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'This Is Us' Star Chrissy Metz Retraces Her Journey From Agent To Actress

Chrissy Metz plays Kate on the NBC's <em>This Is Us.</em>
Ron Batzdorff
Chrissy Metz plays Kate on the NBC's This Is Us.

Chrissy Metz is best known for her role as Kate on the hit NBC show This Is Us. But before she got herself on a screen, she was helping other people get there. Metz moved across the country from Florida to California in the early 2000s to work for an agent and try her hand at acting. She eventually became an agent herself, though she never stopped believing she could be an actor. She auditioned on the side for years before landing This Is Us.

It wasn't always easy — Metz struggled with her weight, heartbreak over her divorce and her complicated relationships with her father, who left her family when she was young, and her stepfather, who hit and body-shamed her.

Metz has just published a book that's part-self-help and part memoir. It's called This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today.

Interview Highlights

On her decision to write about her stepfather's abusive behavior in her new book

It was really difficult to write about my stepfather, and I hummed and I hawed about it. And I was like, "Is this important? Is it going to help anybody? What's my intention behind it?" And the whole intention was that that chapter was about forgiveness, and it doesn't matter. I mean, yes, people can do some really terrible, hateful, seemingly unforgivable things, but I think that forgiveness is so important and if not for the other person, but for yourself. ...

We have a great relationship and he apologized, but it is fairly uncomfortable to share that stuff. And it's so uncertain. I had no idea how he would receive it. ... I think he feels a bit slighted in that he's just like, "Well, why didn't you tell me about it? And why didn't you tell me that you're writing about it?" And my thing is if I told every single person about what I was writing about, I would have been so concerned about their feelings that I wouldn't be able to express my own. And it's not their book.

On playing a character who has a good relationship with her dad on This Is Us

I come from the place of wishing I had that relationship. And the lack of those relationships, they fuel the emotion for me when I'm doing these very emotional scenes, or like losing Milo [Ventimiglia's] character, Jack [Kate's father]. And so it's really about the lack of relationship or what I wish might have been, and even sort of living vicariously through this character. ... And so I definitely find myself enjoying that process, because I'm like, "Oh it's like a healthy relationship." Who doesn't want one of those?

On becoming an agent when she meant to be an actress

I had maybe one or two auditions, and I was taking kids on auditions and becoming a set nanny. And my manager at the time suggested that I become an agent's assistant because she was looking for one. And I'm like, "This is not why I came here for," and like, "Do you not believe in me?" and "What's going on?"

It's seemingly self-serving, but what I came to understand, through nine years of being a junior agent and then an agent, was that I learned so much about the business. It feels so empowering when I'm in a meeting where I look at a contract and I know how to read the verbiage, and I'm like, "Oh no, no. Not this."

It was difficult, though, because it was like watching your boyfriend take another woman out every day and everybody's going on auditions and you're like, "Yeah, great, have fun." And I ate my feelings and I was depressed and I was like, "This is not what I came here for." But I also know, like I stated earlier, that we're here to be of service. And if I couldn't do what I wanted to do, I could at least help people do what they wanted to do.

On how her acting career finally took off

Right up until I did that arc on American Horror Story [season four] I was ready to move back to Florida and teach preschool again. ... And then after Horror Story, I was like, "Oh great, my career is going to take off. The universe is just, it's ready. It's ready for me." And then nothing happened for a whole year. I had one or two auditions. Womp womp.

And then when This Is Us came around, that's when I was on unemployment and I had 81 cents in my bank account. ... One of my friends texted me and suggested that, you know, I go to the audition. And I'm like, "Well, if you get it for me, I'll go." Because everybody and their mom wanted to go and read for this project, this pilot, because it was different than anything else that you typically see during pilot season. And I was like, "If you get the audition, I'll go." And the rest is history.

Nicole Cohen adapted this interview for the Web.

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Anjuli Sastry (she/her) is a producer on It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders and a 2021 Nieman Journalism Foundation Visiting Fellow. During her Nieman fellowship in spring 2021, Sastry created, hosted and produced the audio and video series Where We Come From. The series tells the stories of immigrant communities of color through a personal and historical lens.
Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.