‘BET­TER’

Los Angeles Times - - THE ENVELOPE - By Glenn Whipp glenn.whipp@la­times

Pamela Ad­lon here and now.

It took Pamela Ad­lon sev­eral years to get her FX com­edy “Bet­ter Things” off the ground, partly be­cause she was busy act­ing on such shows as “Louie” and “Cal­i­for­ni­ca­tion,” partly be­cause she was rais­ing three daugh­ters as a sin­gle mom and partly be­cause it took her awhile to un­der­stand that she needed to dig deep and tell her own story. (Binge-watch­ing “Break­ing Bad” didn’t help, either.) “Bet­ter Things,” co-writ­ten with Louis C.K., pre­miered in Septem­ber, earn­ing ac­claim for the hon­est way it de­picted the chal­lenges of par­ent­hood and the choppy wa­ters of ado­les­cence. It was pretty damn funny too. Ad­lon earned an Emmy nom­i­na­tion as lead actress in a com­edy, recog­ni­tion that ab­so­lutely floored her. “I’ve been work­ing my whole life as an ac­tor and to be rec­og­nized as an ac­tor is just amaz­ing,” Ad­lon told The Times shortly af­ter learn­ing she was nom­i­nated. “Noth­ing can top the way I feel in my heart and my spirit right now,” she added. “Never in a mil­lion years did I feel some­thing like this could hap­pen to me.” Be­fore the nom­i­na­tions were an­nounced, Ad­lon stopped by The Times for a video in­ter­view. Here are a few ex­cerpts from the con­ver­sa­tion.

You were so anx­ious for peo­ple to see the show be­cause you’d worked so hard on it. Was the re­ac­tion what you thought it would be?

Each step of the way was some­thing that was so in­ti­mate and per­sonal. I al­ways tell young peo­ple, when I’m try­ing to en­cour­age them, that you have cer­tain win­dows in your life and you have to take

ad­van­tage of it. You’ve got to jump through be­cause they will shut on you.

Do you feel like you’re good at en­cour­ag­ing young peo­ple? Be­cause it feels like that hap­pened a cou­ple of times in the show this past sea­son, you giv­ing ad­vice to peo­ple.

My kids … I think they take it in, you

know? But they’re not like, “Oh, tell me more, oh, wise Mommy.” They don’t give a ... re­ally, but their friends are [Ad­lon leans for­ward all at­ten­tive­ness]. To be able to in­flu­ence and be a pos­i­tive role model to their friends and then other young peo­ple that I meet and just peo­ple ... it doesn’t have to be kids. I like to en­cour­age peo­ple. I like to be in­spi­ra­tional. I like to let peo­ple learn from things that have hap­pened to me.

It’s in­ter­est­ing that it took you so long to be able to make that leap and use your own ex­pe­ri­ences [for a show].

Once I got my head out of my ... about, like, “This is my show and I’m go­ing to be ...” It’s be­com­ing clearer to me all the time that it’s about the ex­pe­ri­ences that I’ve had in my life, as a per­son, as a young girl, as an ac­tor.

I’ve al­ways been kind of a racon­teur and a sto­ry­teller, but I’m not a co­me­dian, a joke-teller, you know? So this is kind of the per­fect place for me. And I also have said that I don’t think that I ever could have done this if I hadn’t done it ex­actly when I did it.

The tim­ing was per­fect.

It was the exact right mo­ment.

As a par­ent of teenagers, what I loved from the first sea­son was like, the last episode, you used that Lau­rie An­der­son song [“O Su­per­man”] so well in that episode, where you’re just show­ing ...

Can you be­lieve she gave me that song? I mean, for like noth­ing. I’ve got to send it to her be­cause it means ev­ery­thing to me. And that se­quence, it’s like a bal­let and that song just makes it so haunt­ing and in­cred­i­ble.

It gets across what I think gets across in other episodes too, just the crush­ing ...

Re­lent­less­ness.

The re­lent­less­ness, it never stops, the work of be­ing a par­ent. But then there’s a hope­ful­ness, I think, to your show too in that you do show the re­wards.

You know, in the scene where I’m watch­ing my daugh­ter do bal­let … It makes me emo­tional be­cause my kids are all older now… [Ad­lon wipes away tears] You know, when I’m smil­ing at her, it’s be­cause she’s smil­ing at me and she’s shar­ing that mo­ment with me. And so it’s so hard when you’re a par­ent to share those pure mo­ments with your kids.

[Still teary] Any­way… Sorry. Oh, my God. Are you Bar­bara Wal­ters? What hap­pened?

Sorry …

I have a tis­sue. I’m Jewish, I carry tis­sues.

‘I don’t think that I ever could have done this if I hadn’t done it ex­actly when I did it.’

— PAMELA AD­LON,

on mak­ing “Bet­ter Things”

Kirk McKoy

AD­LON en­cour­ages peo­ple. She’s a mom (and plays one on TV).

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