for me because it’s something I’ve never experienced in my life. I’ve never had an infant on a television show. So, there’s that, and making sure that everything we do is true and authentic. Luckily, the writers are so brilliant and we’ve done extensive research [and spoken to] parents who do have children with this particular condition. I feel very grateful. I feel very honored to be a part of a storyline that’s really opening up people’s ideas about what it’s like to not only be a parent, that’s difficult enough, but to manage a marriage and a child. I’m really grateful for it. And I welcome that. I welcome the hard stuff, the challenges.
AD: And how much of you, Chrissy, do you think has bled into the character of Kate over the past four seasons?
CM: it’s inevitable to bring yourself to some degree into a role. I said this before, Kate is sort of who I used to be. I definitely can understand her wanting to dismiss the love that Toby [Chris Sullivan] initially was trying to give her, [then] realizing that she is worthy and deserving of that love and cultivating that.
Of course, with the music stuff, it’s very similar because I’ve always wanted to pursue music, but never thought that I was good enough. So, there are some really cool through-lines that inform each other. It’s been really great because we get to see that Kate is this woman who is, not living in her mother’s shadow, but trying to always measure up. I think anybody as a human being can understand that —we always do the comparing and despairing thing. So. It’s very interesting to play who I used to be, and Chrissy can inform Kate of who she is becoming.
AD: Something I was curious about was your own evolution and personal growth in playing this character. This is Us is such a phenomenon and has turned your life upside down in a really interesting way.
CM: Yeah. [I was] living in a lot of fear of ever pursuing something that I’ve wanted to do forever. [This is Us] really provided me a platform and space to not only make mistakes but suit up and show up for myself and say, ‘You know what? Today I’m going to make the best decision I can, and hopefully, that will be the right one.’
When you’re in a collaborative art [like] acting, a lot of people have their own input. It’s really about removing the ego and saying, ‘Okay, I’m just going to show up, do my best job, and that’s going to be enough.’ So every time that I go to set and I’m nervous and I’m like, ‘Oh gosh, I don’t know if I can do this’ — just going through the motion, going in, really looking at the fear, and moving through it, has provided me the confidence to pursue music.
I have these tools that I’ve basically been cultivating through Kate. That’s why I said they both sort of inform each other because I can work through the insecurities and be objective and say, ‘That scene was good,’ or, ‘Gosh, I could do better next time,’ not be afraid; and never try; never pursue something I’ve always wanted to because of feeling insecure or not good enough. It’s a big deal.
AD: Your first single, Talking to God, is out now. How does it feel to know that you’ve accomplished this big dream?
CM: Yeah! It’s so exciting. When you’ve wanted to do something for your entire life, and it’s happening, it’s very exciting but very surreal. The single came out in April, and while I didn’t co-write it, it was a song that I just fell in love with and wanted to record. Even in the process of coming back and forth to Nashville for the past two years on my own dime, and on my own time — I’ve just enjoyed the process and the journey.
I’ll speak for myself, but. I’ve always thought like, ‘Oh, it’s about the destination.’ And it’s so not, it’s about the whole process — and that’s what I’m really just enjoying so much. I can’t wait to actually go on tour, perform live, and connect with everybody. I’m very, very excited.
AD: You know, I posted online that I was going to get the opportunity to interview you. I asked if anybody had any questions, and one comment that I got over and over was, ‘Tell Chrissy how much her character, and her performance, has meant us.’ And particularly, how seeing Kate’s journey has helped people to see themselves in a new light.
AD: I’m just curious, first of all, how does it feel to hear that? And how has This is Us changed your perception of yourself? Has it helped you in the same way that you’ve been able to help other women?
CM: Yeah! It really makes me feel so grateful. You know, I didn’t see women on television, or in the movies, that either looked like me; or had my same insecurities; or issues; or journeys. And when you’re not the butt of the joke and you’re a woman who, one of her issues happens to be a weight issue, it’s really a gift — not only be a part of it because it helps me but to know that you’re imparting or instilling some self-love and self-care through a character that has just been so beautifully written —it’s amazing.
I think that’s what art is created for, to help people feel understood, or less alone, or to inspire them —to change them in some way. It’s really so incredible. When I think about the women that have reached out, and who I’ve met, whether they were at the grocery store or in the bathroom — you have these incredible moments that never would have existed if this opportunity didn’t.
AD: Does that come with a burden? Or a sense of responsibility?
CM: I don’t necessarily feel a responsibility or burden. It’s more like what people connect to is me being authentic, because that’s what we all want to do. We all want to be accepted and loved for who we are, just as we are. I think because Kate is trying to do that, and I try to do that personally, people resonate with that. That’s what we’re all trying to do, while we’re going through this journey of life.
AD: That’s definitely been the case for so many people, myself included. Just to wrap up our time together, I have to ask the classic This is Us question: Can you tease anything for me about season five?
CM: Yeah! I touched on this earlier on, we’re going to delve into some really tough stuff for Kate that we have not previously known about —that’s going to be really difficult for some people, and for this journey, and where Kate is going but I think it’s really important.
AD: Are you on team Randall [Sterling K. Brown] or Team Kevin [Justin Hartley] when it comes to the debate over Rebecca’s care?
CM: I always say that neither one of them is right or wrong. Those are their feelings and their perception. And, as siblings, you know exactly what buttons to push. You know exactly how to make people feel completely awful. Kevin is distraught because he feels like Randall is persuading Rebecca to go to this clinical trial. And he’s like, ‘Why would you do that?’ And Randall’s like, ‘I just want my mom to be well, and I want to do everything in my power to help her.’ Neither one is right or wrong, you know? It’s hard to side with either one of them. It’s hard to watch because you can understand why they would say those things, even if you’ve never meant them. because they’re just heartbroken. I can’t choose.
AD: Well, Chrissy, that you so much for your time and for being so open and honest. It’s such a treat to watch you on This is Us, and such a treat to get to discuss it all with you.
CM: Awww, thank you!
You can stream This is Us on NBC.com and Hulu. Chrissy Metz’s singles Talking to God and Actress are available now.