Interview with Melissa Peterman of "Baby Daddy" on ABC Family - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Krista

Melissa Peterman

Interview with Melissa Peterman of "Baby Daddy" on FX 7/16/12

Melissa was a great person to talk to. I asked the questions: " I talked to Tahj Mowry the other day and he was delightful to talk to. What's your take on him?" She actually had already talked about Tahj and how they got along great, but I wanted to tell her that he said he really really loved her, and so I wanted her to maybe expand on his personality.  She told other stories too, like how his parents showed up for every taping. I also asked the next question about "Since you said you all get along great, do they ever pull pranks on each other?" I think another question about pranks was asked before me, I didn't realize that, though, until I read the transcript. I heard the part about behind the scenes stories but didn't hear the part where they asked about pranks, so sorry for repeating a question, but she did elaborate and told a story about making Tahj a pillow for his birthday, so I'm glad I asked it.

ABC Familyís Q&A Session with Melissa Peterman ĖBABY DADDY

Moderator:You have great comedic timing: is it something thatís always been natural to you or have you had to hone it somehow?

M. Peterman: I think with comedy youíre kind of born with maybe a little bit of the gene but definitely I did hone it, and I think for me, one of the most important things was a lot of improv and I worked with really funny people. When you work with really funny people youíve got to step your game up so, for me, years of improv really helped hone that sort of comedic timing.

I think performing in front of a live audience is really helpful too because you can feel those moments, and I did a lot of live theater and a lot of live improv. Having an audience in front of you, you know immediately if itís working so that was very helpful for me.

Moderator:The cast seems to have great chemistry on set as well. Is it something that was easy for you guys right away or did you have to work at it?

M. Peterman: It was actually really easy right way. You always sort of worryóyou still cross your fingers and hope that you get it: it just happensóchemistry, and from day one we really all got along really well. Tahj made me laugh right from the minute I met him, and we all genuinely like each other, and for me itís super fun to hang around with kidsómy husband jokes because I come home from work all the time like, ďThose kids. Theyíre just adorable, those kids.Ē But itís fun to be around their energy and we truly all get along and like each other. You cross your fingers for that every time youíre going to work with people. Youíre like, ďPlease let it work,Ē and this one was very natural.

Moderator:You seem to pursue all these different projects, and Iím curious how you chose what to do next, and specifically, how did you end up coming to Baby Daddy?

M. Peterman: You like to think that as an actor you arenít always in the position to choose. You audition for many things and hope that the right one comes along, but this one I was pretty lucky. I read the script and thought it was really funny, and I came on board to do a guest star with the possibility to reoccur, and the chemistry, even just doing that pilot, clicked right away, and I ended up getting to be a serious regular. Thatís always the dream situation where you come in to guest star and it ends up turning into a job.

I was thrilled because I love Dan and I first auditioned with Dan, whoís the creator. He was really easy and we had a natural sort of rapport, and I liked the script. For me, you look for the script you want. You want funny words, and you want funny people, and you want it to have a little heart, and this one had everything that I was looking for so I was excited to do it. I was thrilled. It was really fun.

Moderator:I know that youíre into improv, which I love, and Iím curious were you able to bring any of those skills to the set of Baby Daddy?

M. Peterman: Yeah, I have, and whatís so great is that we have writers who give us great things to say but theyíre also not so territorial that theyíre not afraid to let you try something new. To have the freedom to play around and see what works, we definitely have it on the set so itís a great situation. You donít always get that. Not every writer lets you go, ďCan I try this?Ē or ďWhat about this? This could be funny.Ē We have such a great team that they let us play, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesnít.

Moderator:We were able to talk to Chelsea a couple of weeks ago, and sheís just a delight. She referred to you as a gift and said that you deserved a writerís credit for all of the work and the improv work that you do. How do you feel about knowing that the younger actors look up to you in that way?

M. Peterman: Obviously itís really nice and to hear someone who I think is funny and sweet and so talented say something so nice about you, thatís always a good thing, but I definitely love feeling of the been there done it. Iíve been working in TV and itís a fun, new position for me because most of the time I was the newbie or just trying to hold back and learn and watch and learn and watch, and so itís fun to step into the role of possible big sister. I like to say big sister instead of mom, maybe cool aunt or mentor but itís definitely a very new and fun position for me to be in. If I ask them to get me coffee they have to so thatís a bonus too, being the oldest one on set.

Moderator:How does Baby Daddy compare to your experience on Reba as far as the two shows?

M. Peterman: I think the part that feels very similar to me is a cast that likes each other. We like hanging out even when weíre not working, and we genuinely get along and make each other laugh. Thatís a similar thing Iím so happy to see happen. I mean obviously itís a different story line but I think what it has in common with Reba is that it is funny but thereís definitely a good grounding sense of heartfelt.

One thing I always learned from Reba and the three years of working with her is that you canít have the funny unless you have the heart, and you can have people that fight and donít get along or say things that donít sound great but if you know they love each other you can get away with it. I feel like itís got that similar quality of telling a story thatís maybe not everyoneís story but people can relate to it. I think thatís whatís in common.

Moderator:How does your character Bonnie compare with Barbara Jean?

M. Peterman: I think Bonnie is definitely a little more sarcastic. Barbara Jean was much more innocent, oblivious to the things she was saying, and never dumb but just really honest. I think Bonnie has definitely got a little more of a sarcastic quality, a little sassier. You always bring a little bit of yourself to each character so I see similarities as always that you bring as an actor to each character.

Bonnieís a little sassier and sheís single. Sheís starting a new chapter in her life as well so you get to see her transition from ĎI was just a momí and now ĎI donít have to be a mom anymore.í Itís new beginnings for her.

Moderator:Weíve seen the Jersey Shore-like promo you guys did for, and you had mentioned Tahj earlier and you guys hit it off from the very beginning. Are there any other video goodies we can expect?

M. Peterman: Yes. Any time there was a camera Tahj and I would take advantage, and as a cast we were taking videos of each other all day. Not that we werenít working really, really hard. We were all the time working, but Chelsea and I made funny ones, which I think are on her website, which were my fake acting tips from Melissa Peterman, and theyíre horrible. Theyíre horrible acting tips but theyíre very funny, so I know Chelsea has those.

Tahj and I, Iím sure they have hours of footage from just that 30 seconds thatís on the website so if they want to piece together the Tahj and Melissa mini movie theyíd definitely have the footage. We clicked right away. He makes me laugh. I joke that heís my brother from another mother. I love him.

Moderator:Are there any other funny behind the scenes stories you can share, maybe pranks or funny accidents or anything?

M. Peterman: Well, we always doóagain, if you compiled a lot of our cast, our own cell phones and the footage and photos we take all day it would be volumes, but we always tease Chelsea in a good way that sheís so adorable because she is. Sheís literally the cutest thing ever that whenever she comes on set I go, ďDid you just wake up from a nap inside your tulip?Ē We joke that she sleeps in flowers and sheís just so tiny and cute so we have that little joke on Chelsea. I like to call Chelsea my Barbie and skipper.

Again, I try to pull that Iím the oldest one on the set part a lot where itís like, ďYou guys have to get me stuff. Rub my back, Iím old. Carry this.Ē They fall for it sometimes but we just laugh a lot; we really do.

It is good and the same thing which I was really happy to have happen again. People may not know what it is and why they like watching them a little bit more or they sense something is different, but I believe that chemistry does shine through in the final product even if youíre doing a scene where your characters are fighting. If there is that core of chemistry it changes things.

Moderator:I talked to Tahj the other day and he was just a delightful to talk to, and he really, really loves you to death. What is your take on him?

M. Peterman: The feeling is very mutual, and, again, the first day I met him we were walking from the parking lot to go do the first table read and were already laughing so hard that tears were coming out. I felt like I had known him my whole life when I met him, and he genuinely is one of the kindest people ever, so sweet. His parents come to every taping and theyíre just the nicest.

You can definitely see why I call him my sunshine. He walks into a room, and it just gets a little brighter and a little sunnier. Itís a love-fest. I love him so much, and I think heís such a great person to also have in the mix because you can see he and Jean-Luc have their relationship thatís so wonderful, and Derrick and him and Chelsea and him, and then, all together we have one. But heís a product of really good parenting and a really nice person.

Tahj has also been doing this for a long time. I feel very lucky to be around these young people who are just really good human beings and happen to be very talented and funny as well. I gush about all of them but the first moment I met Tahj I just felt like, ďWhere have you been forever? Weíre supposed to be hanging out.Ē

Moderator:Since you all get along so well together do you all ever play pranks on each other?

M. Peterman: Yes. Youíll go in your dressing room and theyíve taken a photo that theyíve put on the door. For Tahjís birthday, I made him a pillow, and I donít know if anyone knows about this application called Old Booth where you can take photos and you can put your face into the 1980s. I made a whole series of Tahj throughout the years of a pillow from this app and he loved it.

We threw a surprise birthday for Tahj on the set. He didnít know. Itís hard to do a lot of pranks as weíre shooting because there is a baby there so we have to concentrate and be focused. You have to ask them. They might do more stuff that they donít tell me about.

Moderator:Iíd like to hear more about Bonnieís future. If it were somehow up to you what would happen to her?

M. Peterman: If it was up to me she would date weekly with wonderful, gorgeous guest stars. I donít know. I guess Iíd like to see her rediscovering what itís like to be single. As the season progresses you will meet the ex-husband and youíll get some sort of insight into what that relationship was, but I would like to see her trust Ben a little more, trust her son that theyíre okay.

I definitely go through the ups and downs. I think it would be very fun to see the parallel lives of her having bad dates at the same time her grown sons are. I would also love for her to have to live with Chelseaís character for a while just to see and maybe think that they are on the same page or level and annoy Riley. Iíd love to see Bonnie have to move in with Riley for a while just to see that dynamic because I think the dynamic between Chelsea and I and those two characters is a really fun one and interesting.

Moderator:What is next for Melissa Peterman? What are we going to be able to see you do after this?

M. Peterman: Well, whatís next? Iím still working. This fall Iíll be working on my comedy album, doing some more standup dates as the summer ends. I did a movie with Kevin James, Here from The Boom, which comes out in October. Hopefully, Iíll be back to work on season two of Baby Daddy in the fall too. What else? Get my son off to 1sts grade, and re-grout my bathroom, those are my big plans.

Moderator:Youíve done a lot of work with Ms. Reba McEntire: is there any possibility that she might be doing any sort of guest appearance on Baby Daddy?

M. Peterman: If I have my way, yes. I know that Rebaís very excited. Sheíll start work on Malibu Country in September for ABC. I saw her a couple weeks ago. We talk or email almost every couple days but Iím going to ring that bell. Absolutely Iíd love to have her come guest on Baby Daddy, and I would love it if she asked me to come over to Malibu Country for a guest spot. I mean weíre still very good friends and each otherís biggest fans and supporters so Iím going to make that phone call.

Moderator:Other than Ms. Reba McEntire what other celebrity guest star would you love to see appear on the show?

M. Peterman: Oh, Carol Burnett would be dreamy: funniest woman ever. If weíre going to just go out there let me just say it: letís get George Clooney. Why not? Letís go big there. Weíve had some really amazing ones this first season. I always love Ryan Stiles. I think heís very funny. I think Kathy Kinney is hilarious. Dolly Parton, Tina Fey, letís just name them all. I would love to have anybody and all of them.
Do you know who I think would be really fun is Blake Shelton. I think heís so funny and heís got that guy swagger. I think to see him with these three guys would be a great combination.

Moderator:What elements of Bonnieís have you adapted for yourself? Sheís bossy and sheís sassy but you already have that so what else do you have?

M. Peterman: Iím now enjoying a lot of leather jackets. I think the wardrobe, I know thatís a silly one but itís true. I love the whole little leather jacket look sheís been doing. I think Iíve been adopting her looks; not that Iím stealing from the wardrobe, ABC Family. I might have borrowed one.

They tease me on the set that I do something whenever I enter the room as Bonnie or open the door. I donít know what it is but apparently itís something I do all the time anyway. The other thing is I would love to have those babies in my real life because theyíre so cute and it makes me want to just steal one of them. I tell the mother Allison of the twins, ďYouíve got two, just give me one.Ē But she wonít yet.

Moderator:What fears did you encounter or overcome taking on Bonnie as opposed to when you were playing Barbara Jean?

M. Peterman: Itís always scary when you take on a new character, especially if youíre known for a role, and itís always hard too because that first season is so much about figuring. Youíre lucky if you have the chemistry right away, which we did, but that first season is the writers seeing who you are. They write to that, and everyoneís figuring it out together, like who is this person and you hope to get there quickly so you can find her, but itís always a little scary when youíre figuring out who they are. Sometimes you donít figure it out right away and youíre seeing who this person is.

I remember thinking with Barbara Jean a few episodes in, or that first scene with Reba when you feel like, ďOkay. Thatís who she is.Ē I think with Bonnie it was in those first few episodes I went, ďOh, okay. There she is.Ē And itís always a little scary just trying to find that person but the writers gave me a great character to play right away.

Itís nerve racking but itís always fun, and then, when you find it you canít wait to keep delving a little bit deeper and find the dark side and the little secret things. Itís just fun to play a new voice, but a little nerve racking. You hope the audience accepts it and can see you as a new character, and I think that Iíve been lucky in my career that Rebaís given me a big fan base that have always supported my new projects, so Iím very appreciative.

Moderator:You make everything different and to see your improv evolve really speaks of you personally; you are dynamic. What vision do you want to bring from your imagination to the audience and to ABC Family playing Bonnie?

M. Peterman: I want to bring a new grandma to everyone. I just want to bring a new definition to grandma to ABC Family. I hope that sounded smart. I think it did.

Moderator:In a nutshell, a sexy, saucy, sassy grandma.

M. Peterman: Thatís right. Iím going to bring sexy back.

Moderator:Unlike your relationship with Tahj Mowry, youíre character Bonnie dislikes Tucker. Do you have any idea why she might dislike him?

M. Peterman: I donít know quite yet. Itís one of those quirky little character things that develops. I think itís because heís in the way of her son. Itís someone else whoís taking the attention away or in between her and her boys. I think secretly, and this is in my head, she adores him but itís that love/hate thing. I donít know. Iím excited to see it play out.

Moderator:Where do you see it going? Do you see it getting worse or it getting better over the long run?

M. Peterman: I think it gets worse first and then it gets better. We joke that there may be an episode where we get stuck together, maybe thereís a bottle of wine, and drunken confessions happen. Who knows? Whatever they give us Tahj and I are excited to play it.

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