Actress Allison Munn: The Show Must Go On
“So many puzzles… it’s almost embarrassing. I think this is puzzle number 10,” Allison Munn laughs. This is how Allison and her family have been spending their time now that they, along with the rest of the world, are adhering to the stay-at-home orders put into place as a result of the recent COVID-19 outbreak. “We’ve also been camping out in the backyard,” she continues. “L.A. has been so beautiful lately.” The “we” includes her husband Scott, and their 8-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter, who she’s working hard to homeschool now that school is being held virtually. “I come from a line of teachers --my mom, my aunt, my cousin-- and I’ve always had so much respect. But I’m really trying to figure out how to have more patience. The work they do is amazing.”
The South Carolina native, known for her roles in That 70s Show, What I Like About You, One Tree Hill, and now, Netflix’s The Big Show Show, got an early start in community theater. “I was nine in the play Annie and I got the bug. That was it.” From there, she attended the College of Charleston, and acted professionally during the summer. After college, Allison immediately moved to New York City, where she waitressed a year before landing the “role of a lifetime” in the famous off-Broadway production of “The Fantasticks” at New York’s Sullivan Street Theatre. The show’s original Off-Broadway production ran a total of 42 years (until 2002) with 17,162 performances, making it the world’s longest-running musical. For two and a half years, at barely 21 years old, Allison was performing eight shows a week. “I was definitely living the perfect New York moment. I lived on the Upper West Side and I remember after rehearsals and shows, I’d rollerblade home.”
Once her role ended, she packed up, and headed west to Los Angeles, California. “I knew absolutely no one when I moved out there. I was lucky enough to land a role as Fez’s crazy girlfriend in That 70s Show. Now, I wake up and I can’t believe I get to have a career and live in this town. It never gets old. To be able to be creative in my day job is truly a gift,” says Allison.
Now, Allison is starring in Netflix’s The Big Show Show as Cassy, alongside professional WWE wrestler Paul Wight II, also known as Big Show. The show centers on pro wrestler, Big Show, who is adjusting to both retirement and his oldest daughter moving in with him and his family. Allison plays his wife, Cassy --a really dynamic character. “I was so drawn to the fact that Cassy has so much to do. You see her at home, you see her at work... Throughout the course of the series, she has such a character arc and you get to watch her grow into her own.”
Allison and Paul have great chemistry on screen, which makes it surprising to find out that Allison didn’t exactly feel as though she nailed her audition. In the words of her agent: She must’ve done something right! “When I went in for the screen test, here’s this 7-feet-tall, 400-pound guy [Paul] that I have to chemistry read with,” she explains. “He’s great! He put me at ease as soon as I got in there. I remember the first scene, I had to crawl up a step stool, but there wasn’t one in the room. He told me, ‘Just do what my wife does, grab me by the beard!’ We just got along so well after that; we even discovered that we grew up one town over from each other!”
Being in the business from a young age has given the actress plenty of experience and opportunities to grow through her craft. “When I think back on my favorite roles I’ve played, they ended up being the most challenging. I’ve noticed my personal growth the most, which has found its way into my work. I can pick up a script and feel confident that I know what I was supposed to be doing. I’m confident enough now to know that I’m good enough,” says Allison.
For now, while we’re all confined to the safety of our homes, Allison is focusing on self-motivation. “There’s very little being required of me, aside from being a mom. I am working on giving myself time and letting the light shine on me. I want to learn to meditate and do those things I’ve been putting off.” She is also passing the time with her extensive list of book recommendations. A few of her favorites include, Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout, City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane.