A: At first, it was very stressful and depressing. I remember Yvette Nicole Brown telling me she was packing up her trailer at one point during Season One because she was convinced we were going to be cancelled.
On Friday mornings, the ratings would come out and they were usually not great. We would wonder if they were going to pull the plug that day. But, as a cast, we believed in the show so much and were so proud of it that we really thought it would keep going. I developed a kind of "Pollyanna" attitude towards the show as the years went on. No matter how bleak it looked, I believed we would be renewed. There was so much energy and excitement behind #SixSeasonsAndAMovie that I was shocked when NBC didn't renew us for a sixth season. I thought maybe they would give us a shorter season with fewer episodes but I was convinced they would fulfill the hashtag and give us that sixth season.
After we were cancelled by NBC, I really thought it was the end of the show. I cried, mourned the end of that era and started to move on. So when we were picked up by Yahoo on the final day of contracts it was a real surprise. I don't think any of the cast members thought we would do another season.
A: Directing for the first time was scary and exhilarating. I fell in love with Grace Hopper and her female colleagues so I was really excited to tell their story. Researching her life and accomplishments was so interesting and I was lucky enough to interview two of her biographers who gave us so much insight into the woman. Working with a limited budget and resources provided some obstacles but my producer, Sean Stuart, was so creative and helpful and we found a way around most of them. I enjoyed many aspects of the job like creating the look for the title cards or choosing which photos to use. Working on a documentary involved fewer days of actual shooting and many days of editing so it gave me the chance to keep improving the documentary and add more material as we went along.
A: All of the credit goes to Dan Silver who worked at 30 for 30 Films and now is at ABC News. I first met Dan on the set of Community because Danny Pudi directed a 30 for 30 Short about Marquette basketball. Later, I was on a panel with Dan at the Tribeca Film Festival and we reconnected. I had several ideas for 30 for 30 Films but none were the right fit. Then, several months later, Dan randomly called me and asked if I would like to make a film about Grace Hopper. In the intervening months, ESPN had purchased the website fivethirtyeight.com and was interested in making 30 for 30 style films about statistics, computing and tech.
My first question to Dan was, "Who is Grace Hopper?" Dan had heard a passing reference to her on Halt and Catch Fire and looked her up. Grace is one of the most famous women in the history of computing and yet is still relatively unknown. I did a bit of research on my own about Grace and was put in touch with a historian named Joy Rankin, who studies the history of gender and computing. Joy was the one who told me that Grace Hopper was not the lone woman in the field during the 1940s and 50s but rather one of several women who helped invent the job of "coder" or "programmer." After I heard that, I got really excited about the project.
A: Community had just been canceled by NBC and I was in New York to shoot Girls. I got a call from my agents that Judd Apatow wanted to meet with me. He was about to begin shooting Trainwreck and I met him at a comedy club in the West Village. Judd has started doing stand up again and I think he had just done a set. He said that he'd been working on a pilot and they were thinking of me for a role. I read it, loved the script, met with Paul Rust and Lesley Arfin back in Los Angeles and agreed to do the show.
It was so simple and straight forward and so unlike my previous experiences being cast on television shows. Normally, you have to audition several times for the writers and producers, audition for the studio and the network. The whole process is very stressful and awkward because you are auditioning alongside the five other people up for the role. You spend a lot of time sitting in uncomfortable silence with your competition. Years ago, I auditioned for the show The Unit, which David Mamet created. He was horrified by the whole testing process and couldn't believe we had to sit in a waiting room with all the other people up for the same part. It is a bizarre process.