Lisa Linke is without a doubt an incredible talent. Known for her roles in Successful People, Black-ish, Shameless and many other fantastic shows, she’s somebody with quite the resumé. Ahead of the release of her new series Dog Moms on Amazon Prime a little later this year, we caught up with Lisa to talk all things, from being on the set of a hit series, to the current political climate in the United States. Read on to find out what she had to say…

Lisa Linke / Photo Credit: Birdie Thompson / Hair and makeup: Allison Noelle

Lisa Linke / Photo Credit: Birdie Thompson / Hair and makeup: Allison Noelle

Tell us a little bit about Successful People and the character you play, for those who haven’t yet seen the series.

Thank you! Successful People is the brainchild of Artie O’Daly and Theresa Ryan. It follows two unsuccessful songwriters as they try to make it in the business. In season 1, you meet my character, Kimberly Hawkes, who is the most annoying woman on earth. And I love playing her. She helps them get a meeting with a manager. In season 2, Artie and Theresa were kind enough to bring my character back and she becomes their manager during their brief but spectacular rise to stardom! She truly is the most privileged person and has a ridiculously annoying voice. They wrote a hilarious character and I LOVE to play her!

What’s a typical day like on the set of the show? If indeed there are any ‘typical days!

Great question! This was a web series at first, and then season 2 was released on Amazon Prime. It was self-funded and aided with crowdsourcing, so projects like this have smaller sets than major studio productions. That being said, every day on set is kind of similar. You get your call time the night before, you show up and get into hair and makeup, get dressed and start shooting!

When it’s a smaller production like this was, you’re working quick and covering a lot of material and it’s fun and intimate and you spend a lot of time improvising and doing different takes and figuring things out on the fly based on the location.

Artie and Theresa and the directors Craig Tovey and Ryan Lagod were so much fun to work with. It actually never felt like work – you just have a fun time playing with your friends, making cool projects together!

You also star in Netflix series LOVE – what was the experience like of filming that show?

Ah! That set is one of the nicest sets ever. My week started off with the director and the leads shaking my hand and learning my name, and I immediately felt like I was at home. There was also a lot of improvisation on that set, which is my wheelhouse.

I got to meet and work with Kathy Baker and Ed Bagley, Jr.; they were both so lovely, and the whole time it was so great, I felt like I was walking on air! Often you are on a set for just a day, but to spend a few days with them was really special.

Your new series Dog Moms hits Amazon this September; how best would you describe this series and what fans should expect?

Yes! We shot it a few years ago, and people loved it! I play Waggy Lee, the best dog-dancing teacher in the industry. My methods are a little unorthodox, but I get the results that Dog Moms crave, so they tolerate a lot of behaviour from me that they probably shouldn’t.

I was a huge fan of Dance Moms, and couldn’t stand that I watched it, so I ended up making this parody. I thought – if there were a show that treated my dog like these girls were being treated, I would stop at nothing to get it off the air. Yet here I was, showing up week after week to watch these girls. Ugh. So, it was mostly made out of shame for my own viewing habits! But it has really resonated with people, and I still get people asking me to make more.

How was the whole experience of filming this new series?

It was a total blast! We improvised most of it, so of course I was delighted. We had some things that we knew we wanted to have happen, and then the day that all the dogs were on set was wild and amazing and fun. We had six dogs at one time all running around in costumes and it was so crazy but hilarious.

I loved producing this series because I had a vision, and then I found people who were able to make that vision a reality. The director, Ryan Lagod, did an amazing job getting everything shot in two days. Our hair and makeup artists were incredible. I mean that wig! I can’t believe how awesome they made me look. Plus, it was a ton of super talented improv friends who came out to help.

A lot of new television is now going straight to streaming services; what do you make of this evolution of how we get our entertainment?

I know – everything is finding its way, and I think everyone is waiting to see how things shake out while also trying to figure out how to take part in this new landscape! What I do know is that with technology being so accessible – and everyone with a smart phone basically has incredible camera equipment in the palm of their hand, that more and more content is going to be generated every day. The hard part is finding a way to cut through all the noise and find something that resonates with audiences.

What would you say has been one of the most memorable moments you’ve had in your career so far?

Wowee. Thank you – this is a great exercise for me because I don’t spend a lot of time on accomplishments. I’m always thinking, ‘what’s next?’ My Mom and my friends are always encouraging me to take a minute and reflect on what I’ve achieved. That’s not natural for me; it feels much more comfortable to plan out what my next move is. But! Thank you for this opportunity.

I was a guest star last fall on Bunk’d, a Disney show. It was an amazing week. I was in half the episode and it was kids’ comedy all the way – I got dunked in a baby pool of water, I had a stunt double, I got covered in food… it was awesome! I was really eager for the learning experience and so grateful and happy to be working and then when we taped in front of an audience, that was like the cherry on the sundae – because I love performing live. I think I was just really thrilled that I was capable and ready when the opportunity arose, I booked it, I had a great week and learned a lot and had a great time.

Which shows do you like to watch and wind down with when you get some free time?

Yes! I was just talking with friends about what we have been watching! I watch a lot of TV. I like to know what’s out there and what is trending and what’s new. I finished Killing Eve in like, a day. It was amazing. I love Catastrophe and I am sad The Americans is over. I’m into just about every HBO show: Insecure and Sharp Objects are my obsession right now. I live for Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal and John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight.

Photo Credit: Birdie Thompson / Hair and makeup: Allison Noelle
Photo Credit: Birdie Thompson / Hair and makeup: Allison Noelle

What else do you like to do when you get a moment to sit back and relax?

When I get a moment to truly relax, I like hanging with my pups (two older dogs, 12 and 14) and just kind of enjoying life on the deck when it’s cool out. I FaceTime with my best friend Sarah, and her daughter Scout, who is four. That’s always a pick-me-up! I catch up with my other close friends, talk to my Mom, text GIFs with my brother, check in with my Dad, take a nap – probably do some laundry and if I’m on a writing deadline, clean something!

I am really working on resting when I have time to relax. I’ve never been one to truly sit back and relax, but I’m working on it. My Grammy, who just turned 107 this past summer, always says to me “get plenty of rest”. I never really knew that she understood I didn’t truly rest. I just started actually resting this spring and it’s been lovely. It’s a skill – turning off your brain and not shaming yourself for not doing more. Especially for women – we are great at thinking about all the other things we should be doing instead of just sitting on the couch relaxing, or napping, or reading a book, or taking a walk just to take a walk. So that is something I’m actively working on, and it’s quite nice.

The entertainment industry is clearly going through some big changes for the better in recent months and years, with equality for women at the forefront of what many are trying to reach for. As a woman with plenty of experience in the business, have you ever had to face any challenges or major issues because of your gender?

Thank you! I feel like a veteran when it comes to performing, having been improvising for almost 20 years, but I still feel like a newbie sometimes when it comes to TV and film. There is so much to learn and do – so part of the challenge is experiencing something for the first time and having to navigate that. I have friends who are further along in their career, and fortunately I can always call them and ask what to expect. My manager, Michele, is fantastic about talking through options and details, so she’s always someone I can count on. I don’t feel like I’ve had to face things specifically because of my gender. Perhaps I have and haven’t known about it. there are lots of other ways that society marginalises people – and that is exacerbated in this industry.

Where do you think the entertainment industry is headed in regards to women and their role within it?

Hopefully this isn’t a trend but a major shift toward more women as decision-makers, behind the camera, in producer and executive roles, in writers’ rooms and in post-production. There’s no reason that this industry should be male-dominated. It isn’t as if these skillsets are gender-selected. This also stands for people of colour, people with disabilities, people across the gender spectrum, all sexualities, all shapes and sizes, etc. Our cultural perspective that movie-making is a white male industry is because we predominantly see white males on screen… written and produced by white males. When you have more diversity in the production process from tip to tail, you can reach more people with your storytelling. To me, it’s just good business sense. Why wouldn’t you want your story to reach more people?

Can you tell us a little bit about the Women’s March and the experience you had attending in the past couple of years?

OMG, yes! After the election in 2016, I was in a dark place. I felt really isolated and sad that a quarter of our population elected someone who, to put it mildly, did not value women as equal. When the Women’s March began organising, my best friend and I decided that we had to go. She flew out, and we marched in LA, along with hundreds of thousands of people here and millions around the world. I felt inspired, and supported, and cared for, and seen, and validated, reassured, respected, protected, encouraged, energised and ready to take action. It was a wonderful antidote to what I had been experiencing for two months. It was life-changing!

I’ve been to this year’s Woman’s March again in LA, and I spoke at an event here in California, the #PowerToThePolls event on the steps of the capitol in Sacramento. That was really powerful and moving and such a privilege to be a part of. To hear amazing speakers and give voice to the concerns of women in many communities. Intersectional feminism is the goal, and it takes lots of women both speaking up and listening, acknowledging where they have been marginalised and where they marginalise others, where they assist in lifting other women up, and where they may be oppressing others. The effort is worth the reward.

How would you describe the current political climate in the US? Do you think there will be big changes this coming November when the country goes to the polls?

This feels like the interview portion of Miss America! I am working hard to help motivate people to register to vote, ensure they are not purged from their voter rolls locally and then show up to vote by making a voting plan. Voting early is offered in many precincts and alleviates the time and lines on election day! My Grammy was an election official in her small town in Indiana for many years, well into her 80s, maybe her 90s, and in our family we take the privilege of voting seriously. I remember going with my Mom into a voting booth and her explaining to me that this was a right that was fought for by many people and that it’s a responsibility and duty that you must engage in, no matter what. I like being informed about what candidates are proposing, and how my money is being spent, and how incumbents are performing. If you aren’t aware, it makes it that much harder to engage.

I feel like the perpetual attack on the fourth estate has made it much more difficult to fund and source local journalism – which is really the most important to have, in my opinion. Being able to have a reliable source of what was decided at the city council meeting (because I don’t have time to go) is imperative to keep elected officials accountable – so that I know if I want to re-elect them or vote them out. For me, this oversight goes for every elected office from dogcatcher to the Oval Office.

My greatest hope for November is that voter turnout is the highest it has been in ages. Not only do people turn out in droves, making voting plans and executing them, but that voters are assisted in getting to the polls, not suppressed in casting their votes.

Back to your career; are there any projects you have underway right now you can share some details about?

Yes! This fall, my web series Dog Moms is being released on Amazon Prime! You can watch me improvise live each week on #SuggestionSunday – on Instagram! It’s every Sunday at 12:30 pacific, 3:30 eastern, live on Instagram, and I have special guests, I improvise and there is audience interaction through the comments. It’s a lot of fun, it’s free and you can come and go as you please! I just shot an episode of season 3 of TEACHERS on TVLand, coming back as the terrible parent Teri, which is always a blast.

What are your biggest hopes for the future?

Other than 98% voter turnout? I want to continue making all kinds of content, and I would love to keep working more and more, obviously! And to feel fully rested when I rest and relax. Gotta listen to Grammy. She knows what she’s talking about.

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