Exclusive: Sasheer Zapata Talks ‘I Feel Pretty’ & Working With Amy SchumerPosted by Wilson Morales
April 19, 2018
Coming out this week from STX Films is the upcoming comedy I Feel Pretty starring Amy Schumer.
Written and directed by Abby Kohn & Marc Silverstein, the film also stars Michelle Williams, Rory Scovel, Emily Ratajkowski, Aidy Bryant, Busy Phillips, Tom Hopper, Sasheer Zamata with Naomi Campbell and Lauren Hutton.
In I FEEL PRETTY a woman who struggles with feelings of deep insecurity and low self-esteem, that hold her back everyday, wakes from a brutal fall in an exercise class believing she is suddenly a supermodel. With this newfound confidence she is empowered to live her life fearlessly and flawlessly, but what will happen when she realizes her appearance never changed?
For Saturday Night Live alum Sasheer Zamata, the Indiana native gets to work again with Amy Schumer. In recent years, Zapata has appeared in indie film such as Sleight, Yoga Hosers, Deidra & Laney Rob a Train, and The Outdoorsman. She’s set to star in Stella Meghie’s The Weekend.
Blackfilm.com caught up with Zapata as she spoke about I Feel Pretty.
How did the role come about?
Sasheer Zamata: They just asked. I don’t know if that was Amy’s suggestion because she’s had me do other scenes with her before or if the directors knew me but someone asked and I said yes.
For those who haven’t seen the film yet and we’ll probably get this out before the movie comes out, you’re playing Tasha. How would you describe the scene you’re playing with her?
Sasheer Zamata: Tasha works at the SoulCycle where Amy works out and she’s trying to be fit. That’s also where she hits her head and the whole transformation quote unquote happens in the movie. My character is just doing her job but doesn’t really care that much about the people coming into the SoulCycle. The things I’m saying to Amy are kind of dismissive and could be perceived as hurtful, but also Amy’s in such a place where she’s very vulnerable and insecure that what she’s hearing is negative, but doesn’t have to be perceived that way. I’m kind of giving her a hard time in the beginning of the movie and I’m also there when she’s going through that mental transformation of feeling confidant. I’m just so baffled about what’s happening in front of me because I see her physically and she looks exactly the same but she thinks she’s a totally different person, which is nuts to me.
It’s a straightforward role for you outside of what people know you for. When you get this role, you see your lines, you see your scenes, you’re like, “Do I not get to be what people know me for?”
Sasheer Zamata: I guess I don’t really know what people know me for. I think the part is very funny and I also really like playing the straight man. I do that in improv all the time. I’ve done that with Amy in particular a few times. There was a sketch we did for Inside Amy Schumer where I’m across the counter from her just straight manning her the whole time. It’s fun to be deadpan and just kind of say these wild lines with a straight face.
When you’re working with Amy, obviously you’ve done it before, is it an easy chemistry as opposed to like when you’re working with somebody new and you’ve got to do this one or two scenes and so forth.
Sasheer Zamata: Yeah, it is really nice because we know each other and we have worked together. She knows I’m funny and know why I’m funny. It’s fun to be able to just kind of riff and shout out suggestions and jokes to each other. Amy and the directors, Abby and Marc, made it such an open environment and such a collaborative energy that we could all just say how we felt. We’re like, “What about this joke? Or what about this joke?” It was just nice to be able to play and not every set is like that. This was a really special treat.
This movie has to do obviously with appearance and vanity. What does it take for one to just be confident amongst themselves, as opposed to like having to feel sort of different?
Sasheer Zamata: I think it takes a lot. That’s something that people have to figure out for themselves. Some people need their friends to be confident. Some people need to set goals for themselves and their career to be confidant. It really just takes … It’s a personal journey. I’m still going through it consistently. I am way more confident than I was years ago. I’m more confident than I was last year. Hopefully, I’ll just grow and grow and grow but that also took time and experience and me getting older and me loving more things about myself. There’s definitely not one thing that will attribute to a person becoming confident but as long as you’re open to it and self aware, I think that you can just approach this journey however you want and however makes you comfortable. Hopefully, you’ll get there.
Your character’s working at SoulCycle. Have you done that before?
Sasheer Zamata: I have not. I’ve taken a cycling class before but it wasn’t the company SoulCycle.
Would you want to do it?
Sasheer Zamata: Yeah, I would try. I’d be open to it. It seems intense and I definitely need to get more cardio in my life. I haven’t done it yet.
What are your workout habits if it’s not SoulCycle?
Sasheer Zamata: It varies. I go through phases where I’m working out a lot or when I’m not doing anything at all. Consistently, I do yoga and Pilates and try to strengthen my body. My goal in the last couple of years was to be able to hold my own weight. Not necessarily be a weight lifter but if I fell into a subway platform, I want to be able to lift myself up out of it. I’ve been trying to be able to more aware of my body and where the strength is.
What goes into the projects you get offered or you look for? What’s the process like before you say yes?
Sasheer Zamata: Definitely reading the script. Knowing who’s attached. Knowing how much money I’m making. Also, the dates. There’s so many things that need fall in place for me to be like, “Yes, I would like to do this.” If it’s something where it could be a lot of money but I don’t love the project, that’s a hard decision. I have said no to things before because they may not be right for me at that time. I try to have as much thought as far as, “Is this going to be something that I will like when I look back on it?” If I do this project and I look back on it years from now, will I be proud of what I did or will I just be like, “Well, it was check and it cleared.”
You’ve got another film ‘The Weekend’ coming up. What’s role going to be on that?
Sasheer Zamata: I play someone who is a comedian, so it’s not a far stretch for me. The role is kind of based a little bit on the writer director Stella Meghie. She did Everything, Everything and Jean of the Joneses. She’s so talented and wonderful to work with. Yeah, it’s really fun to play this kind of role because this particular character’s very cynical and kind of socially awkward in a way that’s aggressively blunt. It was just really fun to shoot too. We were in Malibu for a month. It was Tone Bell, DeWanda Wise, Y’lan Noel. It was just a fun group to be with. I’m really excited. I think it will be a really cool film for people to see.
Is there anything else coming up down the road before that?
Sasheer Zamata: I just shot a pilot for NBC called So Close. It’s a romantic comedy multi-cam and we’re waiting to hear about that but I feel really good about it. I think it’d be a cool thing for people to see on TV right now.
We’re in this realm where because of movies and networks and obviously streaming stuff, I’d like to think there’s a lot of opportunities now for people of color, especially black woman, than there was before. Would you say that’s the case? Are you seeing more opportunities now where like, “Okay, I can go for this or that,” as opposed to they’re not bringing in that many people.
Sasheer Zamata: Absolutely. The change has been immense in the last few years, which is so nice because you used to go out for these roles where it’d be like, “Well, I guess they’re only casting one black girl in this movie,” or like, “I’ll be the friend or the nurse or the waitress or the secretary,” or whatever. Now people are opening up their minds a bit more and seeing us in different kinds of ways. Oh, maybe you can be a superhero. Maybe you can be the lead of something or you can be in a scary movie or you can be in a thriller. It’s so nice for people to be able to think outside the box that was created for who knows what reason, and actually see us as well rounded people who can do anything. We have been able to do anything for such a long time. It’s nice to actually enact that and actually do it.
You spent three years on SNL but you’re branching out doing other things. Do you want to be more known as an actress, as opposed to like, “Oh, she’s a comedian.” When people see your name, are they going to think funny as opposed to let’s see her in something straight? What are you looking to do? What’s going to tickle your fancy?
Sasheer Zamata: I want to do it all so I want people to look at me as Sasheer, who can do anything. I’m going to keep doing comedy and I would like to do dramatic stuff eventually. I want to do superhero stuff. I want to do thriller stuff. I would hope that people can follow me on that journey and adjust their brain and not think of me as just one thing because I can do multiple things. I want people to see that.
What’s going to get people to go see I Feel Pretty?
Sasheer Zamata: I think if you want to see a movie that’s very funny, that is going to make you feel good, and you want to just have something to talk about with the girlfriends, or with your guy friends, just bring a group of friends to the movie and just enjoy it. It’s a great movie and I think people will like it for entertainment purposes but also for a good message.
“I FEEL PRETTY” hits theaters on April 20, 2018
First 5 Minutes
Clip – Don’t Chicken Out
Clip – Full Spin
Clip – I’m Just Learning a Lot Right Now