Fans of MTV’s Awkward likely recognized a familiar face when they tuned in to last week’s episode of Melissa & Joey. Greer Grammer, who plays McKenna Cederstrom, reprises her role tonight. We chatted with her about the experience and got the scoop on the actresses who most inspire her.
First of all, tell me a little bit about your character, McKenna.
Greer Grammer: Well, McKenna is a cheerleader, she’s in a sorority, she’s in school, she’s very bubbly and happy and ditzy, and then she gets caught up in being an actress for Lennox and Zander. She’s totally wrong for the role of Cassandra, which is the part they’re casting, but the producer who’s making the film wants McKenna as the lead, so they start helping her get the character right, and Lennox gets to impose herself onto McKenna. McKenna gets to become Cassandra, who’s dark and cool and edgy and awesome.
What was it like working with the cast? There are some big names on the show – did anyone surprise you?
For the most part, everyone was as I anticipated. I was really nervous going into it because Joey [Lawrence] was directing my first episode, the one that aired last week. I was like, “Oh, I have to be really good because the star of the show is the director!” But he was so great and Melissa [Joan Hart] was so nice, and I’ve known Taylor [Spreitler] and Sterling [Knight] for years, so that was fun to get to go to work and know my friends. It made it a little less nerve-wracking, but I was still pretty nervous. I was scared that I was going to be awful and I was going to be recast! But yeah, for the most part, everybody was just as I expected. Joey’s loud and funny and a big ball of energy, and Melissa’s just so lovely and nice and also so funny, and Taylor and Sterling are my friends!
Is it weird transitioning from a friendship relationship to a professional relationship with the people you knew before the show?
Yes and no. I mean, it’s acting, so it’s always fun – and it’s Melissa & Joey, so it’s comedy and it’s upbeat. We didn’t need to be dramatic or hate each other or anything, so we all got to hang out. I think everyone knows the difference between being professional on set and being at home, so there were no issues. We were just able to be friends and have fun!
What part of the episode are you most excited for fans to see?
That’s a good question! I was really excited for everybody to see the introduction of McKenna last week because I think that’s a great scene, and then to see the kiss. Coming up, I’m most excited for them to see what happens when Lennox finds out about McKenna and Zander!
Moving on to a couple of more general questions: What’s coming up for you next professionally?
Season 5 of Awkward airs August 31. We’ve been filming that since January and I think we finish in July. I’ve just been working on that and Melissa & Joey. I’ve got some other stuff that I’m in talks to do, but nothing that I can talk about yet.
What made you get into acting?
I’ve always wanted to be an actress. The question I get asked a lot is “Did your dad [Kelsey Grammer] affect you being an actress?” It probably did as I got older, but growing up, I was playing pretend, I was playing dress-up, I played Barbies and created different themes for them, I was a different Disney princess every day. I would walk around my room and move my mom’s feet off the table with my nose in a book pretending to be Belle, and I had this little rocking chair that I would flip upside down and try to somersault through it like Alice going through the rabbit hole. I was always a different character. When Titanic came out, I changed my name to Rose and wore nothing but my heart of the ocean necklace, and I did theater growing up. When I was 16, I basically told my parents that it was something I really wanted to do professionally, and they were OK with it at that point. They just wanted to make sure I was pursuing it for the right reasons – not because I wanted to be famous but that I really loved acting. I went to a performing arts high school and I was a theater major, so they were able to see that I really loved it.
It sounds like you had a lot of inspiration! Are there any particular actors you aspire to be like professionally or who’ve helped you further your craft?
The one that everybody always says is Meryl Streep because she’s just so great. I love her. I also really love Reese Witherspoon and I would love to have a career like hers. I think she’s such a talented actress; she’s able to do everything. She’s a talented comedienne, a talented drama actress, and now she’s going into producing, which is something I’m really interested in, so she’s definitely inspired me a lot. Who else? I love Charlize Theron. She’s beautiful and amazing, and Monster was the first time I’d ever seen her.
That’s a great movie.
It’s so good, and she’s so great in it. My mom brought me in to watch it and she said “That woman got her career as a model” and I went “…You’re crazy!” because I had never seen her before and there was no way that woman was a model. When I saw who she was, I was like, “Oh my God!” The transformation was just crazy, not only hair and makeup-wise, but her performance was chilling and great. Rachel McAdams is another one who can do comedy and drama. Those are the ones I really like.