Influence is a powerful tool, subsequently aligning parallel to the act of inspiring. Oftentimes, we adapt our skills and aspirations from subconsciously admiring those we surround ourselves with, and rising starlet Caitlin McGee is no exception. While silently, but persistently, watching her parents take over the entertainment industry in their own right, Caitlin admitted how the artery has been in her blood from the beginning. Through honing her natural-born talents, Caitlin can now be seen in the newly released ABC comedy series, Home Economics. In this exclusive interview, Caitlin discusses where she draws inspiration from when preparing for each role, how her early years impacted her infatuation with the arts, and what she has planned next.
Megan Morgante: Did anything or anyone, in particular, inspire you to pursue acting?
Caitlin McGee: My parents. Before I was born, they were both involved in the industry. My dad was a musical theater actor while my mom was a modern dancer and actually briefly did some stand-up comedy with my aunt, which is hilarious to think about now. One of my mom's prized possessions is this one tape she has from the 70s’ where Jerry Seinfeld is actually introducing her before a set. Both of my parents moved on to different things by the time I was born, but I think the arts have always been in my blood, even though they desperately didn't want me to pursue it. But, I think they're happy with my decision now.
MM: Can you give an overview of your past in the entertainment industry and how it led you to where you are now?
CM: I started off by pursuing theater, which was really what I loved. I went to college for musical theater and as soon as I finished, I knew that was what I wanted to do for life. I was initially having so much fun doing these comedic plays and sketch comedy. I was doing shows that were very different from the Shakespeare that I was studying in school. I immediately found that everything within this industry is valid and is art; it is, however, you want to express yourself. When I allowed myself to release that idea of being a serious actress and just enjoying what I do, I was able to just let my career take me where it would. Throughout my journey, I have been very specific about the women that I play because I enjoy portraying a woman who is standing on her own. I guest-starred on a CBS sitcom and the character who I was portraying was this very goofy Millennial who was also superfluid in her sexuality. It was very dope. Even though it was a smaller role, her character is still saying something about the direction in which women can go, which is having some agency and freedom over their sexuality.
MM: You star in the newly-released ABC comedy, Home Economics… Congratulations. Can you give some insight into what we can expect from this new series and your overall experience on filming during Covid-19?
CM: I'm sure that so many people say this in interviews, but I love the people that I work with. They are deeply kind, funny, thoughtful, and talented people. The fact that I got to go to work every day and have fun with them was just such an incredible blessing. What viewers can look forward to in this season is the familial aspect. Every time I talk about this, I begin to get choked up, but I miss my family so much. Due to the pandemic, I haven't seen my parents in a year and a half. So, the fact that I got to do this show, even with fake siblings, just made me feel like I was closer to home. I think everyone needs an escape from what's going on every once in a while, even if it's for half an hour. I recently received a message from a woman on Instagram that said how she was missing her family, but when she watched the show she was able to laugh and escape for twenty-something minutes. She explained how it gave her some levity amidst all of this darkness, and that's really what our show is trying to accomplish. It's to remind you of your family and to have some laughs with us along the way.
MM: Were there any particular moments from filming that you really cherish?
CM: There's many, but I love the times when filming where the five of us are together. Even though it goes so fast when you’re watching it on screen, there was a scene that took seven or eight hours to shoot, which was fun because all of the actors are very funny. But, I think one of my most prized memories was probably in the second episode when Denise and Sarah get their first dance after stealing the moment from someone else's wedding. I think it's so incredibly important to show two women loving each other on network television while also being these wonderful parents. We need more of that as much as humanly possible. Someone wrote to me and said how they loved seeing Denise and Sarah love one another in such a normal way. I don't usually do this, but I responded to her by saying, “...What does that mean exactly?” She responded that she doesn’t know any gay women herself and how it's really interesting to see how they fight and how they make up, and how similar it is to her and her husband. So, I love any moment that Sarah and Denise are on screen together.
MM: Do you feel that you share any similarities to your on-screen character, Sarah? Was there any particular technique you used to get into the mind of Sarah that ultimately brought her to life?
CM: Although our delivery is quite different, we do have the same heart. We believe a lot of the same things and we’re equally vocal in a lot of ways. I'm just a bit less prickly about it. Sarah is very in your face about what she believes in, which I am as well, but I hope that I open more of a conversation about things. I think that playing someone who's super principled, believes in the greater good, equality, and everything in-between, I can't help but identify with her. I think the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around was how she is perceived by other people. I definitely have more of a filter than Sarah, so that is something that is different between the two of us, right?
MM: Have you ever experienced any notable challenges during filming or throughout your career in general?
CM: Having some agency in film versus theater was something that took some getting used to. When I began my career on stage, I was an understudy at Lincoln Center with my first professional job, I just had the relationship between you and the audience. There's no edit, there's no music, there's no anything. So, I got to tell my story and chose how I delivered it, exactly how I wanted. In terms of television and film, it's much harder. As an actor, you have much less agency over what the audience sees. So, I think getting used to that and adjusting expectations and performance was definitely a shift for me. I've now gotten used to the different techniques and I love having the opportunity to try so many different things, but that was really the first big challenge. A second hurdle I had to face was rejection. I've always had thick skin and I've been rejected so many times, so I learned very quickly how little control I have. I had to learn to separate my own identity in terms of if I don't get the job, I'm still me, I'm still of value.
MM: If you could give a piece of advice to your younger self, what would that consist of, in terms of personal life or career?
CM: Drink water, stop dating narcissists, and call your mom and dad all the time. I'm very happy with all the lessons I've learned along the way, I just wish that I hadn't dated so many dirtbags, [laughs].
MM: If you could see yourself in the next couple of years, personally or career-wise, what would that look like for you?
CM: I really want to produce, now that I've seen a lot of women in this industry rising to a level that I never even necessarily dreamed of because I just thought that it was so far off. Now I'm seeing these women jumpstart projects on their own that they desperately want to do. I'm not a writer, but I could produce, so lifting up other women and being able to collaborate with them would really be a dream project. Honestly, I just want to do everything that Laura Dern has done, [laughs]. I love her so much.
MM: Do you have any passions or hobbies outside of your career?
CM: I just love keeping my hands busy, that's my big thing. I dabble in carpentry and I’ve also propagated all of my plants. My apartment is a literal jungle right now, so if anyone in the greater Los Angeles area wants a plant, I’ve got you. I have ADD, so when I can focus on something like planting, watercoloring, or making friendship bracelets, that's where I feel most at ease.
Photography via Caitlin McGee
Hair by Kiki Heitkotter
Makeup by Kendal Fedail