When we first created the Dream Job series, finding the perfect actress to interview was at the top of our list. We needed someone who was really living the dream of acting, meaning landing roles and making it work as a real career path (without being from an industry family). When a mutual friend introduced me to Megan Ferguson, I knew immediately that she was our girl. Her IMDb page is already pretty impressive, and she’s most definitely on her way to bigger and badder roles. But best of all, her instagram caption reads “Stay-At-Home Actress” which I found hilariously self-deprecating (especially for a girl who’s already appeared on tv shows like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire.) This year Megan’s hitting the big screen in the upcoming comedy Bad Moms, and we’re already watching the trailer on repeat. We met up with Megan in her classic Los Feliz casa to talk about auditions, being on set, and what it’s really like to head out to Hollywood with nothing but a headshot and a dream.
photographed by belathée
Okay, so we’ve already done a little internet stalking and we’re totally obsessed with the trailer for Bad Moms, which you’re in. When is that coming out, and what else are you working on right now?
Yes, I’ve worked on two movies this year that I really like! Bad Moms with Mila Kunis coming out July 29th and The Fundamentals of Caring which just premiered at Sundance starring Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez. I also just shot a pilot for NBC where I got to yell at Tony Danza in Italian soooo…. ya know. Fun year!
I’m also super proud to be an ambassador for the Covey Film Festival in my hometown of Thomasville GA — it’s a fundraiser for a local children’s program.
When did you first know you wanted to pursue acting?
I studied ballet pretty seriously until I was 18 and then felt a little lost when I stopped dancing. I knew I wanted to stay in the rehearsing and performing world and truthfully I talk too much for ballet anyhow.
Did you study acting in school or have any special training?
I studied acting at Yale in a few courses as an undergrad but I’ve learned the most by working. And not working.
What’s the hardest part about acting that other people don’t really see or know about?
Every set is different. Every director, actor, producer works a different way. So every time you start a new job it’s a learning curve.
What do you love most about your job?
I love to tell a story! I like to overshare. It connects us all.
Do you have a favorite past role?
I loved playing Esme on The Comedians for FX last year. She was so grumpy.
Any advice on how to land an audition?
I don’t know how it works now because when I started we found open auditions in the magazine Backstage. I’m pretty sure you can have better luck nowadays making your own shorts and creating your own material.
You’ve worked in both television and film. Is there a big difference in acting for tv and acting for movies? Do you prefer one over the other?
In film you know the characters’ entire narrative before you start, so you are helping to tell a complete story of this person. In TV, the scripts can change by the day so you have to stay flexible and you actually have to know the character well enough to be able to react to any given circumstance. Both are bueno.
Are there any certain actors who have influenced you or who you’d like to model your career after?
If I’m stealing careers, it’s Holly Hunter and Shirley MacLaine.
What’s the best acting advice you’ve ever been given?
This is my advice to myself: if the sound of your own voice is annoying you, figure out why.
Your husband Nico Evers-Swindell is also in the biz. What’s it like being married to another actor? Have you two ever performed together?
Nico is in the new Amy Poehler directed pilot for NBC and I’m super jealous… JK. I’m so proud of him!
Being married to an actor was NOT what I thought would happen to me but Nico is a normal human so I’m allowed to feel all the feelings. We’ve never performed together — we auditioned together one time and I can safely say it was also the last time.
And who is this adorable person? Intros, please! How do you balance your career with motherhood? Is it hard to be away when you’re on those long production days?
Miss Bea will be a year old in June! I shot a pilot when Bea was six weeks old and I took her to set with me for a week. That was really hard but also maybe the best acting I’ve done because I was too tired to think. Bea has been to a few sets and even one audition in her first year. It’s definitely a challenge to be a mama when you have 12 hour days away, but the flip side is I have a lot of time at home with her between projects.
What types of roles are you drawn to?
I love a dark comedy. I love southern tales. I love women who are pulling themselves up by the bootstraps.
Steel Magnolias. My Cousin Vinny. Beasts of the Southern Wild. Raising Arizona. Birdman. Bridesmaids. Fargo. Fried Green Tomatoes.
If you weren’t an actress, what else could you see yourself doing for a living?
I would love to be an interior designer. I would also REALLY love to be a homicide detective but I could never pass whatever fitness test is required to become a police officer. Pull ups?
What’s your dream role?
Ouiser in Steel Magnolias. Actually, every part in Steel Magnolias.
What advice would you give a young woman who wants to pursue an acting career?
- Do it! We are all just floating in space! Listen to those voices inside that tell you what you want.
- Remember those little voices? Tell the stories they respond to. If it’s not your story to tell — let it pass on by.
- Set your own goals! It’s your soul’s journey; not your ego’s. (THANK YOU THERAPY FOR THAT ONE.)
Thank YOU, Megan, for giving us a peek into your total dream job.