After a season of Genevieve being the unassertive sister fading in a family of chaos the first season of Everything’s Gonna Be Okay ended with a huge surprise – the timid 16-year-old breaking out of her shell and performing standup in a NYC basement. Throughout the show’s second season (currently airing on Freeform), Maeve Press’s Genevieve continues to cement her voice within a family all going through their own coming-of-age saga. She finds empowerment in airing out her family frustrations in a viral YouTube video and in the midst of having to listen to everyone else’s relationship issues finally experiences a first love of her own.
Speaking with Awards Daily, Maeve Press discusses her own similarities with Genevieve. Specifically her own experiences with standup, a career that took her across the country to various clubs and festivals before the pandemic put the world of live performance on hold.
Awards Daily: At the heart of Everything’s Gonna Be Okay is the family bond between Nicholas, Matilda, and Genevieve. Was it challenging building on that chemistry in an environment where you were forced to quarantine apart from each other?
Maeve Press: We were really lucky that this was our second season. We already knew each other and had been in constant communication even when we were in quarantine. Our chemistry had already been built which created a really easy way for us to continue that bond through text. While on set we were given access to these tent pods and able to hang out in really inventive ways,
AD: One of my favorite aspects of Everything’s Gonna Be Okay is that it explores trauma and the coming-of-age narrative with the idea that healing and growth isn’t linear. How does that affect Genevieve’s story in the second season?
MP: She isn’t great at showing her emotions and she tends to push everything deep down to avoid it. That’s why she focuses so much on her family and friend; it’s easier to focus on someone else’s problems than to focus on your own.
In the first season there was a lot of Genevieve coming to terms with her grief and acknowledging that she deserves to grieve in her own way. She also spends a lot of time trying to make her dad proud. Throughout the second season there is a newfound empowerment in her grief and a focus on making everyone around her proud, including herself.
AD: Speaking of empowerment, the first season ends with Genevieve taking herself out of her comfort zone and performing standup. Throughout the second season we continue to see her in more vulnerable situations whether that be airing out all of her feelings in a viral video or going on a date with a boy. What was it like for you to explore that aspect of her?
MP: I loved it! I loved taking Genevieve out of the family dynamic and putting her into a completely different world. That date scene was really fun. To have her deal with her own emotions and her own feelings is something she’s not great at. She was forced to find ways to communicate how she was feeling throughout that date in this incredibly unique and interactive art exhibit. It was amazing to watch that unfold!
AD: That date scene was a highlight of the season that came after the family was seemingly locked in their home for months losing any sense of time or routine. When Genevieve finally did leave her home and the confines of her family dynamic it felt like this incredibly surreal experience. What was that like to film?
MP: I really liked that episode. Christian Valderrama, who plays Oscar, is so fun to perform with. Rachael Holder is a fantastic director with incredible vision. I had no idea how we were going to bring this date scene to life but I was thrilled to see what she had done. Without giving too much away I’m excited for people to see it and beyond the set it’s a huge emotional step for Genevieve.
AD: You’ve now played Genevieve for two seasons and twenty episodes. Is there anything that continues to surprise you about Genevieve?
MP: Something that constantly surprises me is just how well she works under pressure. It’s a skill she has always had to excel at growing up in an environment where she was constantly forced to take care of people.
I love the way that she handles what life has thrown at her and it has thrown a lot at her.
AD: I was hoping to change the subject for a moment and focus on your own career. Fans of the show might not realize that you yourself are a standup comedian who before the world shutdown was constantly performing live sets. Now that we are starting to go out in the world again do you have any plans to perform again?
MP: Yeah! I got my second vaccine on Monday so I’m sort of in that waiting period while my body becomes fully vaccinated. Clubs are beginning to open up so hopefully I can start doing standup soon. I did a show on a sidewalk in New York for anyone passing by which was definitely an interesting and unique experience but I definitely miss that feeling of performing on a stage in a basement or a bar.
AD: Josh Thomas, the show’s creator and star, also comes from the world of comedy and standup. What has it been like working with him and has he influenced your own standup at all or offered you any advice?
MP: We were definitely able to bond over our shared experience of performing. In the second season I was able to step into the writers’ room. Because of my past standup experience on stage he invited me to fill in and sit with the big kids throughout the season which was incredibly eye opening.
I love writing and I would love to continue down that path. Right now I am writing a solo show about a time in my life when my retired, psychologist grandfather homeschooled me. I was kicked out of my school when I was eight for having ADD. I just co-wrote a short film with my mom, C. Fraser Press, and was able to act alongside Maria Bamford. While she was is in the second season of our show I actually didn’t get the chance to interact with her on set so it was exciting to be able to actually perform with her.
AD: Looking back at the second season do you have a favorite scene or moment?
MP: There is a memorial scene in episode three where we burn these notes we wrote to our dad. I thought that was a wonderful moment that highlights what Josh and the writers do very well. They tread the line between comedy and tragedy and that moment was a beautiful mess of a scene that represents everything we do in the second season. And hopefully in the third!
The second season of Everything’s Gonna Be Okay airs Thursdays on Freeform and can be streamed exclusively on Hulu.